Thursday, 30 July 2015

TOS Review - UnLock Math

I had to smile when we were offered the chance to review UnLock Pre-Algebra by UnLock Math because hubby and I were just discussing if we wanted Lilly to do a more structured curriculum for math - talk about serendipity.

UnLock Pre-Algebra is a complete online math curriculum created by Alesia Blackwood - a teacher with years of experience teaching high school math, but more importantly, a teacher who has experience reigniting a love of learning math. 

Unlock math consists of 16 units broken down into individual lessons (up to 15 lessons per unit). Each lesson starts with a warm up section - this does not contribute toward their scores but provides a sneaky review of previous lessons and gets their minds ready. The video lesson is next - these are well made, short and engaging (Alesia has a great way of explaining a concept that Lilly really seems to relate to), they include plenty of examples that work through the concept. The video is followed by independent 'practice problems' (usually 10 questions) based on the material taught, after you complete the practise questions you can click 'view details' which shows them where they made mistakes and how they should have worked it out to get the correct answer. This is followed by a 'stay sharp' section which again reviews previous lessons. The final section is 'challenge yourself', again this doesn't contribute towards their mark but provides an opportunity to stretch their mind. The final tab is 'reference notes' which is a down loadable concept sheet containing an overview of the lesson (we've been printing these out for Lilly, as they provide a great review if she forgets anything and provide a great revision tool)

There are also review lessons at the end of each unit, followed by an online test. A midterm review and test and a final review and test. The tests are not overwhelming as they show one problem at a time and appear the same as the practise problems - so no test stress : )

There are student and parent dashboards. The student dashboard is really easy to navigate and they can easily see what lesson they are on. It shows how much of the course is still to complete.

The parent dashboard lets you look at the course gradebook which allows you to keep track of scores, where they answered incorrectly, date the lesson was completed, time spent on the lesson etc. It is also the home of the progress report which gives you an overview of how their grade is derived. I really like the pie chart feature (as I respond well to visual stimuli) that shows what they done and still need to do.

Lilly seems to have enjoyed these lessons, they can be completed fairly quickly (so gone are the days of her spending two hours stressing over worksheets) and when she gets a problem wrong she can see a proper explanation as to why.

The only downside Lilly found was in the practise questions there are two buttons to click 'next' or 'submit assignment', unfortunately when you click submit assignment the session finishes without asking you the rest of the questions - she did this once which made her score really low (I don't think she will make the same mistake again). It would be nice if the submit assignment button stayed dark until after the last question had been attempted.

I love how hands off UnLock Math is. The programme is so easy to use that Lilly can do it without input from me - the lessons are so well explained that so far, she hasn't needed help from me. I love that I can see exactly where she has gone wrong and if she needs more help in a specific area. I found the videos to be well made and carefully thought out. I also like the portability, if we go somewhere all she needs is internet connection to do her work - no need to drag big books or pencil cases around with us and she can do it wherever she likes. 

The company is amazingly helpful and all interactions I've had with them have been really friendly and pleasant.
UnLock Pre-Algebra is designed as a 7th grade math curriculum and is available for each student at $49 a month or an annual fee of $299 - they also offer a 50% sibling discount. They have given me reader discount of $100 to offer you which - expires 18th August

You can see what my crew mates thought of this over at the TOS Blog.

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