Sacha’s<25: Math U See provides a complete K-12 mastery based math curriculum (includes a DVD) perfect for the visual and tactile learner.
Home in the Trenches Product Rating (out of 10 stars)
Is it worth our time? 9 stars
Did it help us learn? 10 stars
Is it worth the money? 10 stars
Is it useful to me? 10 stars
Practicality- 10 stars
Quality- 9 stars
Kid Rating- 10 stars
Everything We Received!
We jumped at the opportunity to review the Pre-Algebra curriculum from Math U See. I have heard so much about this curriculum over my years of homeschooling but we had never tried it out for ourselves! The Math-U-See system is structured with step-by-step procedures for introducing, reviewing, practicing, and mastering concepts. We found this curriculum to be different in it’s approach because each lesson teaches using multi-sensory tools such as videos, manipulatives, and other resources, designed to appeal to different types of learners.
To begin I had Matthew ( 13 and in 7th grade) take the Placement Test to see where I should place him. After taking the test we found that Pre-Algebra was the level for him to start at. This made sense since this is what he was already doing through a different curriculum this year. We were struggling this year with math. It seemed that he wasn’t able to understand the topic just from the written instructions in the program we were using…so I was sure hoping that the video portion of Math U see would make this easier for him, and less stressful for mom!
One thing I found out from this experience is that “Pre-Algebra” doesn’t mean the same thing across the board between curriculum companies! I really thought it would have. So with that being said, I am not doing my review based upon the scope and sequence of this curriculum. It varied so much from the curriculum that we have been using the past 5 years. Many of the topics we covered in Math U See’s Pre-Algebra were covered in earlier levels of our other curriculum. What was different was the approach taken in teaching the topics and how the program was laid out. These are the things I want to focus on in this review.
The first thing that we noticed was different from other math programs we have used was manipulatives being used even in the upper grades. Genius! They were not used a lot in what we worked on but they were perfect for explaining the topic on hand. We also really appreciated that you set your own pace. The program is set up so that the student watches the DVD and reads the instruction manual and then proceeds to the Student Text. We found the video portion to be around 10 minutes for each lesson. Matthew also realized that the DVD and the Instruction Manual are very similar. He finally asked if he could just watch the DVD because he understood it best from that. You can see a video of a sample lesson here.
At this point the student does the first worksheet in the lesson (called Lesson Practice). If they get everything correct they will move onto the review portion of the lesson on the next day. If they do not get it correct they need to go back and figure out what was wrong and why it was wrong. Then the next day they would do the second worksheet in the lesson practice section. There are 3 of these per lesson. If your student is still struggling there are more worksheets online that you are able to print out to work on with your student. Mr Demme stresses that each lesson might take 2 days or 2 weeks, it really depends on your student. You are to expect mastery from your student before moving onto a new topic! You can see a sample pre-algebra lesson here. The lessons are never more than 1 page of work–front and back and usually are around 20 questions. This program doesn’t have busy work!
4 steps given on the video:
–DVD and read lesson kids and parents
–then do worksheets. Maybe 3 sheets maybe 1. Do them until you get it. There are extra worksheets online
–review pages do all old material and new…suggests doing all of these. Then teach it back to your teacher. Then take test.
Matthew never had to do a second day of the Lesson Practice. Much of what he was doing were concepts he had learned prior to this year. I would have him do all 3 pages of the Systematic Review as this covered material prior to what was taught in that lesson. This portion of the program is vital. We had used a Mastery based program in the past my student would forget whatever topic we had mastered 2 months down the road because it wasn’t touched upon again. I really appreciate that past topics are covered within the review portions of each lesson. This layout worked really well for Matthew!
After he finished the review pages it was time to take the test. The tests are in a separate test booklet. Most tests had 20 questions with a few having up to 28. Tests cover the lesson at hand as well as past material. If he did well on this it was time to move onto the next lesson. He aced every test! If not, go back and work with your student until they have mastered the topic. You should know that they have mastered it well before you make it to test time!
Each lesson also has one page of “Honor’s Lesson”. We found these problems to be more rigorous and actually more on the level of the problems that we were used to doing in our other curriculum. They are suggested for anyone who has a student who may be college bound. Occasionally we found problems to be a bit confusing simply because they were from a topic that we hadn’t covered in our other curriculum (but I am sure were covered in a past year of Math U See). These Honor’s pages could be done at the end of each lesson or they were suggested to be done during the summer.
We were plugging along very well with this program until we hit Lesson 7– Exponents and Negative Numbers. In fact I was ready to throw the whole curriculum out the window. I spent about 2 hours researching the correct answer to a problem because I was so sure the answer key was wrong. Mr. Demme even tells the students that their parents will tell them that it is wrong and that college professors have written him to tell him he is wrong. I actually posted the question on Facebook to see what other people thought the answer was….
Here is the question:
What do you think the answer is? 81 or -81?
I have over 25 comments on Facebook about whether a negative number squared is positive or negative.(pretty equally split in the answers) After much discussion on Facebook and googling I found out I was wrong and evidentially he was right! The answer is -81. I was always taught that a negative times a negative equalled a positive number. Ha! This problem is actually done by squaring 9 and then putting the negative sign in front of it! So I had to eat my words after finding out that Mr Demme and Matthew had done the problem correctly! I still feel that his explanation of this was a bit confusing.
Matthew has been really enjoying this program and his confidence in Math has skyrocketed! He is already on lesson 11 of 30. We will be continuing this program at a rapid pace and then moving directly into Algebra.
I’m sure many of you are wondering if the manipulatives are necessary….Yes they are. They are used all the way through Algebra. However, we did notice that they aren’t used nearly as often as they are in earlier levels. Once you purchase them, you will used them each year at least through Algebra.
Here’s what Matthew had to say:
“I feel like it was easy to understand and that it’s hard to get something wrong. Their pacing is a little slow but if you doubled up you would get more done. I like the idea that you can go at your own pace. It takes me about three days altogether to finish a lesson.”
Here’s what’s covered in Math U See Pre-Algebra:
LESSON 1 Negative Numbers, Addition
LESSON 2 Negative Numbers, Subtraction
LESSON 3 Negative Numbers, Multiplication
LESSON 4 Negative Numbers, Division
LESSON 5 Exponents
LESSON 6 Place Value
LESSON 7 Negative Numbers with Exponents
LESSON 8 Roots and Radicals
LESSON 9 Solve for an Unknown
LESSON 10 Pythagorean Theorem
LESSON 11 Associative and Commutative Property
LESSON 12 Distributive Property
LESSON 13 Solve for an Unknown
LESSON 14 Solve for an Unknown
LESSON 15 Surface Area of Solids
LESSON 16 Transform Celsius to Fahrenheit
LESSON 17 Transform Fahrenheit to Celsius
LESSON 18 Absolute Value
LESSON 19 Ratio and Proportion
LESSON 20 Similar Polygons
LESSON 21 Least Common Multiple
LESSON 22 Greatest Common Factor
LESSON 23 Polynomials, Addition
LESSON 24 Volume of a Cylinder
LESSON 25 Polynomials, Multiplication
LESSON 26 Adding and Subtracting Time
LESSON 27 Volume of a Pyramid and a Cone
LESSON 28 Military Time, Addition and Subtraction
LESSON 29 Measurement, Addition and Subtraction
LESSON 30 Irrational Numbers
What I liked:
- Matthew is doing really well in this. He is not so discouraged and he really understands the topics presented!
- The price…it doesn’t break the bank. There are some video curriculums that are much pricier!
- The video portion of this program is great…it is just what Matthew needed to help him!
What I didn’t like:
- The volume changes on the DVD between intro and lessons.
- I wish the scope and sequence matched up better to the curriculum we had been using….it was a bit tough jumping into this program in that manner.
- I’m still not sure if this program is enough for a student going into a math or science major in college. It really wasn’t nearly as rigorous as the Pre Algebra program we had been using.
To sum it up: We found Math U See to be just what Matthew needed to make math not frustrating! He is excelling using this program. We are enjoying the video portion of this program as well as the layout of how to proceed through lessons. Please be aware that I am not reviewing the scope or sequence of this program and you will want to make sure that it is covering what you feel is necessary for your student.
The important information:
Order from: Math U See
Pre-Algebra Instruction Pack-$57.00
Pre-Algebra Student Pack-$32.00
Manipulative Block Set-$38.00
To read other Schoolhouse Crew reviews of this product click here.