Review: Adaptive Math Curriculum Online from A+ Interactive Math (by A+ TutorSoft Inc.)

review_aplusWe’re nearing the end of our learning year. While we’ve been assessing our progress throughout our schooling, this is the perfect opportunity to identify lessons which might need a tad more work before moving forward. Thanks to the Adaptive Math Curriculum Online from A+ Interactive Math (by A+ TutorSoft Inc.) we’re zeroing in on math studies that could use a boost.

A+ Interactive Math (by A+ TutorSoft Inc.) offers colorful, multimedia lessons that teach math concepts using audio, visuals, and text. Using interactive review, worksheets, step-by-step solutions, automatic grading and tracking, and various reports to measure student progress, A+ Interactive Math seeks to help identify and close learning gaps by re-teaching concepts needed. Currently, A+ Interactive Math offers both an Adaptive Math Curriculum Online and a  Family Math Package

Using the Adaptive Math Curriculum Online, students are given a series of placement test based on a “target” grade level. The program then gives a mini-test for each major math concept to gauge student’s skill level. If it detects any learning gaps between the “target” grade level and student’s current skill level, it automatically creates an individualized plan for the student. The plan includes video lessons, interactive review, practice worksheets online, automatic grading, tracking and re-test. Essentially this is a skill-based learning model. This program covers Grades 1–6 and Pre-Algebra. This program is completely automated, where lessons are chosen for you.review_aplus_interactive

Using the Family Math Package, students are not pre-tested. This is a package of ALL grade levels offered. Each grade level includes comprehensive course contents with video lessons, interactive review, practice worksheets, chapter tests, automatic grading, tracking and much more. Parents can place students in any grade and change the level at any time.

To help narrow-in on areas of math study which might need a little more work, our son was given a one year subscription to the Adaptive Math Curriculum Online. After receiving email confirmation of registration, setting up an account for both myself and my son was an easy process taking mere minutes. A fifth grade “target” was chosen for his review, as my son will be finishing this grade within a few short weeks. The goal was for him to spend approximately thirty minutes a day, Monday through Thursday, completing placement tests and working through possible lessons of review. As he progressed through the online curriculum, I could check on his work from my parent account; reviewing all answers from tests and areas which might need additional study.

While setting up our accounts was simple and easy, we did note finding a computer to access the lessons proved to be a little more challenging. While flash is loaded on our laptop, lessons could not be viewed. Placement tests were possible, but lessons gave us difficulty. Switching to a desktop computer, we experienced trouble attempting to access lessons on our kids’ login – which has higher viewing protection and blocks a great deal of incoming information. Thus, for these lessons, it was necessary to use an admin login and parental viewing controls. Because of this I chose to sit with my son while he completed lessons, which gave me greater opportunity to gather his thoughts on the adaptive math curriculum and view areas of struggle. This also meant I did not need to access my parent review_aplus_videolessonlogin as much as I would have expected, given I was able to see firsthand how he was progressing.

Adaptive Math Curriculum Online takes students through a series of placement tests based on their target, creating lessons when a child struggles in a particular area. In my son’s fifth grade target, seventeen tests were given with a range of twelve to thirty-plus questions in each. Tests took approximately ten to fifteen minutes to complete; depending on the type of questions asked. If for any reason we needed to leave a test, tests would then need to be retaken from the beginning. I’m thankful to say he did not seem to have any great difficulty in the bulk of these tests; passing fifteen of the seventeen lessons on his initial run. During one lesson I had him purposely miss a few questions, so we could see what a review lesson might look like should it be needed. Two additional areas of study were shown to need a little more work, but nothing which caused us great alarm.

For areas in which he struggled, we were able to view lessons to strengthen these skills. The lessons were brief and well taught, and offered him a quick Q&A to ensure he was on the right track. Lessons could be viewed as a slide presentation or in text form. Worksheets were also available; they greatly resembled the placement tests taken initially, but were good practice. If my son wished to see an overview of his progress, a report could be generated. Once my son is able to pass all of his placement tests, I am free to move him on to the sixth grade “target” from my parent login, and the fun begins again.review_aplus_login

From a teacher’s perspective, I would remind other educators A+ Interactive Math is not testing based on the chosen curriculum of your home. Expect to possibly see questions which your child has not come across before, or might be taught in a different manner. While we did not anticipate seeing quite so many placement tests – Honestly, I had imagined only several comprehensive exams. – having now used the online curriculum, I better understand the necessity of this process. As I mentioned, my son seemed to have little difficulty in the placement tests themselves, but I feel he would have done better had a visual “progress bar” been present. After moving through a great deal of questions, he would inevitably begin asking how much longer he had to go and when the test would be over. Had a “progress bar” been available, this would have been a great help. One quick tip: We did note having paper and pencil nearby was handy; several questions required these tools in order for him to identify the answer needed. Overall, from setting up our account to working through each placement test, the entire process ran fairly smoothly. All things considered, this curriculum does its job well.

Our learning year is almost over, but we’re not done yet. Before the year runs out, we’re zeroing in on a few final lessons and mastering areas of study which have proven to be a challenge. Adaptive Math Curriculum Online has been a help in closing those gaps and encouraging us to finish well. Let’s see what the new year brings!

If you’d like to learn more about Adaptive Math Curriculum Online, Family Math Package  or A+ Interactive Math (by A+ TutorSoft Inc.), please visit them at their website and on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter. To read helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what A+ Interactive Math has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew.

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Your Turn!: Do you find a final review at the end of the school year helpful?

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Rethinking High School Maths

Rethinking_MathsHigh school arithmetic has changed since I was a student. The average student will now take Algebra I, immediately followed by Algebra II, and then he will take Geometry. While this seems beneficial, Algebra II is a continuation of the previous course, some of our high school students are bemoaning the new arrangement.

It seems college SAT testing relies heavily upon knowledge of Algebra. Since most of our high school students are taking these tests in their junior year of high school, it’s been over a year since they’ve touched an Algebra textbook and their skills in this area are rusty.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with some of our high school students in our PSP. They noted this struggle due to Algebra having been taken a year prior, instead of the year they are testing. They expressed a wish to have taken it when needed. I wonder how many of our children feel the same?

When I was in high school, a standard arithmetic course for those college bound was arranged differently. First you took Algebra, then you took Geometry, and this was followed by Algebra II. If you wished to further pursue your studies in maths, you would then take Calculus and Trig. This better prepared us for SAT testing, and allowed our minds an opportunity to mature before tackling the more advanced lessons of Algebra II.

As my oldest daughter is just finishing the first of her high school years, this caught my attention. I had planned on the schedule laid out in our course of study guide, which most high school students seem to be adopting today. However, struggles in Algebra and a greater appreciation for Geometry are leading us in a different direction.

While I see both sides of the debate, I believe the Lord has confirmed our decision to move forward with next year’s choice of arithmetic. We look forward to exploring this new area of maths, and seeing what the Lord will teach us next.

📢 Chime In!: Where do you stand on this issue? Should students be taking Algebra courses together or with Geometry between, and why?

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Algebra, I Quit!

Algebra, I Quit“I get it. Really, I do. That doesn’t mean I have to like it. In fact, I hate it. Why do I have to do this?” – Here we go again! Every single day it’s the same argument.

My daughter struggles with Algebra. It’s not that she doesn’t understand the lessons, she does. It’s that she finds no purpose in the lessons, thus sees them as a waste of time.  You see, she is a writer. Words are her gift. Arithmetic is merely something which must be endured.

Even as a writer, we have assured her some amount of arithmetic will be necessary. After all, how will she calculate her royalty on published works? How does she plan to file taxes? Does she know how to balance her check book, establish savings, and handle expense accounts?

She concedes these areas and gladly learns them. She sees their purpose and happily proceeds to apply them to life. But, how do you motivate someone who hates variables to see the beauty in linear systems of equations? What example can I give to explain when she will use x minus y divided by a-squared equals z plus f?

It probably doesn’t help that our local librarians have confirmed taking algebra in college might not even be required of her! It seems pre-algebra was all they needed to gain their masters degrees. With a sigh of relief, my daughter came home to confirm her strong belief that Algebra was definitely not needed, much less Algebra II.

Thus, we are re-thinking our game plan. We are going to finish out this year. We’ve agreed she has come this far, she might as well finish off the book. (She has only two chapters left.) However, we’re reducing the amount of work being done each day; which might be a contributing factor in her strong dislike of the subject. We are also going to readjust our game plan for next year. We had thought to proceed directly on to Algebra II; it seemed logical at the time. Instead, we will move on to Geometry. Which – believe it or not – she loves!

Does she need to learn basic algebra? Undoubtably, yes. How much I force upon her is the debate. Perhaps we will return to Algebra II in another year and she’ll be ready to settle into abstractions and variables. Until then, we will definitely be praying over this issue.

Our desire is to encourage a love of learning in our children. We want them to continually seek knowledge and increase in wisdom. My fear is by pushing Algebra too hard, or any other topic, I might ruin their love of learning.

Okay, so maybe we aren’t quitting, just taking a hiatus during the next year. But, I’m not going to let it worry me. Perhaps we’ll try round two in another year. Then again, maybe not…

“For by Him all things were created, both in the heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all  things have been created through and for him.”
Colossians 1:16

📢 Chime In!: Are higher maths a non-negotiable course in your homeschool curriculum? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Curriculum 101: Arithmetic

Curriculum101One of the biggest struggles homeschooling families battle is which curriculum is best for their children. We become overwhelmed by the amount of curriculum available, struggle to find the right fit for each of our children, proceed to doubt each choice made for at least the first several weeks, and continue to search for new ways of teaching well after we’ve already begun our year.

To this end, we thought we’d spend the month of September launching discussions on all things curriculum.

…..

Arithmetic. While reading may be a parent’s nightmare, arithmetic usually sends kids running.

My kids constantly ask why they have to complete twenty addition problems, why they need to do word problems, and why they need to memorize their multiplication tables. Do they really need to know how long a tree’s shadow is from twenty feet away when a train is sweeping past at 50 miles an hour?

If your littles are having a hard time understanding why arithmetic is important or how arithmetic corresponds to daily life, it might be time to take a step back from those workbooks and go back to basics. It might be time to take a course in Practical Mathematics.

Let’s explore a few basics when teaching arithmetic, and how we can help our children make the connection between those problems on the page and everyday living:

  1. Arithmetic Teaches Life Skills
  2. Arithmetic Should Prepare for Real World Math
  3. Arithmetic Should Teach Mental Computation (calculators are not always going to be available)
  4. It is Important to Know Basic Facts
  5. Using Calculators Isn’t Forbidden
  6. There Are Different Methods to Reasoning Numerically

How do we help our children take these basics and apply them to everyday living? We include our children in real life application. We teach them to budget their money, setting aside funds for savings and tithe. We explain how we budget our household funds. They assist us while grocery shopping. They add totals for us while shopping. We bake together; sew together; paint together; and more.

What about higher maths? I cannot tell you how often I use geometric formulas in projects around the house! Engineers use trig on a daily basis. And algebra, too, has it’s purposes.

“But, Mom! I don’t want to be a mathematician or an engineer. Why do I need to take algebra?!” (A question often asked in our home.) My response is usually something along these lines, “Well, honey. You’re going to want to make money writing those books, right? How will you know how much you made, so you aren’t cheated out of your earnings? How will you know how to pay taxes on what you earned? You’ll also need to establish a budget and set aside funds for various purposes. Arithmetic is practical. You’ll need it. Trust me.”

Arithmetic doesn’t have to be a chore. Believe it or not, it can actually be quite fun! But, until we help our children make the connection between the problems on the page and the application of everyday life, arithmetic will just be another task to cross of their list.

May we use our learning time to meet our children where they are and help them gain a better understanding of the world around them. May arithmetic be yet another way to increase our children in wisdom.

🔔Now, it’s your turn!! Share your tips for developing a love of arithmetic. What’s worked for you and what hasn’t?

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