UnLock Geometry ~ Review

AJ loves math and it comes easy to her. The only thing she doesn’t like is writing everything down and taking forever to work out the problems. It is almost like torcher to her to have to show her work when she can easily figure a problem out in her head. Since it is a subject that she excels in, I want her to enjoy it.

A few years ago we had the chance to review the Pre-Algebra course from UnLock Math. AJ loved the set up. It had video lessons, enough practice and repetition, and didn’t take her all day to complete. When I saw that they were coming out with a new course, UnLock Geometry , I knew we had to try it out. AJ was excited to see how geometry would compare to UnLock Pre-Algebra.

UnLock Math
 

What is  UnLock Geometry?

UnLock Geometry is a full high school geometry course that is completely online. It is taught by Alesia Blackwood, a certified teacher who is engaging and interesting to watch. The course is broken into 15 units with an average of about 8 lessons per unit. The units are:

  1. Prerequisite Skills
  2. Logic & Proofs
  3. Distance & Length
  4. Angles, Lines & Transversals
  5. Triangles
  6. Polygons
  7. Circles
  8. Circles Pt. 2
  9. Perimeter
  10.  Area
  11. Geometry in the Coordinate Plane
  12. Triangles Pt. 2
  13. Transformations
  14. 3D Geometry & Volume
  15. 3D Geometry & Surface Area

When your student logs in to their account they see a list of the units in the course, their grade so far in the course, and how much of the course they have completed. In the beginning all of the units have a purple lock next to them. When the student is working on the unit the lock opens, and when all of the lessons have been completed the lock turns blue.

UnLock Geometry - A full high school level course that is completely online.

When the student clicks on the rocket they are taken to their unit page. There they will see a list of lessons, quizzes, and tests for the unit. There is a quiz after every two to three lessons and a test at the end of each unit.

UnLock Geometry - A full high school level course that is completely online.

When they click on a lesson they are taken to a page where they see their lesson. It is broken into six sections.

UnLock Geometry - A full high school level course that is completely online.

Parts of the Lesson

  • Warm Up – This section has 5 questions based on the previous lesson.
  • Video Lesson – This is the main part of the lesson. The teacher introduces new concepts and vocabulary, explains new theorems and equations, and works out sample problems. Each video varies, but most range from 7 to 15 minutes.
  • Practice Problems – This section has 10 problems related to the lesson. The student can complete this section as many times as they need. Each time they will get different problems and only their highest score is saved. After almost every problem the student is shown the solution to the problem and how it was worked out. That way the student is able to learn from any of their mistakes.
  • Stay Sharp – This section has 10 problems from any previous lesson. This is a great way to practice skills from other units. It also forces students to really master the material. If the student gets a problem wrong they are given a similar problem so that they have the opportunity to practice the skills that they need more assistance with.
  • Challenge Yourself – This is a single question that requires the student to think beyond the lesson. Sometimes AJ finds them too difficult to even attempt, but most of the time she can at least try them. She likes these because they make her think. Once the student tries it once they can not attempt it again, but they are given a detailed explanation as to how it was solved. This section doesn’t negatively affect the student’s grade, but correct answers can help them to earn up to 5% extra credit at the end of the course.
  • Reference Notes – This is the lesson in printable form. It has new vocabulary, notes, and worked out examples. The notes are colorful and have a lot of information.

Grading

After each part of the lesson the student is given their grade for the section. They are able to review anything that they got wrong and they can redo the section if they want or need. A passing score isn’t required to move on to the next part of the lesson, but the student should make sure they understand the concept before moving on.

On the main page the student can see their grade. They can view a more detailed grade by clicking on the Progress Report. There they will see a cumulative grade as well as a grade for each unit.UnLock Geometry - A full high school level course that is completely online.When you click on the Gradebook you can see everything that your student has done. It shows each part of the lesson as well as when it was completed and how long it took. You can also click to see the problems that the student worked on and the solutions. Both the Progress Report and the Gradebook have the option to print so you can keep the grades for your record.

How We Used UnLock Geometry

AJ logged into the program most days of the week. She was able to easily navigate the program and use it independently. She completed one lesson a day most days. In the beginning some of the prerequisite skills were very easy for her. On those days she did two lessons a day.

When she logged in she would start with the Warm Up questions and then watch the video. Even though the reference notes are printable, AJ takes notes during the videos. I think it helps her to remember the information a little bit better when she writes it down.

UnLock Geometry - A full high school level course that is completely online.

She works out the problems in her head or on a whiteboard. Since I can print the grade reports I don’t mind not having a written record of the problems that she worked out. If she has any issues while solving the problems I have her read the solution so that she understands why she got it wrong. If she isn’t happy with her score she completes another set of problems. When she is all finished we look over the reference notes and see if she needs to print them out.

Each day the student answers 26 questions, but they vary in difficulty. Most days a lesson takes her 30 to 40 minutes.

Then when she is done with the lesson she takes the quiz if there is one.

What We Thought About UnLock Geometry

AJ loves UnLock Geometry. The lessons are to the point and explained very well. The teacher teaches new concepts a little at a time so that the student is able to really understand how to complete difficult problems. She also explains the why behind math. There are a lot of theorems and properties to learn in geometry. The teacher goes through and explains each one and why they work. She also encourages the students to try and prove the theorems on their own to help improve their logical thinking skills. AJ says the best part is that the teacher is fun to watch and not boring.

If you are looking for a solid math program that will make sure that your student really understands the concepts, You need UnLock Math!

AJ also likes that she doesn’t have to work anything out on paper. There are plenty of problems where she has to show her work on the computer by showing the correct next step of a problem, so she is still getting the practice but she doesn’t need to write it all down.

In the beginning there is a little bit of a learning curve. You have to enter the answers a specific way and have to pay attention to how a problem needs to be submitted. Once your student knows what to do though, it is smooth sailing.

I like that I can easily see everything AJ has done. I can see if she completed a set of practice problems a few times because she didn’t understand something, or if she was able to speed through a section because she really understood it. One thing that I find very useful that I can print out whatever I want for my records.

As with any online program there will possibly be a few glitches along the way. We only ran into one, and customer service was wonderful. I had a reply to my email in a few hours and the problem I had was fixed.

UnLock Math is a wonderful program. In fact we like it so much that AJ will be using it as her main math program this year. If you are looking for a solid math program that will make sure that your student really understands the concepts, I would highly recommend trying out UnLock Math. They currently have courses for; UnLock Pre-Algebra , UnLock Algebra1, UnLock Algebra2, and UnLock Geometry .

Would you like to get $50 off on an annual purchase of UnLock Pre-Algebra, UnLock Algebra1, or UnLock Algebra2? Here is a coupon for you.

See what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought by clicking on the graphic below!

Pre-Algebra, Algebra and Geometry {UnLock Math Reviews}
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It’s Okay if Your Child is Average

Sometimes when people find out that AJ is homeschooled, they expect her to be brilliant. It is almost like there is a stereotype that homeschooled kids are either far behind their public schooled peers or that they are mini geniuses.  It is easy to get caught in a comparison trap, even if you are just comparing to an unrealistic ideal. In the beginning I would feel like I wasn’t doing enough with her because she was just average. She doesn’t know Latin and isn’t going to be on Jeopardy any time soon. She has subjects that she excels in and subjects that she struggles with.  But, that is okay!

Coming to peace with the fact that she doesn’t have to compare to anyone else has made our homeschooling journey go a lot smoother. Part of the reason I brought her home was to give her the best education possible. That means doing what is right for her, not what works for others.

As I prepared for her freshman year of high school I knew I needed to keep her strengths and weaknesses in mind. She struggles with writing and vocabulary so I knew that a College Prep English class was out of the question. She needed something that would push her and help her grow, but not set her up for failure. On the other hand, for math she needed something that moved quickly because she finds the subject easy.

As we picked courses for AJ one thing we kept in mind was her end goals. After high school she wants to become a veterinarian technician and then go to school to be come a veterinarian while working in the field. Of course we know that this dream can change, but it has been her goal for a while now. She will need a lot of math and science courses to fulfil her goal. Thankfully those are her two favorite subjects. She will need to be able to read and write well, but analyzing books and poetry probably isn’t something that she will find very useful.

It's Okay if Your Child is Average

Our plan is to expose her to the subjects her peers in public school take so that she knows the basics. She will write some essays and analyze a few books each year. But we plan to really dig deeper into the topics that she enjoys and the topics that will get her closer to her end goal of working with animals. Instead of pushing creative writing, which she really dislikes, we will work on reports and basic writing. Instead of using only fiction books for English, we will add in plenty of non fiction ones.

That is the beauty of homeschooling. You get to tailor your child’s education to their needs. Don’t stress out about what everyone else is doing. If you are raising the next Einstein, that is great. If your child is average and struggles with some things, that is okay too! As long as your child is growing and learning, that is what matters. Don’t get caught in a comparison trap.

I will be sharing our choices for the 2017 school year soon. I think AJ and I will both learn a lot.

Have you decided what courses your child will be studying next year?

Using Khan Academy for High School Math

We have had the opportunity to review quite a few math programs over the years. AJ loves math, but she hates to have to do pages of problems once she understands a concept. I don’t blame her. If she understands a concept, I would rather move on to something new. That lets us spend time on the things she may take a little longer to grasp and speed through the concepts she picks up easily.

We started out using CTC Math for Algebra 1. It worked well in the beginning. AJ liked the video lessons and the worksheets didn’t take her too long to do. As the year progressed and she was coming up on problems that took longer to do, those worksheets started taking way too long. AJ was frustrated and so was I. I couldn’t afford to purchase a new math program, so I decided to go back to a program we had used in the past, Khan Academy.

There were some changes from when AJ used it as a supplement a few years ago, but everything we liked about it was the same.

What We Like About Khan Academy

  • Short lessons. – AJ can watch a video lesson on a topic and then work a few problems. Depending on the type of problem, she has to get 3 to 5 questions correct in a row. So if she understands the concept she can prove it and be on her way. If she is having some trouble the program makes her practice longer. It even has her do similar problems to the ones she missed just changing little things to ensure she really knows the concept.Khan Academy - A great option for high school math!
  • Mastery Challenges. – Once you get the 3 to 5 problems correct in a row your status in a concept changes from not practiced to practiced. In order to master the concept you complete mastery challenges. The levels are: not practiced, practiced, level 1, level 2, and mastered. The mastery challenge can be on anything you have already learned, and if you miss the question then you go down a level. When you get a question correct you go up one or more levels. I like that old concepts are thrown in, this makes sure she really learned a concept, and that she didn’t just temporarily understand it. There have been a few times that she has had to remaster a concept because she forgot how to solve a problem.
  • Step by step hints.- When working on a new concept, you are forced to enter the correct answer. If you get the problem wrong you can not go to the next one until the correct answer is entered. If you need help you are given step by step hints to help you solve the problem. This is great because often you don’t know where you messed up on a problem, this lets you know so that you can fix it.Khan Academy - A great option for high school math!
  • Flexibility.- As her learning coach I can assign lessons for AJ to complete. She can also work on any topic in a specific mission. Or she can stick with one concept like functions until she masters it. This is great because if she is having trouble with functions she can leave it and work on something else for a few days and then come back.Khan Academy - A great option for high school math!
  • Badges and Patches. – You earn points for each activity you complete. Badges can be earned for having so many points, answering so many questions correctly, working so many days in a row, and other things. Challenge patches are earned every time you master a section of concepts, like third grade multiplication. Earning the badges and patches motivates AJ. She will some times say she needs to practice another concept so that she can earn a badge for the week.

How We Are Using Khan Academy for High School

My goal is for AJ to master concepts. Khan Academy is perfect for mastery! Our goal for Algebra was to have AJ complete both the Algebra Basics and the Algebra 1 missions in Khan Academy. I had her sign into her account each day and start by taking four mastery challenges (usually 6 questions each) and then practicing two concepts. I had her do so much because a lot was review. After about a week there were not as many mastery challenges available each day. At that point she would do the one or two available mastery challenges and then work on two or three new concepts. It took her about two months to master Algebra Basics.

When she got to Algebra 1 and the concepts became harder I decided to change things up. She still did any mastery challenges, but then she would work on new concepts for a half an hour. Some days she was able to speed through them and other days she would only get through one new concept. I make her watch the videos and take notes on any new concept that she isn’t able to figure out by herself. She has improved on her note taking and has a good set of notes for future math.

About a month ago I decided to have AJ go back and work on math from previous years. I had her work one day a week on lower level math to master it. There are a few areas that she struggles with, mainly word problems. Having her go back and master Early Math, Arithmetic, an pre algebra helped me to make sure that she didn’t have any gaps in her learning. Since then she decided that she wanted to get 100% mastery in kindergarten through 8th grade math. I figure the more she completes the better.

Khan Academy - A great option for high school math!

Right now she has completed 92% of Algebra 1. The only section she has left to complete is quadratic equations and functions. I am sure in the next few weeks she will be finished with Algebra 1. Once she masters all of the concepts I will be giving her an A. I feel that by mastering all of the concepts she will show that she really understands algebra. Since there is a lot of review with the mastery challenges, I know that she has seen a variety of  problems and has had plenty of review. I am also sent a weekly report with what she has worked on so I have proof that she has done the work even though there isn’t any worksheets or book work.

I feel Khan Academy is a great option for high school math. What are you using for math?

Educeri ~ Review

We are always looking for new ways to help AJ learn, so we were excited to have the chance to review Educeri Lesson Subscription Service from Educeri …….  Educeri a division of DataWORKS .

What is Educeri?

Educeri is an online based program designed to help teachers teach specific learning objectives to their students. There are currently 1108 lessons and resources for kindergarten through high school levels. The majority of the lessons cover math and language arts topics, but there are other lessons available depending on the grade level. When you subscribe to Educeri you are given access to all of the lessons and resources.

Educeri Lesson Subscription Service Reviews
In addition to math and language arts there are, 21 Science lessons which are mainly for middle school students and 26 History lessons mainly for grades five and up. There is also one lesson in Art, Music, PE, and Spanish.

The site is set up so you can search for your desired grade level or subject. You can also search by the concept that you want to teach.

For all of the Math and Language Arts lessons there are downloadable student handouts that you can print off for your student. Your student works on the handout while you are teaching them the lesson. Then they complete some independent work after the lesson is completed.

How We Used Educeri

When I logged onto the site I decided to simply go to the 8th grade section. I found 73 lessons and resources for the 8th grade level. I was surprised to see that the 8th grade section also had a few different history lessons. Since we are not using a complete Language Arts program this year, I decided to check out the Language Arts lessons first.

There were lessons covering:

Analyzing Analogies

Symbolism

Analyzing Themes in Literature

Literary Devices

Analyzing Conflicting Viewpoints

Writing

Grammar and

Vocabulary

One of the lessons AJ worked on was on Idioms. I decided not to print off the student hand outs, instead we discussed the information.

When I clicked to teach the lesson I the first page lists the objective of the lesson and the prior knowledge that students should know about the topic. The following slide went on to explain the difference and give a few examples of literal and figurative language.

educeri-review-1

Then there is guided practice. The answers are all blank and then as you click the mouse answers are revealed. There is a highlighting and pen tool to use so you can interact with the lesson. Once the guided practice is finished there is a section about the relevance of the skill and then a review of how to use the skill. The lesson ends with the independent practice. In this section the answers are again blank, and with each click of the mouse an answer is revealed.

I decided to spread the lessons out over a few days. One day we would introduce the concept and do the guided practice. Then another day we would go over the relevance of the skill and how to use it. At the end of the week I would have her do the independent work.

I feel that she learned some new skills through this review. We mainly used the Language Arts lessons, but she did use a few of the math lessons.

What We Thought About Educeri

While I felt AJ learned a few new skills, I felt that this product was much more than we needed in our homeschool setting. There was a lot of focus on objectives and how each skill would help the student preform better on tests. In a school setting where they have to stick to standard based learning, this would be perfect. I just felt it was a little over kill.

AJ thought that the lessons took too long and didn’t like that a single part of the answer would be revealed at a time. She didn’t like the way that math was taught and felt that there was a lot of unneeded steps when she could easily figure out problems. A lot of this has to do with the fact that the lessons are common core aligned, and it is not at all what she was use to.

I see this product being a better fit in a group setting. Since we do so much one on one learning, the set up of the lessons was just not the right fit for us. In the future I think I will just print of the hand outs for her and teach her off of them.

If you want to ensure that your child is learning all of the skills that their peers in public school are learning, then this might be exactly what you are looking for. The best part is that you can try it out for 30 days risk free! See if it is something that will work for your family.

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Educeri Lesson Subscription Service
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CHSH Download Club ~ Review

AJ is a kid that enjoys doing worksheets, so I am often on the look out for things to supplement the topics we are learning about.  The problem is that since she is in 8th grade, a lot of  worksheets and unit studies that I find are too easy for her. Sometimes I make up my own worksheets for her to complete, but most of the time I just don’t have the time. We were recently given the opportunity to review the CHSH Download Club  from CHSH-Teach.com. When I first looked at the Christian HomeSchool Hub, I knew that it would be a resource that I would use frequently over the next year.

What is the CHSH Download Club?

I  had never heard of the CHSH Download Club before this review, but I wish I had. The CHSH Download Club is an online resource that gives you access to thousands of pages of educational materials. It includes worksheets, literature studies, full curriculum, supplemental materials, flash cards, puzzles, coloring pages, and more. For one small price of just $25 a year (or $99 for a lifetime membership) you have access to everything on the site. There are materials for grades preschool through high school.

Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}
The site makes it easy to find exactly what you need. The materials are organized by; subject, grade, and month. I have to say that I was amazed at all of the different things available, and I was thrilled to see that there is an entire section for high school. It includes:

  • Literature Studies – Including Shakespeare
  • English Composition and Language Arts – 4 Years of High School English
  • Social Studies – Including a full World History and American History course
  • Math – Including a Collage Level Algebra Book and Answer Key
  • Science – Including Biology and Physics

AJ won’t be in high school until next year, but I looked over a lot of the high school resources and think we will probably use the World History and Biology courses next year.

How We Used the CHSH Download Club

We are studying modern history this year. We have been learning about different important people throughout history. I looked through our history curriculum and saw that AJ would soon be learning about Amelia Earhart and the Wright Brothers. So I looked to see if there was any information on either of the two topics. There was!

I quickly found three resources for Amelia Earhart under the Social Studies topic of “People throughout History.” There is a unit geared for 3rd through 6th grade and a unit geared for 4th through 8th grade. There is also an Amelia Earhart shape book. I decided to use both of the units about Amelia Earhart. The first one she did was the one geared for kids in 3rd through 6th grade. That one basically had her read about Amelia Earhart and then fill in charts and answer questions about the reading. I felt that study would have been perfect for the 3rd through 6th grade age range. After she finished with that unit she was going to start on the 4th through 8th grade unit. Unfortunately, when I clicked on that unit it said that the file was not found. I was a little disappointed about that.

This is just one of the many products from the CHSH Download Club!

 

The next unit study I had AJ work on was Wright Brothers: Bicycles to Airplane. It is an 85 page unit study that has 17 different tasks for the student to complete while learning about the Wright Brothers. It begins with pages of information about the Wright Brothers. There are a variety of different tasks including; creating a magazine cover about the Wright Brothers’ flight, making an anemometer, researching aviation, locating important places on a map, art projects, poems, giving a speech and more. AJ didn’t complete all of the tasks (we still have another week left) but, this unit study is great. It includes so many hands on activities to help students learn about flight. I was excited to see a study that was geared towards older students, and look forward to other studies in the future.

These graphic organizers make learning new concepts fun!

We also used various worksheets throughout the review period. AJ enjoyed the blank periodic table that she could fill in. She also liked the different charts and venn diagrams that were available in the Graphic Organizer download. There are 80 different ones to choose from.

We planned on using one of the literature studies for the novels that AJ is reading. There is a study for almost all of the books she is reading this year.  Even though the literature studies are for grades 4 through 8, I found them to be too simple and easy for AJ. They were mainly simple questions about the plot of the novel and didn’t ask any thought provoking questions. I think it may have been perfect for younger students, but not for the 8th grade level.

What We Thought About the CHSH Download Club

After trying out various products from the CHSH Download Club I think it is well worth the cost. There really is something for everyone. Almost all of the resources I looked at were well made and well thought out. I enjoyed how easy it was to use the site and how quickly the downloads came up. Other than the one file about Amelia Earhart, there were no glitches on the site.

Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}
If you are looking for a way to supplement your child’s learning then the CHSH Download Club may be exactly what you are looking for. This would be perfect for those who enjoy unit studies or those who want to dig deeper into a concept. We have tried a few different sites over the years that have downloadable resources, and I think so far that this one is the best, especially if you have older students.

Find out what other members of the Review Crew had to say by clicking the graphic below.

Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}
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CTCMath Algebra ~ Review

I have never stuck to a single math program in the past. I enjoy finding fun ways to teach and normally use a variety of sources. It has worked well up to this point, but now that AJ is taking Algebra I need to find one good program and stick with it for the year. We had the opportunity to review CTCMath last year and AJ enjoyed it, so I was excited to have another chance to review the CTCMath Homeschool Membership.

CTCMath Review
When you purchase the year long subscription to CTCMath you have access to all levels of math from Kindergarten to Calculus. CTCMath is considered a full math program for grades K through 8 and a supplemental course for higher grades. I don’t really agree with that though, because I feel their Algebra course covers all of the necessary topics. It covers things from basic algebra through quadratic equations and graphs.

What is CTCMath

CTCMath is an online program that uses video lessons, online questions, and printable worksheets to teach a variety of math concepts. For each grade level or topic there are multiple lessons for the student to complete. At the beginning of each new section there is an optional placement test. The placement test helps you see which lessons your child needs to work on, and which ones they could skip. One issue I have with this is that in order for your student to earn an award for each section, they need to complete all of the lessons.

CTC MathHow We Use CTCMath

AJ has been working her way through the first two sections of Algebra. Like most programs the first few lessons are review. She watches a video for each lesson. The concept is explained and a few problems are worked out. Once she understands the concept she completes a worksheet and enters the answers into the computer. Each worksheet is a little different, but usually there are 10 to 20 questions that she needs to answer. Then she matches her answer to a list of answers, usually listed A to Z.  The worksheets are multiple choice, but there are incorrect options that the student could chose if they didn’t follow the correct steps.

There are also questions for the student to complete online. I had AJ skip those after the first few lessons because a lot of the questions were on both the online questions and the worksheets.

One problem that we normally have with online math programs is that there are times when we can’t be on the computer. CTC Math makes schooling on the go possible. I had two options when we were going to be away from the computer.  I could have AJ watch the lesson before we left and complete the printed out worksheet while we were out and about. Then she could enter her answers on the computer when we got home. Or I could print off the lesson summary (which is the same information that is explained in the video) and have her go over it on her own time.

The program has let us have a large amount of flexibility. There are times when we don’t print off the worksheets and she simply looks at them while she is online and works them out on paper.

What We Thought of CTCMath

The video lessons are well made, but AJ feels they are a little dull. We both like that they explain math topics in an easy to understand matter. I like that there are plenty of problems to make sure she understands the topics, and that she can watch and re-watch the videos if she has any doubts about how to use the program.

This time around we found a few additional gems in CTC math. There is now a task section where I can assign certain lessons that I want AJ to complete. AJ is working her way through the entire Algebra course, so  I didn’t see the need to use the section.  I know I would have used the task section it when AJ was younger.

I also found games to help your child work on math facts. AJ has enjoyed playing the games.

Overall we both like CTC Math and we plan to stick with it until she finishes the Algebra course.

Find out what other members of the crew thought about CTC Math by clicking on the graphic below.

CTCMath Review
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8th Grade Math & Science

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Last week I shared our 8th grade English choices, today I will be sharing our choices for  math and science. AJ enjoys math and science most of the time. Since she was little she has enjoyed watching The Magic School Bus and reading nonfiction books. I think that my choices this year will let her enjoy both subjects and allow me to stick to my very tight budget.

Math and Science picks for 8th grade

Math

AJ is ready for Algebra this year! I didn’t know if she would be ready to take Algebra in 8th grade or if she would end up taking it in 9th grade. After looking at all of the concepts that we have covered over the years I was happy to see that she was ready for a higher level of math. I am not one that usually sticks to a math program, but I am determined to stick with two main programs that we were blessed to review this year.

I wanted a little bit of variety with a good amount of structure to our math plan. Right now I have her scheduled to work on lessons from CTC Math three days a week. The other two days a week she will work on Learn Bop. Between the two programs she will have plenty of practice and she should be able to master the different concepts. We will continue to play games like Sudoku (download a few for free) and Zoologic. We like to add games to our day whenever it is possible.

Science

Science was a hard decision for me this year. We have studied a lot of concepts over the last few years and almost every curriculum that I looked at had a lot of information that we already covered. I know that some things will be reviewed, but when you spend an entire year on Earth Science you don’t want to learn about volcanoes again two years later. The thought of making my own study seemed overwhelming this year. I haven’t felt well so I decided I needed something that was at least outlined for me. After looking at quite a few different options I decided on Easy Peasy Physics and Chemistry.

If you haven’t looked into Easy Peasy, you should check it out. It is free to use and gives you a 180 day schedule of assignments for your child to do. Science has videos, articles, games, and experiments. There are also notebooking pages and lapbooks for your child to make. We will probably skip a few things and we might follow a few rabbit trails and get off schedule. But I like that I have a strong foundation that I can have AJ follow on days that I can’t help her.

Some of the topics we will be studying are:

  • Elements of the Periodic Table
  • Atoms
  • Molecules
  • Sound
  • Acids and Bases
  • Mater
  • Forces
  • Motion
  • and more

Supplements

AJ loves science so I plan to let her do extra experiments on her own. We will also to borrow plenty of books and videos from the library to go with the concepts she is learning about.

Some of the resources we plan borrow from the library are:

Our plan is to really focus on English and Math this year so I think that Easy Peasy’s Science will be the perfect fit for AJ this year.  With a few extra books and videos I know she will have a year full of learning What are you using for math and science this year?

8th Grade English

AJ will be starting 8th grade very soon, but it seems like she was just learning to read a few years ago. Reading and writing are the subjects that she struggles with the most. She has never been officially diagnosed with a learning problem, but I think she has a mild form of dysgraphia. She can make up stories and explain almost anything, but when she is asked to put it in writing, she struggles. AJ has improved quite a bit over the past few years.  This year we are taking a lighter approach with science, history, and Spanish. We are going to really dive into English and Math. Here are our curriculum choices for 8th Grade English.

Our 8th Grade English Plan

Reading

AJ doesn’t enjoy reading short stories, so we stick to novels. This year she will read a variety of books. Most of the books that I picked out are books that we already had. I have study guides for some of them and for others she will be working on literary elements using season 1 of Beyond the Book Report. We were blessed to review it last year, and it was a hit. The lessons are short but they force her to really think about the book. As of right now we won’t be studying poetry this year, but things could change.

Writing

Writing is a subject that I need to be involved in, so it often gets pushed to the side. This year we are making writing a priority! If you have a struggling writer, I highly recommend IEW. AJ likes to watch the lessons. I never thought that she would like a writing program, but I am thrilled that she is enjoying it. When Mr. Pudewa explains something she really seems to understand writing. AJ likes having a checklist to make sure her writing is the best that it can be. I have noticed that the more we use the program the more confidence she has in writing.

Spelling

We have tried a few different approaches to spelling the last few years. Spelling You See was a nice change of pace and Phonetic Zoo was a product that I thought AJ would love. This year I was trying to decide what to use for spelling. AJ ended up asking if we could go back to spelling lists and I thought it would be a great idea. I ended up finding a free 8th grade spelling book online. I had it printed and bound at Staples and it is ready to go for the new year.

Vocabulary

Most of the novel study guides have daily or weekly vocabulary work, but I don’t think it is enough for AJ. She needs a lot of practice so we are going to use a few different products for vocabulary. I found a vocabulary workbook at the same time as the spelling workbook. I decided to have it printed and bound at Staples as well.

Wordbuild Online is great but I wanted an option for those times when the computer doesn’t want to cooperate. We were blessed to review Once Upon a Time in Latin, so we will use it through the year.  I think that between all of those resources AJ will be able to vastly improve her vocabulary.

Grammar

We started Analytical Grammar last year. It is designed to be completed over three years. This year we will finish up the last few units from the first section and complete the second session. AJ doesn’t enjoy grammar, but she is learning. I have learned quite a bit as well. It is a very solid program.

I will be very hands on for AJ’s 8th grade English course this year. Most of the days have her working for an hour and a half to two hours, but I think that the skills she will gain this year will really help to prepare her for high school.

 

LearnBop ~ Review

AJ is at a difficult point in math. She has finished a few different pre algebra courses, but I don’t feel that she is ready for algebra yet. She will be finishing 7th grade is a few weeks and I felt a little lost as to where I should put her for 8th grade. I decided that for her 8th grade year I was going to go through all of the math standards that I could find for first through 8th grade and make sure that she was proficient in all of the standards so that she would really be ready for algebra. That sounded great in theory, but I knew it would be time consuming. Then I learned about LearnBop, and it sounded like exactly what I needed. We were given a 12 month subscription to LearnBop for Families, since I only have one student we were given the Single Student Plan.

LearnBop for Families Review
LearnBop has been around for a while and has been used in public schools, but LearnBop for Families is a new product that can be used by homeschoolers and those who want to help their child catch up or get ahead in math. It is common core aligned, but I didn’t see anything that I found odd or different from the way math was taught when I was in school. The program adapts to where your student needs to be and focuses on mastery. It is geared for kids in grades 3 to 12, but there are some lessons available at the first and second grade level.

Learn Bop Review

When the parent logs on to LearnBop they create an account for their student and decide which Learning Roadmap the student should be placed in. You have three options:

  1. Roadmaps by Grade – These are available for third through eighth grade. Your student is given a number of units to complete based on the concepts they are expected to master in that grade.
  2. Rodemaps by Subject – If your student needs to brush up on a specific topic, or if you want to conquer math a subtopic at a time this is the roadmap you would want to pick. There are ten different options, each one varies on the grade level they cover, but there are concepts covered from first through eighth grade. I love that they offer the roadmaps by topic, they would have been great for AJ last year.
  3. High School Roadmaps- There is the option of; Algebra, Algebra 2, and Geometry. They are the same as the Roadmaps by Grade.

The Roadmap can be changed along the way and you can even switch the order that units are completed it. There is a lot of flexibility and personalization available with LearnBop. I decided to put AJ on the 8th grade roadmap. She worked on math about 30 to 45 minutes a day during this review.

LearnBop for Families Review
When the student first logs in they get to pick an avatar. The avatar doesn’t really serve any purpose, but AJ liked it.

The next step is for the student to do a warm up for the unit they are working on. AJ started with Developing Understanding of Similarity. From the title I had no idea what that was, but it has to do with shapes on a coordinate grid and how to flip them and change them to make the shape move to other places on a coordinate grid. As I have said before, we have had a mastery approach to math in the past and AJ didn’t learn a lot about geometry, so I knew that this would be a difficult unit for her.

The warm up is about ten to twelve questions. Some are multiple choice, some are fill in, some are matching and some had her plotting points. The results are not given from the warm up, but your student may find that they need to complete some Building Blocks before they are ready to work on concepts in the unit.

I normally don’t like warm ups or pretests because AJ gets frustrated when she is expected to answer questions that she doesn’t know how to do. Much to my surprise, we both liked the warm-ups. I think they were very accurate when it came to skills that AJ needed to work on. I wish they would have a button that says I don’t know how to do this problem, or a skip button because a few times when she didn’t know how to do the problem she was able to guess correctly.

Once the student finishes the warm up they are able to start on the first Building Block or Unit Concept that they want to work on.

Each concept has three videos that teach the concept to the student. The videos are like power point presentations with a teacher walking the students through the problems. There are different teachers that explain the concepts so there is a nice variety. There are also optional videos that the student can watch if they need additional help. The student doesn’t have to watch the videos, but they are the main teaching portion of the program.

Once the student watches or skips the videos they move on to the Bop Section. The student needs to complete at least five Bops and gain a mastery of 90% in order to master the concept. The Bops are just the problems that the student needs to work through.

If the student needs help they can be walked through the problem step by step. If they get the problem wrong the problem is broken down into bite size pieces that they need to solve. If there are a lot of mistakes made the student may be assigned additional Building Blocks to help them understand any concepts that then need help with.

LearnBop helps students master concepts.

AJ ended up being assigned more building blocks in the first unit. She was upset that she had to do more work, but after watching more videos on concepts that she needed help with she understood what she was doing wrong and was able to master the concept. She often doesn’t check her work and gets things wrong because she misreads problems. I noticed that she was always checking her work and making sure exactly what the problem was asking her for because it was a lot easier to go down in mastery than to go up.

LearnBop helps students master concepts.

It took her over five hours to master the first unit because there were a lot of concepts that she didn’t understand, but unit three only took her 29 minutes to master. I like that concepts she understands can be finished quickly and that she is given more practice when needed. AJ enjoys watching the mastery graph go up and will often work on a concept until she passes it.

LearnBop helps students master concepts.

As the student moves along they are able to earn badges for mastering concepts, staying focused, being persistent, and other good qualities. AJ is really motivated by these badges. She also likes the fun Growth Mindset section that gives an inspirational quote to her when she logs on.

LearnBop motivates students to master concepts.

We both found LearnBop to be a great program. I am assured that she is learning the same things as her friends in public school, I can instantly see where she needs extra help, and she isn’t stuck working on concepts that she has already mastered. The parent can easily see the student’s progress and detailed feedback on problems that they got wrong. I think that LearnBop is a solid program. We plan to continue with the 8th grade plan over the summer and then work through the subject roadmaps before moving her on to the Algebra level. I think this will be a big blessing to us.

Find out what other members of the crew thought by clicking on the graphic below.

LearnBop for Families Review
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Math Mini-Courses ~ Review

One of AJ’s favorite subjects is math. We don’t follow a traditional method for math, instead AJ works on a mastery based program. We have been studying math this way since she was in fourth grade. She likes that she is constantly learning new things and that she can continue to learn about a topic. We started using a mastery based program when she was learning the very basics of fractions for the second or third time. She was tired of having to relearn the basics every year, study a topic for a chapter or two, and then not work on it until the next year.

We both love the mastery approach to math, but there are a few drawbacks. The major one is that it is very easy to miss studying a skill. Last year I noticed that she hadn’t learned much about geometry. I bought a few workbooks, but they all seemed a little babyish. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to use to teach her geometry, but I figured I would find something. When we were given the opportunity to review two of  the Math Mini-Courses from A+ Interactive Math, I thought it would be exactly what we needed. And it was!

A+ Math 20161

There are 20 Math Mini-Courses. Each course is a way to close learning gaps that your child might have. The courses are set up in a way that they start with the basic information on the topic and then go in very deep ensuring that your child really understands the topic. The courses have different amounts of lessons and range in price from $9.99 to $19.99 for year long access to the course.

Does the mention of fractions make you want to pull your hair out? Have your child try out the Elementary or Advanced Fraction Math Mini-Courses. They will learn all about fractions making math an easier time during your day.

After looking at all of the courses that are available, I decided that the two that would help her the most were; Percentages and Geometry. Unfortunately, I somehow ended up ordering the Elementary Geometry for students in 1st through 4th grade instead of the regular Geometry for grades 4th through 7th. I think we will be ordering the higher level geometry for her to use next year though, because she really enjoyed the elementary level.

AJ enjoyed using A+ Interactive Math last year, so we were familiar with how to use the program. If it is your first time using the program, there is a section that explains how to use it. Once you purchase a Math Mini-Course you will need to create a parent account and then a student account. The student should be able to use the program all by themselves, working in the student account. Any lessons completed under the parent account will not be marked complete.

A+ math has Parent Reports to help you see how your child is doing.

Under the parent account you are able to generate different reports that show how your student did. You can see how they did on the interactive questions, which online worksheets they completed and their score, and any tests that they completed.

How the Lessons Work

Each lesson is set up the same way. The student clicks on the lesson they want to do, then they watch a video lesson. There is also the option to print the lesson in PDF form. The video explains the topic and then goes over a few different examples. At the end of the lesson they complete an interactive question and answer section. The interactive question and answer session begins with a short review of the lesson and then has your student answer some multiple choice and short answer questions. The lesson prevents the student from clicking an answer or inputting one until they have listened to all of the choices. This was great for AJ because one issue she has is that she doesn’t always read all of the options, so she ends up getting the answer wrong. Some lessons only have a few questions while other lessons that she completed had more than ten. (See the photo above.)The thing that is great about the interactive questions is, if your child selects the wrong answer or types one in (Make sure they click on the frog after their answer is imputed, or it won’t register that it is complete.) then they are brought back to the lesson where how to do the problem was explained and then the problem is worked out for the student. I love that they are given instant feedback! When they are done with the questions and answers they mark the lesson complete, and the rest is up to you. Some people stop at that point. But there are both printable and online worksheets for each lesson. After your child submits the online worksheet they are able to review any incorrect answers along with a step by step way to answer the problem that they got wrong.

After your child submits the online worksheet they are able to review any incorrect answers along with a step by step way to answer the problem that they got wrong.

Mistakes are shown, and give you the correct way to solve the problem.

If you want your child to have even more practice on a topic, you can also generate and print off additional worksheets. We didn’t complete this step the last time that we reviewed a course from A+ Interactive Math, because I felt the; online lessons, interactive question and answers, and the online worksheets were more than enough practice. This time though, I had AJ do the printable worksheet if she missed more than three questions on the online worksheet. I think she only had to do one.

Percentages

The Percentage Mini-Course is made up of 13 lessons. It starts with an introduction to percentages, goes through converting percentages from fractions and decimals, and then goes through different word problem lessons. The course covers everything related to percentages and I am certain that when AJ completes this course (she has 4 lessons left) she will have a very solid grasp on how to work with percentages. She struggles with word problems so I am thankful that the last few lessons in this course covers them.

Elementary Geometry

The Elementary Geometry Mini-Course is made up of 19 lessons. It started with the very basics of plain and solid shapes. It went on to cover two and three dimensional shapes and lines of symmetry. It is wrapped up with different types of lines and angles. AJ finished this course, and she did learn a few different things. I think it covers far more than a 4th grade level of geometry. We are both looking forward to having her complete the regular geometry next year. AJ really enjoyed the elementary course and was sad to see that there were only 19 lessons.

How We Used the Math Mini-Courses and What We thought About It

Since the Geometry Lessons were for kids in lower grades, I had AJ do two lessons a day. After the lesson she completed the online worksheets. For the Percentage Lessons she did one a day in the beginning and eventually as the lessons became harder, I had her do the lesson one day and the online worksheet the next day.

We really like A+ math because it is presented in a way that is easy to understand. The lessons are long enough to teach the topic, but short enough to keep her attention. I think these Math Mini-Courses are amazing! They give you a way to help your student fill in the gaps of their learning. The best part for us is that AJ can do it all by herself. The only complaint AJ had was that she never knew how many interactive questions there would be.  She would like it to say something like, “Question 3 of 17” that way she knew what to expect.

Overall we were both very happy with the Math Mini-Courses!

If you are looking for a math program to help fill in the gaps of your child’s learning, then the Math Mini-Courses from A+ Math is something you should look into. Find out what other members of the Crew thought by clicking on the graphic below.

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Math Mini-Courses {A+ Interactive Math Review}