Thursday, April 24, 2014

Review of CTCMath

CTC Math Review
I have discovered something about math: it is my least favorite thing to teach my kids, but it is my very favorite thing to review. With every new math program we get to review, I always get a shiver of anticipation thinking, "Will this be it?! Will this be the magic bullet that will make math fun for some of my kids or the one that will turn the light on in the attic for one of them?" Well, I don't want to tell the end of this story before you hear the beginning, but CTCMath's online math tutoring program, for which we have been reviewing the 12 Month Family Plan, is so truly wonderful that we had not had it two weeks (maybe not even one, actually) before I had extended my subscription for another 18 months. I couldn't (and can't) imagine being without it.

There is a lot to CTCMath's online components, but the actual program itself is wonderfully simple in its execution, so let's dive in! 

What is CTCMath?

 CTCMath is an Australian company designed to be used either as a supplement to another math program, or even as a program unto itself. For the past six weeks, though, all of my children have been using it as a standalone program. Comprised of over 1,400 tutorials (the graphic is a tiny bit out of date), each lasting 4-9 minutes, CTCMath serves multiple purposes. Students can review concepts they are having trouble with, practice concepts currently being learned, or learn new concepts.

After watching a short explanation of the concept being taught (narrated in a charming Australian accent), students are given practice problems to demonstrate their mastery of the concept. As the parent, you have the ability to set the level at which their performance will be considered passing (so you might set the level at 70%, 80%, etc.). Your students receive awards based on their performance on the questions at the end of each topic. Awards are at given at several different levels from Bronze to Platinum. The baseline at which awards are granted is set at the passing level at which you as the parent assign, which is nice because it allows you to motivate those of your kids who need those awards, while setting the standard higher for your kids who don't really care about the awards structure. In other words, setting a low passing grade of 70% allows a student to start accruing awards sooner than setting a higher passing grade of 90% or 95% (as it happens, my kids are all unmotivated by such things - we don't really emphasize doing school for rewards, but I know there are a lot of kids out there who really love working toward awards and such).

After working on a few concepts, your student's report will look something like this:

They see this (forgive me for showing reports for different students!):

Of course, as a parent you want to see how all of your children are doing at a glance. CTCMath has that covered, too. Parents and each students have individual logins. Thus, when you login as a parent, you see a summary of all of your children's activity at a glance:

In one minute, you can see when each child last logged in (which is great for me, as each child does CTCMath on his/her Kindle Fire - yes, that's right! You DON'T need a Flash browser for this. That makes CTCMath my all-time favorite program ever since each child can do it at the same time, making math go so much faster for us!), how many lessons he/she has completed, and their overall efficiency rating. With one click, you can get a more detailed report:

Even better, each week I get a report emailed to me from CTCMath. It details the progress of each one of my children over the course of the week, and it contains every piece of information that I could want.

Obviously, CTCMath places a high priority on keeping you as a parent informed about your child's progress while still being committed to making this program one that kids can do independently. I call that a huge win-win. Add to that amazing customer service (I had a question and it was answered immediately and very courteously) and large family-friendly pricing, and this math program truly is a one-in-a-million find.

How We Are Using CTCMath

I have already alluded to how we are using this great program. Every day at math time, my three youngest kids log in to CTCMath on their Kindle Fires. Thanks to some genius at CTCMath, my kids are able to do so in spite of the Fire not having Flash. I love, love, love that feature. Therese does her CTCMath on our desktop. Each kid is working on a different level. Nicholas (10) is doing Elementary Geometry, Michael (9) is doing 4th grade, Mary-Catherine (9) is doing 3rd grade, and Therese (12) is doing both Algebra and Geometry. Oh, and Henry (45) is reviewing Calculus. Each child follows the same format. They watch a certain number of lessons. I generally like them to do math for 30 minutes a day, but Therese has done CTCMath for up to 4 hours in one day so far (I'm not kidding). One page printable summaries of the lessons are available, which is really nice at the higher levels of math as they can be printed off and put in Therese's binder for reference later on (since Algebra is so cumulative). I check on what the kids have done, but I also rely on my parent dashboard to keep close tabs on their work. Like I already said, I have renewed my subscription to CTCMath for another 18 months, meaning that I have it through late 2016! 

The Details

CTCMath is for K-12. If you are homeschooling a kid, they have your level! Even better, they have special sale (as of the publication of this post) pricing for homeschoolers! For $118.80, you can have access to all of CTCMath's levels for 2 or more students. That's an unreal deal for this program (again, I have already taken advantage of it just in case it goes away at some point!).

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