Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Unlock Math

Math is not one of my favorite things.  It is also not my favorite subject to teach.  But as a homeschooling mom, it is my duty to teach it.  Unless I can find someone else to. Guess what?  I found someone for this year!  Yay me!  Introducing UnLock Pre- Algebra  grades 7/8th) from UnLock Math.  This complete online homeschool math curriculum taught by Alesia Blackwood is my new favorite!  As former math teacher and fellow homeschooler., Alesia has taken her wealth of knowledge in math and teaching and made my life a lot easier!
We were blessed by UnLock Math to have a year of access to this amazing product and will continue to use it for my 8th grader for the school year.  A quick log in to their site automatically brings up a personalized dashboard that shows each lesson, how much progress you have made, and a place to view and print a personalized progress report and grade-book.  There is also a downloadable pacing guide you can print out and use for scheduling purposes if you like.  Each lesson takes approximately 30 minutes and the course is set up to be completed in 9 months, give or take depending on your student.
There are 16 Units in the Pre-Algebra course.  By hitting the launch button next to the unit names on the dashboard page, you are taken to the lesson page.  There you can choose the lesson you are on and begin by doing a short warm-up session that includes 5 problems.  From there you watch the video that teaches that day's lesson.  These quick "bite sized" chunks of teaching videos are all taught by Alesia and about 4-10 minutes apiece.

 Following the lesson video you have practice problems to do followed by a tab (review) and then a challenge yourself problem that stretches your child's thinking and problem solving skills.  This challenge problem does not count against you but basically serves as bonus points.  You can do a lesson twice and keep the higher score.  Another unique feature is the fact that you are able to look at fully explained answers for each problem your child does. There is also online help at any time if you just get stuck and need some help! Just a quick email and Alesia will respond back promptly.  Ask me how I know!

At the very end of each lesson is a page of reference notes your child can print out to use for any further review they need or to just keep a notebook of what they have learned so far.  Sprinkled throughout the program are quizzes, a mid-semester test and a final.  Automatic grading for each of those and the daily lessons are recorded in the gradebook that can be seen by your child or accessed by you from a teachers page, in which you can keep track of multiple students at one time.   After each lesson is completed it will show it on the dashboard, but you can repeat any lesson at any time.

Units include-

Whole Numbers
Variables and Expressions
Rational Numbers
The Coordinate Plane
Mid Term Review and Test
2 D geometry
# D Geometry
Analyzing Data
Probability and Stats
Final Review and Test

How did we use UnLock Math?
We have a math program we have used for a while now, but I decided to put it aside and give this a try with my upcoming 8th grader.  He is an auditory learner so I felt like this would be a good fit for him.  We had already previewed a lesson by Alesia and he said he liked her easy going teaching style. Salem did one lesson a day on average.

What Did We Think?
We love it!  Well, I love it and Salem likes it.  Trust me, that is saying a lot for a 8th grade boy.  There is just nothing bad to say about this program.  The site is easy to navigate and Alesia makes the lessons student-friendly and even humorous at times.  The lessons are quite complete and yet are short enough to hold a student's attention and not bore them to death.  We like that you can actually see Alesia, not just hear her and that she writes on a white board each step of the way.

The automatic grading is a huge MUST for me.  At this level of math, it is just so much easier for a computer to take on that work.

Let me say a quick thing about the customer service.  As I mentioned before, I emailed UnLock Math about a concept that we could just not get in our heads.  It was a matter of wording, but it kept tripping us up.  Immediately Matthew emailed us back with a complete explanation.  When we still did not get it (I told you I am not a math person) Alesia joined the email chain and got us straightened out.  The company also had a few glitches in the system that they had to work through during our review times and throughout that time Matthew was in contact with us to make sure we were up to date with what was happening and what we needed to do to our end to clear things us.  It is customer service like that that I believe is worth its weight in gold when it come to a homeschooling curriculum!

Because of our success with this program, Salem is dropping his old math by choice and continuing on with UnLock Math Pre-Algebra.  It is a change in our curriculum for this year that we are BOTH very excited about!

Also available Algebra (grades 8/9), and coming soon Algebra 2 (10/11th)

UnLock Math Review

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