Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Math Tutor DVDs - A Review

Texas Instrument TI-84 Calculator Tutor

Pre-Algebra Tutor Volume 1

Price: $26.99/Each
Each DVD comes with a money-back guarantee


To Purchase:
TI-84 Tutor
Pre-Algebra Tutor

Age Range:
Upper Middle School - College

Other Tutor DVD Categories Available:
Basic Math
Mental Math Secrets

Brief Summary: sells a wide variety of math tutorial DVDs, covering most any math subject ranging from toddler to college prep. The TI-84 Tutor is a 3-disc set with a run-time of 8 hours, covering even the most advanced features of the calculator. The Pre-Algebra Tutor is a 2-disc set with a run-time of 5 hours, starting with real numbers and ending with order of operations.

In-Depth Look:
I had the privilege of reviewing 2 of the Math Tutor DVDs last year on the Crew. They were 2 impressive titles called Young Minds Numbers and Counting and The Basic Math Word Problem Tutor. You can read my reviews on these DVDs here.

You can view a short clip of the TI-84 and the Pre-algebra . . .
TI-84 Tutor DVD sample - 18 minutes
Pre-Algebra Tutor DVD sample - (5min, 8 min, 4min)

The instructor is Jason Gibson. He has quite an impressive resume. Learn more about him here.

I reviewed the TI-84 DVD set first. It has been about 20 years since I have used a scientific calculator. So I was pretty much viewing these lessons as a beginner. As such, I was a bit intimidated, expecting this to be "over my head". I was glad to see that it starts out with a simple overview, giving a brief introduction of the basics. Then it goes into the mode menu, explaining when to use each kind and what difference it makes. From there, the instructor, Jason Gibson, takes one function at a time and walks you through it. A huge calculator is displayed on the computer screen (you can see how this looks in the demo video) and Mr. Gibson demonstrates step-by-step how to perform the functions. Using several examples, he clearly shows how it is done. Just grab your calculator and follow along. Actually, you don't even really need to have a calculator with you to use this program. I learned a lot just from watching. But I think you will retain the information better if you "calculate" along with Mr. Gibson.

If you would like to see what topics are covered in the 37 sections, click here.

I found Mr. Gibson to be easy to listen to and understand. His directions were easy to follow. As I mentioned, I learned a lot just from following along. I found this quote on his site and can see that it is true.

"What really matters is if the instructor can take a complex topic and assume the student knows absolutely nothing about the task at hand and take him/her from zero knowledge to expert in step-by-step chunks" - Jason Gibson

I highly recommend this DVD set to anyone needing to learn or brush up on their TI-84 calculator skills.

Next I reviewed The Pre-Algebra Tutor Volume 1. I was very interested in this one, since my 11 year old is quickly approaching this math class. I was eager to see what it covered and how it might benefit my daughter.

The set has 9 sections, starting with Real Numbers and ending with Order of Operations. To see the whole list, click here. The first thing Mr. Gibson does is try to put the student at ease and remove any fears they may have about learning pre-algebra. I like the way he encourages the student to just listen and watch and take it all in for now, the same way your child observed and learned new things when they were 2 years old. He assures the student that it won't be a lecture; but instead, they will be learning through watching many examples.

Mr. Gibson works on a marker board. The camera stays zoomed in on him and the board. So there are no flashy colors or distractions. You can see an example in the demo clip.

According to the back cover, "Pre-Algebra intimidates many students primarily because it is the first time that the student uses letters (variables) in math. Pre-Algebra can also seem challenging to most students because of the heavy use of unfamiliar definitions and special symbols not used before (exponents, etc)." Mr. Gibson takes the time to thoroughly define and explain these things, using lots of examples, to help take away the "scary" factor. He doesn't rush; he shows you and then he shows you again.

As before, I found Mr. Gibson to be pleasant to listen to. He is easy to understand; it is easy to follow along with what he is saying. No bells. No whistles. Just lots of teaching, so that your child can do lots of learning.

So what is the verdict? I will certainly hold on to this DVD set until my daughter starts pre-algebra. This set may very well be the "miracle cure" that gets my daughter through her fear of any math equation involving a letter, instead of a number.

I have been very impressed with all of the Math Tutor DVDs that I have reviewed. You can read my review on the other 2 DVDs here.

Disclaimer: I received these DVDs free of charge to review, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.

To read other crew members' reviews, click here.

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