Thursday, September 9, 2010

America's Math Teacher


For the past six weeks I have been using the site America's Math Teacher . This math program is for use with students doing basic math in grades 4 and 5 straight through to those learning Algebra.  I was allowed to use the site for free so that I could review it and share my honest opinion with you.

The idea for the site came from Rick Fisher.  He is a math teacher in California best known for his Math Essentials products.  He was concerned about the decline in math proficiency that he was seeing here in America, especially since the students he was working with seemed to be doing so well.  In fact, almost half of his students were able to skip ahead a year after completing his class.  Using today's technology, he was able to create a video based tutorial program for students everywhere.  His hope was that they would benefit the way his classroom students had.

The program is designed so that the student works at his or her own pace.  There is an evaluation center, where they can test their skill level.  Here they will find which course they would be best matched with.   Course one is a basic math skills class.  Course two covers advanced math skills.  Course three is Pre-Algebra, and finally, course four is Algebra.  Students are taught using video lessons, written exercises and speed drills along with online tests and quizzes.  By following the national standards, the coursework is meant to compliment most math textbooks.

Once the student has found the course that is best for them, they can go to the resource center.  In this area, there are corresponding worksheets for each video lesson.  The sheet should be printed, and the review exercises at the top of the page should be completed first as a warm up.

Then, it's time to navigate to the learning center where they click through to the proper course and lesson.  A short video will explain the concept as the student sees problems being worked out on a whiteboard.  Anything explained in the video will also be found on the printed sheet in an area marked  "Helpful Hints".  When the video is over, there are examples that are to be completed.  The hints are right above the problems, so the student may refer back to them at any time.  Once the worksheet is done, the answers are checked against the answer key.  The key is found at the end of the list of printable pages.

There are also speed drills.  They are done on the computer and on the worksheets.  These are included to reinforce basic math facts.



The site is nicely organized by tabs, and each course has well defined outlines and objectives.  Some other helpful items you will find on the site are the National Council of Teachers of Math (NCTM) standards by grade level, glossaries of math terms, and helpful math tables, such as decimal and fraction equivalents, math symbols, prime numbers and square roots.

There are things I liked about this program.  Having a tutor available at any hour of any day of the week is very convenient.  The content covers a wide range of concepts.  Students can repeat a subject as many times as they need in order to understand it, or they can move ahead quickly if they master something easily.   The lessons are presented in an organized manner, and the site is fairly easy to navigate.

However, the site is in its infancy right now.  It will only have been "live" for less than a month at the time of this posting.  There are still a few glitches, so  I did make good use of the customer support forum. The technical support staff are very courteous and are working extremely hard to make any corrections needed. I even got a response on Labor Day!

If you are interested in learning more, please visit the website at www.americasmathteacher.com .  You'll see there are some free written exercises and some free video lessons available. This is a great way to see for yourself if you like the teaching style, the worksheet layout, and the overall presentation.  If you like those, I would encourage you to take the next step and contact a sales rep in your area by clicking on your state, or scrolling through the list below the map.  They will be able to provide you with a code for a free trial period.  If you choose to subscribe, your entire family will have full use of all of the areas for one year.  The price of a subscription is $195.00.

Some of my other TOS crewmates have also been using America's Math Teacher, and they will also be posting their reviews, thoughts and opinions today.

**I was allowed to use this product for free in exchange for my honest opinion and review.**