Monday, June 19, 2017

REVIEW: UnLock Algebra1 by UnLock Math

Haylee is almost 13 and used UnLock Pre-Algebra last school year, so we were looking forward to moving on to UnLock Algebra1 by UnLock Math for review!


WHAT IS IT?

UnLock Math offers a variety of high school math levels to choose from, including UnLock Pre-Algebra, UnLock Algebra1, UnLock Algebra2, and UnLock Geometry.  It is an online-only program, so there’s nothing to download or install, and no software is required.  Since it’s online, you do need a solid internet connection to use the program. 

What sets this program apart is that it includes video instruction from a real math teacher, so students can work independently at home and still benefit from class lecture.

Your online subscription gives you full student and teacher access for one full year of any one level for a flat $299, or you can gain monthly access for $49/month.

Try a free demo lesson to see how the program works and to help you decide if it’s right for you!


OUR EXPERIENCE:

Haylee has really struggled with math in the past.  As a result, we’ve tried a number of different programs, workbooks, and teaching methods over the years.  Nothing seemed to really help until we discovered UnLock Math!  She experienced so much improvement with this program that I couldn’t imagine using anything else.  But she sometimes has trouble retaining her understanding over time, so I love that there is so much built-in review in the program, and I was quite pleased to find that UnLock Algebra1 starts off with a 19-lesson review of UnLock Pre-Algebra concepts before moving on to new material.  That was perfect for her!

Each lesson begins with a warm-up to get your child’s mind ready for the lesson.  Then comes an embedded video lesson that covers the new lesson material.  After watching the video, the student moves on to the practice problems for the new concept.  This is followed by a “stay sharp” section that reviews past concepts.  At the end is a single challenge question that requires your child to apply a deeper level of thinking.  The challenge question can be truly challenging, and even I have been stumped by them at times!  But the challenge questions are only for extra credit…an incorrect answer does not count against the student’s overall score.  Haylee gets really excited when she gets it right, and it provides her with motivation to put on her thinking cap and dig a little deeper!  There are also reference notes that the student can refer back to in order to help them remember.

I love that the program grades itself and gives the student feedback with solutions to review when Math Screenshotthe student gets a problem wrong.  When I log into the teacher dashboard, I can view her complete progress in every lesson and unit, and I can see what she did wrong and where she might need to practice again.  Students can repeat the practice questions as often as they need to in order to master the material.

Quizzes, unit tests, mid-terms, and final exams are all built in throughout the program to assess their cumulative understanding.  As each lesson and unit is completed, the next one is ready to be unlocked.  I do wish that future lessons and units stayed locked until it was time to use them, just to prevent a student from accidentally entering the wrong lesson or unit, or from moving on before they’ve finished the current lesson or unit, but the program does give free access to any part of the program at all times.  This would be good if you were using the program just to fill in gaps from another program, for instance.

I also really like that on the student’sMath Screenshot homepage, they can get one-click access to all of the reference notes for the entire program.  And because it’s a .pdf file, you can even print them out if necessary (all 472 pages of notes).  Or you can access the reference notes for a particular lesson at the end of that lesson.  Students can also view a progress report or launch their gradebook from their homepage.

For parents, there’s also a suggested pacing guide that helps you plan out the course to fit your schedule.  This summer, they are planning some upgrades, which will include the parent’s ability to receive an email notification when a student completes a lesson.  Personally, I would really like that automatic progress report so I don’t have to remember to log in to the parent dashboard to check on how she’s doing.  This is especially important when you have older children who are working mostly independently.

When there are special symbols required (like exponents), it’s important to note that the lessons always give keyboard instructions for entering in those symbols whenever the new concept is first introduced.  Students can always refer back to these instructions if they forget how to enter symbols down the road.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how well Haylee does with UnLock Algebra1 this school year.  I know my oldest son, who had always loved math, really struggled when he hit Algebra.  I am hoping this program will continue to guide Haylee so she doesn’t hit that road block in the abstract thinking that’s required for this level of math.  I have every confidence that UnLock Math can help her navigate this milestone in math.

And since we’ve been using UnLock Math products for more than a year already, I wanted to be sure to mention what incredible customer service we’ve received.  Any time we’ve had a problem or a question, I’ve used the “contact me” option on their website, and I’ve always gotten a very prompt personal phone call from Matthew, who is the math teacher’s husband and co-owner of the company.  He has attended to every issue we’ve ever had with the utmost speed and courtesy.  Once in the last year, they had a server issue, and I was relieved that they also have backups to their backups so your data is not lost and can be restored.  That could have been a nightmare, but it wasn’t, thanks to their good foresight and planning. 

And at one point during the year,  they helped us figure out that my daughter had not been clicking the save button on her lessons, but was just clicking out of them at the end. As a result, her work had not been saved for quite some time.  She’d been showing me her work as she’d finished it, though, so I knew she’d averaged about an 85.  So to keep her from having to do the work over, the vendor was able to override those lessons so that it started her with an 85 average in the gradebook, and she was able to pick up where she left off.  So even though all companies encounter issues from time to time, I’m pleased to say that this vendor has excellent customer service and works tirelessly to resolve any issues when they arise.  That brings great peace of mind and confidence.

Take a look at what other Crew members had to say about the variety of math programs from UnLock Math, including the newest level, Unlock Geometry, by clicking the banner below.