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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Homeschool Math Examination

I've spent the last couple of days absorbed in an examination of homeschool math options for the middle school and high school years. This is most certainly not a new area of research for me, but each time I take a look at homeschool math options I learn something new. Rather than let this research go to waste, here are a few things I've discovered. Today I'll cover online instruction options.

Computer Based Math Instruction
There are several math instruction methods suitable for middle school, high school, and college level math which are entirely computer based. I'm going to write a few notes on things that seem to me unique about each different program.
  • iPASS - designed to catch up a student who may have gaps in their learning. Covers math through pre-Algebra - math taught in grades 4-8 in most states. This is a comprehensive program which breaks down math into all it's component parts. The student is not aware of which grade level they are working - levels are simply labeled with letters from A-V and moving from one grade to the next is seamless. For each topic the student completes a timed assessment and they can test out of a lesson if they reach the pass rate. Questions are not multiple choice so a student must actually know how to calculate the answer to get it right. Once a student has mastered the topic they pass on to the next topic. If needed the student will be given more questions from a large pool of questions to provide adequate practice. Students who need additional time for tests can be accomodated. Review is incorporated throughout the program so that the student continues to practice concepts they've mastered. iPASS does not have a free trial - I was quoted a cost of $20 per month and you can sign up for one month and see if it works for you. Find out more about iPASS. You need to talk with a sales representative to sign up. The person I spoke with was Kim and she is very helpful.
  • Thinkwell Math begins with their Pre-Algebra course. Their courses cover Algebra from Pre-Algebra to College Algebra, Pre-Calculus and Calculus, and Trigonometry. They don't list a Geometry course - I'm not aware of whether geometry is integrated into their other courses perhaps. Each course must be purchased separately. You can save 39-48% by purchasing through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. The current offering ends on August 21st. I've looked at this course before and I really like the way the teacher covers the work. The software workspace is divided up with the teacher on one side explaining the concept and working the problem, a place to show the math problem being worked on and a key ideas area. It does make for quite a busy screen. You can see the demos at Thinkwell's site and take a look at what the Thinkwell Homeschool Buyers Co-op offering. There is no free trial, but watching the demos should give you and your children a pretty good feel for this program.
  • PLATO Learning Math has courses covering everything from Pre-Algebra to Geometry, Calculus 2 and Trigonometry. They do not appear to cover Statistics. This year is the first time these courses have been available to homeschoolers. Homeschool Buyers Co-op is able to make them available through the Kentucky Virtual Campus. While I am not familiar with the PLATO math options I've used some of their science courses in homeschooling my teens and we've liked them a lot. The offering for these courses involves signing up to get access to a very wide range of middle school and high school level courses. At a cost of $299 for the year it would be a really good deal if you can take advantage of several of the courses. The courses cover math, science, social studies, language arts, and job and life skills. The Homeschool Buyers Co-op deal ends on the morning of August 23rd. If you're interested take a look at PLATO demos and Kentucky Virtual Campus then sign up through Homeschool Buyers Co-op. There is no trial period for this software.
  • ALEKS Math cover everything from Grade 3 math to college math courses in Algebra, Trigonometry, AP Calculus and Statistics, and Business Math. I'm not very familiar with ALEKS but I've heard good things and they do have a free trial. At the ALEKS site you can see all of their offerings, take a tour and sign up for a free trial. One thing I like about what they are offering is that you have access to all their courses for the one subscription of $19.95 per student.
  • Indian Math Online is an online math program I just discovered. It is based on the teaching method used in India. Given that India is now producing some of the leading math and science majors I think it's worth a look. You can sign up for a free trial and then the subscription costs $15-20 per month. Indian Math Online covers grades 1-10 math.
If you are looking for a math curriculum I hope these comments will be of help to you. I also have plenty to say about textbook math, but I'll save that for another day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For math practice at home, you can also try website

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