Saturday, April 30, 2016

Y is for Yoko: A Book About Accepting Differences

What would you like for lunch today, my little cherry blossom?" 
asked Yoko's mother. All my favorite things, please," answered Yoko. 

Yoko, a children's book written by Rosemary Wells, is about a Japanese kitten who gets teased for bringing sushi and other cultural foods to school for lunch.

My daughter, Alyssa (Age 8), recently read and enjoyed Yoko. She learned a lot about accepting others and their differences. She also learned about bullying and the feelings of those who are teased.

Alyssa used the book as an inspiration for her next Here to Help Learning Unit 3 "Good Books Make Me Hungry" writing project. This project took much longer than the other two units, but it was definitely worth it. She took her writing piece through all of the writing process steps. She also practiced writing opening attention-getter and closing sentences for each section. She worked on changing "dead" words to more interesting words. She improved her writing by adding transition and descriptive words.

This particular unit provided Alyssa with a sandwich writing template as seen below. Each part of the sandwich represents a different story element.
  • Title and Illustration - Bread
  • Plot - Mayonnaise 
  • Main Character - Tomato
  • Setting - Lettuce
  • Conflict - Swiss Cheese
  • Main Idea - Meat
I wanted to share Alyssa's story with you today.  I'm sure she would love to read your comments. She worked very hard on this project! Although just so you know . . . to keep writing fun and to focus on specific improvements we didn't correct every single error. Thank you for leaving kind comments. I know Alyssa will appreciate them.

My daughter is currently using Here to Help Learning Flight 1 Paragraph Writing as her core writing curriculum. You can read my Here to Help Learning review for the online membership by clicking on the link provided. It is an outstanding writing curriculum.

I hope you enjoyed your visit to A Learning Journey! Come back soon.

I will link this post up at Through the Calm and Through the Storm's Blogging Through the Alphabet Linky. I will also link this post up at Year Round Homeschooling's Hearts for Home Blog Hop.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

TOS Review: Heroes of History - Harriet Tubman: Freedombound from YWAM Publishing

Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}

My daughter and I were sent an exceptional book titled, Heroes of History - Harriet Tubman: Freedombound, written by Janet and Geoff Benge from YWAM Publishing to review. We also received the accompanying Digital Unit Study via e-mail to review.

We've never used YWAM Publishing books or the unit study curriculum guides before so I was excited to give them a try. I chose the Harriet Tubman book, because my daughter was showing an interest in the following History topics: Underground Railroad, Civil War, Harriet Tubman, Slavery, and Abraham Lincoln. During Black History Month, we discussed several key historical figures and Harriet Tubman was at the top of the list. Alyssa wanted to learn more about her and I wanted to find a way to bring History to life using twaddle-free literature. It was also the perfect time to switch gears with our American History studies. I hoped to discuss the Civil War time period and slavery in more depth this year. This hero biography was used to explore history concepts as an independent study.
Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}

We received a physical copy of the 208-page paperback book which is suitable for children ages 10+. This historical biography consists of 15 unforgettable chapters. The chapters begin with an event that happened during Harriet's adulthood and then it flashes back to her childhood to a time when she was about 6 years old. This softcover book unfolds Harriet's life and tells her story about life as a slave in narrative form. It addresses her experiences with helping runaway slaves escape using the Underground Railroad in hopes to find freedom.

We also received the Digital Unit Study curriculum guide for this Heroes of History book which consists of a conglomeration of corresponding activities to complete. After logging in, I saved the 61-page downloadable unit study in PDF format on my MAC computer. Adobe Reader is required to view and read the PDF files.

When you first access the unit study, you'll see seven tabs across the top of the screen labeled Harriet Tubman, Unit Study, Meet the Authors, Reader Reviews, Bonus Material, More Heroes, and Emerald Books. The Meet the Authors and Reader Reviews sections are still under construction. An informative online biography was available under the Harriet Tubman tab which may be useful when filling out the fact sheet. The Digital Unit Study is found under the Unit Study tab. The unit study offers teaching guides for small groups, classroom, and homeschool usage. I skimmed through the 24-page homeschool guide. The unit study tabs are below the guides which is what we primarily used.

The Digital Unit Study is divided into two core parts. The first part contains the majority of the unit study curriculum guide which is organized into several different sections. The listed activities can be used for children across several age, grade, and ability ranges.

Part 1 Unit Study Sections:
  • Key Quotes
  • Display Corner
  • Chapter Questions
  • Student Explorations
  • Community Links
  • Social Studies
  • Related Themes to Explore
  • Culminating Event
The second part of the Digital Unit Study contains a timeline, a United States and Maryland map, and a Harriet Tubman fact sheet. Alyssa researched information about Harriet from books and online resources in order to fill out the fact sheet below.

There was a useful Books and Resource list indicated as Appendix A. It contained a 14-page list of Harriet Tubman biographies, related books, Heroes of History series books, movies and documentaries, National Geographic magazine articles, and Internet website links. The Chapter Question Answer Keys (4 pages) for the first three questions can be found in Appendix B. There is also a list of books written by the authors in the Appendix. 

Integrated Subjects of books
  • American History or Social Studies
  • Literature and Reading Comprehension
  • Language Arts
  • Creative and Essay Writing
  • Geography
  • Art
  • Drama
  • Public Speaking
  • Character Education
How We Used It
I used this book as a family read aloud with my daughter, Alyssa (Age 8). It was utilized as a U.S. History and Geography supplement to complement the topics she was interested in studying independently. We are using this book to explore history concepts we've barely addressed in the past. I also used it as part of our literature-based studies. We haven't read many biographies in narrative form so this book addresses that need. My daughter is an avid reader working at a 3rd-6th grade level. Even though she is a strong reader . . . I was hesitant to give her such a thick living History book to read independently. I chose for us to take turns reading several pages and/or paragraphs aloud from the chapter. Many days she just wanted to hear me read the story aloud while snuggled on the couch.

Alyssa and I read a complete chapter from the book each day 3-5 times per week. We hoped to cover 3-5 chapters per week, but that depended on how long each student exploration project or writing assignment took to complete. We usually worked on History for 45 minutes to an hour, but I always allowed more time to work on projects. The book encouraged attentive listening and purposeful reading.

We usually devour books and work quickly through study guides, but this time I decided to take a much slower approach, because I didn't want to overwhelm my daughter. I wanted Alyssa to retain the information better especially since it was chocked full of accurate accounts or snippets of History. I wanted her to learn about Harriet Tubman's true character by reading about her adventures.

Parent prep was limited to reading, asking questions, giving project directions or supplies, and printing out anything needed for a lesson. I printed the Digital Unit Study guide and placed it in a 3-pronged pocket folder for easy reference. We utilized the Digital Unit Study somewhat extensively as we read the book.

Display Corner
Our display corner was limited to mainly books rather than relevant items. We gathered all the books we owned related to the topics addressed. Upon completion of the book, we added all of Alyssa's projects and work to the display corner. We found wanted posters, a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, and quotes online.

Chapter Questions
After reading each chapter, on the same day we verbally discussed the corresponding reading comprehension questions to assess her understanding of the story events as the plot thickened instead of requiring written responses in complete sentences. However, she verbally answered the questions using complete sentences. Many interesting conversations sparked from these thought-provoking questions.

Four questions were provided for each chapter addressing different types of information. The first question always  focused on a referenced vocabulary word which helped expand her vocabulary knowledge. Alyssa used a dictionary to identify the contextual meaning of the new words. The unit study also encouraged her and gave her practice using the vocabulary words in the context of a sentence. This proved to be a bit challenging for Alyssa, but I noticed improvements over time. The second question was a factual text-based questions seeking answers directly from the book. The third question was an inductive comprehension question that assesses her understanding of the story using examples or information from the book. The last evaluative question challenged the reader to answer more analytical higher-order thinking skill (HOTS) questions. The answer was interpretative and not found in the text. Alyssa needed to make inferences and draw conclusions about what she read in order to create a justifiable answer. The chapter question answer keys were provided at the back of the study in the Appendix B. All questions were answered except for the last question is more open-ended and subjective. I asked Alyssa to respond to one evaluative chapter question in written format in her journal.

I skimmed through the guide and chose several age-appropriate activities for my daughter to work on independently. I tried to choose at least one activity from each section of the unit study guide. I asked for Alyssa's input based on her interests. The projects or activities were often completed over several days or longer if required.

Key Quotes
We focused our attention on one of the shorter key quotes stated by Harriet Tubman. We recorded the audio of the quote my daughter memorized on my iPhone. She also made a banner stating the quote, explaining the meaning of it, and drew a related illustration to represent he quote.

Student Explorations
The student explorations section was divided into activity types. This section included Essay Questions, Creative Writing, Hands-On Projects, Audio/Visual Projects, and Arts and Crafts. We chose several student exploration projects to complete based on Alyssa's interests, abilities, and preferred learning styles. We skipped over several of the writing intensive and higher grade level activities. My daughter's favorite activities came from the student explorations section. I'll share a few with you.

Essay Questions
Alyssa and I chose to discuss the 1st and the 5th questions. Alyssa verbally explained 3 events that changed Harriet's life and how it impacted her life. She also verbally compared and contrasted the similarities and differences between Harriet Tubman's adventures with the Underground Railroad and the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt into the Promised Land according to the book of Exodus in the Bible. I was super impressed with her level of knowledge.

Creative Writing
My daughter loved the idea of writing a diary entry from Harriet Tubman's perspective. This was another one of her favorite activities. She did point out that Harriet couldn't actually read or write, but we overlooked that piece of information so that she could write creatively. I decided that she would write a diary entry for EVERY chapter instead of just one as a summarization activity. I asked her to focus on at least 3-5 main events that occurred in the story. Her diary entry focused on a description of Harriet's day and the events that happened. This activity really helped her hone in on key events and improve her summary writing skills. Her entries intrigued me and I enjoyed hearing what she thought was most relevant or interesting. This activity wasn't graded and errors weren't corrected, because I wanted Alyssa to freely write and get her ideas down on paper using her imagination without worrying about errors.

Hands-On  Projects
Artifact Tub - Alyssa collected items from around the house that could represent important aspects of Harriet's life. As we read chapters, she jotted down "artifact" ideas. She did an excellent job explaining their relevance to the story remembering details I had forgotten.

Abolitionist Stamp
Alyssa read a book about Frederick Douglass and created a postage stamp to honor his accomplishments as an abolitionist. She also wrote a paragraph telling about his role in slavery.  

Harriet Tubman Survey Questions
I made minor changes to this activity. I allowed Alyssa to write ten true/false survey questions about anything that happened in the book about Harriet Tubman as a slave, the Civil War, the abolition, Emancipation Proclamation, etc. 

Arts and Crafts
Slave Doll - Alyssa chose to design Harriet's outfit instead of starting from scratch and making the slave doll. She used a pre-made doll our pastor brought back from Africa. She used bandanas to create an outfit that consisted of a white dress, brown apron, and black do-rag. She later added this doll to her artifact tub.

Quilt Square Representation - Quilts were prized possessions for many slave women in the past. Alyssa designed a paper quilt square representing the time when Harriet grabbed the sugar cube from the table bowl during a scolding.

Community Links
We didn't have much luck with field trips in the surrounding area. I appreciated the suggested field trip ideas. The guide even provided users with a three-step checklist for getting the greatest value out of a field trip. 

Social Studies
Map Work - Several mapping activities were included in the guide under the Social Studies section. I love integrating map work into our homeschool day. Alyssa identified and located relevant places mentioned in the book on a printed USA and a Maryland map. She used the Internet and an Atlas to research locations Harriet visited when traveling along the Underground Railroad.

Timeline Research - Alyssa shocked me with the amount of work she put into this project. She researched information for hours using the chapter book, online websites, and other books about Harriet Tubman to complete her timeline which listed relevant historical events to plot.

Conceptual Questions to Ponder At the conclusion of the Social Studies section, the authors listed a few reflective questions to ponder as we explored related themes. We decided to further research slavery in relation to cotton production and the invention of the cotton gin. I found a place that sells cotton bolls for children to dissect and experience firsthand what it was like to clean the cotton.

Culminating Events
We plan on completing the unit study with a Culminating Book Project to show what she learned from reading the book and to share her projects during an Emancipation Party. Alyssa was very eager to show her Aunt and Uncle her projects when they came to visit us. They were impressed with the content coverage and depth.

What We LOVE
  • High-Quality Literature (Living History)
  • Adventurous Story Brought Character to Life
  • Wide-Variety of Curriculum Study Guide Activities
  • Flexible and Adaptable Projects
  • Subject Integration
Vendor Suggestion
The only suggestion I have is to integrate specific Citizenship activity ideas into each study. It can be clearly labeled as a tabbed section or added to the Digital Unit Study in PDF format. Citizenship is one subject we are required to teach here in Texas and finding comprehensive resources isn't always easy.

Our Thoughts and Experience
Even though Alyssa is younger than the recommended age range, we utilized this book and Digital Unit Study with great success. My favorite part about the whole experience was when I finished reading the last word of the book. Alyssa yelled "Noooooooooooo!" She thought I was joking when I told her we finished the book. She wanted me to keep reading . . . the only problem was it was the end of the book. This is a huge sign that she thoroughly enjoyed the book. She's already asking me for the Abraham Lincoln and Clara Barton books. Personally, I wish I could afford the entire Heroes of History set to use as a core History curriculum. I never expected this kind of reaction, but I can tell you it definitely pleased me.

Some parts of the well-written book were a little intense. For example, there was mention of a pool of blood, whippings, verbal abuse, the word hell, and other  incidents of unfair treatment. However, the history seemed accurate. My daughter learned a lot about the struggles and injustices of slavery. If you're reading the book aloud to children younger than the intended age level, then you may want to reword or skip those parts. My daughter didn't flinch when reading the story. She felt bad for Harriet and the other slaves and angry with slave owners.

This was a very interesting and believable story with scattered historical facts, events, and dates. We were brought back in time to Harriet's childhood and life experiences. We learned about her accomplishments and the text revealed her true character. I thoroughly discussed Harriet's character qualities. Harriet exhibited strength, bravery, commitment, dedication, boldness, faith, courage, and other traits making her an inspirational role model today. The story ended with her death without giving too many details. The book addressed the sacrifices she made for slaves and their freedom. Her faith in God was revealed many times. The story also mentioned the obstacles she faced during the Civil War. My daughter and I learned a lot about Harriet Tubman together. I remember as a child History was my least favorite subject, but this book captured our attention and made it sound fascinating, fun, and engaging.

I am thrilled that Alyssa had the opportunity to read this book. I hope in the near future we'll be able to choose several more to read aloud together. After reading this book, my daughter understands slavery a little more and  better understands the events that took place during the Civil War time period. She definitely retained the information. She was also inspired to research more about slavery and Harriet Tubman.

I believe that the Heroes of History book series from YWAM Publishing will have a positive impact on how we teach American History. The books and Digital Study Unit are very affordable and comparable to most on the market. The educational value of the book is outstanding! Some of the activities are writing intensive and geared towards older children, but the flexibility of the Digital Unit Study allows you to pick-n-choose suitable activities for your children with room to adapt activities.

YWAM Publishing web store carries an assortment of memorable books that will fascinate you.

Book -  $7.50 (Retails for $9.99)
Digital Unit Study - Price varies from $5.49 - $7.49 (Retails for $9.99)

Note: All prices are subject to change without notice.

I HIGHLY recommend Heroes of History - Harriet Tubman: Freedombound and the other YWAM Publishing books and study guides to any Christian homeschool family or private school. These books could be used for individual use as we have done, during literature circles, or in small group settings. It was a complete unit study when the book was utilized in conjunction with the Digital Unit Study.

Social Media
Twitter @YWAMpublishing
YWAM Publishing Blog

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read other crew member reviews about different Heroes of History and Christian Heroes: Then & Now books and Digital Unit Studies published by YWAM Publishing.
Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}
Crew Disclaimer

Friday, April 22, 2016

X is for X-Cited: Surprise Packages!

My daughter was super eXcited the other day when two packages arrived in her name. She received a response letter from Sea World. Last month she wrote a letter to them as part of her Mr. Popper's Penguins Third Grade Literature Guide from Memoria Press. She asked a zillion penguin questions.

Bob Flores, the Aviculture Supervisior of Zoological Operations, responded back with a three-page detailed letter answering all her questions and more. She read the letter to me as we drove to piano class. I am so thankful for the dedicated employees at Sea World. We were hoping she would hear back from them and she was absolutely thrilled when she did!
Penguin Letter
She also received a package from Utah State University. They sent her four cotton bolls for our slavery unit so that Alyssa can experience first hand what it was like to tend to the cotton on the plantation farms. It will be a super cool addition to our unit study!
Cotton Bolls

I will link this post up at Through the Calm and Through the Storm's Blogging Through the Alphabet Linky.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

TOS Review: Math Mini-Courses from A+ Interactive Math

Math Mini-Courses {A+ Interactive Math Review}

The most recent products from A+ Interactive Math that we had the privilege to review was their newly released online Math Mini-Courses. My daughter and I received two online courses to review as part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. We asked to review Advanced Fractions and Elementary Geometry. Each course included 1 parent and 1 student account.

I chose these two courses, because Alyssa's Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plans from last year indicated that these two areas needed some improvement. We also use a mastery-based curriculum which doesn't cover all math concepts every year. I tend to worry whether or not Alyssa will have gaps in her math learning which is another reason why I chose to review the Math Mini-Courses. They are designed to reduce or close any math learning gaps.
Is your child struggling with a particular math concept? 
Do you worry about math learning gaps?
A+ Interactive Math may have a solution for you.

This is not my first time reviewing A+ Interactive Math's multi-sensory products. In the past, I reviewed the Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plans (3rd and 4th grade) and the First Grade Homeschool Edition of A+ Interactive Math Online. We also used their 3rd Grade Family Math Package and the 2nd Grade Homeschool Edition of A+ Interactive Math Online in the past.

Elementary Geometry ($12.99) is a complete Math Mini-Course geared towards children in 1st-4th grade covering a wide variety of topics as seen in the list below the following graphic. The course is organized and broken-down into 19 topical lessons. If you click on the "+" symbol on the left-hand side of the screen under the broad course title, you'll see individual, specific topics addressed within the course.
Math Mini-Courses {A+ Interactive Math Review}

Math Concepts Addressed:
1.1 Introduction to Geometry
1.2 Naming Plane and Solid Shapes
1.3 Dimensions of Shapes
1.4 Vertices, Edges and Faces
1.5 Basic 2-Dimensional Geometric Shapes
1.6 Identifying 2-Dimensional Shapes
1.7 Basic 3-Dimensional Geometric Shapes
1.8 Identifying 3-Dimensional Shapes
1.9 Polygons
1.10 Working with Shapes
1.11 Identifying Congruent 2-Dimensional Shapes
1.12 Lines of Symmetry
1.13 Completing the Shape
1.14 Points, Lines and Line Segments
1.15 Measuring Line Segments
1.16 Parallel, Intersecting and Perpendicular Lines
1.17 Angles
1.18 Triangles
1.19 Quadrilaterals

Advanced Fractions ($19.99) is a Math Mini-Course developed for children in 4th-8th grade. The "+" symbols divides the comprehensive course into 26 topical lessons covering a conglomeration of topics as seen in the list below the following graphic.
Math Mini-Courses {A+ Interactive Math Review}

Math Concepts Addressed: 
1.1 Fractions Review
1.2 Identifying Fractions
1.3 Equivalent Fractions
1.4 The Greatest Common Factor
1.5 The Least Common Multiple
1.6 The Least Common Denominator
1.7 Adding Fractions with Like Denominators
1.8 Subtracting Fractions with Like Denominators
1.9 Adding Fractions With Unlike Denominators
1.10 Subtracting Fractions With Unlike Denominators 
1.11 Types of Fractions
1.12 Mixed Fractions
1.13 Reducing Fractions
1.14 Converting Whole Numbers to Improper Fractions
1.15 Converting Mixed Fractions to Improper Fractions
1.16 Converting Improper Fractions to Mixed Fractions 
1.17 Converting Fractions Into Decimal Numbers
1.18 Converting Decimal Numbers Into Fractions
1.19 Adding Fractions and Whole Numbers
1.20 Adding Mixed Fractions
1.21 Multiplying Fractions
1.22 Multiplying Fractions and Whole Numbers
1.23 Subtracting Fractions and Whole Numbers
1.24 Subtracting Mixed Fractions
1.25 Dividing Fractions
1.26 Dividing Fractions and Whole Numbers

The Math Mini-Courses are NOT grade-specific. Each mini-course covers a logical sequence and skill set covering topics from and across several different grade levels from basic to advanced skills which provides thorough coverage helping to fill in those pesky gaps. The content and lessons progress in difficulty level. The format is set-up exactly the same which makes it super easy for children to easily navigate once familiar with the website. You can use the mini-courses to catch-up, close learning gaps, or accelerate learning at an individualized pace.

How We Used It
The Math Mini-Courses were used with Alyssa (Age 8) who is working on advanced 3rd-5th grade math concepts. We used the Math Mini-Courses from A+ Interactive Math 3-5 times per week for approximately 15-30 minutes each day as a supplement to her core mastery-based homeschool math curriculum.

She completed the course sequence on our Mac OS X 10.9.5 computer with a high-speed Internet connection and built-in speakers for the audio portion. We used Chrome as our preferred browser. We already had Adobe Reader on our computer, but you'll need it if you plan on downloading any of the included PDF printables including Interactive Q&A session score reports, summary reports, and offline lessons, worksheets, or tests. The courses are available 24/7 so you can access the content whenever you want.

She worked through both Math Mini-Courses in sequential order to give her a strong foundation before learning advanced math skills in future lessons. We did not skip around or choose specific topics. In the beginning, my daughter completed two lessons a day. She worked on one lesson under each course. However, our school work load became heavier so we limited it to one full lesson a day and often alternated lessons between the two review courses to provide variety. I also wanted to see what concepts were covered with each course during the review period. A full daily lesson means she would view the multi-media video lesson, complete the interactive questions, and end with the online worksheet. Occasionally she would ask to do another lesson if time allowed.

Originally, I planned on using the Advanced Fractions course over the summer to fill in any gaps from her mastery-based curriculum which focuses on Fractions this year. However, after viewing the course topic list we quickly realized that the concepts didn't pose a challenge for my daughter so we started it earlier than intended.

Alyssa printed out the session scores for each Interactive Q&A session to place in her assessment binder. We also plan on printing out the summary reports upon completion of each mini-course.

I could log-in the parent account to track Alyssa's progress. First, I launched the appropriate math course. Then, I could see the completed lessons and view 1 of the 4 easy-to-read student progress reports. I could click on a specific online worksheet to see what errors were made and what concepts were causing her problems. I could also "View the Detailed Solution" for each incorrect response to see which problem solving method was used to teach the concept.

Online Worksheet Summary Report
Daily Lesson Glance Showing How It Works
Alyssa had a username and password which was different from my parent account. After logging in, she will choose and launch a specific course. All Math Mini-Courses are accessible in the same area.

She saw a My Dashboard screen like the one below when logged in as student. The first two boxes and the "View Reports" box were used most often to view the lessons, online worksheets, and reports.

Alyssa clicked on the first blue box titled, "View Lessons with Interactive Review (Q&A)" which sent her to a separate screen showing a menu for the course. The "+" symbol was clicked and a topic was selected for the day's lesson. She did have to indicate the completion date for the previous lesson completed in order to move forward with lessons which we unfortunately didn't always remember.  

First, the Multimedia Video Lessons which effectively teach math concepts and skills are presented. Visual aids are interwoven throughout the short lesson which attracted and maintained Alyssa's attention with video, audio, and text-based components. She didn't get bored, because the short lessons lasted approximately 5 minutes or so. The concept was taught sequentially using a step-by-step approach in a lecture format. Furthermore, the lesson provided several math examples which clearly illustrated and demonstrated the concepts in an easy-to-understand manner. The course lesson also gave my daughter a little time to figure out the answer before it was stated aloud. The visual aid or chart in the video lesson below helped Alyssa see the difference between and the proper names for plane and solid shapes. 
Elementary Geometry Video Lesson

The next stop was the Interactive Review (Q&A) which automatically reteaches the math concept using review questions. These questions provided Alyssa with plenty of practice. She applied what she learned from the lesson to the topic-based questions. There were approximately 5-17 multiple choice or type-in-your answer questions. If a question is wrong, it automatically reteaches the concept. One special note to remember is that when answering questions with a frog you must first type in your answer and click on his belly to submit the answer before clicking "Next." The lesson usually began with a relevant vocabulary question. In the screenshot below, Alyssa needed to know what a line of symmetry meant.

Some questions were too small to read so she had to right-click on the mouse to zoom in on the picture. For example, when learning about symmetry under the "Completing the Shape" she needed to count the squares, but with multiple choice questions the pictures were too small. She said the bright blue color and tiny squares made it difficult to see.

Alyssa received automatic feedback and positive praise for her work during the Interactive Q&A session.
Mixed Fractions Interactive Q&A

She immediately received a session score report for each session which listed the topic, date, total number of questions, number of correct problems, and the number of incorrect problems for each attempt. My daughter usually only attempted the questions once yet it filled in the exact scores for both columns. Sound effects, a fireworks display, and a stamped 100% score may also occur.
Advanced Fraction Course
Then, she completed a generated Online Worksheet covering the material presented. If you prefer, the worksheets can be done offline using the PDF formatted printables. The benefit to using the online worksheets are that the scores are automatically graded and recorded! Alyssa chose her answer and clicked on the "Next" button to move on to the next question. At the end, she would click on "Finalize Worksheet." The computer double checks the action by asking her if she's sure she wants to finalize the worksheet.

Each question offers step-by-step solutions to solidify learning and further explain the problem. I appreciated having this option. Alyssa can independently check her work and see how a problem was solved. If she misunderstood the solution or explanation, she could ask me for help.

After completing her Online Worksheet, Alyssa's responses are immediately scored and recorded. My daughter appreciates this feature, because she usually wants to know her score upon completion. This way she doesn't have to wait on me. She can also click on the "View Individual Assignment Summary" blue button to see a report showing her results. The worksheet title, number correct, number incorrect, total number of questions, date attempted, and percentage score are shown and documented. A pie chart shows the percent distribution. 

Our Thoughts and Experiences
Alyssa has always been a fan of A+ Interactive Math's products. She likes the short lessons and concept explanations. The cheering sound effects always bring a smile to her face.

Overall, I am impressed with the concept coverage within each Math Mini-Course. The comprehensive course was taught in a sequential order covering basic to advanced skills. I appreciate that the content isn't limited to one grade level which means Alyssa can learn advanced concepts from other grades at her own pace. The lessons and solutions are easily understood and described in age-appropriate terms. My daughter did in fact retain the information learned during the lessons. The website was easy to navigate. We were familiar with the format and how their programs worked which made it easy for us to jump into a scheduled routine. My daughter knew what to expect from me and we focused more on the content.

Features We Liked
  • Closes or Eliminates Learning Gaps Effectively
  • Affordable Price for Tight Budgets
  • Saves Money and Planning Time
  • Automatic Grading and Tracking
  • No Teacher Prep
  • No Printing Required Unless Preferred
  • Step-by-Step Solution Guides
  • Flexibility
  • Colorful, Animated Lessons
  • User-Friendly Interface 
  • No Computer Downloads Required
  • Full Text Versions of Lessons, Printable Worksheets, and Tests
Alyssa Results
Alyssa will definitely finish the courses before the year subscription is up, but I appreciate having the extra time to access the reports. She will continue using the Math Mini-Courses throughout the rest of the year and summer until they are completed. Most of the courses can be completed in 2-3 months according to the website.

Alyssa's high scores indicate that any possible learning gaps have been filled. It was almost a year ago when I tested her and found out she was having a few problems with these specific areas. Her results show that she's learned a lot this year since the assessment and that these courses may have helped with her success. I didn't see any new potential problem areas.  

We were both expecting the Advanced Fractions course to be a little more challenging. However, it ended up being too easy for her which means that her core math curriculum is definitely effectively and thoroughly teaching the fraction-related math concepts without leaving any gaps. Her high scores also increased her math confidence. I believe that Alyssa's analytical, critical thinking, and reasoning skills improved using these courses.

Upon completion of the courses, Alyssa will take the 6-8 page paper-n-pencil tests available in PDF format. The The exams consisted of 25-40 questions each. The test questions were mainly multiple choice and fill-in-the answer formats. Answer keys in PDF format were also available for all exams. I didn't find online tests.

I would highly recommend the Math Mini-Courses from A+ Interactive Math as a supplement to every homeschool family who has a difficult time teaching homeschool math. The math curriculum online does ALL the teaching and grading for you. You can easily utilize one or more of these courses throughout the school year especially if your child prefers online learning programs. Remember . . . PDF lessons are also available.

I like the idea of using one of the Math Mini-Courses AFTER completing a mastery-based math curriculum to fill in any evident gaps. You could also utilize specific courses during the summer to reduce summer learning loss and eliminate math learning gaps before the new year begins.

I recommend these courses to both public and private schools to help troubleshoot problem areas in math. Children needing additional help can use the online edition during a center or station rotation schedule. Math Title teachers may find the courses to be helpful as well. These courses could definitely be utilized by math tutors or even summer school programs for targeting problem areas for specific students.

Possible Vendor Suggestions and Problems
  • Automatically Record Dates for Completed Multimedia Video Lessons - We had to manually type in the completion dates every single time we wanted to start a lesson and she couldn't move on without completing this step. This seemed a bit tedious and time-consuming. We didn't always remember the exact date, but Alyssa said she figured out a helpful way to find the date. She said you need to view the completed online worksheets and the date will be stated on the far-right side. 
  • Alyssa noticed that when printing the Interactive Q&A session scores, the chapter numbers didn't match the completed lesson number on most of the printables. 
  • There wasn't a final test available online for each course as far as I could tell. I think that each course should conclude with an ONLINE cumulative test. However, I did find traditional paper and pencil tests for BOTH courses available in PDF format.  
You can target weak areas in math with one of their 20 Math Mini-Courses which can be purchased for only $9.99 - $19.99 depending on the chosen course. You'll receive 1 parent and 1 student account. This gives you access to an online subscription to the homeschool math curriculum for a full year.

Visit the website store for more information and to browse their other products. If you have questions about specific Math Mini-Courses you can also visit the Buy Mini-Courses link and click on "More Info."

Note: Prices are subject to change without notice.

Available Freebies
Free Math Placement Testing
Free Family Math Package
Free Individual Grade Level
Free Math E-Book
Free Curriculum Software Download

Social Media
Twitter @AplusTutorSoft

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Math Mini-Courses {A+ Interactive Math Review}

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