Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew: CTCMath


We had the opportunity to review a one-year Single Membership to CTCMath. Homeschool families receive a discount of 60% off + 6 bonus months! I jumped on the chance to review CTCMath, because we've been looking for a new Math curriculum preferably one that allowed my daughter to work at her own pace and possibly challenge her level of thinking. I received a digital subscription for a single student. We had 24/7 unlimited access to ALL the lessons across ALL grade levels. CTCMath is a comprehensive online homeschool Math curriculum which is designed for children in Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade. The K-8th grade curricula options are considered full or complete curricula and the curricula content beyond 8th grade are supplemental courses.

Program Courses Available
  • Kindergarten
  • 1st Grade
  • 2nd Grade
  • 3rd Grade
  • 4th Grade
  • 5th Grade
  • 6th Grade
  • Basic Math and Pre-Algebra
  • Elementary Measurement
  • Elementary Geometry
  • High School Algebra I and II
  • Geometry 
  • Trigonometry
  • Pre-Calculus
  • Calculus
The content is first divided into courses or grade levels which are further broken down into broad streams. The streams are organized into various lesson topics. Each topic is then sectioned off into more specific concepts or skills. Let me explain with more detail and examples.

First, the program lists individual grade levels. Then, it allows you to open and extend the list to view junior high (middle school) and high school courses. As you can see the fourth grade curriculum is broken down into 4 main streams including Number/Patterns/Algebra, Measurements, Space/Geometry, and Statistics/Probability. Measurements consists of two categories: Units of Measure and Area and Volume. Space and Geometry teaches Planes and Solids, Position, and Angles. Statistics and Probability covers Graphs and Chance.

Each broad stream is further divided into topics. For example, the Number/Patterns/Algebra content is organized into sections such as Numbers I, Addition/Subtraction, Multiplication, Division I and II, Number II, Fractions, and Decimals. 
Fourth Grade Scope and Sequence
Those topics break down further into specific lesson concepts such as Numbers Up To 999, From 1000 - 9999, Greater Than Less Than, Ascending and Descending Order, From 10,000 - 99,999, Place Value, Rounding to the Nearest Whole, 100,000 - 999,999, and Greater Than Less Than of Larger Numbers.
Number I Concepts

Homeschool father and Math teacher, Patrick Murray, taught the video lessons. He has an Australian accent which did NOT cause us any concerns. His natural voice-over narrations were pleasing to the ear with words clearly spoken. 

The beauty of this subscription-based program is that it allows your child to work at their own individualized pace. They can get ahead, challenge themselves with advanced concepts, skip lessons, work in sequential order, etc. The choice is yours!

The program also offers several diagnostic tests: Short, Standard, and Comprehensive which varying in the number of questions provided. The Short test contains 20 questions, the Standard tests consists of 30 questions and the Comprehensive test has 40 questions. These diagnostic tests can be given as pre or post-tests. Children can take the tests before completing any lessons to see what they already know or have mastered enabling them to skip lessons. Another option would be to require the test to be taken after completing an entire module to check their level of mastery.

There's a feature which allows the parent to print helpful grade level checklists to keep track of their progress. Go to the Parent Dashboard under the Tools Tab. You'll find a list of the courses or grade levels. I chose 4th Grade and printed out the list so that I could track my daughter's progress in printed format. I was able to indicate when she completed a lesson and jot down her grade. Check out the screenshot of page 1 below.

CTCMath features three games for the student to play after completing lesson tasks. These games can be used as quick break sessions when you assign two or more lesson tasks. The three games are Speed Skills, Times Tables Shoot 'Em Up, and Swap the Blue and Red Pieces. These games are excellent ways to practice basic Math operations, speed or Math fluency, and logical thinking skills. You'll need to download the most recent version of the free Adobe Flash Player in order to view and play these games.

How We Used CTCMath
I utilized CTCMath with my nine-year-old daughter, Alyssa, who works at a 4th-6th grade level in Math. You will need a program such as Adobe Reader which will allow you to open and view PDF files. My daughter used the program on our early 2009 iMac computer version 10.11.6 using Chrome as our preferred browser.

Set-up was super easy. I already had an account from when we used the program in the past. I was surprised to still see all Alyssa's old work recorded and maintained under our account. We had a parent and student account with separate dashboards. Each account had their own log in credentials. At first there was no way to save the password, but throughout the review period we notice a remember the password feature was added. We were most grateful for this feature, because it enabled my daughter to log in without having to wait on me. She could start working on her lessons whenever I was not working at the computer. I saved the student log in password for easy accessibility. 
Parent Dashboard

The next step was to choose the grade level or course for my daughter in addition to a specific topic to begin. After viewing the scope and sequence covered for each grade level, I focused on Elementary Math. I decided to assign the 4th Grade Curriculum content to my daughter. She worked through the lessons in sequential order beginning with Numbers I under the Number, Patterns and Algebra stream. If desired, you can allow the child to choose any topic to learn about within a grade level or across several grade levels. You can even assign the topic tasks in the Parent Dashboard.

Alyssa simply logged into the program using her username and password. Her lessons were completed independently. I supervised and stayed nearby in case I was needed and to familiarize myself with the program for the purposes of this review.

Alyssa worked on CTCMath lessons 3-4 times per week completing 1-2 complete lessons each day. Even though she was allowed to work through the lesson content for 30-45 minutes, most daily sessions were finished in under 15-20 minutes. A full lesson includes a video tutorial and interactive questions. She usually enlarged the screen for better visibility.

First, she would watch the short and concise online Video Tutorial that lasted approximately 2-10 minutes long. She viewed all lessons in full screen mode by clicking on the icon that enlarges the screen. Most of the 4th grade voice-over videos Mr. Murray presented were under 5 minutes which helped capture my daughter's attention. The "no fluff" lessons will appeal to audio-visual learners. The content taught is NOT distracting or overwhelming. The video tutorial contains basic colorful diagrams and graphics that are easy on the eyes. The material is presented in small manageable chunks with clear straightforward explanations and plenty of practice examples taught using a step-by-step direct teaching approach. The author explains the content in the simplest terms. The text may be highlighted to draw in the user's attention and to help them focus on the steps. Alyssa could pause, rewind, or repeat all or part of the lesson if it was not mastered during the first viewing. If she's mastered a concept, then she could move on to a new skill.
Multiplication Array Lesson

Numbers Up To 999 Lesson

Subtraction From 1000's Lesson

The animated and narrated video lesson was followed by online Interactive Questions that reinforced the lesson concepts and skills. These questions were posted on the screen one at a time. Alyssa completed a set of Interactive Questions related to the lesson topic. She usually had to type in or use her mouse to choose a response to answer the questions. There were 10 online questions covering the material taught. The blue progress bar and number of questions were seen at the top of the screen. Alyssa received immediate feedback and scores as she worked through the problems. Percentage scores and the number of questions correct out of the total number of questions were updated in the live progress bar. This automatic grading makes it easy to see her strengths and weaknesses.

At the end of each lesson, we had the opportunity to print or save the results as a PDF file. One important note to remember is that once you close out the lesson, the results printout will NO LONGER be available. I require my daughter to print out all lesson results. Her results were printed and hole punched to eventually place in her portfolio. The PDF printable was then stored in a 3-ring math folder. She could easily glance back at any lesson or share her accomplishments with her father. The printout showed the correct and incorrect answers. Green checkmarks indicate that she answered correctly. Incorrect responses are marked with an "x." Correct answers are given for incorrect responses.

My daughter was given the option of redoing a lesson if she made a score of 90% or less. On many occasions she decided to redo a lesson in order to raise her percentage score. If she made below an 80%, then I expected her to re-watch the video lesson and complete a new set of online interactive problems. All attempts were averaged. If she made a 100%, then she moved on to the next lesson. The program maintains a student record.

A comprehensive 40 question diagnostic test was given to Alyssa as her final test or exam after she completed all of the lessons for a specific topic. She took her first diagnostic test in under 7 minutes and received a passing score of 100%.

A certificate was awarded to Alyssa when she completed ALL the lessons within a broad stream or module. These awards motivated my daughter and built her confidence level. We printed them out for her to place in her folder after hanging them up on the fridge for a few days. The certificates were based on a reward ribbon system. The certificates provide the student with an overall percentage score and indicate an accomplishment level such as Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum. Alyssa always aimed for the Gold or Platinum levels.

At the end of each week, I received an activity log email containing a helpful PDF printable report summarizing the concepts covered and scores obtained. The weekly report revealed log in dates, times, and topics explored. A color-coded efficiency rating key was also provided so that as a parent I could see her percentage score range. The report also stated the number of lessons completed and the overall percentage score.   

Overall Thoughts and Results
I believe CTCMath is a solid online homeschool math curriculum that effectively teaches skills and concepts in an efficient, logical manner. I didn't have a chance to look at the higher grade level content, but I'm sure I'll be just as impressed with the content as I am for the elementary Math curriculum. I believe the Math coverage is complete for its purposes. The instruction is thoroughly covered and easy to understand. We are loving this curriculum! Children and adults can easily navigate the website. I love teaching Math, but this program simplifies our day and crosses one more item off my to-do list. My daughter's confidence in Math soars when she utilizes this curriculum and she masters the content quicker. She never complained when I assigned CTCMath tasks.

Alyssa's Thoughts
"I enjoy doing CTCMath more than my core curriculum. I really liked taking the diagnostic tests, because I could see what I learned and earn a grade. I also appreciate seeing my progress on the bar as I work." 

We will definitely continue using CTCMath as a Math supplement this year. I am also considering it as her core Math curriculum next year. I love the fact that she has access to ALL lessons across All grade levels. I appreciate the idea that she can work on several different topics at different grade levels based on her needs and abilities. Not to mention, depending on the length of her session and number of session each week, she could possibly complete 1-2 grade levels in a year.  

She retained and understood the content taught. Her scores remained high (mostly above 90%) for the duration of the review period. Many of her mistakes were simple ones when she was distracted by her environmental circumstances.

Features We Liked
  • Progress Reports Showing Topics Studied, Time Spent, and Scores
  • Weekly Activity E-mail
  • Self-Paced Meaning Less Stress and Pressure
  • Age Appropriate Content
  • Differentiated Content By Grade Level 
  • Access to ALL Grade Levels ALL Lessons
  • Simple Video Presentations Taught With Direct, Explicit Instruction
  • Optional Short, Standard, and Comprehensive Diagnostic Tests
  • Promotes and Fosters Independent Learning 
  • No Prep or Planning Required
  • Rewarded and Motivated With Certificates
  • User-Friendly
  • Short and Quick Lessons
Possible Vendor Suggestions
  • Offer Reteach Videos to Reinforce and Teach the Specific Concepts in a Different Way
  • Consider Adding "Extra Practice" Printable Paper-Pencil Supplementation
Possible Cons
  • Unfamiliar Australian Terminology and Vocabulary
  • Elementary Levels Don't Have Paper-Pencil Component 
  • Supplementation May Be Needed Depending on the Child's Abilities and Needs
  • Australian Accent May Not Appeal to All Children
I HIGHLY recommend CTCMath to all home educators, classroom teachers (private and public), tutors, after school care workers, and parents. If your child enjoys computer-based learning or if you struggle with your confidence level teaching Math, then you'll want to consider using this Math curriculum. This program is especially beneficial to audio and visual learners. However, all students can definitely benefit from it. Gifted students can learn more advanced concepts at their own pace. This would be a wonderful program to utilize over the summer month to prevent learning loss.  

CTCMath would be a reasonably priced Math curriculum for larger families. One price of $118.80 covers ALL children giving them access to ALL grade levels. Compared to other online and printed Math curriculum prices on the market, this program will give you more for your money. Last year I spent around $150 on printed Math curriculum for only 1 child and still had to pay for online supplements.

You can purchase the Single Membership for one student at the retail price of $197. However, CTCMath is currently on sale for only $78.80 using the following link 60% off + 6 bonus months. You'll have access for 18 months instead of the regular 12-month subscription.

You can try CTCMath with your children by signing up for the Free Trial so you can see if it will be a good fit for your family. It is a content restricted trial without a time restriction. This means you'll only have access to the first lesson of each topic. Head on over and check it out while you're visiting the website.

The bonus months offer ends November 15, 2017.

Note: Prices are subject to change. Visit the website to view other monthly or yearly pricing plans including the Family Membership for 2 - 10 students.

CTCMath Social Media
(US and Canada)

Maths Online (Australia Only)

Don't forget to visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read my crew mates reviews about CTCMath. We reviewed several different grade levels so you can see the range in content covered.
CTCMath Online Math Tutoring {Reviews}
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