Friday, April 25, 2014

CTC Math~ Online Math Tutor with a family plan! (TOS Review Crew)









This next review is for the 12 Month Family Plan from CTC Math. CTC Math is an online math program for K-12th grade. Over 1300 animated (whiteboard), narrated lessons covering the most basic numbers and patterns for kindergarten and going on up through calculus. 

A Few Basics
One of the main selling points of this program is that it is good for children who learn at different speeds~ if you've got the concept, jump straight to the questions, if you need more time, or something repeated you can rewind the video and listen again... as many times as you like. This is good in my household as I have had children who have done both things at different times. 

CTC also addresses the various learning styles with the audio/visual presentations, and then the manual entering of the answers by the student, whether via keyboard or on a printed worksheet. 

My 6 year old was the main user of this program, with my 8th grader doing some Algebra work. The program is set up so that you can access any lesson for any grade at any time. 

Middlest 
I'll start with my Middlest child's experience, but some things will hold true for every level, so I will try not to repeat myself. :) 

Here you can see that the course is Algebra 1, part 1, Number Review 1. The gold bar shows how much of the topic has been covered. 

Clicking on the topic opens up this page, which shows the specific lessons in the topic and the progress in each one.

When a lesson is chosen by clicking on it a new screen opens with a video lesson. *Every single lesson is voiced by the same instructor, Pat Murray, who has a pleasant Aussie accent which makes listening to the lessons that much more pleasant. :)
Below you can see a screen shot of a lesson in progress:




True to Charlotte Mason fashion, each lesson is less than 10 minutes in length. You can see that the video portion of this particular lesson is just barely over 4 minutes. After going through his information and examples Pat leaves the student with a pleasant "That concludes the lesson. Good luck with your questions." At that point the student moves on to the work portion of the lesson, which is then recorded and graded by percent.

Middlest appreciated that the lessons were short and concise, without a lot of busy work. He did find the process of printing the worksheets, doing the work, and then translating the work back to the page on the computer was a little more "fussy" than he would have liked.

This was his main con to the program, and he felt that having more space on the worksheets to work the problems would have worked better for him than having to use scratch paper (just one less step). If you watch the demo video on the CTC site you will see the process in a sample lesson, and probably come to realize that this is really a minor inconvenience for him, and probably a blessing to other students whose brains organize differently from my sons.

YOUNGEST
I wasn't sure how to approach this with my youngest son, so I did what I have done with other programs and just started having him "test out" of each topic in 1st grade to see where there were holes, or where he belonged. During our review period he tested out of every single topic in every stream in the 1st grade course with the exception of the time category. I realized that we had been slack in our calendar work, and that it was time for him to get a handle on the months of the year.

In this screen shot you can see a little 1 or 2 next to an icon on the very left of the topic lessons. That means that he took a diagnostic test in that category, and the complete gold bar indicates that he did every lesson in the "time" category (three times in fact, as I'll discuss later).

If he "passed" the diagnostic test then we moved on to the next category, until we ran into something difficult, then we would do the lesson that pertained to the problem, and take the test again. He generally received a 90%-100%, with only a couple of topics causing him any trouble at all.

My only con at this point was that when Youngest had to actually review a lesson and do the work before retaking the test, he would see a little banner announcing what level he was working at. He would then be told that he needed to complete each lesson three times in order to earn a certificate. What? There are certificates? How come I don't have any? How do I get them?  I had to break the news that he would have to complete each lesson a minimum of three times to be awarded a certificate, regardless of the fact that he had just passed the comprehensive test with a score of 100%. Minor complaint, I know, but when you're dealing with a 6.5 year old temperament, it can become a little more of a big deal (to him, at any rate~ your mileage may vary, as kids are all different).

In absence of an assessment that puts a student in at the correct level, it would be nice (especially for the younger students, but really all of them would appreciate the positive feedback), if there were some acknowledgement of completing the comprehensive tests at a certain level, as they work through their own "assessment" to get to the level at which they will be learning new material.

Now that I have that out of the way...
At the bottom of the main screen there is an icon for awards and reports.
You can get a quick summary report

or a more detailed report

and here is the coveted "PLATINUM CERTIFICATE" in the topic that was causing woe 

We have started our way through the 2nd grade topics, and now I am more likely to have him go through the lessons (3x each) in order to earn the certificates instead of testing out, because I am sure that we will be running into concepts that haven't been covered yet. 

Are you ready for a little joke on me? I just assumed that CTC wouldn't work on my ipad until right before I was getting ready to pull my review together. I saw this graphic:
and searched the CTC website high and low~ didn't find any mention of an app anywhere. Then I had the bright idea to go online on my ipad to the CTC website and see what I could find there. Turns out that CTC has managed to write the program in html5, so that it can be used in any modern browser on almost any device!

Hurrah! So we are using this option for my Littlest for sure, and my Middlest is able to do some of his work on his ipod, in a pinch, if we are computer challenged on any particular day. :) Here's a look at a screenshot from the ipod. 
In case I wasn't clear, so far I am impressed with this program, with a very few tiny exceptions. If you are looking for an online program to use with your children, CTC definitely deserves a look. You can sign up for a free trial and check it out before you purchase, and if you decide to purchase, be sure to click through the links below to access the special sale that is currently being made available to homeschoolers.


 Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.
Blessings~



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