Tuesday, August 20, 2019

CTCMath - An Online Math Program for the Entire Family! {review}

We have been using CTCMath in our homeschool for a couple of years now for my oldest two children, but when we were given the opportunity to review a Family Membership, I knew it would be a great time to let my younger children check it out, and for me to share some of the newer features with my readers!

CTC Math Review

What is CTCMath?
CTCMath is an online K-12 math program.  It was created by Pat Murray, a math teacher and tutor, and father of ten!  The program includes video tutorials, interactive questions, worksheets and parent reports.  Every student has access to all levels, so it is a very flexible program!  While reviewing CTCMath this summer, I've had my older two children (rising 5th and 7th graders) finish up their lessons from last year since we school lightly in the summer anyway to keep a light summer routine and not lose momentum in math.  My rising first grader used a Kindergarten workbook last year, so she has been working through some of the Kindergarten lessons as summer review.   The 4 year old wanted in on the action, so I've been picking the easiest Kindergarten lessons for her, and even letting her repeat them because really she just wants to do what the big kids are doing!

The program follows a general scope and sequence through K-12, but really you can choose how you complete the streams within each grade.  My kids normally "do the next thing" for their respective grades, but it's easy to work on a different skill set (for instance, jump from Numbers to Statistics) if you need a break for a day or so.  I do suggest working through the individual sections in order though, as they build on each other.

This is a view of my Parent Account that shows you how the math streams work for the lower levels, and how Junior High and High School mathematics progresses.

CTC Math Review

The lessons all follow the same general format.  There are optional diagnostics tests you can take, which will pinpoint areas that are mastered and areas that might need additional practice.  The Video lessons consists of simple computer graphics with a narrated voice over.  There is an optional PDF summary of the lesson, and my oldest sometimes opens this for reference while working through the questions.

The Questions are interactive, and allow you to input the answers for immediate feedback.  This is my 4 year old's first real exposure to using a computer, but it's very minimalistic, so it's been good practice for her!  Once the question set is completed, it generates as a worksheet, and you can print/save for your records.

CTC Math Review
Kindergarten Counting

If a topic proves difficult for a student, you could review the video and do more questions, go down a grade and look for similar lessons taught at a more basic level, or create Question Banks for them for review.  The video lessons are generally pretty short (usually less than 10 minutes), which works well in our Charlotte Mason homeschool - short lessons are key!  If it's taking a long time to get through the questions, then we just stop.  The next day we watch the video again if necessary, and pick up where we left off on the questions.  Since we just do the next thing, this keeps planning at a minimum.

I am always available for help and discussions, but I do not sit with my older kids while they do their math unless they request it.  Instead, I keep an eye on their progress by checking my parent account and looking over the emails CTCMath sends.  The lower levels also include Weekly Revision Tasks, which are separate from the lessons but are essentially a built-in way to do spiral review.

Once you get past 6th grade, the format changes slightly.  In addition to the Questions, there is also a Worksheet.  This is a PDF you can open/print, then you input the answers into your student account.

CTC Math Review
Pre-Algebra Worksheet

I've just started the Pre-Algebra lessons myself to stay ahead of my son, so I've only worked in, and looked at, a handful of these lessons, but it appears they're mostly multiple choice--though there are more answers than questions to deter guessing.  You input the letter that corresponds to the correct answer.  This format was chosen because higher level math includes a lot of symbols and notations like radical symbols, superscript, subscript, degrees, etc. that are more difficult to type into a program.  It seems like the creators went for this method for simplicity.

My concern is that the Solutions are readily available, so if your student is prone to peeking at answer keys, you would have to be extra vigilant.  I'm not sure how this section will work out long term for us, but I think the new Question Bank Wizard, which I will also address in this review, will help with that concern.

CTC Math Review

Tasks are essentially anything you wish to assign--diagnostic tests, the lessons, or weekly revisions.  You could use this for "daily assignments" or occasional extra/homework practice - whatever works for your situation.  If you're using the diagnostics tests to pinpoint trouble areas or eliminate any lessons they don't need, then you would only assign the lessons that address topics the student needs to cover.

It is as easy as going into Tasks and selecting the student(s), and the activity you want them to complete.  This is helpful for having them focus on specific content, especially if you want to pull lessons from other grade levels.  If you're just working through the lessons in order, assigning tasks is really not necessary.  The student will see a notice when they have assigned tasks, and you'll get email updates about expiring tasks if you set it up, so you'll know for if they don't complete them in a timely manner!

CTC Math Review
Student view of assigned Tasks

Question Bank Wizard
The Question Bank Wizard is a newer feature and is really helpful!  It allows you to assign more questions on specific topics.  First you choose the lessons/concepts you want to cover, and decide if they will answer a set number of questions, or work for a specified amount of time.  You can also choose the difficulty of the questions, which is a great way to meet the specific needs of children who need extra review to build confidence or those who need more challenging material.  You can add more workspace, and view the question set before saving, printing or assigning as a Task.  You can generate answer keys for yourself as well.

CTC Math Review

One of the only concerns I've had in the past with using an online curriculum is that there wasn't a workbook/worksheet application.  Using scratch paper and mental math is certainly doable, but I appreciate this new feature!  I want the kids to be comfortable "showing work" because I imagine it's going to be more necessary down the road, so having the ability to print custom worksheets is great, especially since we do portfolio reviews.  Having work samples that show my children understand the material is important to me. With this feature, I am comfortable moving forward with my oldest using CTCMath for Pre-Algebra this coming school year.

There are multiple ways to review your student's progress and generate reports for their work.

A Summary Report shows all the lessons with their average score.  You can view Detailed Reports that show first attempt scores and highest scores, as well as how many attempts they've made on a lesson before they passed it--you set their passing score when you set up their account.  Individual Reports allows you to pull up the actual question sets from the lesson with the answers they submitted, which is a newer feature--it used to be that the program only saved the score, so you lost the actual work if you didn't print/save immediately.  I'm thrilled that I can pull up their actual work now in case I forget to print as we go.  You can also view their Tasks, Awards and Speed Skills results!

The screen shot below is a Summary Report for what my 6 year old has done in Kindergarten for light review summer.  It's been a good way for her to build confidence and prepare for how CTCMath teaches before moving into new material.  A Detailed Summary breaks down the scores by topic and shows you more information about how many times the student has attempted a lesson and their scores.  The program does average the score if they do a lesson multiple times, so you're getting a fair look at their actual progress.

CTC Math Review

Final Thoughts
CTCMath is very thorough in what it offers!
  • Teaching videos
  • Student access to all grade levels 
  • Automatic grading
  • Worksheet Generator 
  • Supplemental speed drills and games
  • Certificates for student achievement
  • Parent support with reports, emails and tutorial videos 
I had one child that complained daily before switching to CTCMath a couple of years ago.  He never struggled with math--in fact I think it comes fairly easy to him.  He just complained that he didn't like it.  Now he does math first if given the choice, rarely complains, and scores well on this program.  I really think one of the key reasons is because the lessons are short and to the point, which was very intentional by Pat Murray.  He understands that children don't need long lectures to understand concepts or lots of cutesy graphics bouncing around between every question; that they should instead spend their math lesson actually practicing the concepts.

One last note - the  FAQ states that this is a full curriculum for all levels, but I only have experience with Kindergarten through early Pre-Algebra.  For younger children, I think you need hands-on supplements so they can truly see how concrete objects become abstract concepts, but for the middle elementary and middle school, it has served us well.  It could certainly serve as a supplement to other programs or for public/private school children who need a little extra help with math.  I don't have any experience with the high school level courses to speak about them, but I highly recommend checking out the free trial of this full math curriculum and reading the other crew reviews!

Math 12-month Family Membership {CTCMath Reviews 2019}

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