Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Schoolhouse Review: Math 9-1-1

Everybody knows that 9-1-1 is the number you dial when you have an emergency.  But what do you do when the emergency is Math (as it often is at my house)?  Why, you get started on math911, of course.   Dr. Martin Weissman has developed this math program to help students in Introductory Algebra through Statistics courses after almost 50 years in the classroom (he started his 49th year THIS school year).  

I would have to say that as a math educator, Dr. Weissman is most qualified to help students excel in math.  I am pretty sure that almost FIFTY years in a classroom makes him super-qualified.  That's just amazing to me -- such dedication to students and making sure that they understand math.  Impressive, huh?  That's exactly the kind of teachers I desire for my children to have in life . . . the ones who really care enough to see them through.


So, what exactly IS Math911?  I think that we could realistically call math911 Dr. Weissman's "baby."  Created out of a desire to help students realize there is nothing to fear in math, math911 is actually a tutorial software that you can either download straight from his website OR purchase on a  flash drive that is mailed to you for upload onto your computer.   And the best part is that Dr. Weissman never stops improving his product.  He continues to use new methods to teach students and incorporates those methods into math911.  His is a never-tiring quest to see students find success in mathematics and he even asks for suggestions in how to improve.   (And as it changes and improves, math 911 updates are FREE to those who own it.  Customer Service at its finest.)

A Mastery Learning Approach, students are rewarded for getting the correct answer to math problems.  What that means is, if you answer incorrectly, the problem doesn't count against you.  You are given another problem in its place to aid you in understanding of the type of problem you are having difficulties with.  (This is familiar territory for my children.  With the Driver's License exam, prospective drivers are told to skip questions they might be unsure of and working through what they are sure of first.  The things they don't know right off the bat are not counted against them and similar questions are put in their place.  The ACT exam works the same way.  Students are given credit for what they DO KNOW -- what they answer correctly -- and are not penalized for what they do not know.)  I especially like this for math skills.  I WANT my children to understand what they are learning and I want them to put their whole being into learning without fear of failure.  Getting things RIGHT is far more fun than getting things wrong.  Math911 offers students an unlimited number of randomly chosen math problems to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE which means they have an unlimited number of opportunities to get things right.  You've got to love that.

One of my favorite things about the math 911 program is the set of pdf files that are available on the website.  Step by step guides, these modules are great explainers of the math work in the algebra portion of the program -- filled with cartoons and  practice problems galore.  The pdfs were humorous and fun; understandable and helpful.  I find it refreshing to be able to find something in math that actually makes me smile.  :)

But, here's the thing:  math911 is NOT a game.  It is NOT filled with quirky sounds or silly graphics.  It does NOT include animation of any kind.  It is a place for students who want to be serious and PRACTICE math.    Dr. Weissman encourages students to realize that learning is FUN because it's LEARNING -- no bells, whistles, sounds, graphics or animation needed.  Those are the same words that come out of the mouth of the MainMost on a regular basis.  (Check out the math911 disclaimer below.)


Now for the nuts and bolts of HOW IT WORKED FOR US.  Our first step in getting started was to download the math911setup.exe from the math911 website.  Once I had done this, the math911 icon appeared on my main screen and I was ready to register my software with Dr. Weissman.  To register my software, I sent an email to Dr. Weissman that included my generated registration codes.  Within a few hours, he responded with my activation codes.  I keyed them in and we were ready to begin.  Another thing I'd like to note is this:  Because he's a real-live person, tech support was easy to obtain.  Dr. Weissman makes himself readily available for calls and emails in case you have any questions whatsoever.  How refreshing is that?

To begin our study of math, I simply chose which of the math subjects I wanted my children to begin with.  The Boy Scout is in the beginning stages of Algebra, so he was an easy choice.  Although there is no book to go along with the Introductory Algebra course, step-by-step solutions are given for each problem with explanations provided.  Because the MainMost began his career as a math teacher, he could easily explain anything the Boy Scout did not understand.

We simply began at the beginning.  Introductory Algebra is divided into 11 Chapters with each chapter divided into 8 sections.  As the Boy Scout works through the problems, he is prompted to type his answer and hit enter.  If he does not understand the problem, he can click to see it worked out for him step-by-step.     In addition to all of the problems in the chapters, there are midterm and final test.  I can check his progress at any time and can see his scores.  For a paper record, I can even print his grades.

Now, my Boy Scout is an intense gamer.  He actually hosted a boys-only night just this weekend for an xBox Minecraft marathon.  I say that, because I want you to understand that big graphics, loud sounds and cool animation are a major part of our world.  I was interested to see if the low-key math911 would bother him.  It did not.  He didn't mind doing math911 at all -- he understood that it was school and not just entertainment.

I suggest that you look over the partial list of topics covered in math911 and also that you take a look at the screenshots from inside the program itself.  Both of these will help you determine if math911 is right for your family.

You can purchase the ENTIRE math program -- which contains ALL of the math classes from Introductory-Algebra to Statistics -- for only $49.95.  That's a WHOLE LOT OF math.  You can even try the Standard Version for FREE by downloading the Introductory Algebra as a back-to-school gift from Dr. Weissman as of this posting.  (AND if you look carefully, you will find a special discount code for homeschoolers that cuts $40 off the price of the USB/Flash Drive.  Simply use the word "homeschool" when you checkout through Google.)  The Premier Version gives you access to everything.  The Premier Password Version is available for your homeschool when multiple students will be using the program on a shared computer.  There is also a Network Version if you plan to use networked computers like we do at Long Leaf Academy.

Dr. Weissman is a man of faith and provides a service of math with character.  If your homeschool is in need of emergency math help, you'll want to give math911 a try.

As always, if you have ANY questions about our experience with math911, please feel free to let me know. I'd love to share more with you.  Be blessed and remember:

This Day Has Great Potential!


~Disclaimer:  I was given the opportunity to try math911 as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  The opinions stated are mine and mine alone.  I was not paid to share my thoughts and feelings with you.  I received a download in exchange for my honest review.  You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of  Math911.~

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