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Apr 23, 2014

"Maths" - A CTCMath Review

CTC Math Review

CTCMath was developed as an online math tutor in Australia.  The developer and voice of CTCMath is Pat Murray, longtime math teacher and father of ten.  The lessons consist of a short video (just a few minutes long) and a question section, completed right online in the lower grades.  The upper levels have an optional, printable worksheet.  The lessons can be viewed and attempted as many times as necessary.  Our family has been allowed to review the 12 Month Family Plan in exchange for my honest review.  We recently finished our math books, so we have been using this as our only math for the duration of this review. 

When I set up our student accounts, I was able to enter what I considered to be a passing grade.  I even created a student account for myself.  I am sadly lacking in knowledge of the fake math (algebra).   CTCMath welcomes your feedback and provide a reminder each time you log out of an account.  With CTCMath, you have full access to the entire website, making it easy to place your child exactly where they need to be.  For instance, Malachi is using CTCMath for second and third grade, and occasionally even first grade for refresher on a few topics.  Xavier is mostly doing first grade work, but we're finding he is able to do quite a few of the second grade units easily.  You don't need to test your child, work through unnecessary lower level topics, or ask an administrator to move them ahead (or back).  Simply click on a different grade level. 

There is a HTML5 version of CTCMath that you can use on any browsers which don't support Flash Player.  I used this log in on Internet Explorer and the Kindle Fire.  I did find out (the hard way, with Malachi) that not all of the activities can be completed in  the non-flash version.  In this third grade positioning lesson, you do not have the controller (upper right in the photo below) to move the ladybug.  There is nothing in the video to explain *how* the beetle changes direction, it just does.  It took a while to realize I needed to move Mal to Firefox and use Flash Player to complete the questions.  While most of the measuring was straight, there was one activity we found that needed the controller to align the ruler to the line to be measured.  This also would need to be accessed on a Flash Player compatible browser.

We tried CTCMath on these devices/browsers; Firefox, IE, Kindle Fire (Silk), and iPhone (Safari).
Firefox: We had log in issues once, but that was an across the board issue and not related to the browser.  I really like the flash version of CTCMath and recommend it for usability.
Internet Explorer: For whatever technological cafluffle, I don't have Flash Player on IE on the very same computer I have it on Firefox.  We used the HTML5 login on IE often these past weeks.  As I said above, some questions cannot be answered with this version, but I had very little trouble using it on the laptop.
Kindle Fire: HTML5 worked on here as well, but the screen is too small to see the video in it's entirety.  Most of it is visible though and it was adequate.  I had the most trouble accessing lessons on the Kindle Fire.  Sometimes, I clicked on the lesson tab only to be sent back to the HTML5 log in screen.
iPhone: I could not get CTCMath to work on my phone.  I could log in, select the grade and stream (unit), but I could not get to the topic in the third column.  I turned the phone vertically and horizontally, and tried to reduce the size of the site on my screen.  I just couldn't use it.
HTML5 works on other devices as  well.

Mal had a rough time dealing with less than perfect scores at first.  We had one instance where he answered a question correctly, but was marked wrong.  This is a screen snip of the answer section.  Once complete, students can view every question, whether it is right or wrong, and the correct answer as well as their grade.  Usually, the scoring is correct!

When measuring millimeters, he was one mm off for three of the ten questions (and three off for one question).  A 60% score?!  He took that very hard.

We also dealt with some confusion and mistaken entries.

Obviously, the true errors and typos are not the fault of the program.  These are just some of our experiences and can be frustrating for young learners who may not be as keyboard savvy as more experienced children.

CTCMath sends a weekly report for each individual user via email.  The report includes the log in activity for the week for that user and a summary of the student's performance.  Here's a screen shot from one of Xav's reports.  As you can see, he wasted a bit of time on Monday!

I can also access detailed reports from my Parents' Area account.

Once all of the topics in a stream have been completed, the student earns a printable certificate; bronze, silver, gold, or platinum.  Using the graphic above, you can see that Malachi earned a certificate for 3rd grade statistics and probability.  He nearly earned a platinum level, except for one score under chance.  He can attempt that sections as many times as he would like and, presumably, receive a higher score, eventually earning his platinum certificate (only the last three attempts are averaged into the rating).

One obstacle we encountered was when someone had trouble with a concept and the only option was to repeat the video.  There isn't a teacher manual to read or a second video to view or any other help.  Malachi had a struggle with two topics.  I helped him with one, then Micah helped him with it again.  He just needed it explained in a different way.  He was able to complete and pass the assignment, but it was a struggle and I'm not certain he could go back and do it again now.  For the second concept he struggled with, we ended up getting out math manipulatives to help work through them.  There are times when you may need scrap paper nearby to make notes, either to work through a problem or to keep track of measurements, etc when comparing objects.

Speed skills are also available for each student.  Just click the button on the screen and a box opens where you can select the level and type of skill you want to practice.  You have sixty seconds to answer as many questions as you can and then you see a results screen with the number you got right as well as a list of every problem and if you answered it correctly.

Somethings I'd like to see happen would be the capability to assign a lesson and have the student see it when they log in.  I have been getting on with them when they log in and selecting what they need to complete that day.  I can certainly write it down or tell them, but an online, visual reminder is something I'd love to see.  An overview of each grade and all the topics would also be terrific, a sort of site map, if you will.

CTCMath is work in progress with great potential.  It's a fabulous math tutoring program.  I believe it's relatively new to the US homeschool market.  It has been instrumental in assisting us in figuring out where each boy actually is in math.  I was pleasantly surprised to see them doing more challenging math than either had previously attempted.  While they've struggled in some areas all year, I've seen them blossom in other areas.  It's exciting to know they are ready to be challenged and just because they don't understand one concept, doesn't mean we can't move on in other areas.  I'm very grateful to Pat Murray for that.

The cost of CTC Math for Homeschoolers is currently $118.80 for one year for the whole family.  Try the free trial and see how you like it.  145

Grades - Kindergarten through adult.

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