Dr. Jay Wile, Author of Apologia Science Curriculum
“The quality of mathematics is extremely important to me, as math and science go hand-in-hand. There are many students who cannot handle my chemistry course, for example, because they have not had a good algebra course. That is why I strongly encourage you to look at Videotext Interactive’s algebra course. It is, truly, the best that I have seen.
The course teaches real mathematics. It does not use tricks or shortcuts. Instead, it teaches the student to think mathematically. That’s what is missing from many algebra courses! The use of animation and graphics is excellent. They do not detract from the learning, as is the case with some video courses I have seen. Instead, they enhance the student’s ability to understand what is happening in each and every step along the way.
If you want your student to really learn algebra, then you should use this course. In short, this course is a scientist’s dream come true! Every science-oriented student should use it.”
Kate Kessler, Product Reviews Manager, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine
VideoText Interactive has created a product that is broad in scope, but clearly understandable to those who have struggled with mathematic concepts in the past. The curriculum is a mastery program and it builds upon itself. It is unlike spiral programs and if you have been using a spiral program you will have to change your thinking with VideoText. If you move on without mastering the concept your student will quickly become lost because algebra is a step by step language that must be learned in the same manner as reading. We don’t jump into multi-syllabic words when they are only learning blending. One step builds upon the other until the whole scope of algebra is accomplished.
Algebra: A Complete Course is exactly what it says it is: all the algebra you will ever need to know—Algebra Readiness, Algebra 1 as well as Algebra 2. Geometry is a completely different course and is sold separately. The course includes approximately 180 video lessons that are grouped into six Modules. Module A is where we begin. This will most likely review or re-teach your student every arithmetic concept that is essential to the understanding of algebra and equip them with the “why” of these concepts—all in an algebraic manner. Each lesson is taught by Tom Clark, the author, or another quality teacher. They are 5-10 minutes long and cover a single concept. He encourages you to watch and then pause to answer the questions that he asks. This is the “Interactive” portion of the program. It is important to interact with the program so that your student grasps the concept. As the parent, I highly encourage you to watch with your student so that you can help in the process of learning with anything that may come up.
Each Module comes with the following books: that Module’s Course Notes, Student Worktext, Solutions Manual, Progress Tests, Instructor’s Guide, and the necessary DVDs that coincide with that Module’s work. I will list the complete scope and sequence of the entire course and detail every Module at the end of the review. It is very complete!
The Course Notes are the notes your student might have taken or may need for every lesson taught by the teacher, all placed in to a reference notebook for your student. They did this so that your student could concentrate on the teaching portion of the lesson and not worry about taking the notes and getting lost in the process. (This is something I remember struggling with in school myself so I can really appreciate this book!) Every example and all the important information from each lesson is reproduced in hardcopy format in the Course Notes.
The Student Worktext is the non-consumable text for your student. Important terms are reviewed and more examples of the lesson are explained as well as the student exercises are included in this text. It is not a workbook so your child will need a separate binder or notebook paper to do the exercises. This is a positive in my mind because the entire course can be used for multiple children. Mr. Clark strongly suggests that you have your child do half of the problems and then check their work to see if they truly did understand the lesson for that day. If they do then they can move on to other problems. He also suggests that you not use up all the problems in one day so that if there is a problem on the following day with a quiz they will have some new examples to work through for mastery. Review will happen every day because algebra builds upon itself.
The Solutions Manual has every problem worked out in step by step detail. Even the easiest steps are shown for clarity of understanding. There are usually several approaches for solving the problems, but Mr. Clark has solved each problem using a straightforward and logical approach. Your child may veer from this approach and that is alright. He wants to make sure that the steps are clearly correct and that your child truly understands it. If they reach the right conclusion and they understand how they got to it then that is the goal.
The Progress Tests book comes with a detailed Table of Contents section that lists every quiz and comprehensive unit test included. As much as was possible, Mr. Clark included a quiz for each lesson. Sometimes more than one lesson is combined in a quiz—depending upon the content. For every quiz there is also a second optional quiz so your student is sure to understand the lesson. They have also included a second comprehensive unit test as well. Depending upon your philosophy of schooling and testing, you can use these in a variety of ways. Mr. Clark tells us, “Use these as you see fit.” I appreciate that he considers us capable of deciding for our own families in these areas and that he sees us all as individuals. It is refreshing!
He does recommend that you don’t give a quiz on the same day a lesson is learned because sometimes our minds will remember the information only long enough for the quiz. He recommends waiting until the next day to give an accurate reading of your child’s grasp of the concept. All tests and quizzes are available to copy for your family’s use. There is room on the page to work out the problems and he shares, “Don’t hesitate to adapt these to your style of instruction.”
The Instructor’s Guide is a valuable tool for you as the teacher. It includes all the test and quiz solutions, the important concepts for you to read through and understand, and a detailed Table of Contents. It also includes a letter from the author that explains what your child will be learning in that Module as well as a schematic of the entire course so you know where you are in your student’s learning. He also mentions that these pages might be helpful for those working with an umbrella school of some kind that needs to understand how the program compares to other algebra programs.
The author emphasizes that he will not be using any tricks or shortcuts. This is not a “math-made-simple” type of course and Mr. Clark shares, “To be successful, you don’t really need them. In fact, you don’t really want them if you are trying to understand the concepts. You just need clear and detailed explanations.” You will find them in this program. The idea behind VideoText Algebra is that you can sometimes succeed in math if you use your common sense and intuition, but you can always succeed by learning how to analyze problems and work through them systematically. Sometimes this can be frustrating to the student because some of the examples will use easier number combinations that a child may be able to work through in his head. However if they don’t learn the process or grow impatient and wish to skip an example because they “already know this” they may be stymied when they reach the more complicated problems.
Each of the Modules contains approximately three month’s worth of learning material. At the conclusion of the course, your child will have learned all of algebra 1 and 2 in the span of two years. As mentioned above geometry is separate and to be completed after the algebra program. This is important to remember if you are planning ahead for college-prep testing.
VideoText offers help over the phone at their numbers above. There are few companies that offer phone help for algebra. Their word of the day, every day, is “Why?” Their goal is to answer the “why” of math for their students and this is one of the many ways they make themselves available to help you. I find that very impressive.
The cost of the program may be a deterrent for some families, but before you give it up altogether let me share that it is available for purchase per Module, that it is completely reusable for every student, and that it covers a full two years of algebra (and pre-algebra is not needed as well because of Module A.) So, if you look at it that way you can see the cost benefits might outweigh the negatives.
As you can see if you read through all of the above, the program is very comprehensive. I have not seen a more complete program available that teaches for true mastery, does not teach by tricks, gimmicks or rote memorization, and that accomplishes what it sets out to do via honest academic instruction. If this fits the goals you have for your child regarding algebra, you will find all the help and information you need to do it with VideoText Interactive.