Thursday, April 24, 2014

CTCMath- TOS Crew Review

I am not a natural at math.  Neither are several of my kids.  That is why I was so excited to be able to review CTCMath, 12  Month Family Plan, an online math tutorial program for grades Kindergarten up, featuring over 1400 video lessons.  Yes, kindergarten and up! Algebra 1 and 2 ,Geometry, Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus and Calculus are included as well.  And with your family subscription, you are given access to all levels for up to 5 children automatically.  Need more slots? Just contact CTC customer service and they will work to expand that!

The first thing you will notice when you start CTCMath is that the teacher has a beautiful Australian accent.  My kids loved that! Although it originated in Australia, you can get this program in several versions to fit the currency and measurements in your country, so most of you will want to ask for the US version. Cool, huh?

On the student page you will find each grade listed, broad subjects, and then subsets of those subjects.  Just click on where you want to start and you are off.  We have currently worked with three different levels on a regular basis (and one additional level as a life saver for our college student) so let me break it down a little for you.

My youngest has recently finished 1st grade math so we started there for him, mostly to see how he much he has retained for the year.  We decided to use the program 4-5 times a week.  Each lesson begins with a quick video explaining the concept.  Videos last about 1-4 minutes each.  My 6 year old started with pretty simple concepts like counting by ones and then moved on to things like skip counting, addition, subtraction, and multiplication and division.  "Multiplication and division?!" you may say?  At least I did!  But I loved how they taught it.  Instead of just 2x3 or 12/3, they used pictures to show groups of things and dividing groups of things.  So while at this age a child might not be learning his or her multiplications tables yet, they are learning the concepts behind those tables.  Love it!

For each section that you do you have one of two choices.  You can take a comprehensive test that will test you on all the sub-categories taught or you can work through each section.  If you take the test, you can choose between two versions, one which is slightly longer.  If you have children that really only need review, this is a good option.  Have them take the test and if they do well, move on.  Your second choice is to go through each lesson individually.  This option allows you to watch the video, again usually only one to four minutes long, that teaches the concept.  Afterwards, your child answers a series of questions to practice and receives a score for that section.  The sections are averaged together and award certificates are given.  As you can see below, those certificates became a HUGE motivator for my son.  Huge!  I had no idea that would be what spurred him on to do more sections, but hey, it works! I had intended to just allow him to test straight through the sections to see where we found information he did not know and then start there, but as soon as he realized he would not get the certificate if he did it that way he insisted on doing every section.

Each time your child is awarded a certificate you are emailed that info and weekly progress reports are sent to you so you can keep track of your child's progress.  These are especially helpful for those who have older students that you are not monitoring daily.

My 12 year old son is just finishing up 6th grade and is actually pretty strong in math, but when pursuing the topics in the 5th grade level we ran into a few I did not think he was familiar with.  For that reason we have started in the 5th grade level and preceded forward.  Three to four times a week I had him complete many of the individual levels, one or two at a time, but we are going to start just doing the comprehensive tests so he can get to a level,  probably in the 6th grade area, that he is more correctly placed.  As with any math program, some concepts are taught in a slightly different manner than what he is used to, but I think that has been a good practice in being flexible.  Unlike his brother, while the same certificates are offered, it has not been something that interested him.

My 16 year old is just now finishing up Algebra 2, so we have been using this program as a supplemental study in preparation for taking the CLEP.  What we have found in studying for that test is that she has gotten rusty in some of the Algebra 1 and Geometry concepts she has not practiced in a year or more.  CTCMath has been a great review and one that she is now using three times a week until test time, just jumping to subjects that she needs a refresher on.  The format for these higher levels is slightly different we found.  Instead of a problems tab, it says view worksheet on it.  Your child must work the problems on their own and then click the enter results tab to enter their answers separately, matching a letter assigned to an answer with each problem.  Switching back and forth became a hassle to my teen and caused her to get a few problems wrong by a careless transfer of numbers.  We both wish those two pages were in a one page format.

And then there is my college girl!  We had no intention on her using this at all but I just have to share a HUGE success story.  Due to transferring as a second semester junior to a new college, she suddenly found herself taking a basic math class online. Math has never been her strong suit, and remember, she has now been out of a math class for over several years.   After struggling with a concept that she had just completely forgotten (logarithms) and with no teacher close by to explain, I encouraged her to jump on CTCMath and see if she could find a video (she is a visual learner).  She did, watched it, did the practice problems, and then made a 100 on her college math quiz!  Success!!  Be aware that at these higher levels the video clips do tend to be a bit longer.

CTC Math Review

So would we recommend CTCMath?  You bet!  While they advertise being a math tutorial program, I have no doubt that you could teach math from this program alone at the younger levels. At high school levels, I think it is an excellent review program as well as one to turn to for practice or when your child is just struggling to grasp a new concept.  The problems are clearly taught and easy to follow.  At the younger grade levels, bright, fun illustrations are used that are engaging and eye catching for visual learners.  The audio is clear for auditory learners and pleasing to the ear.  For those who are more kinesthetic, for many of the problems there are graphics that you can manipulate just like you would ones at your own home. There are blocks to count out, make groups with and otherwise use to help compute the answer.  My youngest loved that part!

If I was going to change anything I would like to see a function that would take a child directly to where they left off.  When jumping around and reviewing, it is not a big deal to get to any place you want, but for the younger kiddos especially, it would be nice if you could go directly to where you left off from in your previous session.

CTC Math is currently on sale (at the time of this review) can be purchase for $78.80 for a year for a single student, or $118.80 for a family plan.  I would encourage you to check it out!

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