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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

UnLock Math-Review

Isn't that what we all want? To "unlock" math for ourselves or our kids?!?

We got the chance to try out this very cleverly named product this summer.

UnLock Math and, more specifically, UnLock Pre-Algebra  gave L-girl a little head start on her 8th grade made for the upcoming school year.

There is kind of a unique, interesting background from the husband and wife team, Matthew and Alesia, that created UnLock Math.  Both of them were homeschooled starting in the 4th grade.  Alesia actually went back to public school for high school though.  I think that gives them a very unique and important perspective to parents who are now choosing to homeschool.  They understand us from the inside out.  

To get a little insight into the creators, go read this blog post. by Alesia. about whether success in math is attributed to a gift or an ability.  

So, what is UnLock Math?

It is a series of video lessons, taught in small, bite sized chunks.  The stated goals for their videos, taught by Alesia,  are to "engage, explain and entertain".  I am a big proponent of it being perfectly okay for children to be bored now and then, and for learning how to still succeed and make good choices even when they are bored.   However.....if I would have had the chance to be engaged and entertained when I learned math (especially my old nemesis Algebra).....I shudder to think of the things I could have accomplished in this world!  

UnLock Math uses different types of assessment techniques (basically asking questions in different ways) to make sure your student is really understanding the material and not just accidentally guessing the right answer with multiple choice.

Your student gets to know if they got the answer right immediately and then the right answer is explained.  (Again, normally, I am against any kind of immediate gratification....but, in the case of teaching math concepts to my kids.....I have decided to relax my standards.)

They only show the students one question at a time.  Seeing a page full of questions, especially when you don't understand what you are doing can be overwhelming, so keeping it small and seemingly manageable seemed like it worked well.  Although L-girl is the type  to see the page full of questions and challenge herself to get them all done in a certain time frame (she is her father's daughter, after all)

L-girl would practice problems and review concepts as much as she wanted (But, let's be was summer, so she didn't want to very much.)  

One of the little things I liked about UnLock Math started before L-girl even took her first class.  They are incredibly clear in how to really get started.  With most of these programs, the first time you log on, you end up sort of randomly clicking on things and stumbling through the first few times.  Usually I am successful in getting the kids signed up with log-ins and passwords and all that jazz, but, it was nice that UnLock Math actually had a start up guide that truly showed me everything I needed to do to get the kids started.  (There were even screen shots so I knew I was looking at the right screen). They had the same start up guide for the gradebook system.  Sort of like UnLockMath for dummies.  

What do I like about UnLock Math?

I like that it really handles pretty much everything on its own without me needing to be hands on.  From instruction, to practice, to homework, to testing and grades.  If you are the type that like the details of things like you go....

Grades care calculated by giving practice problems a weight of 30%, the "stay sharp" questions are weighted at 10%.  The challenge problems (basically a bonus question that doesn't count against them) gives them a chance for 5% bonus.  And, any review work  and warm-up is weighted at 0%, but they take notice of whether it has been completed or not.  Quizzes have a weight of 15% and tests are at 30%.  (Note that students have a chance to take the quiz or test twice and can use their best score).


Customer Service with UnLock Math has been phenomenal.  There was a technical glitch with things about halfway through the review period.  Matthew and Alesia were on it and sent out message to us that it was happening and that they were working on it.  They have communicated with us quite a bit during this process, checking in, making sure we had all the ways to contact them and all of that jazz.  Yes, this is a review, but, I really get the sense that they will be available to us (and any other student) even after the review process is over.  Just my gut feeling.  

I asked L-girl to fill me in on her thoughts about UnLock Math and here is what she had to say. 

  • She pretty much knew all the lessons/stuff they were teaching her already (we are pretty aggressive in our math curriculum, so in retrospect, she probably would be been a better fit for for the Algebra curriculum and not the Pre-Algebra)
  • Video length varied from 5 minutes to 15 minutes, so it was hard for her to know how long the lessons were going to take her (to me, that wasn't a significant thing, but it seemed like it was for her)
  • She liked how there was always a review of past lessons because it made it easier to do well on the quizzes.
  • The teacher was pretty funny. 

You can subscribe to UnLock Math and pay a monthly subscription, or a yearly fee.  If you go monthly, it is about $49/month or the better deal is yearly for $299.  One thing that we homeschoolers with large families like to see is a sibling discount...and UnLock Math has one.....and gives you 50% off.  I have a little (actually really big) deal for my friends to be able to get a discount on their subscription.  Click here to take a look....but it expires on August don't wait too long.  

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