Wednesday, September 8, 2010

TOS Review: A 24 Hour Math Tutor!

This is a review of a product I received through The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew program.  Though I did receive free product to review, I receive no monetary compensation from either The Old Schoolhouse Magazine or the publisher of the product.  Receipt of the product to review doesn't guarantee a positive review; all of the expressed opinions are my own.

Nothing strikes more fear in the heart of a homeschool mother than the thought of algebra, geometry and calculus!  Unless the mom is a "math person" herself, the thought of remembering and teaching upper level math is intimidating!   Tutors and video math programs are expensive and many families are looking for an alternative that will let their child study high school level math courses at home even if the parent isn't able to "teach" the course.  Help has arrived!

Two years ago I reviewed Math Tutor DVD's for the first time (read it here).   I'm really pleased to be asked to review a new title in this series as well as an older one.

Jason Gibson is a real rocket scientist (who worked for NASA) with a true gift for teaching (which he admits is the most important qualification).   He believes EVERYONE can understand math.   After watching and using several of his DVD's, I believe his teaching style might just be the key for many students.  The Math Tutor DVD series includes an excellent collection of products to help students at all levels master math concepts and processes.    While there are DVD lessons for elementary arithmetic, Math Tutor DVD is one of the few programs that offers resources for upper level math extending into college courses and instruction on various graphing calculators.

Let me list the features that make me really LOVE this product:

  • Jason explains math concepts in a systematic, straightforward way that is easy to follow. 
  • I'm most impressed at how he anticipates the difficulties students may have and addresses them in his talk.   
  • He often warns students about pit falls when working certain problem types and he's always careful to start each process by covering the important terms and concepts.  
  • He explains to students why they need to understand something and how they might need to use it in the future! 
  • Jason even writes out important rules on the board and uses different colors and symbols so the students can take "notes" to refer to later.  

Math Tutor DVD's format is simple!  Jason stands at a white board and works problems as he explains the math. No glitz - no graphics - no "reinforcing" characters -- just a talented teacher and an old fashioned board.   Even today's students will appreciate the simplicity and lack of distracting elements.  

There are a whole range of Math Tutor DVDs to select so that all math needs are covered:   pre-school - basic math - algebra - advanced calculus.    These are generic DVD's that will complement any curriculum you might be using.   We're using a text book for algebra and my daughter finds that watching specific lessons on the DVD helps her to navigate the text exercises.   

The website includes sample videos for each of these products.

Each set of DVD's has a detailed list of the lessons on the box so navigation is easy.   

The Algebra DVD's have a companion workbook to simplify the process of matching lessons to problems.   These are highly recommended.  I believe you could use the workbooks and DVD's to teach the lessons and then document progress by doing the exercises and tests included with your text curriculum.  

One new product that I think will be especially valuable to homeschoolers is the DVD series on graphing calculators:   Texas Instruments TI -84 Calculator Tutor   The format of this DVD is a little different in that the screen shot is a computer generated calculator keyboard and display.  Students see and hear the explanation on how to use the keyboard for a variety of functions.   You can watch a sample video here.    Honestly - this is the best new math resource I've seen in a long while. Using a graphing calculator is an important skill in advanced math courses; but "reading" how to use it isn't always the best way to learn.   Here the student can see and hear the process while copying the sequences on their own instrument.   I know that many of the younger mothers and fathers, especially those who were math majors, probably know how to use these advanced calculators.  However, there is a whole generation of parents (myself included) whose "top of the line" college calculator didn't do much more than scientific notation.   I found graphing calculators a complete mystery before using this DVD.   

Their Website:

Another new feature of the Math Tutor DVD program is a subscription to website where you can view ALL the video lessons as much as you want for only $19.95 per month.  If you have a couple of students this might be a good option for your family.  

Additional features on the website include articles about math topics, free online calculators and equation solvers as well as resource sheets and online interactive practice for various topics, including FOIL binomial expansions and solving a linear equation by plotting the line (This is a really cook little program - so check it out!)

Pricing and affordability:

The web subscription is a nice feature; however, most people will want the physical DVD sets.  Priced between $20 and $40 dollars per course set, this product is an absolute steal!   I tutored math 15 years ago for $25 per hour -- today's tutors often charge $60 per hour!   Math Tutor DVD gives you 4 - 7 hours of tutoring for the price of one session with a live tutor and the convenience of running the video over and over if needed at all times of the day and night!

Who would benefit from this product:
  • parents who can't remember how to explain exponents, permutations, combination etc - especially if they are trying use a graphing calculator! - TI 83/84 Calculator Tutor and Probability and Statistics Tutor
  • students who need someone to explain math as they work through a self-paced or text book  curriculum:  check out three resources  for Basic Math Grades 1 - 7
  • parents trying explain when train A and train B will meet if they are traveling in opposite directions and different speeds or how many quarters you have in a bag if the number of dimes is three times the number of quarters.......(are you confused yet?):  Algebra Word Problems  
  • parents and students trying to figure out how to do scientific notation and unit conversions in chemistry and physics (not to mention physical science!) :  Unit Conversion Tutor
 How I would Use This Product:
  • The index makes it easy to select just the lesson your student needs to view  as an instruction add-on for a math, or science course.   When a new concept is reached in the book, the student could begin by watching the DVD and then working through the lesson in the book.   In that way the teacher is relieved of at least part of the explaining duty.  This can be a valuable resource for those middle and high school students who want to be independent but aren't really able to self-teach math.  It will work with any curriculum.
  • Students of any age who are in college math courses or studying for the AP Exams could use specific DVD lessons to review and prepare for those tests-- it is a DVD Tutor!
  • Students who are preparing for the SAT or ACT could watch the Mental Math Secrets series to improve their speed in problem solving (and free themselves from the calculator for basic operations).  
  • Physics students who are stumped by the math would benefit from the  Physics DVD series (11 hours of instruction for $40 is a real deal! )
  • The Math Conversion DVD would help most chemistry students develop skills needed to work the math needed, but not often explained in chemistry tests. 

In summary:  Math Tutor DVD is a well executed, affordable resource for math students ranging from elementary through upper level college and science classes that use math.  Their slogan, "Press Play for Success" is very appropriate and each product is guaranteed.   This is one product that has a home on my school resource shelf!  Now that Jason is devoting himself full-time to his Math Tutor DVD project, I look forward to seeing many more courses offered.

Read reviews by other TOS Crew members here.

Math Tutor DVD
PO Box 1165
Seabrook, TX  77586

DVD tutorials in a wide variety of math topics
priced from $20 to $40
website includes a subscription service and many interactive samples and bonuses

1 comment:

  1. I really like the way you set this review up (under the categories). It was very informative and easy to read.