For the past few years we haven’t used a math curriculum of any sort. Yes, you read that right. For several years we’d been “free flying” as I call it, learning math through games, hands on applications, & stories.
We had a grand time of it, and both of my children had a firm foundation in basic mathematics. However, we made a few changes to our little homeschool & one of the changes I decided to make was to use a math curriculum again.
It wasn’t that what we were doing wasn’t working, but rather that I wanted to be sure all the gaps I might have were filled. I opted to go with Teaching Textbooks after trying out the free samples online & administering their placement tests.
My 2nd grader easily fit into the Third Grade math with Teaching Textbooks & my Fourth Grader knew too much to use the Grade Four cds thus bumping him up to the Fifth Grade choice.
How We Use it:
This is an extremely easy programme to use, and after chatting with fellow TT users I decided not to purchase the books that came with it, but rather just the cds.
On any given Teaching Textbook day my child will load his cd into the computer and work studiously. If they need help and Mum is busy they merely skip the problem until I can come to their aid.
Because I chose to only purchase the cds I also went online to the Teaching Textbooks website and printed out the Table Of Contents for each grade level we’re working on. I file that in my teacher notebook and highlight bonus rounds with what facts the children will cover; see below for more information on Bonus Rounds. I also highlight lessons I don’t want a child to miss, but might mark lessons we won’t need because we all ready know the information.
The Break Down:
Each of the various grades that we own comes with four cds, and there are roughly 30 lessons on each disc. Every 7th lesson or so is something dubbed as a Bonus Round.
My kids live for Bonus Rounds! Okay, so a Bonus Round is just a three minute chance to show how many math facts you know by heart. It’s set up similar to a game show complete with a robot host & robot crowd.
In each Bonus Round you have the opportunity to gain up to 4 additional points towards your grade for the day. If you can answer a quarter of the problems correctly you get 1 point, half the questions you get 2 points, three quarters earns you 3 points, & obviously answering them all correctly gets you 4.
This can be a challenging time for children who don’t work well under pressure. In our home, the kids don’t mind the ticking time and the encouraging little robots, but they do get flustered making sure they are hitting the right keys on the number pad in a quick fashion. So, in our house when we hit a Bonus Round I go ahead and type for them while they spout off answers.
Note that each bonus round concentrates on a specific operation each time. These are noted in the table of contents so you can remind your student to brush up on their addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division facts.
Each lesson starts with a lecture that the child listens to. In it a male voice explains how to do the days lessons or new topic. This is generally well done, all though I wasn’t as impressed with the way they taught facts. By this, I mean when it came to multiplication facts the fellow would tell them the answer to each of their 12 times table facts, then he’d tell them they needed to memorize them. The flashed on the screen for a mere matter of seconds disappeared and the child was to set about the lesson for the day. We chose to supplement for learning our times tables due to this.
After your lecture for the day you are given 5 practice problems, not alway based on your lecture. Then you have an additional 23 problems to answer for the day. Sometimes we chose to do them all, sometimes I permit the kids to skip problems.
For instance, if my child knows how to do the problem, I see no point in having him do 6 of the same problems so long as he got the answer correct the first two or three times. There are some downsides to this, but we’ll discuss those later.
Every 13 lessons or so there is also a quiz. There is no lecture for Quiz days, you merely load up your lesson and answer 23 different math problems.
The programme automatically keeps track of the grades & scores for quizzes, bonuses, & lessons. As my children finish with a cd I print out the final scores for each of those lessons and I file it so I have proof of the math they’ve done for the year and the scores they achieved.
What I don’t like:
As mentioned before I’m not keen on the way some lectures are given. I respect that teaching a student math facts can be a challenging process & I know that by adding in the Bonus Rounds they are encouraging memorization, however I was still unimpressed with the way some facts were taught.
I don’t like trick problems. My student was dutifully working away one day when I heard a problem come up that I felt was a bit too tricky and sneaky and would merely frustrate my student. The problem was down the lines of, “If it’s 2:00 and it’s dark outside is that am or pm.” For an 8 year old I’m pretty sure he’d associate dark with pm, thus I felt the problem was a tad too sneaky/tricky.
I dislike the fact that there are 23 problems for each lesson & if I have my student skip those problems it’s reflected in his grade. For instance if my child only does 19 our of 23 problems his grade will be an 85% or there abouts.
I don’t love what they wanted to charge me for international shipping when I know it can be done for half the price. I really struggle with this, but also understand that people who don’t ship internationally regularly might not know that.
What I love:
I love that this little programme can do the grades for me. Until this programme my children have never really had a grade before and they actually enjoy seeing what their score is.
I love that if my children make a typo and get a problem wrong I can log in to their grade book and reflect the change OR I can even delete answers and have them rework problems. This is a huge deal if your child has the habit of being a tad heavy on the keyboard.
I love that I can also delete out a Bonus Round and have my child redo that too. This is funtastic if you want your child to have a creative way to practice their math facts. Or, if your keyboard gets unplugged during the middle of a round and your Mum doesn’t know it until there’s 10 seconds left.
I love that these cds are both Windows & Mac compatible! This excites me in ways I just can’t explain. As a Mac family it was a huge deal for us to be able to use these on our Macs!
I love that if you have a US or Canadian postal address you can get free shipping from this company!
I’m also really impressed with the resale value that this programme has. The programme is $110 brand new from the published/creator, but it has an average resale value of $70.
I love that there are not 180 days worth of lessons! This means my children can use this programme only 2-3x a week and we use those extra days for our Living Math lessons. They can still accomplish more then enough, if not all of, the programme.
We really enjoy using this programme. It’s a really fun way for kids to get both computer skills and math skills in. Not to mention, if you’re not a math fan and feel you lack the skills to teach your children this programme would be a wonderful fit for you!