GPA Math – A TOS Review

Math, you either love it or hate it. Around here we love math. AJ would do math any day over reading or writing. When I was given the opportunity to review an online math program GPALOVEMATH from GPA LEARN I thought it would be the perfect math program for AJ. I was given a year long subscription to GPALOVEMATH. There are over 150 lessons and 10,000 problems in each grade!

GPA LEARN - A TOS REVIEW Earning badges and points MOTIVATES!

GPALOVEMATH is a math program that is completely online. Using animated characters, lessons that are to the point, and step by step directions, your student can master math standards. GPALOVEMATH is really broken down into three parts – Learn, Engage, and Motivate. When you purchase GPALOVEMATH your child will have access to all six grades of math, from K-5. We used fifth grade for the majority of our review, but we also looked around at some of the other levels.

When your student logs on to the program they are taken to their dashboard. On their dashboard they will see how many lessons they have completed, the number of stars they received for each lesson, their progress, and how many rewards they have earned. From there they have the option of clicking on one of the three tabs; Learn, Engage, or Motivate.

When your student clicks onto the learn tab they are taken to a screen with three different paths to work on. The paths vary a little by grade, but in 5th grade they were:

  • Green Path – covers order of operations, problem solving skills, and variables.
  • Purple Path – covers place value, decimals, fractions, multiplication, and division
  • Blue Path – covers the coordinate grid, graphing, geometry, and measuring

GPA LEARN - Learning Paths

The lessons can be completed in recommended order, or by topic. If you are going in recommended order, there may be times when one or more of your paths are blocked and you are forced to complete other lessons before you can continue on the blocked path. This can be bypassed manually, if you want.

When the student clicks on the desired lesson they are taken to a lesson that is broken up into three parts. The first part is the Introduction.

The 5th grade lessons start off with Nina Numerator and Dino Denominator needing your help to stop the Evil Dr. Division from trying to ruin the world. In order to stop Dr. Division you have to solve math problems and earn clues.

GPA LEARN - Math Missions add to the excitement of math!

After explaining why the topic is important to learn, any new math words are defined.

Mighty Math words - New Vocabulary is learned for most lessons.

The concept is explained in detail. Then the student is walked through four problems on the topic, earning a clue after each problem.

GPA LEARN - Math topics are broken down into easy to understand steps.

During this time the student should work the problems out, but they can not click on anything or submit their answer in any way. Once they earn all of their clues Dr. Division is defeated until the next time and the introduction is over.

Following the introduction is the practice section. In this section you practice solving problems. If you get it right then your learning coach gives you positive feedback, a green check appears, and you can go on to the next problem. If you get it wrong, your learning coach points out what you did wrong, a red refresh button comes up, and you are given another chance to solve the problem. When practice is over, it is time for the Quiz.

GPA LEARN -  made a mistake, your learning coach will help guide you!

The quiz is 15 questions (10 for younger grades) long. During the quiz the learning coach doesn’t provide any feedback, and you won’t know if you answered a problem correctly until the end of the quiz. The quiz is made up of multiple choice, drag and drop, and fill in the blank questions. When the quiz is over you are given your score and your points. You are also able to go through any missed problems.

 

Earn points and badges after each quiz!The second tab your student can click on is the Engage tab. Under that tab they can send messages to approved people including their teacher. This section may be great, but we didn’t use it. With just the two of us, it would be silly to communicate over the computer, but it might work well if your student has friends using the same program.

The final tab is what makes GPA LEARN different from other math programs, the Motivate tab. For each lesson your student earns points depending on how well they did. They can then use those points to purchase things. There are numerous options from staying up late to cooking with parents, and even having the parent do the child’s chores. There is also the option to earn a gift card (provided by GPA LEARN) to different retailers. During this review we saw Toys R Us and Target, I don’t know what options there will be in the future. **** As you can see AJ earned quite a few gift cards, but policies have changed and now there is a limit of earning 3 per year*** There are also random awards that parents can select in the beginning that are given out as surprises when the student has completed so many lessons.

GPA Learn- Earn surprise rewards

GPALOVEMATH can be played on your MS Window or Apple MAC computer; Apple iPad, or Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 (10”). You can use it with your favorite browsers, Google Chrome (recommended), Apple Safari 6 & 7, MS IE11 and FireFox. We used it on my Windows 8 laptop using Chrome.

AJ is in 6th grade, but since we have been doing a mastery based math, there are a few holes, especially in geometry. AJ used this program in place of her normal curriculum for the six weeks. I had her do about 5 or 6 lessons a day. She was able to log on and navigate the program very easily and did the program mostly independently. All she needed was my computer, some scratch paper, and a pencil and she was off.

GPALOVEMATH sounds like the perfect program. It is visual, interesting, and full of bells and whistles to make learning fun. Unfortunately, we found some major flaws.

The voices of the characters are horrible, on top of being annoying and computerized, there were times that math vocabulary words (along with others)were pronounced incorrectly. The audio was at times playing so fast that nothing could be understood and at other times there was so much static that the sound had to be turned off. I contacted the company and they are aware of the problem and are in the process of redoing the audio for the 5th grade level. Currently the only fix is to turn the volume down and read through the lesson, but for AJ that was a major issue.

The other major issue was that there were a lot of math errors. I know there will be errors with any program, but this was a bit much. The first few we just talked about, but by the fifth or sixth time that her correct answer was marked wrong on a quiz she was frustrated. She actually used the feedback button herself and contacted them about the issue. She was right, and the problem was fixed.

Most of the issues were simple errors, but a few times the errors prevented her from getting the highest score and the correct points.

GPA Learn - a major con we had was the numerous math errors

As you can see in this picture, they have that point D would be at -6,2. The correct answer would be -6, -2 but she was marked wrong for that answer and another one that was really correct on the same lesson. After reporting quite a few errors we were informed that the 5th grade team would be going over the problems to check them. When we looked at the other levels there were errors as well. In one kindergarten lesson the question asked which picture showed the snowman after it melted, but none of the pictures had anything to do with snowmen.

AJ’s biggest complaint aside from the audio and the math errors was that the introduction was too long. In the beginning, saving the world from Dr. Division was exciting, but after a week it became old and boring. In fact, because of the awful audio and the long introductions AJ decided to skip most of the lessons and just do the practice and quizzes.

There were some really good things about the program too. I love how step by step everything is. I also appreciate that after each lesson she completes I receive an email telling me what she worked on, how long, and what her score was. I can even see if she skipped the lesson or watched it. I love the detailed feedback that shows me how she is doing. The customer service is top notch, and very professional – even when dealing with an 11 year old.

Overall I think it is a great idea, that is just poorly executed at this point. Would I recommend it? No, not now, but once the audio is fixed and the problems are rechecked for accuracy I think that this would be a great math program.

There were a lot of reviewers, and most of the ones that I have read were very positive, so go check them out!

 

GPA Learn Review
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World History Detective – Review

History is one of those subjects that I hated in school, so I am always on the look out for products that can bring history to life for AJ. When I was given the chance to review World History Detective Book 1 from The Critical Thinking Co. I was excited. I have always heard wonderful things about The Critical Thinking Co. and this book did not disappoint!

World History Detective Book 1

 

About the Book

World History Detective Book 1 is a soft covered 362 page work text for students in grades six to twelve. It is broken up into 78 lessons covering Prehistory, Ancient Civilizations, Medieval Civilizations, and Early American History. In the beginning of the book there is a three page teacher overview that explains the type of questions included and why each question type is important. There is a full answer key at the back of the book so everything is right at your fingertips. This book can be used as a stand alone history text, or as a supplement or review for older students.

Each lesson follows a similar layout. There is about a page to a page and a half of reading, followed by about nine questions. The first questions are a mixture of; multiple choice, true/false, fact or opinion, and chronological order questions. Then there are one or two written response questions. The final page of the lesson is a concept map where students are asked to fill in the blank spaces from a word box.

Concept Map

What makes this book unique, is that for almost every question the student is required to give the sentence number where they found their answer.

In addition to the physical book, there is also a website listed in the book where you can download and print off review lessons to use after a group of lessons have been completed.

How We Used It

We are currently studying Ancient Civilizations, and we were planning on using this book as a supplement. After a few lessons, I realized that would be too much reading for AJ, so we put our other studies to the side and focused on this book.

We decided to break each lesson up into two days, mainly because AJ is a slow reader. The reading level wasn’t too hard, but reading so closely was new to her. On the first day she would read through the lesson and look at any maps or time-lines. Then she would do the concept map. The concept map was her favorite part and really helped me to know if she understood her lesson or not. After working on the concept map she would go back and answer the first nine questions. She was able to answer the questions fairly easily. Finding the sentence that supported her answer was a little more difficult for her. In the beginning I would tell her what paragraph she needed to look in. After a few lessons she started to be able to find the supporting sentence on her own most of the time.

On the second day she would reread through the lesson and then answer the written response question. The first day usually took her about 45 minutes and the second day took about 30 minutes. While the first set of questions was fairly straight forward and could be found in the text, the written response required some more thought. Here is an example from lesson 6 on the Babylonian Empire.

What were the two greatest contributions the Babylonians made to future civilizations? Explain how each contribution benefited future civilizations. Please use complete sentences to answer the question.

Often AJ would use the concept map to help her answer the written response question.

Maps and Questions to make you think.

What We Thought

Overall we really liked the book. It taught way more that just history. It taught thinking skills, it helped with her reading, and problem solving skills. There were a few things that we didn’t care for. In the beginning AJ had a hard time writing in the book because it is so thick. When she tried to write on the pages on the left she had to hold the book funny to be able to write in it. The pages are perforated and can be taken out, but we decided to keep them together. The other thing that AJ didn’t care for was the small writing space on the concept maps. AJ writes fairly large and had a little difficulty fitting in the words. That being said, I don’t think most 6th graders would find the spaces too small. The only other issue we had was that there were two lessons in the Prehistory section that went against our beliefs. It was simple to just skip those two lessons and be on our way.

While there were a few things that we didn’t like, there was a lot we did like. I loved that the questions forced AJ to read very closely, not just skim to try and find the answer. AJ loved the concept map! Seeing all of the concepts broken down really helped her to understand the big picture. In fact we have started using concept maps in other subjects since they helped her so much. I think AJ’s favorite part was that there wasn’t a lot of writing. There were only one or two questions in each lesson that required her to write. The maps and time-lines helped a lot. They really helped her to visualize what was going on. The lessons were full of details and AJ learned way more than I was expecting. We plan to continue to use World History Detective Book 1 as a supplement to our history unit study. It was a great addition to our homeschool, and I would recommend it to those who are looking for a easy to follow program that is fairly independent and makes kids think.

Follow The Critical Thinking Co. on

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The Crew was able to review a few different products from The Critical Thinking Co.  check out their reviews too!

Critical Thinking Company Review
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Digital Science Online – Review

Science is a favorite subject around here. If AJ had her way we would do science all day. She loves the experiments, the pictures, and learning new things, she doesn’t like all of the reading though. When we were given the opportunity to review an amazing science curriculum from Visual Learning Systems, I was hopeful that it would be the perfect product. I was given a year long subscription for both the Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition Grades K-5 and the Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition  Grades 6-12. We looked around the elementary edition, but decided to use the secondary edition.

Visual Learning Systems Review
 

What is Digital Science Online?

Digital Science Online is a video based science program created by Visual Learning Systems.  It includes videos that can be watched all at once which takes about 20 minutes, or watched in segments that are only a few minutes long. To go along with the videos there are; animations, images and teachers guides. The teachers guides include a copy of the video transcript, learning objectives, student activities, and answer keys. Student activities include a pretest, a video review, post test, vocabulary, and other activities that vary depending on the topic.

The Secondary Edition is for grades 6-12 and is broken up into six sections of science; physical science, earth science, life science, integrated science, health, and biology. Each section is then further broken down into topics. The program is completely online and can be accesses from any device with internet capabilities. The teacher guides and student activities are downloadable and need to be printed out to be used.

How did we use it?

We finished our study on geology right before this science curriculum arrived. We wanted to continue with earth science so we dove right in with the topic of oceanography. I printed off the student activity worksheets and the answer key and then we got started. We don’t test very often, so when AJ saw that there was both a pretest and a post test she was a little nervous. I gave her the pretest and she was overwhelmed. We hadn’t ever studied the oceans before so she didn’t know very many answers. She was frustrated, so we decided to skip the pretests for the rest of the units.

Then we watched the videos about oceanography. We watched them straight through. She loved the videos! They were entertaining, and full of information. After the video she filled out the video review worksheet.

Fun videos on visual learning systems

The next day we watched two of the short videos again and then did a few fun activities. She completed three different science experiments to learn about pressure, salinity and density, and temperature and density.

Learning about Ocean Properties

The following day we watched three different short videos again and then did a few experiments about waves.

Science Experiment about waves

The next week we watched the short video about the ocean floor again. After refreshing her memory she read about the ocean floor and then drew a diagram of it. She finished up the day with a vocabulary worksheet.

Ocean Floor diagram

 

On the final day of our oceanography study she did a reading comprehension worksheet about ocean animals. Then we went through all of the animations to make sure she remembered all of the key topics. Finally, she took the  post test. It was 20 questions, ten true and false questions and ten fill in the blank questions. She aced it!

Post Test Visual Learning System

The study was really interesting and in-depth. She had a lot of hands on fun and really seemed to grasp the concepts. After  our study on oceanography was over, we continued with the water theme and learned about freshwater. We explored a few other topics including climate, mapping, and atmosphere.  Each day was different and each topic had different student activities. Some topics had more hands on activities and others had more worksheets and graphing activities.Learning about Fresh Water

There is not a set sequence to follow when using this program. You can pick and choose what topic to learn about and even which type of science to study. The program is very easy to navigate, everything is laid out  and it is easy to find what you are looking for. There is a student log in where they have access to everything except the teachers guide and then a parent log in. I decided to just use the parent log in since I was doing the lessons with her.

What did we think?

Prior to finding Digital  Science Online we were just doing lapbooks based on different science topics because I couldn’t find a curriculum that I really liked. I have found one I love now! This was the perfect curriculum for AJ.  She learns really well from videos, and instead of supplementing with videos, the majority of the learning is taking place by watching the videos. The videos were well made and the narration was clear and easy to understand. I also love the fact that there is an offline component to the program. It includes some reading and writing, but not too much. AJ found the activities exciting, and I found that she was really retaining the information. The best part is that it is flexible and easy to customize to fit your learning. If you don’t like an activity, you can skip it. Want to add in a few extra science experiments that you found on Pinterest, go ahead. You can also search for a topic. If you are learning about fish and want to learn a little more, you can type “fish” into the search box and it will bring up any videos, animations, or photos on the topic. It really is flexible!

Graphs and worksheets

There were only two thing that I didn’t care for. First is that it is a secular based program, there are topics on evolution, and almost all of the geology topics talked about the earth being millions of years old. I didn’t find that to be too big of an issue though, it gave us a chance to reinforce why we believe what we believe.  Right now the list of science topics are in alphabetical order. I think that if they were grouped by topic instead (geology, weather, astronomy exec) it would be easier to see which topics went together.

Overall we love Digital science. We plan to continue to use it for the rest of this year and then next year as well. I do plan to add in a few library books on the topics we are studying just to add in a little bit more reading, but that wouldn’t be necessary. If you have a visual learner or a child who likes to watch videos, this may be the perfect science program for you. Take a look at the sample lessons and see what you think. It is really a good deal, and I would absolutly recommend it. One product, either the elementary (k-5) or secondary level (6-12) , can cover all of your students (up to 8) for a full year of science even if you want them to work on different topics. For homeschoolers the cost is $99.

You can connect with Visual Learning Systems on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Visual Learning Systems Review
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President’s Day Resources and Free Printable

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Last year one of our focuses was learning about the Presidents. The goal for our president study was for AJ to get a basic understanding of the significance of each president, learn a little about each one, and be able to name the presidents in the order that they served.

 

#Presidents

Over a period of two weeks AJ made a President Book. I found a few different printable notebooking pages online but I didn’t find one that I really liked so I decided to make my own. You can download it here. Just print off a sheet for each president you are studying.

Here are a few of the resources we used.

We checked out a lot of books from the library about the Presidents. A few were fairly dull and some were amazing. Here are our favorite books.

 

We love the DK Eyewitness books, and this one was perfect to supplement our president study. Most of the presidents have at least a page written about them and some had even more. The book we used didn’t have the clip-art CD but that would have been helpful when AJ was making her book.

 

While the Presidents were our main focus, we also touched on the First Ladies. They are an important part of history and we both found this book fascinating. There were so many wonderful pictures.

 

Another great book we used was Time for Kids: Presidents of the United States what we liked about this book was that it had a lot of fun facts about the presidents.The reading level was also a bit easier. Each of the books had enough different information that we didn’t get bored reading all three.

After AJ finished her book we used some President flashcards that we found at Target in the “Dollar Spot” I bought two sets and we played go-fish, war (Abraham Lincoln would win over George Washington since 16 is larger than 1), and memory. AJ had a blast and we both learned more about the presidents.

 


Throughout the year we learned a lot about Abraham Lincoln. One of our favorite videos was the Inspiring Heroes DVD. The video is only about 30 minutes long, but there is so much information delivered in that time. The video comes with a free 48 page coloring and activity book all about Abraham Lincoln. I was able to find the activity book online for free but I can no longer find it. You can purchase it from Nest Learning for under $2 and it is well worth the price. AJ enjoyed the workbook, but it is really geared for kids second to fourth grade in my opinion. There is a video about George Washington as well, but we haven’t watched it yet.

The best part about our study was trying to learn the Animaniacs President Song.

The song isn’t for everyone. It pokes fun of a few presidents and mentions how a few of the presidents drank. It also ends with the Clinton administration. AJ liked it and memorized a good portion of the song.

We downloaded a few apps to AJ’s Kindle Fire so she could practice even more. Our favorite was US Presidents.

 

The US Presidents is a matching game and every time you get a correct match you are told the President’s name and number. It was free when I posted this.
We do a lot of lapbooks and before AJ made her President’s Book we were going to use this free lapbook created by Heather from Marine Corps and Nomads. It has a lot of great information.
Overall we had a successful President Study. I hope you are able to use some of these resources to make your study a little bit better.

This post will be part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew Round-up of President’s Day Resources. Check out what other Crew members are sharing. (This link will be live on 1-28-15)

Presidents Day Resources

When I Grow Up I Want to be a Missionary – Review

For as long as I can remember AJ has wanted to have a million different jobs. She is 11, and just last week she asked how much longer she had to wait to get a job and make her own money. Over the years she has wanted to do many things. Her job choices have ranged from working at Disneyland as Princess Bell, to becoming a marine biologist. I don’t know what she will end up being when she grows up, she has plenty of time to figure it out. She is very interested in learning about different careers, so when I was asked by the Schoolhouse Review Crew  to review the e-book, WannaBe – When I Grow Up I Want to be a Missionary I thought it would be a great fit.

When I Grow Up I Want to be a Missionary is part of the WannaBe series from the Old Schoolhouse Magazine. It is currently available for $8.95 and is geared for kids ages 4 to 10. As with most unit studies, the age range is just a guide. In this book there are plenty options for the older kids.

How did we use the product?

After downloading the 93 page e-book I soon realized that it was so much more than just a book. It is a full unit study all about missionaries. There are so many suggested activities available that AJ and I were not able to complete everything. We read the book on the computer and printed off some worksheets and the vocabulary.

We started our missionary unit study by reading all about different types of missionaries. AJ’s first question was, “What is a missionary?” As we started to read she learned so much. She learned about both foreign and domestic missionaries. She even learned about missionaries in closed countries. After reading all about missionaries, there were different suggested activities to do.

First up for us was math. There were a few different story problems that she had to solve. She practiced a variety of topics including; converting currency, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and elapsed time. The best part was figuring out a missionary’s budget. She practiced so many math skills and had a ball doing it.

The next activity AJ completed was translating a few the Bible verses into different languages. She picked Spanish and German. She thought it was the coolest thing ever to translate the Bible.

AJ completed the worksheets that I printed off earlier.  She did a fill in the blank story to practice vocabulary, a word search, a crossword puzzle, and copy work. The copy work is provided in both cursive and print.

To wrap up our missionary study we attempted to make resurrection rolls.  They didn’t turn out exactly right, but AJ understood the message and had a blast making the rolls.

There were so many other activities that we just didn’t have time to complete including; reading a biography about a missionary, a science study and project, an art project, a useful craft, and even directions for making a fish shaped cake. There are also ideas for practicing vocabulary, and games that focus on a missionary theme.

What did we think?


AJ loved this unit study! In fact, she was upset when I told her we were going back to our normal school work tomorrow. We both enjoyed reading and learning about the different missionaries. I liked that this was a true unit study, and that it incorporated so many different subjects. It included numerous options so I was able to pick and choose things that I felt would work well with AJ’s learning style.The unit study was very well written and I feel that you could easily spend a few weeks or longer on just one book. After reviewing this book I am really considering getting the When I Grow Up I Want to be a Veterinarian e-book.

If you are looking for a well done unit study that has numerous activities, the Wanna Be series might be exactly what you are looking for.