Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Math Tutor DVD's... it's not Rocket Science, people!

At least elementary and secondary mathematics isn't, but if you or your child is having trouble, maybe you'd like to hear a REAL rocket scientist EXPLAIN some of those pesky math problems.

Enter Math Tutor DVD
Jason Gibson is "a fully certified space shuttle flight controller and... one of a small cadre of individuals that is in charge of the orbiter's flight computer systems, onboard software, and flight critical avionics during missions. "

And what does this have to do with teaching math, really? In his own words, not much....

"Now, I am the first to admit that none of this amounts to a hill of beans when teaching a lesson. What really matters is if the instructor takes a complex topic and assumes the student knows absolutely nothing about the task at hand and takes him/her from zero knowledge to expert in step-by-step chunks.

I personally get a thrill out of making seemingly complex topics suddenly easy to students."

I have to tell you, there is nothing "thrilling" about the production of these DVDs, there is no "Flash", no goofy cartoons, no splashy color. Jason Gibson is a pleasant instructor, ("A Regular Joe", even if he *is* a rocket scientist... ;) ) in front of a white board. He walks the student through the problems slowly and steadily, truly assuming very little knowledge. This will be annoying to those who have even a slight working knowledge of the topic at hand, because there is a fair amount of repetition. However, if the student sincerely needs some extra "help" or "Tutoring", the pace makes complete sense.

As part of the TOS Crew, I received 2 Math Tutor DVD's to review.

The Basic Math Word Problem Tutor~An 8 hour video course, covering word problems of varying types, all the basic operations with whole numbers, decimals, and fractions, as well as covering percents and ratio and proportion.

This course is great for the beginning math student who has the basic operations down, and is just having trouble with figuring out those pesky word problems. Mr. Gibson points out useful words to recognize for most operations, and helps the student to analyze the problems to figure out exactly which operation is required.

This was useful for my 3rd grader, even though he has a decent handle on many word problems, he sometimes gets tripped up with the language used. My 6th grader was.... less than enthusiastic, but that is because she doesn't require any "tutoring" in this subject. Fair enough!

One thing I *wish* had been done was to "mix it up" a little every 4 lessons or so, so that the student would have some practice in determining which type of problem they were looking at, instead of having only addition, only subtraction, only multiplication, and so on. That would have added to the "interest" of the lessons later on, I think, but then again, that's something that we can easily add at the end of a lesson.

Here is a sample from the basic addition of whole numbers lesson and another from Subtraction of decimals lesson, so that you can get an idea of what these videos are like.

The Algebra 2 Tutor~ A 6 hour DVD course, with optional worksheet CD available.

Now, this was where the proof was in the pudding, so to speak. I don't have an Algebra 2 student by normal accounting for "age" and "grade", but I thought I'd pop this course in for my 6th grader, who is finishing up her Saxon 6/5, and getting ready to plow on into 7/6 soon.

We sat down and started the first lesson on graphing equations. She gave me kind of funny "What is all this x and y stuff? I don't get it..." look, but she continued to watch, and to do the problems along with Mr. Gibson on some scratch paper. Pretty soon, she decided that even if she didn't understand "why one would need to know this stuff", she DID understand the "how" to do it, and enjoyed figuring out the "puzzles". COOL! See... Math CAN be fun, and you don't have to have a crazy, goofy, colorful bit of "Entertainment posing as instruction" to figure it out!

Here is a sample video on The Slope of a Line and one on Simplifying Radical Expressions.

I like Mr. Gibson, and his down to earth manner, his patient teaching of the problems and how to solve them. I don't even mind when he sometimes falters looking for a word, because he's a human, just like me, and heaven knows I find myself searching for words on a regular basis these days (just ask my daughter...;) ). Again, this is not polished flash, but basic, good, down to earth, solid teaching of math concepts. I think that these courses would be a help to anyone that is having difficulty with their math.

You can find sample videos from each of the 16 courses currently available if you scroll down the Math Tutor site, on the left hand side. They are very reasonably priced (especially considering the cost of an "In Real Life" tutor), with most complete courses priced at $26.99.

* Bundles are available that will save you between 5% and 10%

*Limited Time Free Bonus: Each new Math Tutor DVD customer receives 60 minutes of FREE live online tutoring available 24/7 through Tutor.com! A $35.00 Value.

*$10 coupon off any single DVD if you become a Facebook fan!

* Sign up for the monthly newsletter, and be entered every month (Automatically) to win a 14 course bundle worth $435!

Overall, I am very impressed with this program, and since there are so many sample videos available, I am certain that you will be able to get a feel for what the teaching is like, and whether or not this may be a good option for your family.

The only other caveat I would mention here is that the shipping is steep for just one DVD ($9.99), BUT the shipping remains the same, regardless of how many DVDs you purchase, so this might be a great "Group buy" option, if you have other like-minded friends looking at the same level, or if you want to go for a set or bundle option. :)


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