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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

CTC Math...A TOS Crew Review...

If you all have been readers for any length of time here, you are well aware of our hate / hate relationship with math learning in our home.  And, no, I don't mean love / hate.  I am quite realistic about the lack of enjoyment that anyone in this home takes in any math at all!  So we are always, always on the lookout for things that will make math time bearable--which for us means no tantrums, no tears, and very little screaming.

Enter CTC Math and their 12 Month Family Plan.  Have you all seen many of their ads?  It seems that I've noticed them for quite a while now, all over, but I've never had a clear picture of what this program was all about, and why I should purchase it for my math-phobic family.

CTC Math Review

What Is CTC Math?

CTC Math is an Australian-based program, with Math Teacher Pat Murray teaching and narrating every lesson, from Kindergarten all the way through Calculus.  Mr. Murray has been a classroom teacher for over 25 years, and is a very experienced dad--he has several children of his own.

CTC Math is touted as an online math tutor, although for children from Kindergarten to Sixth Grade math, this program can serve as a full math curriculum.  Beyond Sixth Grade math, CTC splits into topical math, such as Basic Math, PreAlgebra, Elementary Measurement, Elementary Geometry, Algebra I, PreCalculus, Calculus, Algebra II, Geometry, and Trigonometry, and for these levels, CTC is currently more appropriate as a tutoring resource only.

Since CTC Math is an online program, you will need to make sure that you have an internet connection, a working web browser, the latest version of the free Adobe Flash Player, and speakers or headphones in order to hear the instruction, given in the peaceful Australian accent of Mr. Murray.

What Did We Receive?

Our family was blessed to receive a 12 Month Family Plan from CTC Math.  This option gave us unlimited access to all lessons, in all grade levels, for all of our children for one year.  This subscription plan works for families of all sizes: families with more than five children using the program may need to contact CTC Math to receive more login information, however.

How Did We Use CTC Math?

I used this math program with my two younger children, who are currently working at or about the first and fifth grade math levels.  I was given a parent login, and each of my children had their own login assigned specifically to them.  All we needed to begin the program was the working internet connection and our logins.

Over the time of this review, we used this program as our primary math program, and used the First Grade level for Bug (age 7) and the Fifth Grade level for Firefly (age 11).  When we first began, I used the Standard Diagnostic Test that was included in each section in order to decide where to start my kiddos.

For example, in the First Grade Math Course, there are four "streams":  Numbers, Patterns, and Algebra, Measurement, Space and Geometry, and Statistics and Probability.  Once you enter into a stream, such as Numbers, Patterns, and Algebra, you can choose lessons from a variety of different topics.  Topics in this section included:  Whole Numbers, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Fractions, Patterns, and Money.  At this point, choosing a topic will bring you to the lesson screen.

When we chose a topic, I started by having my kiddos take the diagnostic test (the standard version) in order to see how they scored and where their mastery level was for each topic.  If they scored adequately, we would move on to the next topic.  If there were trouble areas, we completed the appropriate lesson and questions at that time.

Once we had done this process a time or two, I was comfortable in placing them in topics and lessons that were at their placement levels.  At that point, we used CTC Math each day by having them log in and begin where they had left off the day before.  Each day's use would begin with the lesson, animated and narrated by Mr. Murray--simple lessons that would last usually about five minutes.  Each lesson was then followed up with questions--anywhere from five to twenty, where my kiddo could demonstrate what they had learned from the lesson.  I sat with them to do the questions, for the most part, because of this funny thing that happens when my children are faced with anything that resembles a competitive challenge--I will talk a bit more about this later.

If either of my children were having a hard time understanding or remembering the concepts of the lesson, we would print out the Lesson Notes for that specific lesson.  You can also print out the questions and answers, and solution sheets that help you to see how to solve the questions, step-by-step.  Once the questions were answered and my kiddos were happy with their scores, they printed out their answer sheets for us to have for their portfolio.

Now I'll go into the crazy competitive piece of CTC Math that turned my family crazy.  Do you see in the screen shot above that my Bug was working at a Platinum Level?  He is at that level because he has scored 100% on all of the lessons in that topic.  If he continues that pattern, he will earn a Platinum Certificate for First Grade Level Fractions.

IF, however, he were to get an answer wrong during that last lesson, he would drop down to a--wait for it--Gold Level Certificate.

And, evidently, the disgrace and shame that would come with that would be too much to handle.  Because both of my children needed me to sit with them to check their answers before they would enter them, just to make sure that they got their printed paper, but Platinum, certificate.

Yeah.  I blame my husband for the competitive spirit.

Anyway, thankfully, CTC Math has made sure that there is still a way for the Platinum Level to be reached even if the first attempt scores aren't great.  They average the most recent three attempts in an effort to increase the child's score, so if your child is a lunatic like either of mine, they can just keep working at a level and answering questions well, and they, too, can have a Platinum Certificate!

One other part of the program that we used extensively was the Speed Skills.  This was a fun way for my kiddos to get in some math fact drill work.  It has four levels, ranging from simple addition to Division with Remainders and Order of Operations.  The idea is that you have one minute to answer as many questions correctly as you can, and your high score is kept track of over time.  Both of my children used this section at least two to three times / day, trying to beat their previous scores.

Usually, we used this program at home, on our iMac, without any problems.  There were a few times, however, when we were out and were able to use it through a wireless connection on iPads, although we had to use an HTML login since we didn't have Flash Player.  Not a big deal as far as the lessons were concerned.  A bit of a bigger deal for the Speed Skills, but completely workable.

What Did I Think?

Here are a few of the features of CTC Math that made it especially interesting to me:  

--There are over 1300 animated and narrated lessons within the many levels.  And the animation and narration, as well as the interactive piece of the lessons, was a big hit for me.  For my younger guy, I loved the interactive piece.  For example, when changing tens into ones, he could point and drag large blocks of ten and manipulate them on the screen in order to help him count or keep track.  When trying to divide objects into equal groups, he could manipulate those objects as well.  That was just a little thing that made the lessons more enjoyable.

For my daughter, the lessons were intuitive and responsive to her.  By this, I mean things like:  when subtracting and borrowing, she was able to cross out numbers on the screen, or drag a "1" in front of other numbers, in order to help her keep track of what she was doing.  She often breathed a sigh of relief when she saw that that would be available in a lesson, because it really seemed to help her keep her place.

--There are over 57,000 interactive questions within the program.  If a child completes a lesson, but does not perform well on the questions, another whole set of new questions can be asked of the child about the same topics--more than once.  (Also helpful when attempting to get that elusive Platinum Certificate, that I've mentioned in detail before, lol!)

--There are both Standard and Comprehensive Diagnostic Tests within each learning area.

--Students receive instant feedback on their work.

--There is regular and accurate reporting given to parents about their child's work.  As a parent, one thing that I was really impressed with was the ongoing progress reports.  Each time either of my kiddos logged in, I could see how long they were active, which lessons they were doing, what their mastery level was like, and so on.  Since I sat with them each time, nothing was really a surprise, but I can see how this information would be helpful for older, or more independent, workers.  It is also helpful to print out and keep in a work portfolio.  These reports could be found in the parent section of CTC Math, and were also e-mailed to me once a week.

One suggestion that I think I would like to see implemented in CTC Math is a way to assign work or lessons to my children.  Again, I sat through the lessons with them, and I had the opportunity to accurately place them in the right lesson and point them in the direction of which way to go next.  But I think that it would be very helpful in terms of weekly lesson planning if there were a way to assign which lessons needed to be done, and then the students could see these when they logged in.

I like that you have access to all grade levels, so that you can move your child at their own pace through the concepts.  After all, which of us has a child that is so very completely in only Third Grade Math?

What Did My Kiddos Think?

"I thought that CTC gave a good description of what it was teaching, although it also gave practice questions to work more on the subject.  I don't like math in general, but they did pretty good.  I also liked to practice with the speed drills.  Four stars.  Because I don't like math."  (Firefly, age 11)

"I kind of liked the way they explained things, but I didn't like it so much.  It was kind of fun.  Sometimes I got stressed out with the speed skills, and the questions in the lessons, because I really wanted to get 100 percent.  It was kind of easy."  (Bug, age 7)

Momma disclaimer here:  I understand that these may not initially look like glorious reviews from my children.  However, we don't like math.  At all.  And more days than not, there were not tears, there was not arguing, and there was not screaming.  That means it was a big, huge hit!  And you notice that Bug's problem centered around the stress of the 100% for the Platinum Certificate--UGH!

Find Out More About CTC Math:

Currently, CTC Math's 12 Month Family Plan for K-12 grade is $118.80--more than 60% off of their regular prices.  You can also subscribe to monthly plans, or to plans for single use only.

You can sign up for a free trial and / or check out the demo page at CTCMath.

My Crew-Mates also got the chance to review CTC Math.  Take a look at what they thought!

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer


  1. Want to know something funny? My son didn't WANT the platinum certificate because he's CONVINCED nothing is better than Gold...because "they don't give Platinum medals for first place at the olympics, mommy!" Bwhahahaha. So he was always just striving for his gold! LOL! I didn't bother to burst his bubble.

    Glad your math-phobic family was able to find pleasure in this program!



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