Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Unlock Math review

UnLock Math Algebra 1
UGH! The thought of teaching upper level math frightens me. Enter UnLock Math. We have been using UnLock Algebra1 for this review. (Also available as a brand new program is UnLock Geometry.)

OK. I have to tell you about the struggles that math causes in my homeschool. First, I am an English teacher, so while math makes sense in my head, I'm lost as to how to teach it. Second, I just find the concepts so confusing when presented in a textbook. Needless to say that has been a recipe for some melt down moments and down right disasters in math.

UnLock Math actually solved a lot of problems for us. (See what I did there?) There is a live teacher in the form of a pre-recorded lesson. The teacher is engaging and really simplifies many of the topics into easy, step-by-step, not-overwhelming processes.

Each lesson has five components:

Warm up gets the student's brain into math mode. This is in the form of five review questions from previous lessons. These warm up problems are not new material, and they are never overly challenging. It's reserved strictly for getting the brain ready to learn.

The lesson consists of a video embedded into the lesson page. This is where the teacher demonstrates sample problems and explains the new concept for that lesson. These are not overly long, 5-10 minutes are what we have seen so far. Definitely manageable if you want to re-watch a lesson that just didn't make sense the first time around.

Once the student has viewed the video lesson, they progress to the Practice Problems. This is a set of 10 practice problems directly reviewing the new material, which was taught in the lesson. One lesson is presented at a time. I love that about this program because the student isn't overwhelmed by an entire page of problems. It's one at a time. The student does still need to have scratch paper available to do some figuring, but they then enter the answer into the problem on the computer screen and hit submit. Once all the problems are submitted, the student can then view the entire set and see what problems they missed, if they missed any. They can always retake the practice problems if they would like to.

Stay Sharp is another set of ten review problems. These problems review the lessons previously learned. Again one problem at a time with the ability to try again if they want to. So far I have been relieved that the problems in the stay sharp section as well as the practice problems section are not overwhelming difficult. They closely resemble demonstration problems that were given in the lesson. That is actually a relief to me. I find math so frustrating because in a text book curriculum, the lesson typically gives a basic problem demonstration and then throws all kinds of curve balls at you for practice and review. UnLock math has been different for us. She has taught them any variations that might come up, making it easier to understand.

Finally there is a Challenge Yourself problem. It's just one problem and is usually one that makes the student really think. It makes them try and in order to solve it they have to rely on the skills that they have previously learned. Each lesson includes Reference Notes that can be downloaded and printed.

One more thing that I really liked about this program is that the student didn't have to take a pre-test to find out where they were already in math. They simply started right in with a quick Pre-Algebra review (19 lessons) and then were off onto Algebra 1.

Curious what other reviewers had to say about this product? Head on over to the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read all the reviews.

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