Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Crew Review: UnLock Math Pre-Algebra Course

Unlock Math Review

UnLock Math is an online, video-based math curriculum for the upper grades. As members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we were asked to review the UnLock Pre-Algebra course. Since my 14 year old son has been working through Pre-Algebra and will be moving into Algebra 1 this fall, I had him test out the UnLock Pre-Algebra course. We were given a one year subscription for one child.

How UnLock Math Works

Each UnLock math lesson is taught first by Alesia Blackwood in a video, then reinforced with practice problems, stay sharp problems, and a quiz. The far right of this picture (below) shows how the lesson page is laid out. It's easy to follow the dotted lines from step-to-step. A student can complete all the steps of that lesson and be done for the day, or they can move forward and tackle a second lesson if they're interested. This is much nicer than some online math programs where you aren't sure if you've finished a lesson yet, or how long you should work before being done for the day.

Unlock Math Review

As far as planning out the school year, each unit (as shown on the left side of the image) has 5-10 lessons, plus quizzes and tests, and can be accomplished in 1-2 weeks. With 16 units, plus a midterm and final, it should take 32 -34 weeks to complete the course. We use a 36 week school year, so UnLock math is perfectly planned out for our school year.

The student dashboard shows them the units on the left side, their average grade, and their progress through the course. A progress report can be printed out for records, as well. In other words, the UnLock Pre-Algebra course is fully graded and planned out. As a parent, you only need to supervise that your student is actually USING the program, and check up on their grades.

Unlock Math Review
If a student is struggling in an area, he can review the lesson and then complete more practice problems. The software looks at the student's work in the previous practice problem session and issues new questions focusing on the areas that were missed last time. After the problems are graded, the student can click a button to "view details" which explains why each problem was right or wrong. That is one of my favorite features!

The videos by Alesia are short and interesting. The uncluttered white background helps the student to focus on the lesson. You can view several sample lesson videos, to see how well she explains the concepts and engages the student.

Because UnLock Math is an online subscription, any device that can access the internet can use the course. We are working on a Windows 8 laptop (and tablet) and had no problems using it. We did find that it worked better for us in Chrome than in Firefox, so we just switched to using that browser. We have satellite rural internet, and usually go through portions of the month with slower internet. For us, that meant there were some days with very cloudy weather or very slow internet when we couldn't get the videos to play well or the lessons to load properly. If you don't usually have problems viewing youtube videos, you shouldn't have issues with UnLock Math.

At this time, UnLock Math has a Pre-Algebra course for grades 7 and 8, and an Algebra 1 course for grades 8 and 9. But Algebra 2 is coming soon! The UnLock course pricing is $49 per month per student, or $299 per year per student, but there is a 50% sibling discount if purchased at the same time.

ElCloud Thoughts

UnLock Pre-Algebra is a well-taught course for the student. The concepts are explained well, and build upon each other naturally. I like that the practice problems can be worked through once if that is all that is needed, or that additional practice problems can be worked through if necessary. I love that the grading is out of my hands and that it so easily fits into our school year planning with a one-lesson-per-day approach.

My son doesn't exactly get excited about math. Ever. However, he didn't dislike UnLock Pre-Algebra. I think the video lesson was easier for him to comprehend than reading his math lesson in a textbook. It sunk in better for him that way. However, he needed more than one viewing and more than one set of practice problems most of the time. He worked through the lessons on his own, without help from me, once he got the hang of the program.

As a large family homeschooling on a single income, we prefer that our curriculum is reusable so we can pass it down to future students. If we had a student who was really struggling with understanding math, and needed this approach, we would invest in it for that particular child, but we can't do it for everyone each year. I'm thankful that there are options like UnLock Math for those who need it, and can afford it, though! There are so many more options available to homeschool families now than when we first started homeschooling.

Check out other UnLock Pre-Algebra reviews at the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog. You can also keep up with UnLock Math via social media:

April E.

UnLock Math Review

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