Why Online Learning Makes Sense for Math

Even though we explore math as a family, we still need a way for everyone to practice on their own level. CTC is a great option for online math learning!

If you’ve been around a while, you know that we love doing math family-style.  But, while we’re able to do a lot through hands-on exploration and discussion, there is a limit. For math practice, we really need a way to be able to differentiate. Each student needs work geared specifically towards his or her own ability level. Online learning has been the best way for us to approach this, hands down.

Even though we explore math as a family, we still need a way for everyone to practice on their own level. CTC is a great option for online math learning!{I was given free access to this product and compensated for my time.
As usual, all opinions are my own, honest thoughts. This post contains affiliate links.
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The Golden Mean of Math Practice

We’ve done whole-family units on geometry, measurement, fractions, and more. But when it comes to completing math problems and practice, everyone needs to be able to go at their own pace. For this reason, my favorite math practice options have these characteristics:

  1. Auto-checking, which both saves mama’s time and also provides a more objective (and therefore less prone to melt-down) form of feedback than finding you have problems to correct when you thought you were done with math.
  2. Customizable so that mama can choose which activities she wants each kid to work on. This way, even though everyone is working at their own level, we’re all focusing on one topic (like measurement or fractions).
  3. Easy to set up and use so that mama can have the control and customization she wants without the headache of doing lots of extra prep work to make it happen.
  4. Access to any level so that kids can review earlier material or move ahead in a particular topic, even if they haven’t mastered all the topics of a certain grade level.
  5. Thorough reporting because when you have four different kids working at four different levels, you need easy access to everyone’s progress!
  6. Super cost effective because four kids already on board and four more waiting in the wings means that anything that costs and arm and a leg per kid is just not an option.

We were delighted to find that CTC Math met every.single.item on our wishlist!

Auto-Checking (and Teaching!)

Not everything can be learned via multiple choice or checked by a computer. And this is why we love doing math together as a family. But when it’s time for a little individual review and practice, automation is a blessing.

One of the difficulties of automated practice, however, is that sometimes the questions are asked differently than you may have discussed the concept with your child. However, CTC math includes an instructional video at the beginning of every lesson.

Even if your child already knows the material, it’s invaluable to have a refresher in the style of the program they are using so that they’ll be fully prepared to answer the questions. The included video makes sure children are familiar with the vocabulary and approach of that program before beginning to work through the problems.

For example, here’s a CTC video about comparing the value of coins. Look at the penny included. What if the pennies you’ve been using to practice recognizing coins all have the Lincoln Memorial on the back? Even though your child may be able to recognize pennies, this slightly different image may throw her. Good to have a little intro to what she’s likely to see in her practice activities!

Customizable, Easy to Use, All Access

When I registered my children with the CTC math program, I didn’t have to decide up front what one grade level they’d be able to access during our year of membership. Instead, each registered user has unlimited access to all grade levels of material all year long!

As a parent, you have lots of options for how to assign activities to your students. Let me walk you through three of them.

Self-Directed

Students can follow the menu-tree to choose a Course (grade level), Stream, and Topic.

Then, within the particular topic, they can see their own progress and choose activities to complete (or re-do if they want or need to improve their score):

(Two things to note: One is that students can rate their own understanding of a concept! See that column next to the Grade column? Also, isn’t that a lovely green background theme? Also customizable. This is the color scheme my daughter chose for her viewing pleasure.)

Parent-Created Tasks

From my parent/teacher login, I can create custom tasks for each of my learners. I can create one task and assign it to multiple learners, or I can create individual tasks for each learner.

At the top of the dashboard are three tabs: Home, Tasks, and Tools. Click on the Tasks tab and then click +Add Task.

Notice that you’ve got lots of options for customization. You can set a start date and an end date. You can add a description of your task. You can choose whether or not to be emailed when a task is due. You can choose to force students to complete diagnostics and lessons in the order you determine. And you can choose to hide the year (grade) level from students as they work on a lesson or diagnostic test.

A the bottom you will see three blue hyperlinked options to +Add lessons, +Add diagnostic tests, and +Add recipients. Clicking on any one of those links will open a new three-tabbed window below.

On the Lessons tab, you’ll be able to choose one or more lessons to assign to your student. Notice that you can choose what qualifies as completion: attempting all questions, or attempting all questions and reaching a passing grade (parents define the percentage that qualifies as passing for each student during the set-up process.)

At outset, every lesson in the program is available in the list. You can narrow those choices by using the search box, or by choosing a Course (grade level), Stream, and Topic. In the example above, I chose the Course “3rd Grade,” the Stream “Number, Patterns and Algebra” and the Topic “Fractions”. That left me with five possible lessons and I clicked on the Add button next to “Comparison with a Half” in order to select that lesson.

In addition to (or in place of) adding Lessons to a task, you may wish to add Diagnostics. Once again, you can use the search function, or narrow down your choices by Course and Stream. There is only one Diagnostic test for the Topic “Fractions” as it covers all five skills covered in the five lessons under that Topic. You can decide whether to assign a Diagnostic of 20, 30, or 40 questions.

Finally, you’ll want to add recipients to your task. You must add at least one recipient, but you may add as many as all of your learners to the task!

Direct-Link Assignments

There is one final way that you can choose and assign lessons to your students and that is by use of Direct URLs. At the top of the dashboard, click on the “Tools” tab. Then choose “Browse Lessons”

Once again, you can narrow your choices by search or by selecting a Course, Stream, and Topic.

Once you click on a particular Lesson, a thumbnail of that lesson will appear at the bottom, along with a direct URL to that lesson. But if you look closely, you’ll notice a pattern! All of the URL’s look like this:

http://www.mathsonline.com.au/students/lessons/????

The ???? is simply the four-digit Lesson ID number. Of course, if someone who isn’t enrolled or logged in were to use this link, he would simple be directed to a log-in screen and wouldn’t be able to access the lesson. But for your students, once they have already logged in, they can click on the link above to be taken directly to the Lesson linked!

Now perhaps you’re wondering if there’s anywhere you can access a quick reference sheet of all the Lessons (along with their corresponding ID number). Well yes. Yes, there certainly is! And you can download it right now!

First, visit the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page of the CTC website. Then, look for the question that says “Do we have the freedom to review earlier grades?”

Expand the answer to that question to reveal a hyperlink that says “Click here to download a complete lesson list.” Bravo! There you have it! You’ll be downloading and Excel spreadsheet.

If you’re comfortable with spreadsheets, you’ll also be able to use the columns of the spreadsheet to filter by Course, Stream, and Topic just like you would in the “Browse Lessons” feature in the CTC Dashboard.

Here you can see that I’ve filtered the “Topic” column for “Fractions” so that I can now see all lessons Kindergarten through 5th Grade that cover Fractions! If I want to assign one, I know that the URL will simply be the formula mentioned above, plus the Lesson ID in the far left column!

(P.S. If you’re wondering why anyone would need a URL for a particular lesson, it comes in handy for those who are giving their children school assignments via such methods as email, blog posts, or Google Classroom!)

Thorough Reporting

If you choose to create tasks for your students and decide to be emailed at the time a task comes due, you’ll receive an email daily with a progress update on each student. You can also choose to receive weekly reports on all of your students in addition to or instead of the daily reports.

As you can see, you’ll get a summary overview of logins, performance on various lessons and diagnostics, as well as a report about on-time completion of assigned tasks.

Less than $5 a Month!

At this point, I bet you’re really impressed with the functionality and flexibility of CTC Math. But let me assure you that I’ve saved the best news for last! Yes, this program is jam packed full of great resources. Yes, you can use it for your whole family. Yes, you can access all grade levels at once.

And as a homeschooler, right now, you can have it for less than $5 a month per kid!

$78.80 for 18 months, all grade levels for one student OR

$118.80 for 18 months, all grade levels for all the students in your household!

For us, with five students enrolled, that works out to just over $1.30 a month per kid! For once, having a big crew is actually saving us money! 😉

If you’re not 100% sold yet, grab your 4-week free trial (no credit card required) and be convinced! However, the prices listed above are only valid until July 31, 2017, so if you want to fit in four weeks of experimenting before the deal ends, you’ll want to start now!

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