Jackson and I have just completed our newest math curriculum, which we were asked to review by TOS Crew. ScienceandMath.com has, as you might imagine from its name, a fascinating variety of math and science courses for students of any type (public-, private- or home-schooled). Although Jackson had already completed 5th grade math, I was very excited to use and review ScienceandMath.com‘s “Mastering 5th Grade Math-Volume 1-Essentials of Fractions” for the additional practice he’d be able to do. This series is designed for students in grades 4-6. And, since mastering fractions is crucial for all the years of higher math that are coming for our students, I loved the idea of his getting in some extra fraction work. And, I was definitely NOT disappointed!
ScienceandMath.com is, as you might imagine, a curriculum company that provides interesting and high-quality science and math courses and tutoring for students in grades 1-3 (for Amazing Science), and grades 4 through college (in math). The curricula can be purchased either in DVD form (which can be played on a normal DVD player, or in a Mac or PC with a DVD drive) or for immediate download.
Lessons are taught by ScienceandMath.com founder Jason Gibson. He has a pretty incredible background, with advanced degrees in both engineering and physics; and he even worked as a rocket scientist for NASA! That in itself would have been enough to capture our attention (as we are serious NASA fans), but Jason’s clear and understandable teaching methods are actually perfect for any grade level and won us over completely. We found that there is never any worry, despite his impressive degrees, that he cannot clearly teach math to less advanced or younger students. His goal, with ScienceandMath.com, is “to kindle your love of science, math and the world around you!”
“Mastering 5th Grade Math-Volume 1-Essentials of Fractions is the first of a 4-volume set of ScienceandMath.com’s math courses for 5th grade. (The other three volumes include lessons on adding/subtracting fractions; multiplying and dividing fractions; and multiplication and long division.) This set, Volume 1, contains a DVD with 16 video lessons and a CD with the video lessons in mp3 format along with 16 downloadable and printable worksheets (for each lesson), plus an answer key.
So, what is covered in “Mastering 5th Grade Math-Volume 1-Essentials of Fractions?” Jason starts with the very elementary and moves to more advanced fraction work. Here’s a short listing of some of the lessons your student will master through this volume:
- Visual representations and word forms of fractions
- Factoring: finding factors of numbers, greatest common factors, prime factorization
- Equivalent fractions
- Renaming fractions
- Simplifying fractions
- Mixed fractions, improper fractions
- Fractions as division problems
We found that working either one or two lessons per day, depending on the concepts being taught, fit in well with our schedule. Each lesson on the DVD lasts about 7-10 minutes. The worksheets are from 1-3 pages long apiece, and each of those pages contains 10 problems to work. So depending on the length of the worksheet and your child’s mastery, you can generally finish each lesson in 15-30 minutes.
Jackson would be the first to tell you that he doesn’t really like math (although he scores very well on his exercises). So any math curriculum that we might do is not going to be first on his list on any given school day! However, we found the videos enjoyable to watch (Jason is a great teacher) and I noticed that even though Jackson was familiar with most of the topics, several of them gave him deeper understanding and some were completely new. He has been able to complete the course successfully and with greater mastery on all his fractions work.
Jason Gibson is also an extremely thorough teacher. If your child has even a touch of math anxiety, you will both appreciate the calm and clear way he explains each new concept. He takes each new fractions skill and explains it carefully and comprehensively. I could even describe his teaching method as rather tranquil and peaceful! He shows, on a whiteboard, each step in the process, one by one, as he explains why the problems work as they do. He does this very methodically and unhurriedly. Once he’s explained the process once, he repeats it over and over for the student’s full understanding.
Many of today’s popular math curricula are taught in the spiral format, where a new concept is introduced and then the student works those types of problems, as well as the last 6-8 types that were taught. Instead of this, Jason focuses in each lesson on only one skill. He does continue to build on what has been learned before in the previous lessons, but he doesn’t spend time on the worksheets reviewing those past concepts. I find this to be a real strength. When your child completes the worksheet and you check his answers, you can see immediately if he has caught and understood the concept. If necessary, you can watch the lesson together again. You can then allow your child work the problems again and see if he can find his errors, and you can walk him through the correct process if necessary. You can also come up with some extra problems on your own that are in the same style, if you believe that your child needs some additional work.
I am personally very impressed with Jason Gibson’s teaching style AND ScienceandMath.com. I plan to revisit ScienceandMath.com in the future as we move into higher levels of math. I am definitely interested in purchasing more of this company’s math DVDs. I read many of the comments on ScienceandMath.com’s website, and over and over I found that students expressed how much more understandable the DVD lessons made their courses like pre-calculus and trigonometry….and enabled average or below-average students to become math stars. I LOVE that idea!
ScienceandMath.com sells its DVDs and lesson downloads directly from its website. “Mastering 5th Grade Math-Volume 1-Essentials of Fractions” can be purchased there for $15.99 for the DVD set and $14.99 for the download.
Other Schoolhouse Review Crew members reviewed this curriculum, as well as ScienceandMath.com’s “Amazing Science Vol. 1” and “Algebra 1: Vol.1.”