For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Math Essentials - TOS Review


Still looking for a Math curriculum, or still exploring Math curriculum options? Here is one worth looking into!

The Schoolhouse crew had a chance recently to review a Math curriculum called Math Essentials. With so many Math curriculum around, it has become hard to pick one. I am glad to have come across this one.


What is Math Essentials?
Math Essentials is a company that puts out Math books to help prepare kids for higher Mathematics. They offer Math Essential skills books that cover all the basics of Math education necessary for Algebra. They also offer algebra books to help student master algebra.

From the website:
"These are not just books, but an exciting, tested teaching strategy that will produce dramatic results for students. This easy to follow, step-by step program requires only 20 minutes per day.
Rick designed these books for elementary, middle grades and even high school students who were not prepared for algebra, to help bring them to algebra-readiness in less than one school year. Through this program, many of Rick's students have improved several grade levels in their math abilities in just one school year. Rick has also used the program successfully with students who are struggling with math and have limited English skills. This award winning program compliments all basic math textbooks."
Math Essential books attractiveness is in having short lessons (20 minutes/day). I have to conquer in saying that working your way through their books does not require much time everyday. The workbooks are concise and to the point. Although there is still a substantial amount of practice on each day's assignment, it is set up so as to be quick and to the point. The progression within the book is also well paced. The books come with a video lesson that the student can watch to learn each topic before doing the assignements.

Again from the website:
"This 127-page consumable Basic Edition workbook covers the four basic math operations, plus, fractions, decimals, percentages, integers, geometry, charts and graphs, and problem solving. The drills are presented in a 20 minute daily lesson, stressing student involvement and quick thinking. There is no time for day dreaming in these fast-paced lessons!
The one-page daily lesson opens with four review exercises, two speed drills on addition and multiplication, and an oral work through of the review exercises. New material is introduced with two sample exercises and a helpful hint section, before working on 10 problems. A daily word problem closes the lesson."
Price:
  • Mastering Essential Math Skills book and DVD, book 1 (grade 4/5), book 2 (Middle grades and High-School) and Pre-algebra Concepts: $33.95 each, or the set for $89.95
  • DVD only : $24.95
  • Book only: $15.95
  • No-nonsense Algebra, book and online video: $37.95
As part of the Mastering Essential Math Skills series, they also offer books on specific Math concepts, organized in the same way as the main book, for $11.95 each. The titles in the series are:
  • Fractions
  • Percent and Decimals
  • Geometry
  • Problem Solving
  • Whole Numbers and Integers
  • Pre-Algebra Concepts
These are meant as extra practice if your child struggles and need more practice in one of these areas.

Our opinion

I was given the Mastering Essentials Math Skills Book 1 as well as the Geometry extra book for review. I decided to use the main book with my 1st grader who is advanced in Math, and who also does not mind worksheets. He had no problems and objections to working through the book. This book is perfect for him.  If I was to use it with my oldest who does not like worksheets, he may not be as thrilled but it still could have worked, as the page of assignment is not at all intimidating. That said, I also decided to use the geometry book with my eldest, as the workload on it is less.


What I like about these books is the pointedness. There is no waste of time and energy involved. You practice what you have learned and you move on. These books are comprehensive. A look at the table of content shows you that all the Math topics required for math education are covered. Each exercise page also includes at the bottom a real life problem to solve.

Each page work contains at the top corner a multiplication and addition drill for you to do with the student. This addition to the daily math load is very clever, as knowing your facts in Math is a definite plus, so one is encouraged to keep at it.

The DVD that comes with the 2 elementary and Middle grade books (Mastering Essential math Skills) acts like a tutor. The author of the books himself teaches your kids how to work through the Maths problems. He is effaced from the screen so that all you see is the actual working through the problem guided by his voice. His voice is very gentle and easy to follow.

The only negative aspect to this curriculum is the lack of connections between the actual solving of mathematical problems and the why and logic of Math. It tends to be rather mechanical, so one would have to supplement that aspect of math education, as I believe Math success requires a good understanding of the logic of Math as well as good proficiency in solving math problem..

Overall this is a keeper. Do not forget to check out what my crewmates have to say, some got to review the newly released No-Nonsense Algebra book. Make sure to check out their sample pages as well.




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Disclaimer: I was offered free copies of 2 of Math Essentials Mastering Math Skills series in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.


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