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Friday, January 28, 2011

TenMarks Review

I can't imagine what it was like to homeschool even 20 years ago.  Then, homeschooling was largely illegal and finding curriculum to use was challenging at best.  Now though, curriculums abound, and have even progressed from the traditional paper versions to online offerings.  And TenMarks is one of those programs. 

TenMarks is an online, "Intuitive, interactive, and fun way for students to practice, learn, and master math".  TenMarks is geared toward students in grade 3 through high school.  Over 300 are covered and it parents/teachers are able to select their state so that what is covered lines up with their state's standards for each grade.  The program features virtual worksheets with 10 problems each that students work through.  They are given the opportunity to watch a step by step instruction video to go with the concept and each problem offers the chance to read 3 hints as well.  Mastery is determined by scoring at least 6.9 on the worksheet (out of 10), but credit for mastery is deducted for watching the videos or using the hints since if you need help solving the problem, you haven't actually mastered the concept.  The program generates a "do over" if a score of 6.9 is not achieved.  Students can also choose to "practice" a concept for as long as they need to. 

A sample screen shot of a worksheet (not from my son's level)

The pros: TenMarks offers the chance for students to take an assessment and then customize their program according to their score on that assessment.  It also allows parents to request that a child's grade level be switched and gives parents the ability to adjust the order in which the skills are covered.  Parents also receive a weekly e-mail telling them what worksheets have been assigned to their student for the week.  Using you parent log-in, you can check your child's progress on each topic and see what areas or even specific problems they are not getting, and which ones they are sailing through.

When students click on "reward zone" they get a visual representation of what they have accomplished.
The cons:  I think this program tends to be "ahead" of grade level.  In 7th grade, my son had problems like "Graph the function y = x2+ 1 and tell whether the function is linear or non linear" and "Which ordered pair is NOT a solution of y = x2 - 2? A) (0, -2)   B) (-2, 2 )  C) (2, 4)   D) (4, 14)" and "Find the ordered pairs for the linear function 'y = 2 - x' when the inputs are 3, 0, -3.   A) (3, -1); (0, -2); (-3, 5)   B) (3, 0); (0, -3); (-3, -6)    C) (3, 0); (0, -1); (-3, -5)    D) (3, -1); (0, 2); (-3, 5)".  Now, I know it's been a while since I was in 7th grade, but that just didn't seem like 7th grade stuff to me-especially the last one.  I asked a friend of mine who is a former High School math teacher (in our state) and still actively tutors, and she too said it was a bit advanced for 7th grade.  Now, that's not too big a problem because you can request that they change your child's grade level anyway, and it may be null and void if you do the assessment and customize the program, but for our purposes, it definitely was a little (okay, a LOT) smarter than my son.  I also had random problems with videos not working, or pages taking a long time to load, and once my son took the whole quiz and then it wouldn't actually process it and mark it as complete, but I guess glitches like that go hand in hand with the electronic medium.  One other con is that since the answers are presented in multiple choice format, your child can guess at them.  Now granted, statistically, they should not be able to guess their way through to a level of "Mastery", but you'd be surprised how far my son got today with guessing when the videos he needed were offline (they had a glitch in the system that they are fixing-their customer service is very fast!).   I learned I had to monitor his work to be sure he was actually "getting it"-you know, taking the time to work it on paper and actually figure out the correct answer rather than just narrowing the field to 2 and picking one. 

The bottom line:  My son actually liked TenMarks, and he doesn't usually like anything.  It was totally challenging for him, and yet that did not deter him.  When he passed one entire component, "Patterns, Functions, and Graphs," he printed out the certificate because he was so proud.  I like TenMarks because it removes me from the equation, at least mostly.  I step in and explain a little more and show him how to solve the equation on paper, and poof! he's off.  I do wish it "taught" a little more, but that may really have to do with him being at too high a grade level and the program assuming an amount of knowledge that he just doesn't have to solve some of the problems.  But for now, I plan to have him actually take the assessment (since we don't use a "traditional math", I really wanted him to try the 7th grade one and see how he faired), and to continue using the program through the end of this school year, and that is one of the highest complements I can ever give a product.

To check out TenMarks, go HERE.  They offer an edited version that is free to real classroom teachers and the "premium" version for homeschoolers and parents who want at home reinforcement for their children.  The premium version is $10 a month.  To see what other members of the TOS Crew had to say, go HERE.

Legal disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a 6 month membership to TenMarks in exchange for my honest assessment.  That access to the program is the only compensation I received.
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1 comment:

oneblessedmamma said...

I want to be the first one to comment with this little bonus- TenMarks is currently a monthly "special" through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. It is $49.84 for a full year-a better deal than you will find anywhere else. The Co-op is free to join. Here is a link:

This price is only good through JANUARY 31st, 2011, so don't wait!!!