10/1/13

{Crew Review} VideoText Interactive: Algebra: A Complete Course

When I was in 9th grade, Algebra was my favorite subject! I had a great teacher and I fell in love with math. I actually looked forward to teaching Algebra to my children. I discovered though that I didn’t have the same ability to teach as I did learning.  I had heard of VideoText Interactive and VideoText Algebra: A Complete Course when Boobear was younger but I was put off by the price tag. I’m going to state this upfront. This is a program with a higher price tag than other math curricula I’ve seen on the market. I rarely comment on value in my reviews because value is subjective. *THIS* program is worth the cost. I regret not paying more attention to my friends talking about VT Algebra. So now that you know my bottom line from the get go, go grab a cup of coffee and let me tell you about this incredible teaching resource!

 VideoText Interactive Review Collage

What is VideoText Interactive?

A better title would be “who is VideoText Interactive?”  Tom Clark, President of VideoText Interactive, developed his program using his notes from explaining mathematical concepts to his children. Mr. Clark has a strong background in teaching math and science and understanding the needs of both teachers and students. I think his educational background combined with his teaching experience, knowledge of, as well as love of math has given him an exceptional gift for explaining how to think mathematically.

So what exactly is VideoText Interactive? It’s a comprehensive, mastery based, program that uses videos as the textbook! The student receives instruction through interacting with the material presented in video format. The student is encouraged to pause the video to answer a question or to discuss the concept with her parent/teacher.

What’s Included?

VideoText Interactive’s Algebra: A Complete Course Online version provides up to two students with 3 years of access to all of the course content: video lessons, course notes, student worktext, and  student solution manual. The included Instructor account includes access to all that the student sees plus quizzes, unit tests, cumulative unit reviews, and teacher resources such as course outline.

VideoText Interactive Online Views

How does it Work?

Algebra: A Complete Course covers Pre-Algebra, Algebra I and Algebra II concepts in 10 Units. The website (and physical materials) refer to Modules A-F. You’ll want to spend some time at the VideoText Interactive website looking at the FAQ and Course information. You can even view a sample video lesson or log in as a guest and try a lesson using the online format.

TailorbearVTQuiz

VideoText Interactive provides many resources and support for the parent/teacher.  One of my favorites is the description of the different plans: One-Year Plan for older students who need Algebra credits but may not have a lot of time left in high school. A Two-Year plan for students like Tailorbear who have time to complete both the Algebra and Geometry courses if she takes two years to complete each.  And a Three-Year Plan for younger students who are ready for Algebra but are in middle school or junior high. Tailorbear is following the One-Year Plan. We’ve modified the One-Year Plan for Turtlegirl so that she  can move a bit quicker.  She’s completed an Algebra I course and part of an Algebra II course but she had hit a wall with Algebra II.  Since she is a junior and we need her to get to Geometry quickly, working at a slightly faster pace will allow her more time to do Geometry (which also covers Trig and Pre-Calc).

Let me start by explaining the One-Year Plan.  With the One-Year Plan a student completes one lesson per day. VT encourages students to do the lesson on day one and take the lesson quiz on day two.  On the One-Year plan the student then watches the next video lesson and completes the exercises. This has been the perfect pace for Tailorbear. Fast enough that she isn’t bored but slow enough that I know she is really truly getting it.

To modify this for Turtlegirl, I used the quizzes as a guide. If the quiz material covered more than one lesson, then Turtlegirl would do all the lesson work.  For example, if Lesson 1 and 2 were combined for the quiz, she would be assigned to complete lesson 1 and 2 and the next day she would take the quiz and if the next quiz was lesson 3 and lesson 4 she would do those lessons.  This pace works for her right now because this is review of material she’s already been exposed to. She is currently in Unit 2 and I know that we’ll eventually slow down to a regular One-Year pace.

TurtlegirlVTlesson

Tailorbear likes that some of the lesson material is combined for the quizzes because that means she doesn’t have a quiz every day.

Thoughts from Tailorbear (age 14; 9th grade):

I really, really like this program. I’m understanding math concepts that I never quite got before. Dividing fractions, Multiplying decimals, and others. He teaches you WHAT you’re actually doing before just giving you the trick. Which is nice. Just saying, ‘cause then if I forget the trick I can do the “Math”. I really love the bite sized steps in each video. He gives it to you, piece by piece. Even though you’re watching it all in one video, you’re getting it in small, understandable bits. The work sheets are AMAZING I am practicing the steps for mastery and I’m understanding so much more!! I really love this program, and really hope it works well for other people, like it did for me!

Thoughts from Turtlegirl (age 16; 11th grade):

 I love this program. I like how they SHOW the math concepts instead of just telling you how to solve them. I like that they explain the why behind the how. I have finally had the reason behind ‘To divide fractions, don’t ask why: just invert and multiply’. One of my favorite parts of the lesson is when they illustrate how to solve that type of problem. I also like how with the ‘work sheet’ part of the lesson, they give several examples (with illustration!) on what sort of problems we’re working on and how. They also list the ‘important concepts or terms’ that were introduced in the video. The very visual approach of this program really worked well for me. I am looking forward to continuing my study of mathematics. I have always liked math but now thanks to VideoText Algebra, I’m liking it even more!

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My Thoughts:

I was worried that VT Algebra would have nothing to offer Turtlegirl because she had already completed Algebra 1 and was part way through Algebra 2. I was wrong. She is grasping foundational skills that we didn’t realize were a bit shaky. I know that she’ll be rock solid with her Algebra skills when she finishes this course.

I knew Tailorbear was weak with her Algebra skills. Though we had tried a different Algebra I course I knew she wasn’t grasping the concepts. VideoText Interactive has helped her to understand mathematical thinking. My math hating daughter no longer complains about doing math.

Though I highly recommend this course, I do have to say that I wish that the interactive part of the online course was more interactive.  Each of the girls have a separate log in but the program does not track the girls progress at all. We (meaning I) have to keep track where each one is. I don’t mind the PDFs.  Since we are not always using Form B for the quizzes or tests I am grateful that I am not wasting paper.

I do love this program and I think this quote from my daughter nicely sums up why we all love it here.

Quote from Turtlegirl age 16:

“He doesn’t teach you how to do it; he teaches you how to think through it. At the beginning of every lesson they say ‘let’s find a logical way to solve this.’ He teaches you how to think mathematically.”

 

The Details:

  • Vendor:  VideoText Interactive
  • Product: Algebra: A Complete Course
  • Author: Tom Clark
  • Algebra FAQs
  • Formats Available: Online or Physical DVDs with Physical books
  • Price for Complete Online Program: $299
  • Recommended Age Range: This program is suitable for students who completed arithmetic and are ready for Algebra.  So as early as Grade 7 all the way through high school age.

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about VideoText Interactive.

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All information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.

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