9/10/10

TOS Review: America’s Math Teacher

Math Essential

Though my daughters seem to thrive in social studies and language arts, they do not all thrive in mathematics.  The longer I home school the more I appreciate the need for supplemental math programs, so I was excited to receive a 2 month online subscription from America’s Math Teacher.

What is America’s Math Teacher?

America’s Math Teacher is online math education developed by the same classroom teacher that created the award winning Math Essentials workbook program.   For $195  America’s Math Teacher offers one year access to their web based program.  The heart of the program is located in the Learning Center which offers 4 levels or courses:  Basic Math Course,  Advanced Math Course,  Pre-Algebra and Algebra.   Students watch video lessons from the Learning Center and follow up with practice by using written exercises that you can download and print. 

From the Website:

  • Basic Course—designed for 4th and 5th graders
  • Advanced Course- “This course is designed for middle grades students, but is also excellent for older students who have weak math backgrounds”.
  • Pre-Algebra Course--“This course is a must for students who are about to start their first algebra class. Exponents, scientific notation, ratios and proportions...”
  • Algebra Course--“Algebra is the “gateway” subject. Mastering this course will open all sorts of possibilities for you. In order to complete advanced courses in math, science, and technology...”

Video Lessons

What America’s Math Teacher is not:

 America’s Math Teacher is not an interactive, all-in-one curriculum.  It does not provide feedback to the parent or teacher on the progress of the student.   It is not automated. This means it does not assign work to your student, track it or move your student to the next lesson; it is not individualized in this way.   

What we like about America’s Math Teacher:

  •  great review for previously mastered material
  • written exercises that we can print to reinforce video presentations

Written Exercises

  • One price for the whole family
  • student is not limited to a particular course
  • video teaches directly to the student
  • my girls could be completely independent with this product

What we didn’t like about America’s Math Teacher:

  • No monthly option—only yearly option available for subscription
  • I felt there was insufficient instruction for concepts presented if the student was struggling
  • Students do not have individual accounts
  • No way to track individual student progress
  • We found the format of the speed drill confusing and prefer a more traditional approach to speed drills.

online speed drills

How I envisioned using America’s Math Teacher:

When first checking out the website, I planned on evaluating my girls to see where they were weakest and choosing video lessons/written exercises to focus on improving those weak areas.   I had planned that my oldest would work mostly in the Algebra course and perhaps a bit in the pre-algebra course.  

There is an evaluation tab that contains timed quizzes and a final exam for each course (disclaimer: at the time of this writing, there are no quizzes or a final for the Algebra Course,   I know that AMT is still adding to and improving the website and I fully expect that there will be quizzes and a final added for the Algebra Course). 

How I’ve been using America’s Math Teacher:

The website for America’s Math Teacher is a work in progress.   Instead of giving the girls quizzes to use as placement tests (those quizzes were not yet available), I had the girls work with America’s Math Teacher for 15-20 minutes daily.  I let the girls decide what topics they wanted to cover.

TailorBear mostly chose topics from the Advanced Math Course.    She would pick a topic based on a weakness or an interest and watch the video. Then I would print the corresponding written exercise for her to complete. She enjoyed having a fresh view to some old concepts and picked a few that had not yet been covered in her spine program but that interested her, such as geometry. She needs the discipline though of a more directed approach, but I do believe it did improve her attitude towards math in general and that is a good thing!

This product is really over Supergirl’s head but she did not want to be left out!  I let her watch the first few video lessons from the Basic Course.   If nothing else, it exposed her to the concepts, but more importantly it made her feel good to be like her sisters.

I think the one daughter that would really thrive with this program is Turtlegirl.    She is more independent and self-disciplined than her younger sister so worked more systematically through the lessons.   She worked with mostly with the Pre-Algebra.  Turtlegirl needs more of a “spiral” approach to math and I think America’s Math Teacher provides that for her.  

Though America’s Math Teacher stresses mastery of the basic math skills needed, the approach is more spiral from course to course.   For example you will find whole number topics like adding whole numbers and subtracting whole numbers in both the Basic Course and the Advanced Course.  Each time the concept is presented, the topic is explored with more depth.   Other mastery approaches focus on one concept such as adding whole numbers until mastered and then moves on to the next concept. This approach works well for many students but not necessarily for Turtlegirl. 

The approach of America’s Math Teacher is a better fit for Turtlegirl and the format of the website allowing her to move from course to course at her discretion means that if she wants to go deeper now with a topic she can.  If a topic is slightly too advanced, she can backtrack to a lower course to get back up to speed.

Flip the coin to the other side and we find BooBear.   She likes to really sink her teeth into a topic and own it before being introduced to a new concept.  In theory, America’s Math Teacher would be great for her to use alongside our spine. She could use our math spine to get her introduction to the concept and then work through America’s Math Teacher to really own the concept. Unfortunately, the Algebra Course does not have written exercises at this time. (I’ve been told by tech support that there will be Written Exercises for the Algebra course in the near future).  We could not use America’s Math Teacher the way I would have liked but BooBear did use America’s Math Teacher to review concepts from Pre-Algebra.  

I can see this online math education from America’s Math Teacher to be an ideal program for students who are transitioning from home school to public school or from public school to home school. The parent or teacher can then be sure the student has the required math skills to move to the next level and that math skills are not lost during the transition.

I can see this program being ideal for math loving students to use alongside another math curriculum allowing the student to feast on math. 

Families experiencing prolonged illness or crisis may benefit from America’s Math Teacher to relieve mom’s stress.   The student can continue with math studies while the family recovers from illness or works through the difficult circumstances.

I think this would make a great supplement for my Turtlegirl.  $195 is a little to rich for my blood at this time, but I will be considering this program for Turtlegirl and Tailorbear when/if my budget allows.  I’d love to see a monthly subscription option so that I could at least use it over the summer months to keep math skills sharp.

America’s Math Teacher does have an option to try some video lessons and written exercises for free.  If you think you might like the program check out the samples here. To contact America’s Math Teacher you can fill out this contact form or find your area rep.

You can check out what my fellow crew mates have to say about America’s Math Teacher by clicking on the banner below:

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Disclaimer: As a TOS Crew member, I received a 60 day subscription to access this website so I could provide my honest review. I received no other compensation.

2 comments:

  1. Very well written review!!....It is very informative. (I'm also on TOS crew....)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great job Tess! More complete than my review!

    ReplyDelete