Wednesday, June 13, 2012

MyMathLab Algebra 1 {Schoolhouse Review Crew}

I've often mentioned how my kids feel about math, but I don't know that I've ever said much about how I feel about it.  I didn't care for math much when I was in school, but did okay.  I understood that it was important and had to be done.  But that was a long time ago and it's not easy to recall any working knowledge of what I learned way back in the day.  So these days, I still know the importance of math and that my kids need to do it, and my preference is that they get it done with a minimum amount of fuss.  That's why I was very excited to find out that we would get to review MyMathLab Algebra 1 from Pearson Homeschool!


Pearson Education has been around for awhile, supplying curricula to school districts all over the USA, and now are offering programs designed for homeschoolers - reading and language arts, science, math and social studies.

For Grade 8 Math, the website makes the following recommendation:
Maintaining skills in fundamental operations is at the top of the list for eighth grade math study. Reinforce their algebra skills by working on sets, factoring, ratio, simple formulas and equations, geometry, scale drawing, probability statistics and the use of computers and calculators.
Yes, that sounds like what Landon needs to be working on right now, and with Pearson's MyMathLab Algebra 1, he would be getting that in a fully-digital program by an award-winning author.  MyMathLab is ready to use or you can customize it to better suit your child's learning style and pace.  It includes an interactive eText, personalized study plans, and multimedia learning aids.

  • Ready to use out-of-the-box or choose to create your own lessons and assignments
  • Fully interactive eText
  • Robust multimedia library with videos and animations to improve understanding
  • Personalized learning based on quiz and test results
  • Easy-to-create online homework, quizzes, and tests that are automatically-graded
  • Immediate feedback for all your child’s work


Landon was still finishing up his Grade 7 Math when we received this, so I made him take that week or so to actually finish while I got MyMathLab set up and worked on figuring it out.  First I set up my parent/educator account using the Parent Access Kit, then Landon could set up a student account.  Everything is accessed online, and although I didn't find the set-up and homepages to be as clear and intuitive as I would have liked, it didn't take long to get the course ready for Landon to use.  Our method of figuring things out on websites is to just play with it till we get it.  And it did take much more "playing" to find our way around - it seemed like many of the links went to the same places, and I felt very much like this was a classroom setting being tweaked for individuals to use in a homeschool setting, which meant there were lots of tools and features that I wouldn't really need.  Like a class average.  After this extended session of "what is this? what does this link show me?" I had a better idea of which features I needed to be aware of and would use - the gradebook and study planning tools are the essentials for me.

Landon got started with the lesson material, and I've been asking him to try and spend about an hour per day, at least three days a week working on it.  (After all, he feels like he's earned a summer break!) Once his account was set up and he knew how to navigate to his lesson material, he could work on his own.  He loves working on the computer compared to a textbook - there's less writing for him, and he can get instant feedback and know if his answers are right or wrong.  I love that the program does all the grading, and I'm not going to lie - that is worth the price of admission right there, in my opinion.  Probably my least favorite homeschooling task is grading high school level math, so having someone/something else doing it for me is a huge time/labor/stress saving feature that I LOVE.

I am still working on figuring out what I can or should print to keep for our records. I don't want to print too much, because isn't the point of an eText to have less paper?  But I want to print something to have for my records.  There are options, I just need to decide (before the next time I turn in quarterly grades) which will work best for us.  One thing we are having some problems with is the video teaching segments - and I blame our internet connection for that - the videos pause frequently, and several times Landon has complained that it went back to the beginning of the video and he had to watch the whole thing again.  If he could skip ahead in the video to where it left off, this wouldn't really be a problem, but it doesn't work that way.  So he says that it is taking him longer to get through lessons because of this.  That's his perception, I don't think the actual time it takes is much, but I sympathize with his frustration on the occasions this has happened.  Thankfully, it's not often!

What we liked best:

  • immediate feedback and automatic grading of all assignments.  I absolutely love this.
  • interactive text, with some lessons presented by video and some for the student to read in the eText.  We like that it's varied and interesting.
  • it's a mastery program.  He's got to prove working knowledge of each unit before he can go on to the next.
  • the lessons themselves are very easy to navigate, and I like the fact that so far, there are very few multiple choice questions.
  • lots of customization options.  Even though I'm not using them (yet!), I appreciate having the ability to customize where I see fit.

What we weren't crazy about:

  • loading time.  The video lessons can't be paused while they load, so that Landon can watch the whole thing at once without the stutters while it loads, and it appears they must be watched in real time.  At least if there IS a way to do this more effectively, we haven't found it yet.  A new page of material or a new screen of questions takes a bit of time to load too.  As I said, I blame the problem on our internet connection (ours is a wireless) and I suspect that this wouldn't be an issue for other types of high-speed service.
  • I was a bit overwhelmed by the homepages that weren't as easy to navigate as I would have expected.  It appears that the Instructor pages are the same as those used for classroom teachers, so there are lots of classroom tools and features that are generally not going to be needed by homeschoolers, so there's far more there than I need or want.  I have to look past all the extras and use only the few links and features that are genuinely useful to me.

Our bottom line? I am delighted to have the opportunity to use this course since it makes my job so much easier and Landon has expressed a very positive attitude about using it (to the point of doing math without any complaint at all during the summer! Wow!) and strongly prefers it to a traditional textbook.  He is still near the beginning of the course, so he hasn't encountered a lot of new-to-him material yet, and he has basically skipped what we would have termed eighth grade math or pre-algebra to go directly to Algebra 1, so I anticipate the course giving him some challenges as he gets further along.  However, the teaching is very clear and offered in more than one format (video and reading), so I think the push will be just fine for him and I expect him to continue to do very well.  And just as importantly, it is enjoyable for him to do.  Or at least as enjoyable as algebra can be!
Would Pearson Homeschool be a good fit for your family?  Here's what you need to know:

MyMathLab Student Access Kit is $49.97 and MyMathLab Parent Access Kit is $30.  This is for 18 months of access.  Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 kits are sold separately.  You do need both the Parent and Student access kits.  Visit the Pearson Homeschool website to learn more about all their resources, including the other products that the Schoolhouse Review Crew has been reviewing.

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog for more information, and to read other Crew member reviews.  Crew members reviewed Reading Street for Grades 3-6; enVisionMATH for Grades 3-6; myWorld Social Studies for Grades 3-6; and MyMathLab Algebra 1 and Algebra 2.

Disclaimer: As part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we received a complimentary subscription to the complete MyMathLab course in exchange for our honest opinions.


Pearson Homeschool said...

Thanks for reviewing our product and posting such great things. Feel free to follow us on our new Facebook account.

Kenton Warren said...

Hello again,

Just wanted to let you know that Pearson Homeschool has joined Pinterest and is giving away FIVE free curriculum bundles for the next school year through a "Pin It to Win It" contest! The prize includes one grade level product from each of the four disciplines: Science, Math, Social Studies, and Literacy. See contest rules here:

We are also currently offering 20% off myWorld Social Studies K-6.

Feel free to share!

Thank you

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