Monday, June 11, 2012

Review: MyMathLab Algebra 2

The Crew had the chance to review Pearson Learning last year, but I was not a part of that.

This year, however, I did get the opportunity to check out their new Pearson Homeschool website, and to review some of their products.

Oh, wow!  Am I ever glad that I did.

Connor and I have had a hate-hate relationship with algebra this year.  It isn't that he doesn't "get" math.  He does.  It isn't that I struggle with math.  I don't.  But this has been the subject where we just can't seem to make any progress.

Until we were introduced to MyMathLab through Pearson Homeschool.

What is it?  Basically, it is a pretty standard Algebra 2 course.  Only everything is online.
  • The textbook is online.  
  • There are instructional videos online.
  • The homework is online.
  • The reviews are online.
  • The tests are online.
Once it was set up, we stuck with the defaults so we were able to just use it straight out of the "box."

This means that Connor logs on, and he sees what he has to do next and he does it.  The program will not let him move on until he demonstrates a certain level of mastery.

When he has a homework problem set, he can first view the textbook.  Then he can watch the video explanation(s).

Or he can decide he already knows this and he can skip straight to the homework problems.  Usually, he discovers that he doesn't know as much as he thinks he does, and he has to go back to read the text and/or watch the video.  (The teacher can change things so the student is required to go it to view the text/video before they can access the assignment.  I have chosen not to do that.)

If he is confused about a given question, he can click on a "Help Me Solve This" tab, and the computer will walk him through the problem, asking him questions along the way.  Or he can click on a "View an Example" link, and the program will work out a similar problem.  He can also click to go back to the textbook, or he can click a button and email his instructor.

When he masters something, it moves him on.

What we like:  he knows what he needs to do to move on.  He knows how much he needs to complete to get through the program by the time he wants to be done.

He is finding this straight-forward, logical, and unambiguous.  He was able to keep up with his algebra while 1,000 miles away from me.  All he needed was an internet connection.  I was able to keep tabs on what he was accomplishing during that time as well.

I asked him what he wanted to use to finish Algebra 2 this summer, and he didn't hesitate.  "MyMathLab!" he stated, emphatically.  I asked him why.

He told me, "I don't have to wait for you to grade something.  And that means I can't use you as an excuse.  If I don't get it done, it's completely my fault.  (Well, most of the time anyway.  Having to stop doing algebra because of a tornado was a bit outside my control.)  And the computer doesn't listen when I try to tell it that I really do know the material, I just forgot that minus sign.  If I want to finish Algebra 2 (and I do!) then I need to pay more attention and stop being so sloppy."

I am finding this to be totally easy to implement on my end.  All I have to do is to log on once in awhile, and check to see that he is, in fact, making progress.

The computer does all the grading.  I can modify things if I want, but I haven't.  I like the defaults.

I do have to say that the teacher side of things is not as intuitive as I would like it to be, but by spending an afternoon poking around, I found how to modify prerequisites, or change the weighting the computer assigns to homework, review and tests.

The other frustration with MyMathLab Algebra was just the whole set-up process.  Clearly, the programming is designed for a school setting, so some of it seemed rather silly for me and my single student.  But if you carefully follow the instructions that come on the cardboard sleeve containing the class code, it wasn't hard to do.

My biggest complaint by far about MyMathLab is simply that I don't have a "next" program to purchase for Connor to start in September when he finishes Algebra 2.  Because this works, and it works well.

At $49.97 for a student license that lasts 18 months, and $30 for a teacher account, this is something I will be looking seriously at for William for Algebra 1, possibly this fall (I won't need to purchase a teacher account, as my current one will work for both courses/children!) I asked Connor about this, as he is generally a great judge of what will work well for William.  He feels that Pearson MyMathLab Algebra would be fabulous for him.

Members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew had the chance to work with  Algebra 1 or 2, enVision Math, Reading Street or myWorld Social Studies.  To see what my fellow crewmates had to say about these, click the banner here:


Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Schoolhouse Review Crew, I did receive products as mentioned above for the purposes of a review.  All opinions are my own.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.


Sacha @ Home in the Trenches said...

Great review! I am glad it is working so well for Connor!

Kenton Warren said...

Hi there,

Pearson Homeschool is giving away FIVE free curriculum bundles for the next school year through a "Pin It to Win It" contest. The bundles include one grade level product each Science, Math, Social Studies, and Literacy disciplines of your choice. See contest rules here:

Feel free to share! Thank you!