Review of The Algebra 1 Tutor From ScienceandMath.Com

I've written several times about our math curriculum fiascoes. Without rehashing, the summary is that we've (meaning I) made some bad choices. As a result, I feel like my older two children in particular are playing catch up in the math department. I was really happy to see the opportunity to review the Algebra 1: Volume 1 DVD set from We also received worksheets from the Fractions Thru Algebra Companion Worksheet CD.

The DVD set sells for $23.99 and is for grades 7 and up. The worksheet CD sells for $21.99. In the Algebra 1: Volume 1 set there are three DVDs. Each DVD has multiple topics. There are ten topics in all covering:
1. Real Numbers and Their Graphs
2. Fractions
3. Exponents and Order of Operations
4. Adding and Subtracting Real Numbers
5. Multiplying and Diving Real Numbers
6. Algebraic Expressions
7. Properties of Real Numbers
8. Introduction to Equations
9. Solving More Equations
10. Simplifying Expressions to Solve Equations

The worksheets go along with the DVD topics. We received the worksheets that went along with our DVD set- ten worksheets to be completed after watching that DVD segment. The worksheets have problems that practice the problems taught in the DVD lesson, and they have a very complete answer key.

I wanted to use these to fill in some gaps for my older kids that I knew were being left by our current math curriculum. I planned to choose topics that they were struggling with or didn't understand and let them watch those topics and complete those worksheets.

I started with Exponents and Order of Operations for Charles-8th grade- and Fractions for Kathryne-9th grade.

The algebra tutor on the DVD explains the concept and does many examples. The lessons last about 40 minutes. Because they were so long, I let them watch half one day and half another. Then I had them do the worksheets.

I picked topics that they had struggled with for them to watch. I liked that the topics were well defined so that I knew exactly what lesson to pick. The worksheets titles were also clear so that I easily knew what worksheets went with what lessons.

As the kids used the videos, we talked about what was good or bad about them.

What we liked:
* The lessons were clearly labeled so that we could pick the ones we needed. The worksheets were also clearly marked to know what lesson they went with.
* The video teacher speaks clearly and is easy to understand. (You might think that was a given, but it isn't always the case!)
* The teacher gives plenty of examples of many kinds of problems to help explain the concept.

What we didn't like:
* Although it is labeled "Algebra 1" this 1st volume is largely what the kids covered in prealgebra. Not until the last few lessons were there concepts introduced that they were learning in algebra. It's not bad to have some lessons as a review. But there weren't many lessons that really fit with their current level of study.
* The lessons were very long. If you have a child used to a traditional school math class, 40 minutes or so might not seem long. But we've always done shorter lessons. So for my kids- especially my son- this seemed very long. The teacher usually began the lesson with reviewing or drawing comparisons or some sort of explanation. In some lessons, they were almost 10 minutes in before the concept was presented. And, unfortunately, they had lost focus.
* The video teacher tries to teach by drawing comparisons or explaining why we need to learn math and other things like that. For my kids- especially my son- this made the lesson more confusing. It would have been easier for them if the concepts were just presented in a more straightforward way. Too much talk tends to confuse them. (They tell me that all the time when I'm teaching them!)

Conclusion: This could be a good supplemental DVD set IF you have a learner that likes all the examples and explanations. It's very thorough and very easy to use. It just wasn't a good fit for my kids learning style- and what they are used to doing.

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