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Math'scool

By John Drag Jr. - Posted Jan 1, 2007
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REPORT CARD
Overall Rating:5 Stars
Installation:A
Content/Features:A
Ease of Use:A
Product Support:A

Company: BestQuest Teaching Systems, LLC, 10816 Executive Center Drive, Suite 109, Little Rock, AR 72211. Phone: (866) 882-2665; Email: info@bestquest.com; Internet: www.bestquest.com/.

Price: $2,950—Complete program. $249—Each individual module.

The complete program includes 74 lessons on 13 DVDs, Instructor's Manuals, supplemental curricular materials on CD-ROM (blackline masters), and a DVD player.

Audience: According to the publisher, students learning pre-algebra concepts, usually grades 5-8. The reviewer recommends grades 3-5 and select students in grades 6-8.

Format: DVD and CD-ROM.

Minimum System Requirements: A Macintosh or Windows computer with a printer and a DVD player. The DVDs may also be viewed on a television with a DVD player.

Description: Math'scool is a pre-algebra program designed to introduce students to essential Algebra skills and concepts as proposed in the NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) curriculum standards for the middle grades, including Numbers and Operations, Geometry, and Measurement.

Reviewer Comments:

Installation: I reviewed Math'scool on a Dell Latitude D505 laptop computer with a Pentium 4 processor (599 MHz) and Windows XP. The installation of specific plug-ins is required. The latest version of Adobe Reader should be installed to view and print the blackline masters.

I played the DVD on both the laptop and a large screen TV. The large screen TV was by far the better format for viewing.

Overall, it could not have been any easier to use this product. Installation Rating: A

Content/Features: Math'scool is the second in a series of programs designed to supplement existing math programs via state-of-the-art video with dynamic graphics, real world explanations, concrete examples, and original animation. Each of the program's 13 modules contains a minimum of five lessons.

The program helps students acquire number sense and develop an understanding of whole number operations dealing with large numbers; integers; fraction, decimal, and percent equivalents; number theory; computational fluency of decimals and fractions; percents and ratios; points, lines, angles, and triangles; characteristics of geometric shapes; transformation of shapes; coordinate geometry and spatial visualizations; measurement attributes and tools; and applications of systems of measurement.

The Instructor's Manual contains Teacher Notes, Lesson Notes, Guided Practice, Challenge Problems, Independent Practice, Additional Practice, two assessment tests, and a glossary of mathematics terminology.

Each lesson begins with a cartoon animation. Original animated characters—Mr. Tu, Screena, Trillian, Zeo, Luria, and Eddie—are involved in a variety of problem situations. At the end of each lesson, the characters come back together to solve the problem.

A special video component titled "Mr. Tu's Excellent Examples" contains real-world video of people demonstrating how math is important to their lives and businesses.

There are many different ways to use Math'scool. With the complete program, teachers could first use the ideas in the Teacher Notes section to get students excited about the topic. Next, the teacher could play the DVD while students complete the Lesson Notes. Suggested class discussions can be found in the Instructor's Manual.

Using the lesson's Guided Practice section, teachers may stop the DVD while students work on problems reflective of the topic. Music is played while students solve the problems; this music may be turned off. The complete navigability of the DVD allows the teacher to fully interact with the students as they solve problems.

A Conclusion section at the end of each module provides a summary of all that was learned in that lesson. The section is located under Subtopics on the DVD menu. This offers great material to review before the next day's lesson.

Subsequent to the DVD lesson, teachers may want to review common errors that students may commit while completing their work. These are found in the Common Alert section in the Teacher Notes.

Students may complete journal questions found in the Individual Practice section. These problems can be completed either in groups or individually.

Extra material for students struggling with the lesson is located in the Additional Examples section.

The Independent Practice section contains additional practice work. Odds or evens can be assigned; the skills contained within the lesson will still be addressed.

Certain modules in Math'scool contain a Calculator section that can be used in conjunction with the Independent Practice material. A Cumulative Review section can be assigned to prepare students for future lessons. This also allows a spiral review of previous skills.

If additional reinforcement is required, problems in the Additional Practice area may be assigned. The lesson may be finished by sharing information from the Look Beyond and Connections sections in the Teacher Notes.

Student understanding of an entire section may be checked through the administration of either Module Test A or Module Test B. Content/Features Rating: A

Ease of Use: Math'scool is very user friendly and contains content that is easy to understand and exciting to view. Users control the play of the DVD just as they would a regular movie, however there are "autopauses" that provide the teacher with time to check for understanding.

The blackline masters are available on a CD-ROM as Adobe files. These are easy to retrieve and print and are an extremely valuable part of the lesson. Most teachers will be familiar with PDF content and how to open and print this material.

The most challenging aspect of the entire program is learning to deliver the content and facilitate discussion. Some teachers will easily teach with this "new" technology and will do it quite well. Others may require some practice to increase their comfort level in using technology as part of their teaching.

BestQuest offers professional development focused on the use of Math'scool in the classroom. This can help every teacher integrate this program into existing curricula, regardless of their comfort level with technology. Ease of Use Rating: A

Product Support: Math'scool is fully supported by BestQuest. Technical support is available via a toll-free telephone number or e-mail. I called for some additional materials and they were e-mailed to me within 15 minutes.

Professional development information is available via e-mail. Product Support Rating: A

Recommendation: Math'scool is the perfect complement to any math program.

The instructional content is of the highest standard and the material is presented in an exciting way. The curriculum is designed to meet NCTM standards and is aligned with the core topics and standards for most states.

The DVD format makes presentation to either small or large groups of students easy.

I will definitely purchase this program for use at my school. My next step will be to consider the company's Algebra'scool as a follow-up purchase. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: John Drag Jr., Principal, Broward Community Charter School, Coral Springs, FL.


 
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