Although math is one of the strongest subjects among our students, we were excited at the opportunity to add A+ Interactive Math to our repertoire of Math resources. Their newly released Math Mini-Courses offer the ability to focus on specific mathematical concepts through interactive video lessons and online worksheets and tests.
One could use this resource to close any mathematical learning gaps, review old concepts or even learn new ones. Sweetness is well above her expected grade level and has no real learning gaps at this time. However, this was an excellent opportunity for us to get specific instruction around the concepts that we have begun touching upon. We chose to explore Elementary Fractions and Elementary and Middle School Multiplication.
Setting up her account was a simple process and we began working through the material immediately. She enjoyed the learning format for fractions. The concepts were taught using real-world examples that made it easier for her to understand. For example they taught fractions using pizza to demonstrate the concept: if two friends came to visit and you wanted to share your pizza with them you would need to divide it equally into three parts; each would get 1 of 3 parts or 1/3. I have always appreciated using food to demonstrate fractions because children have a keen awareness of fairness when it comes to cookies, pizza or other treats they enjoy!
Although the content was thorough, the teaching was a bit slower and less interactive as I had expected. One of its best features is the report sections. Each Mini Course provides access for one parent and one student. The parent is able to generate reports on worksheets, tests, interactive Q&A or lesson completions. Unfortunately, we learned a little too late that there are a few nuances with the program itself that is not entirely intuitive. For example, any time there was a requirement to enter an answer during the Q&A, the student needs to click on the frog’s belly to record the answer before selecting “next” to move to the next question. This was not blaringly obvious for us so after a Q&A series we were not expecting to see that it said that she only had 20% correct and 80% unanswered. We did not want to spend additional time working through the problems for a second round.
Another nuance was noticed during the completion of a worksheet. After the student enters their answer, he or she needs to click on submit answer and then select next to move to the next question. There are also other areas that required multiple steps, such as four or five clicks (each leading to a new page) just to reach the destination. None of these seemed to inhibit her progress but it did require unnecessary steps to navigate through the program, which called for additional effort and paying attention. For us, this meant that I had to be with her during her use of A+ Interactive Math and could not leave her to work independently. This had a significant impact about how we felt about the program. Sweetness is really enjoying her ability to work more independently and felt like something was wrong with her for her to need me close by or with her while she worked.
Despite the nuances, we fell into the rhythm of the program and were able to move forward through the lessons provided in the Mini Courses. Sweetness learned quite a bit about both fractions and multiplication which has enabled her to excel in her primary math program. All in all, we both agree that the Mini Courses provide solid instruction in individual areas which is exactly what it is intended to do. There are 20 different Mini Courses each offering a student and a parent access for a full-year and ranging in price from $9.99 to $19.99. The concepts offered are as follows:
- Counting and Identifying Numbers (1st-3rd) – 15 lessons
- Place Value and Number Combinations (1st-3rd) – 15 lessons
- Naming, Comparing and Arranging Numbers (1st-3rd) – 17 lessons
- Early Elementary Fractions (1st-3rd) – 10 lessons
- Early Elementary Addition (1st-3rd) – 17 lessons
- Early Elementary Subtraction (1st-3rd) – 15 lessons
- Elementary & Middle School Multiplication (2nd-6th) – 13 lessons
- Elementary & Middle School Division (2nd-6th) – 15 lessons
- Tables, Charts and Graphs (1st-6th) – 17 lessons
- Elementary Geometry (1st-4th) – 19 lessons
- Elementary Algebra (1st-4th) – 27 lessons
- Advanced Geometry (4th-7th) – 35 lessons
- Advanced Fractions (4th-8th) – 26 lessons
- Decimal Numbers (3rd-7th) – 20 lessons
- Percentages (5th-8th) – 13 lessons
- Time (1st-4th) – 20 lessons
- Money (1st-5th) – 18 lessons
- Number Types and Conversions (3rd-6th) – 35 lessons
- Ratio, Proportions, Probability & Statistics (3rd-6th) – 14 lessons
- Measurements and Conversions (2nd-6th) – 23 lessons
It typically took us about an hour to work through a lesson, worksheet and a test. It would take longer if a student needed to review a particular step at any given time. A+ Interactive Math states that student’s could easily work through a Mini Course within 2-3 months. I believe that is a conservative estimate and an average student, working at an age appropriate level, could complete a course in 1-2 months. Some students however may require additional time. The greatest feature is the full-year access allowing a student to take as long as needed or even go back and review throughout the year. We anticipate having the system generate additional tests periodically throughout the year to test for retention.