Tuesday, March 17, 2015

{Crew Review} Great Parents Academy: Online Math

Critical Thinking Company Review

Luke and Levi have been trying out this new-to-us math program called GPALOVEMATH 
from GPA (for Great Parent's Academy) LEARN.  This is meant to be a comprehensive math program for grades K through 5th grade that teaches your student content, gives them practice, and then tests their skill level.  The program is meant to meet and/or exceed Common Cores state standards.  You can view the curriculum scope and sequence at the GPA LEARN website.

Each child in your family will need their own subscription and (thankfully) each subscription allows you access to ALL the grade levels.  So say, for example, that you start your 4th grader at the 4th grade level, but realize that they would benefit from moving up (or down) a grade;  you have the flexibility within the parental controls to move your child to their appropriate level.  Each child needs his/ her own account.  Annual subscription are $129/ child with code GPAINTRO15; each child needs their own account. A monthly subscription is also available at $12.99/ month.

Technical requirements:  This math program is completely online, and you will have to stay online to access the lessons.  Because it is web-based, you can use an iPad or Galaxy Tablet and computers (both PC and Mac based).  Chrome is recommended but other browsers are supported.  We had no trouble accessing the program on an iPad, MacBook and Windows computers.  

How The Program Works:  Each grade level has mission that is presented by the 'teachers' for the grade level.  At the 5th grade level, students are told that they need to foil Dr. Division's evil plan with the help of Nina Numerator and Dino Denominator.

For 3rd grade, Levi had Abacus as his teacher:

The entire curriculum is broken down into single topic lessons.  A student needs to complete the lessons in the suggested order to unlock the next lesson or lessons.  Sometimes one lesson will unlock lessons in more than one strand.

I did discover (with the help of other crewmates) that you can view the lessons by topic.  This way, you can unlock tasks for your child to do thematically.  For example, you can see below that we jumped ahead to Fractions a little as well as division (which is incomplete as of the writing of this post).

Each lesson itself is broken into three parts:

the student learns the new concept

Guided Practice -
the learning teachers guide the student to solve problems

Quiz -
the student independently solves 15 questions for a final "grade."

Success at this level gives students points which they can use to purchase rewards that have been set up by the parent/teacher.  You can set up family specific rewards ("Get Ice Cream at Friendly's" would be a good one here) or you can select from a variety of rewards that have already been vetted. There are even some gift certificates to Toys R Us and Target!

You can access a free 30-day trial at GPALOVEMATH website.

As the teacher, you have access through the Dashboard, to see many details on your child's performance:  how often they are logging in and completing lessons, their accuracy, and the rewards they've selected (you have to approve the rewards).  You can also "test drive" each lesson and see exactly what your student is going to learn in their next unlocked task.  You can even access your student's account through the Learn tab so that your student can begin work on their exercises immediately after you've logged in!

I haven't found much use for the Engage tab, as that is a way to communicate back and forth with your student.  The Motivate tab, however, is where students can go to cash in their points for special privileges.

How We Used This:  I originally wanted Luke to give this program a try, even though he is in 6th grade.  I thought it would be a fun way to play catch-up with some of the concepts that our current math program has not yet addressed.  He is plugging his way through a Math U See level for his main math program, and I had wanted to use GPALOVEMATH to cover some topics included in the three strands of their program:

Fifth Grade:
Computational Cave
Decimal Training Center
Sector Park

I was especially looking forward to some low stress learning about PEMDAS (order of operations) decimals and the beginnings of graphing and the coordinate system.

Unfortunately, I didn't fully appreciate that my 12.5 year old is aging out of "cute" and found the Math Super Heroes to be more of a distraction than a help.  In addition, once Luke began the lessons, Nina and Dino's voices turned into computer generated speech, which was highly distracting to him. I did contact customer service, and they assured me that regular voices are coming soon!

Levi, on the other hand,  LOVES GPA.  He had just completed his math curriculum, and I suggested that we work through GPALOVEMATH for a few weeks until I can get the next workbook purchased for him.   Some of what he has been working on has been review -- basics of multiplication and addition right now -- but he's also gotten some exposure to those soft geometry concepts that we had not yet touched on, such as obtuse and acute angles.

Third Grade:
Operations & Algebraic Thinking
Numbers & Base 10
Geometry, Measurement & Data

Final Thoughts:  I've been really happy with GPA and how motivated it has been for Levi.  Not every program is going to work for each child, so I would suggest you sign up for the free trial and give each of your children the opportunity to work through several weeks worth of lessons. Perhaps GPALOVEMATH will make your home "tear free" when math time comes!

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