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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A+ Interactive Math...A Review and Giveaway!!

As you may know, if you have been a reader of ours for any length of time, we are not a math-loving family by any means.  We have used many different math approaches and programs over our homeschooling years, but we seem to have one or two that "stick" over time.

A+ TutorSoft Math is one of those programs.

In the past, I have reviewed the 4th grade CD-based program and the 1st grade online program.  Just recently, though, A+ came out with a new program, and we were blessed to get to try it out and review it.

The program we used is called Adaptive Placement Testing with Individualized Lesson Plan.  It is designed for homeschoolers specifically, and works to help us find and correct any of those dreaded "learning gaps" in our kiddos.  Once those gaps are identified (if any), the program puts together an individual lesson plan for the child to learn, review, and practice specific skills that were causing problems, both through their multimedia lessons and through online worksheets.

What Did We Receive?

We received login codes for both of my homeschooled students to take their own individual grade level tests--second grade for my Bug, and fifth grade for my Firefly, who tends to work down in math.   Currently, the cost of the placement testing and individualized plan is $29.99 for one student, $39.99 for two students, and goes up $10 for each additional student.  The program is active for three months.

There is another option to get the Placement Test only, which costs $14.99 for one student, $19.99 for two, and goes up $5 for each student.  Currently, A+ is offering the testing only option for free for all of my readers!

How Did We Use This Program?

We used the program exactly as intended for my Bug.  As soon as we received the login code, I was able to give both of my children their own accounts, and Bug logged in right away.  The first place we started was in the testing.  Bug's second grade level tests covered thirteen different areas:  Number Sense, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Rounding and Estimating, Fractions, Graphs, Time, Money, Measurements, Geometry, and Elementary Algebra.  I let him select which test he wanted to take each time.  For him, many of the testing periods were very short (under ten minutes), and we were able to get his results immediately.  If he passed that section's test right away, I would usually have him do another section.

Firefly's 5th grade test sections included:  Number Sense, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Decimal Numbers, Fractions, The Number Line and Number Comparison, Positive and Negative Numbers, Percentages, Graphs, Measurements, Geometry, Algebra Part 1 (Variables), Algebra Part 2 (the Coordinate Plane), Probability and Statistics, and Word Problems.

The other things that you have access to within the program are reports (progress and summary reports), tutorials on how to start using the program, and the individualized lesson plans.  If you noticed in the picture above, one of the stumbling blocks for Bug was Fractions.  His lesson plan included nine different lessons on fractions.  These lessons are set up just as we were used to from using A+ previously:  with voice instruction, interactive slides, and computer animation all used to teach the concept.  Bug then had the chance to complete problems after the lesson to demonstrate his understanding, as well as chances for extra practice with online worksheets that are automatically graded.  We never spent more than thirty minutes on the program, and often spent much less time, but always felt that we had productive math lessons / exposure.

When I tried to use this program with my Firefly, however, we didn't have quite the excitement level, or the success, that we did with Bug.  Although she expressed interest in trying, after she saw Bug having fun, she didn't make it very far into the first test before breaking down.  Therefore, I wasn't able to use the program to get the information that I was looking for with her; however, that in itself gave me some information.  I think that my choice of 5th grade math was a bit ambitious for her.

What Did I Think?

I loved the idea of the placement testing and then the individualized lesson plans, for both of my children, even though they are both very different, and I'll tell you why.

My Bug is a math kiddo.  He will tell you over and over that he doesn't like math, but he's very quick with it.  I think that many of the different pieces of curriculum that we've been using have been extremely boring to him--we've been doing things he perhaps has already known, and I just haven't picked up on that.  His disinterest became more clear to me when I had him sit down to take the tests.  Just halfway through his 2nd grade year, he had mastered much of the material that A+ was asking for.  And, although the tests were timed, he was moving through them more quickly than he needed to.

We have moved to a more unschooling style of learning, and have been very informal with math over the past few months.  This testing was very helpful and encouraging to me to know that he was doing just fine, and was "on track"--whatever that means to homeschooling mamas!  And when a weakness was identified, it was great to be able to have the lessons for that specific skill right there so we could work through them and then let Bug take the test again.  (Since he's a bit of a perfectionist as well and doesn't like to have "below goal" show up on his reports.)

My Firefly, on the other hand, has a "learning disability" in math--again, whatever that means.  I know it means that she is math-phobic, and I know that we tend to have a lot of tears.  For her, her struggle with the testing enlightened me as well.  Some of the skills that we have been working on for some time haven't been solid in her mind yet.  In this case, again having the tutorials handy is wonderful, as well as having another method of reviewing / teaching the skills she needed to practice.  The only complaint that I had with this situation is that the tests are grade-based, so while she may have been more successful with 4th grade, I could never have put her in front of a computer that said so.  The grade system was helpful for me, but I would suggest maybe using a letter level or another more anonymous leveling system on the child's login.

I was very happy with the reports.  Although I sat with my kiddos when they used the program, I wouldn't have to due to the reporting.  Also, my kids liked watching the progress report above, where the little character would walk down the line to the mastery point.  Though you will notice both of my students expressed complaints about the timing aspect of the mini-tests, neither of them had any difficulty in completing the problems in the given time.  They just don't like time limits!

What Did My Kiddos Think?

"I liked watching my guy walk across the screen and being able to pick which section I wanted to do. I didn't like how it timed you, and some of it was hard.  Some of it was really easy too."  (Bug, age 8)

"It was an interesting experience, because I hadn't done anything like that before.  I liked to see my progress go up and down, but I didn't like the way it timed you.  It was something that I would probably do again."  (Firefly, age 12)

Find Out More About A+ TutorSoft:

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You Tube video explaining how the program works

A Giveaway!!!

A+ is offering my readers a chance to win their Adaptive Placement Testing with Individualized Lesson Plans for up to 10 children!

By entering this giveaway, you understand and agree that your contact information will be shared with the sponsor.

In addition, A+ TutorSoft is offering a great set of FREEBIES for all of my readers:

1-Month Family Math Package Online--Comprehensive math program with access to ALL grade levels (K1-Algebra 1). Option for 1-10 Students. A+ Family Packages are the most flexible, comprehensive program on the market - allowing you to change grade levels as needed. This is excellent for those needing to review previous grade levels or move ahead. A+ interactive Math online is accessible from anywhere with high speed internet access. A+ Math Teaches, Grades, Measures, Reviews and Tracks automatically.

Free Time Software--Use Coupon Code: Time4Aplus. This Time Teaching Software (valued at $21.95) introduces your students to Time. It teaches them about days, weeks, months and year, seconds, minutes and hours, telling time using analog and digital clocks, duration of time, converting units of time, and about finding and adding elapsed time.

And, don't forget the placement testing only option listed above!

1 comment:

  1. I love that testing idea. Finding those areas where there are gaps are a challenge for parents. Also, in order to move onto higher math having all those areas mastered is very important.



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