Monday, March 10, 2014

Mastering 5th Grade Math {Crew Review}

. has put together late elementary through high school math courses and they sent some Homeschool Crew members Mastering 5th Grade Math - Volume 1 - Essentials of Fractions: ($15.99 for physical DVD; also available for $14.99 as download)

Suggested for grades 4 though 6, the first volume of Mastering 5th Grade Math will provide your students clear explanations on the nature of fractions and how to begin using them.  There are 16 lessons in the first DVD which cover the basics below:

Table of Contents – Volume 1
Lesson 1: Review of Fraction Concepts [View a Sample] [Worksheet Sample]
Lesson 2: Writing Fractions as Words
Lesson 3: Finding Factors of Numbers
Lesson 4: Finding the Greatest Common Factor
Lesson 5: Finding the GCF of 3 Numbers
Lesson 6: Prime Factorization [View a Sample]
Lesson 7: Equivalent Fractions [View a Sample]
Lesson 8: Renaming Fractions    
Lesson 9: Simplifying Fractions, Part 1
Lesson 10:
Simplifying Fractions, Part 2
Lesson 11: Review of Improper Fractions
Lesson 12: Review of Mixed Fractions
Lesson 13: Writing Mixed Fractions as Improper Fractions
Lesson 14: Writing Improper Fractions as Mixed Fractions
Lesson 15: Thinking of Fractions as Division
Lesson 16: Writing Whole Numbers as Fractions


The Product:

I received a physical product for this review, and it is comprised of two discs – the first disc has each lesson ready to play on a laptop DVD player or DVD player.  The second DVD has a copy of each of the 16 lessons in mp4 format plus PDFs of printable worksheets (2-3 per lesson) for each lesson and a set of keys.  The mp4 format makes transferring the video lessons to an tablet or portable device very easy;  I’m not very techy, so I’m not sure what sort of software you need to open an mp4 file – but my Windows 7 laptop opened and played each video without difficult.  As a matter of fact, I ended up using this second disc exclusively, because I was able to play the lesson with my son and print of his worksheets without swapping discs out.

How We Used This Product:

Luke has only a general knowledge of fractional parts – our current math program hasn’t really introduced much more beyond the concept of fractional parts of something and general fractions like 1/2, 1/4, etc.

Therefore, we used Mastering 5th Grade Math - Volume 1 - Essentials of Fractions as a primary tool to teach the concepts of fractions (not for review or reinforcement).  Following the program’s directions, Luke and I watched a DVD lesson and then he completed the two to three worksheets that correspond to the lesson.  Usually Luke and I stopped the DVD mid-lesson and worked several problems ourselves, then finished the DVD lesson as a ‘check’ and reinforcement of our good work. To help build retention, Luke completed the worksheets over 2-3 days.

The instructor of the program, Jason Gibson, does a great job of defining new terms (by actually writing definitions on the dry erase board), which is something I’ve grown to really appreciate over the past year.  It is important to learn the ‘grammar’ – or vocabulary – of new subjects and topics. I really appreciated that Jason breaks down the topic of fractions into incremental steps which build upon one another.  Luke was easily able to handle the math concepts introduced because he was never asked to complete so many new manipulations at once that he was overwhelmed.  While some people might view this as a “too slow” approach to math, I find it to be the most flexible way to teach math.  It is much easier to move through material when it is presented piece-by-piece than to try to slow down and break apart multi-step programs.
The worksheets also take this step-wise approach and gradually increase in difficulty.  For example, the questions Luke answered for finding greatest common factors increased in difficulty from worksheet 1 – finding GCF of 4 &8 – to worksheet 3 – finding GCF of 28 and 35.

Luke and I have worked through the first six lessons in   Mastering 5th Grade Math - Volume 1 - Essentials of Fractions throughout the course of this review.  I went ahead and watched several of the other lessons and found that Jason does a really thorough job of explaining the basics of fractions throughout this DVD set.   I really appreciated the way Jason explained improper fractions [screenshot below]:

My recommendations & thoughts:

If Volumes 2-4 of this Mastering 5th Grade Math series is as carefully laid out as the first, I think this would be a great, cost effective (approximately $65 for the whole year) math program for learners who need concepts broken down into manageable pieces.  This would be a great program for someone who likes visual presentations of material, but may not want to get into too much hands-on/ manipulative work.  Additionally, if you have a child who is scooting through math at an accelerated rate, these DVDs might provide you, mom, the assistance you need to help explain concepts clearly and efficiently and give you some reassurance you are not leaving any gaps in their learning. also provide Schoolhouse Review Crew members with some of their other products: Amazing Science, Volume 1  and Algebra 1: Volume 1.

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All prices are accurate as of blog posting. 

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