UnLock Math’s UnLock Pre-Algebra Review

As I have mentioned in my previous posts, my daughter is not a fan of Math. So when UnLock Math offered The Schoolhouse Review crew members an opportunity to review UnLock Pre-Algebra, I was excited to see if this will work with my 11 year old daughter. I was given a full year access of the program for one child in exchange for this review.

Unlock Math Review
 

UnLock Pre-Algebra is a complete online Math curriculum for middle school students. It is best fit for 7th grade-8th grade students. Everything is done online, so you only need a computer with a browser like Chrome or Firefox and a stable internet connection to get it running. It is not a live class so your student can login anytime and she can go as fast or as slow as wants.

The different topics that UnLock Pre-Algebra covers are as follows:

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As the parent, I logged in and created a student login for my daughter. It was a very straight forward process and I was done in a few minutes. My daughter immediately logged in and the dashboard welcomed her.

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A fast loading site and a neat-looking dashboard were positive signs for us. The site was easy to navigate and understand.  She can easily see how far along she is in the program by looking at the bar and what her average grade was. She can also see details by looking at the pie chart.

My daughter started her lessons by simply clicking on a rocket to launch her first lesson on whole numbers.  An objective is stated at the top of the page allowing her to grasp what she is expected to learn through the lessons. The lesson starts with a warm up section. Students get 10 questions as a review to previous Math lessons. The questions are presented one at a time. Questions come in different forms like multiple choice and typing the correct answer. After completing the warm up, it is time to watch the video for the day.

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The first video is an introduction to UnLock Math and to the teacher Alesia Blackwood. Alesia is part of the Ontario College of Teachers certified in Intermediate and Senior Divisions Mathematics and Computer Science. She also has a certification from the Georgia Professional Standards Commission to teach Mathematics in grades 7-12. Alesia was homeschooled herself and is homeschooling her own kids — so she knows what is needed to make a Math curriculum interesting and effective.

What caught my daughter’s interest is Alesia’s enthusiasm in her teaching videos. She is very engaging and passionate about the lessons she is teaching and she offers bite-sized information every time. Allowing students who are not enthusiastic about Math like my daughter to absorb and enjoy the lesson. The teaching videos is only 5-7 minutes long. Alesia can clearly explain the concepts, then she works on sample problems and relates the concepts to the real world.

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After the video, my daughter needs to work on Practice Problems. Again, the problems are presented just one at a time so not to cause anxiousness on the student. Immediately, after completing the practice problems, the answers are auto-corrected and there is an opportunity for the student to see details on each problem and what the correct answers should be.

Stay sharp is the next step that my daughter needed to finish and this is a section which includes previously learned concepts. There are about 10 questions in this section.

Challenge Yourself consist of just 1 question and student gets to try to answer this question one time only. Giving those students who want more challenge an opportunity to use their thinking skills.

As a summary, Reference Notes summarizes the concepts learned for the day. She can easily print the lessons should she choose to do so.

Once she has completed all steps, the lesson is completed and a mark appears on each item she has completed to help her remember what she has finished.

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The questions in  Warm-Up, Practice Problems and Stay Sharps can be taken as many times as needed. This is to help the student practice. Then the best grade is the one recorded for grade computation.

Quizzes and Tests happen every lesson while the Midterm exam needs to be taken after Unit 8. A final exam is also given at the end of the term.

Grade computations are done automatically. You can click on Progress Report to see an overview on how the student is doing. It shows you the overall exam grade and the grades of each area.

For a more detailed look, there is a button that says Launch Course Gradebook at the Dashboard and it shows you the computed grades, the time used by the student to finish the problems and the details of everything the students have answered. As for how the grades are computed, the welcome letter states the % of each lesson and how the grades are computed. All reports may be printed for record keeping purposes.

 

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Some features worth mentioning:

> UnLock Math uses interactive and innovative ways to help students remember and understand Math concepts. They encounter different features as they progress along the different units. The curriculum is  good for visual, auditory and word learners.

> UnLock Math partnered with Maplesoft in developing  adaptive questions to ensure that the students are guided through difficult concepts as they go through different questions.

> UnLock Math adapts to students needs for more practice lessons or less practice depending on their ability and understanding of the lessons.

> UnLock Math uses standard mathematical notations so students don’t get confused with the system and can focus on learning Math concepts.

> Support service has been outstanding. We have had some issues with the grades but the people behind UnLock Math has been proactive in resolving the issue.

> UnLock Math is coming up with UnLock Algebra this August!

> UnLock Pre-Algebra costs $49 monthly per student and $299 yearly per student. You can use this link with the referral code: http://unlockmath.refr.cc/Z9TBCQR to get $74.75 off from the annual rate (This code is good until August 16, 2015 only) .

 

UnLock Pre-Algebra has earned our thumbs up. My daughter loves this online Math curriculum. It has helped her remember Math concepts better and allowed her to practice Math at her own pace. She used to loathe her Math practice time and during the weeks that we have been using UnLock PreAlgebra, she has genuinely enjoyed her Math. Each session takes roughly 30 minutes and its bite size approach has built her confidence as she studies Math. And because of that, I would highly recommend this program to struggling Math students or to those who needs to review Math concepts on their own pace at home. The easy to use interface, the effectiveness of the video tutorials by Alesia, the adaptive system and the automated correction and grading are the very reasons why I love this Math curriculum.  It is like having a personalized Math tutor at our own convenience. Definitely, UnLock Math’s UnLock Pre-Algebra is a perfect fit for our family.

For more information, please visit UnLock Math through the following links:

http://facebook.com/UnLockMath
http://twitter.com/UnLockMath
http://pinterest.com/unlockmath/
http://plus.google.com/+Unlockmath
http://instagram.com/unlockmath/

Read what others reviewers think about this product by clicking on the banner below:

UnLock Math Review
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Homeschool Buyers Co-op’s Homeschool Planet Review

Buying curriculum as a homeschool family can sometimes be costly,because we can’t get the bulk discounts, but thankfully, through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op we can get discounted prices! Homeschool Buyers Co-op is a family-owned and operated business, which seeks to help homeschooling families get the best curriculum at the lowest price possible. Today, I will be reviewing a program that they have developed to help parents organize their daily schedules. Homeschool Buyers Co-op has given me a full year access of their online homeschool planner,  Homeschool Planet in exchange for a review. 

Homeschool Planet Review

Homeschool Planet is very easy to use. As long as you have a computer, with a browser like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, and an internet connection , then you are good to go. You can also view the planner through your mobile devices.

Moms like you and me are very busy and we don’t want to spend much time learning how an online planner works. This is what I like best about Homeschool Planet, there is very little learning needed. It is very straight forward to use. As soon as you have created your account with Homeschool Buyer Co-op, you can click on the link to Homeschool Planet and it takes you to your online planner.

The first thing I did was to modify my profile and make it personalized by assigning a school name, choosing settings like when I want the email digest to be sent to me and assigning school days and days off. I added our subjects and categories which fitted our family’s lifestyle. I edited the grading categories according to our needs. I also chose a theme for our planner. I added my family members and created a log-in for my kids to use as well.

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As for the planner view, there are 3 views available.

The daily view:

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The weekly view:

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The monthly view:

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I used the weekly view most often. Adding a new task was fairly easy. You just need to click on the time and date when you want the activity to happen.

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Indicate the class details, like the Subject, the Title and for whom the class is for. You can also choose the frequency of the class. It has some pre-made choices but you can also specify your preferences if it is not on the list.

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For the reports, the system has different printable sets of reports for record keeping purposes. There is the assignment list, class notes, grade report, class hours and transcripts.

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One of the unique features of Homeschool Planet is the helpers. There is a grading helper which assists you in making sure you have completely entered your kids grades for each assignment and there is the rescheduling helper which assist you in changing your schedule like reschedule overdue assignments or scheduling a day off and reassigning the tasks  without having to do them one by one.

If you want a printed planner, there is a print feature which allows you to print the viewed schedule on your screen. This is best if you don’t want your students to login anymore just to see their schedules for the day.

I absolutely love the Homeschool Planet! Scheduling our days has never been more convenient for me. Let me list down the reasons why:

– It is easy to use. I have seen a number of online planners before and Homeschool Planet really made its system easy to understand. The simple menu and the organized flow of information is something that I really appreciate.  From creating a task until creating a report, I didn’t have a hard time doing any of it. It makes my record keeping easy and enjoyable!

– One planner for the entire family. I don’t have to go back and forth from one student to the other, I can easily see what our schedules look like and don’t have to be afraid that our schedules are over lapping.

–  The planner and reports are easily printable. No need to be online just to check our daily schedule.

– Class hours are automatically computed for easy reporting.

– Each student has their own login and can keep track of their assignments and chores. It teaches the students to be more independent and responsible with their assigned work.

– Daily digest sent to my email, so even before I start my day, I know what to expect!

Homeschool Planet is free to try for 30 days! You can try it out yourself and see if it fits your style.

Homeschool Planet only costs $6.95/month or $65/year.

For more information, please visit the Homeschool  Buyers Co-op Facebook or follow them on  Twitter at hsbuyerscoop and on their Google + account : https://plus.google.com/112069021534542740249/about

To see what others think about this product, check the rest of the reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

Homeschool Planet Review

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Life Lessons from Dolphin Tale

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We recently just watched the movies “Dolphin Tale” and “Dolphin Tale 2″. I will not tell you about the story line of both movies but will tell you what I learned. Though I can tell you that both were good family movies to watch!

1. Once in a while, it is necessary to watch inspirational movies. Life can be challenging and the news that we see daily is depressing, we need to be reminded that one person’s life can inspire others. As Sawyer, the main character, found his passion in life, he was effective in creating a positive change in his community. As he helped Winter, the dolphin, other people who were facing the same challenges in life, found inspiration, hope and courage through Winter’s life.

2. Homeschooling can give you time to pursue your passion. Hazel, the young girl who works with her dad in the Clearwater Marine Hospital is homeschooled. Eventually, Sawyer, didn’t attend summer classes in school but volunteered in the Marine Hospital and at the same time worked on his essays and other requirements. Eventually, in the second part, Sawyer was even offered scholarship by a college because they saw passion and dedication in him. It was an encouragement to our homeschooling family!

3. We must volunteer and step outside of your comfort zone. Sawyer was a shy young boy who found his place in the Marine Hopsital and his mom didn’t want him to help in the beginning but when she eventually saw how engaged Sawyer was, she accepted and allowed Sawyer to help. It is important to contribute to our community, and it reminded our family that we need to be a positive impact to our society.

4. Change is inevitable. Now matter how much you want to let things stay the same, change will happen. Sawyer was offered a scholarship and would have to leave town and the Marine Hospital, he was reluctant to leave but eventually realized that it was really the best step for him. Something unexpected is bound to happen, we need to face these changes with faith in God that His purposes would be fulfilled as we go though life with Him.

 

As we watched these movies, we were greatly encouraged and entertained. So if you haven’t seen these movies, go and watch with your family!

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SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers Review

As part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we were given a full year subscription to a product of SmartKidz Media, the SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers in exchange for a review. As the we are still on summer break, we looked forward to doing this review.

SmartKidz Media Review
SmartKidz Media Library is a subscription-based digital media source library for homeschoolers. It has an endless collection of over 1,000 educational videos and animated eBooks which you can stream online. It also has some interactive study guides and fine arts music. All you need is a computer or mobile device with an internet browser and a stable internet connection. It is important that your connection is at least 500 kbps (0.5 Mbps) but 1 Mbps is recommended to ensure better viewing experience. The content is streamed and not downloaded so your internet connection is important to ensure the full utilization of SmartKidz Media Library.

The collections are appropriate for the whole family. Content includes features on animal kingdom, history, science, social studies, world cultures, the fine arts, sports, and health. It is a very rich resource for homeschoolers like us who don’t have library access. It is a perfect complement to our curriculum and gives my 8 year old and 11 year old access to visual information which can’t be viewed elsewhere.

Here are some sample collections:

Animals & Wildlife Collections
Documentaries & Culture Collections
Health & Fitness
History (World War II and the Cold War)
Lifestyles & Cuisine
Science
Travel & Adventure: World Wide Discovery Collections
Cooking Instruction
Fine Arts
Classical Music Collections
Cultural Music Collections
Cultural Music: Vol 1
Cultural Music: Vol 2
Jazz and Blues Classics Collections
Relaxation Music Collections
Mighty E-Book Collection (interactive Flash eBooks for younger kids)
Sign Language Collection
Special Needs Learning
Singing
Fun Zone

Here are some more which will eventually be added to the collections:

Action Sports
US History
Foreign Language Lessons
Living Skills

One year unlimited access costs $99.00  or you can pay monthly fee of $10.

How We Used the Product

As we were given access, we just logged in and started browsing the different categories. Since we are on summer break, I asked my children which topic they wanted to watch and we just watched from episode to the other. It was fairly easy to use as we just needed to click on which topic we were interested in and just go from one video to the other.

We watched about 3 videos a day, since one video is approximately 27 minutes in length.

What We Think of the Product

My kids and I both loved this product. It is like having your own library at home!  The information was interestingly presented and wasn’t too long to cause boredom. Each time the video ended, they still wanted to watch another video and I took that as a positive sign that the product was able to capture the interest of both boys and girls.

The favorite sections of my kids are the World of Discovery : Animal & Wildlife Collections. They saw numerous videos and learned new information. Each time we watched, we learned something new. They enjoyed the Wild Ones : The Cutest the most. They loved the clownfish, the penguin and the koala!

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Since I love traveling and world history, I thoroughly enjoyed features on World War II history. I finally understood why the war started and what really happened back then.

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They also enjoyed the Fun Zone! There were different games that they enjoyed including dress up and finding the ball!

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Since my kids are school aged, we didn’t take time checking out the other sections but it seems very interesting as well. There were animated flash videos categorized according to ages.

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There were also videos for parents like Baby Sign Language and parenting guides like potty training and other research materials.

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If you have children with special needs, you can browse through their numerous videos and interactive books!

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A wide range of study aids is also available. Each guide contains hundreds of definitions, rules, and examples. It covers Language Arts Basics, Math Basics, Science Basics and Social Studies Basics.

I loved this product because it makes a homeschool mom’s life easy. I don’t have to search the entire Internet for these information and I can be sure that my children are safe from pop-up windows or unwanted advertisements. The videos have rich content and are quite unique! It is like visiting museums or zoos without actually leaving the house! This has really made our summer break more fun and stress free.

I would recommend that you check out SmartKidz Facebook page at  https://www.facebook.com/smartkidzhomeschool and follow them at Twitter https://twitter.com/smartkidzmedia . You can also subscribe to their 14 day trial and see if you’d like this product yourself!

For more information, please check the other reviews.

SmartKidz Media Review
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Expo Mom Goes South!

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Mommy Mundo’s Expo Mom is going south! Happening on June 28 2015 from 10am to 6pm at the grand ballroom of Crimson Hotel in Filinvest, Alabang.  As with previous Expo Moms, you can expect to see many mom approved products and feature booths! There are many items for pregnancy, attachment parenting, babycare, toddler and kids! It is an event for the whole family as there will be free activities for families as well.

For more information, visit www.expomom.com