Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Crew Review: Mastering Essential Math Skills- Pre-Algebra

At the beginning of the summer, I was given an opportunity to review Math Essentials' Mastering Essential Math Skills: Pre Algebra Concepts ($33.95) with Ben.  Ben is a good egg, and was willing to work through the book, instead of progressing through our usual math program.  I'm really grateful that my kids are willing to switch gears and try some new products often.

In the fall of 2010 ago I had an opportunity to review master teacher Rick Fisher's America's Math Teacher online math program for middle school students (Click Rick's name to learn more about him).

Instead of that online, all encompassing program, the Math Essentials arm of Rick Fisher's program provides targeted help on skills kids need to succeed in math.  He offers a whole line of workbooks for upper elementary and middle schoolers who might need help with a a specific skill area -- fractions, for example.  {There is an Algebra course offered through Math Essentials -- it was reviewed by the Schoolhouse Crew -- just click to read reviews.}

What differentiates this skills-focused workbook from other resources is the accompanying DVD with Rick Fisher’s direct, straightforward teaching.
Here is a sample from the book:

 The top portion of the daily page contains several problems for review of previous material.  The section Helpful Hints highlights (in writing) the basic principals that Mr. Fisher teaches in the DVD.  After this, the student completes 2 problems with their parent/ teacher (to check that they understand what to do), then they work an additional 10 problems, filling in the answer chart on the right hand side of the page (sure makes finding answers easy!).  The final Problem Solving section is a word problem for the student to complete.

In all, it took Ben less than 30 minutes (he slow completing math) to finish a worksheet + watch the DVD.  His thoughts:  “It was OK (my note:  that’s about as high as praise goes for math).  But watching the DVD got annoying because the guys would constantly say he was ‘America’s Math Teacher.’”

If you would like to know what is covered in this pre-algebra course, you can view a PDF of the table of contents.  There are definitely topics here that we had not touch on very much when we stopped using Singapore Math (like probability and statistics, so it was worthwhile for Ben to have some exposure to it.

My recommendations & thoughts:  I would definitely recommend this series to help supplement a math program or for review over the summer.  The teaching is solid, the lessons are to-the-point, and it was easy to correct.  I appreciate that math is provided in several modalities – written and audio/visual – to help kids with different learning styles.

We also received the Fractions workbook.  It follows the same format of review, teaching, and practice problems and, like the pre-algebra book, I would recommend this for supplemental practice or summer review.

To see what my Schoolhouse Review colleagues thought of the programs they reviewed, please click the banner below:

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

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