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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Product Review: CTC Math

CTC Math Review
 
Math is hit or miss at my house. Either the kids get it right away, or they don't and I am left scrabbling to invent new ways to explain it and have them practice it. Flashcards aren't helpful and doing every problem together on the board just isn't practical. There are so many online math programs, but many focus on just one skill sequence, or are more "game-like" than I want for my kids.  When I was offered the chance to use a program for free that offered a full skill sequence for all levels in exchange for an honest review on this blog, I said I would definitely try CTC Math!
 
CTC Math is a comprehensive online tutoring program for grades K to 12. It is a way that students can independently enhance their mathematical ability. Lessons vary in length and depth depending on the content.
 
I received a 12 Month Family Plan and enrolled Henry (grade 3) and Margaret (grade 1). The enrollment process was very easy and allowed me access to the parent control panel where I could check progress and monitor what lessons they were completing. I found I never really needed to go into that section though, because I set it up to receive emails when the kids completed and mastered sections, as well as a weekly progress report. The emails were easy to understand and allowed me to print out a certificate when achieved.
 
The log-in process for the students is also really simple and Henry could log himself in right away. I set both kids at their current grade level so they could reinforce and master their current skill sequence. The web pages were easy to navigate and use. The students can watch a short lesson (under five minutes) led by a guy with a nice Australian accent. Graphics are simple and effectively used. If they don't want to watch a lesson, there is an option to read a review of the skills taught. Ten questions follow each lesson, with optional comprehensive tests with each skill. The program encourages 90% or more correct for mastery of material.
 
As the levels increase there seems to be more skills, topics, subtopics, and questions. For example, Henry in grade 3 had four skill areas: 'numbers, patterns, algebra', 'measurement,' 'space and geometry,' and 'statistics and probability.' Each of those would be broken down into two to ten topics, which would then have two to five subtopics, each with ten questions. Margaret's followed a similar format but with less of each section. So you see, this program is definitely comprehensive.
 
Students and parents have the ability to view worked problem solutions, allowing for students to see their mistakes and how to correct them. Problem sets can be done over and over allowing for complete mastery of material.
 
CTC Math Review
 
There are a ton of ways you can adapt this program to make it work for you. We used it as a daily supplement to our already existing program. With the daily practice of at least ten additional problems for Margaret, and thirty for Henry, I noticed improvement right away with the amount they got incorrect on their other math work. Margaret was also able to complete a lot more different kinds of problems independently. It would take Margaret about 20 minutes to complete her section, and Henry about 10 to 20 minutes.
 
In addition to a wonderful supplement, it could be used as a "tutoring" program to help students practice skills they are weaker on. It is easy to "bounce" between the levels, so if your fifth grader is only in second grade level for subtraction, you can get that practice in second, while also practicing skills in fifth.
 
I talked to one mom at a homeschool event that uses CTC math as her only math curriculum for her kids (all 5th grade and under). Her kids were excelling beyond their years and she was telling me about how all their former math struggles were now gone.
 
The best part of the program for me was how easy it was to adapt to our day, and how simply designed the program is. There are no avatars or cute graphics for the kids to interact and become distracted by. It is appealing in clarity and creativity and doesn't take away from the purpose of the program: to enhance mathematical ability.
 
One aspect that was challenging for Margaret is that there is no way for the computer to read her the questions, and she has not yet reached fluency in her reading. It was necessary for one of us to always sit with her to read the directions so that she knew what to do. It would be nice if there was an option where the instructions could be repeated out loud for the younger students, or struggling readers.
 
WHAT DID MY PRODUCT TESTERS THINK?
 
 
I think it's really fun because with some programs you have to start all over with a mistake, but with this you can go back and correct your mistakes.
 

 
I think CTC Math is fun because sometimes I get 100%.
 
 
At the time of this posting, CTC Math is offering sale prices to homeschool subscriptions. You can sign up for as low as $11.97 a month for one student up to $118 for a family subscription for an entire 12 months, with lots of prices and options all in between. Head over to CTC math to explore all their membership options.
 
Many other folks over at the Schoolhouse Review Crew tried out CTC Math with their kids. Click here to read those reviews, or click the banner below.
 
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