TOS Crew Review: Math Tutor DVDs

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Math, math, math.  It’s a topic able to strike fear in the hearts of many moms, as well as kids.  Why, when we were in school, were we told that girls weren’t good at math?  And why, then, did we assume we were *done* with math, so it didn’t really matter; only to find a few years later that we were going to have to remember it in order to teach our own kids, after all, and we should have paid much more attention?  We’re okay until about, mmm, fourth or fifth grade, and then the trouble begins! 

The good thing is that there are a lot of good programs out there.  The bad thing is . . . there are a lot of good programs out there, and most likely, not one of them will work for every one of your children!  There will probably be some concepts that just don’t sink in.  And in the high school years, especially, you may feel a need to call in reinforcements from time to time.

That’s exactly how I would picture these dvds available from The Math Tutor.  Providing help for the harried homeschooler, these videos cover everything from Basic Math through Advanced Calculus, Probability and Physics.  Whew!  We received the Algebra II Math Tutor DVD.  It consisted of 2 disks covering topics like graphing equations, the slope of a line, fractional components, and solving quadratic equations.  My son was waiting for his final set of curriculum to arrive for Algebra II when we received it in the mail, so he watched and worked through these first.  When my eldest son, who is doing PreCalculus (painfully, I tell you!) saw the videos, he said, "I wish my teacher were like that!"  Jason Gibson, the teacher/host of the sessions, is extremely down-to-earth and likeable.  And here’s a note about a smidge of his background, just so you know how smart this guy is . . .

While attending graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin, my research was in applied Plasma Propulsion for deep space applications.  My research was sponsored by the Fusion Research Center at the University of Texas and also the Advanced Space Propulsion Laboratory (ASPL) at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX.  During the summers I would travel to ASPL to perform experiments on the prototype deep space plasma rocket being assembled in Houston.  Specifically, my research involved understanding the power efficiency in the prototype plasma rocket.  In other words, if you put 100kW of power into the rocket, how much power comes out as usable thrust?

Say what?  Ahem.  Anyway, no crazy antics or dancing numbers here, just simple explanations.  My second son felt much more comfortable jumping into his regular program after watching these dvds, and we may just order the Trig/PreCalc ones as well.  Here’s the website’s description of the product:

The Algebra 2 Tutor is a 6 hour course spread over 2 DVD disks that will aid the student in the core topics of Algebra 2.  This DVD bridges the gap between Algebra 1 and Trigonometry, and contains essential material to do well in advanced mathematics.  Many of the topics in contained in this DVD series are used in other Math courses, such as writing equations of lines, graphing equations, and solving systems of equations.  These skills are used time again in more advanced courses such as Physics and Calculus.  Each topic is introduced by working example problems, beginning with the easier problems and gradually working the harder ones.  In this way the student immediately gains confidence in his or her abilities and improves homework and exam taking skills.

How are the line of DVDs different from others?
The answer is simple.  Most math instruction involves a lengthy discussion of the abstract theory behind the Math before instructing the student in how to solve problems.  While there are some merits to this style, in the vast majority of the cases the student quickly gets bored  and frustrated by the time he or she starts to solve the problems. This DVD, in contrast, teaches all of the concepts by working fully narrated problems step-by-step, which is a much more engaging way to learn.

And the price?  An astonishingly low (in my book) $26.99!  There is also a companion CD available offering worksheets for all the subjects covered on the DVDs so you can make sure your student has mastered the material. 

MathTutor has a long list of great topics, so if you need help in your own math program, take a look at their website. will get you all the information you need!

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