Monday, July 9, 2012

Crew Review: Professor B Math (Level 1)

One of the things I try to do each summer is make sure we do math several times a week.  As I live and breathe, we will not have another summer like we had in 2008 when we took a complete break from math, only to restart school in September and realize that my sweet son had practically forgotten what a "+" sign looked like and what it meant.  No foolin'.

Levi is right smack in the middle of learning subtraction, and I really wanted to keep the ball rolling this summer, so I was happy to give Professor B Math a try.

Professor B is unique in many ways.  It is an online program, but it is used in a novel way. Whereas a lot of online programs remove the parent as teacher, Professor B does not.  Instead, Professor B provides a complete curriculum for preschool up through middle school that is parent taught using an online "textbook."  You, as the teacher, read Professor Bee's words, making you an instant Master Teacher.

The bee flits around the screen, and you (the bee/ teacher) read his speech bubbles to teach the lesson.  Various graphics such as arrows, the bee himself, and numbers move on the screen -- similar to the appearance and disappearance of graphic elements in a PowerPoint presentation.   However, it is very professionally done.

I'd really encourage you to take at look at the sample lessons.  You can find them here on the home page:

Another distinctive of this math program is that there is not necessary a workbook page after each lesson.  The workbook (which is included in the program) is a PDF file.  The online text will tell you when to do the workbook pages -- which are called facility exercises.  In level 1 -- which is what I used with Levi -- there are 63 facility exercises, which are one to three page exercises.

Here's an example of what the screen looks like when you get to the written exercises:

Some of these distinctives (and more) are discussed more in the FAQs. You can read about the genesis of Professor B as well.

Pricing: You can purchase this program on a month-to-month basis or as an annual subscription.  The cost is based on how many levels you are using:

One level = $20/ month
Two levels (used at the same time) = $20/ month for first level + $15/ month for second level
Three levels (used at the same time) = $20/ month for first + $15/ month for second + $10/ month for third level

You can also purchase annual subscriptions.  Pricing update as of 7/11/12 direct from Professor B: "We also have a new price change on our yearly subscription.  Our program can now be purchase for $100 for 3 years access to each level. Our IT department is working on changing the site.  However, if the customers call 678-765-6655 we will be able take their order and honor the new price." 
  Our Experience:  I'm  used to using non-traditional math programs with unique scopes and sequences, and Professor B is no exception.  In level 1, addition and subtraction are taught using number bonds and are taught together so students can see the relationship:

4+3=7   3+4=7
7-4=3    7-3=4

Part/ whole relationships between number bonds are also stressed using a "game" called The Circle Game:

There are no unit or topical tests, but at the home page, each level has a placement test which you could use to test your child out of each level. 

As the teacher, I found the curriculum to be a little confusing to start.  I wish there had been an instructor's guide to explain how best to get started with the curriculum, a scope and sequence (which, to be fair, is the Table of Contents once you log into the online program) and a bit of a "road map" to help expain how the PDF Facility Exercises dovetailed with the online program.

As a student, Levi had a hard time getting into the swing of things.  I think he expected an online, interactive math program -- which is something he enjoys -- and was a bit shocked when I started reading the instructions to him.  Levi is a student who likes workbook pages, so it was disorienting for him to work through several lessons and not have anything to do.  At the end of most lessons we finished we received a reminder to work on skills taught for 5 minutes a day on our own.  A dry erase board would be a great tool to use to quickly complete teacher-generated exercises, like counting by 2x starting at 1 or counting backwards starting at 9.

My thoughts: I think this program would be good for working with students who might be behind in their skills.  Since there are only three levels, a student who is behind in their basic math would not have to discouraged by working in a lower numbered book.  Also, those students who are ahead in math might appreciate this program as well, since there are three years of content in each level.  It could be quite economical to use this program!

Parent teachers who might appreciate this program should consider how much they  might learn in teaching this program, so if you are nervous about how to teach math, this might be the program for you.

If you are interested in what the other Schoolhouse reviewers thought (especially those who used Level 2 or Level 3), please click the link below:

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

1 comment:

Nicole said...

Nice review. I like that you pointed out where to find things on the home page. That was my biggest hurdle in this program. Not the easiest site to manage.