Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: VideoText Interactive's Algebra

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One high school math curriculum that takes a student through Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, AND Algebra II?  Why, YES -- yes, please.  When I heard about VideoText Interactive and found out that Algebra:  A Complete Course would cover all three of these maths, I knew that we had to try it out at Long Leaf Academy.  With two high schoolers this year, math is a HIGH PRIORITY.  We have been using Algebra Online which includes Modules A - F ($299 for a three-year license for TWO students.  Did I mention that that price covers THREE full math credits for TWO students?  Impressive, huh?) and I like what is happening at my house in math.
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Developed by Tom Clark  -- a man passionate about math and science with 45 + years of experience in education -- VideoText Interactive is designed so that students have many more "ah-ha" moments than "oh, no" moments when it comes to Algebra and Geometry.  These comprehensive college-prep courses truly do bring the textbook to life through technology and in this day and age, that is exactly what students crave.   Math doesn't have to be nearly as hard as students (and parents) make it out to be.  VideoText Interactive approaches math from a unique perspective and leaves students wanting to learn more.

So exactly what IS VideoText Interactive and how is it working at Long Leaf Academy?

VideoText Interactive is an analytical approach to learning algebra that is divided into 10 learning units from The Structure of Mathematics to Literal Degree Relations.   Each unit begins with a letter written to the student that explains what they will be learning in the unit's lessons.  This encouraging letter offers a glimpse into what is coming and explains to the student what they can expect to learn and what will be expected from them. Students are guided through each unit by the use of the following learning materials :

  1. Video Lessons range from 5 - 10 minutes each.  There are 176 videos in the entirety of the program.  These videos are the actual "textbook" for students. Videos begin by explaining the concept that is going to be taught.  A very personable instructor then walks students through examples utilizing step-by-step graphics.  Students see and hear solutions.  
  2. Each video lesson has accompanying Course Notes.  Course Notes offer a review before students begin actually working math problems.  These can be viewed as PDFs (on computer, iPhone, or iPad) or can be printed.  They are exact replicas of the video lessons.
  3. After students review the course notes, WorkText Pages provide solved examples and exercises to make sure all concepts are understood.  Students can copy the problems from the screen into their notebook or print these pages for a 3-ring binder.  
  4. A Solutions Manual is provided so that students (and parents) can see the step-by-step solution to each and every problem included in the WorkText.  This allows for easy checking of work and makes sure that everyone understands how to do each problem.  
  5. Quizzes and Tests are included for periodic assessment of student mastery.  An Instructor's Guide makes it easy to check all work.  

 Definitely a blessing to my family, we are using VideoText Interactive simultaneously with both my Freshman and Senior as a daily At-Your-Own-Pace class for independent study.  What that means is they are allowed to work by themselves at a pace that works best for their schedule.  Each  child works on Algebra daily.  My Senior works MUCH FASTER than my Freshman.  She is preparing to take the ACT this semester and is using the interactive math as a review to prepare for that test.  She can easily watch two or three videos each day.  She is pacing herself according to the One Year Plan provided by  VideoText Interactive.

On the other hand, my Freshman is slower -- but Algebra is full of new concepts to him so that is exactly what I expect.  He is working through the lessons at a much slower pace as he is introduced to new ways of thinking about math.  As this is his first year in high school, he is using the Two Year Plan provided.  VideoText Interactive presents all three courses (Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, and Algebra II) in an analytical progression meaning students are understanding the how and why of concepts and are mastering each mathematical concept before moving onto the next.  I like this because I am assured that he really does get the basics and is well prepared for higher computation.

VideoText Interactive is a great way to begin math credits while following the logical progression through Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, and Algebra II.  Where my Senior can watch the short video presentations and work through a few problems in the student text to refresh her memory, my Freshman is learning anew as he studies and spends more time with problems and examples.

We have high-speed internet and multiple computers and iPads and iPhones so they can easily access the lessons AND the videos when they are ready.  Each one sits down to do their daily lesson with the needed technology.  My Senior chooses to do math first and get it out of the way for the day.  My Freshman waits to do his math lesson after he has completed all of his other assignments.  I like the flexibility afforded with the online format.  Each can choose the time that is best for them and can pull up the video(s) for the day on their laptop while looking over the notes on their iPad.  Although paper and pencil are not necessary, I'm old-fashioned in that I want to see their problems worked out.  They are happy to oblige.

I think it's only fair to let you know that there is a bit of introductory information for you to process as you begin VideoText Interactive -- but it's not so much that you'll feel overwhelmed.    The Instructor Resources cover all of the nuts and bolts of the curricula and explain the program overview, Scope and Sequence, schematics, and course outline.  It also includes student reference tables for square roots, cube roots, and common logarithms, as well as graph paper templates to print.  The "hardest" part of the entire program is keeping up with what has been successfully completed and remembering where each child left off, but there is a form that helps you keep it all together.  I printed a copy for each of my students and placed it in my teacher's binder.  After this initial "work," my students were ready to begin.

I appreciate that my children can understand the mathematical concepts presented and that they are not bored by the presenters.  Although I did take trigonometry and calculus in high school, it's been quite some time since I used those skills.  It is refreshing to know that my children are able to learn algebra in an innovative manner through VideoText Interactive's Algebra:  A Complete Course.

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I was given the opportunity to play and review Algebra:  A Complete Course  by  VideoText Interactive as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of this and other products as well (or just click on the banner below.)

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