Monday, February 1, 2010

Math Score Takes Your Child to the Next Level, and the Next, and the Next...

Where were all of these math programs when I was struggling through math as a child? Ok, if you want to get technical, I am old. At least too old to have had access to computers for more than learning DOS, and there certainly WASN’T an internet when I was in school. So, I guess that explains it; I’m old. I need to get over it, I suppose.
I have been homeschooling for13 years now and I can see a huge difference in what is being offered in the math realm for students in more recent years, as opposed to the choices even five years ago. Homeschooling parents no longer need to be a math whiz to make one out of their students. With programs like Math Score, kids can move ahead at their own pace, concentrate on topics that make them frustrated, practice on a huge variety of subjects, and all the while parents can sit back and watch the results (or at least read about them in the handy reports that are emailed to you!).
So, what is Math Score? It is a completely internet based math site that requires zero installation on your computer. No software to malfunction or become dated when you buy a new computer. It was designed by some braniacs from MIT, which automatically means (to me) that they must have designed a pretty sweet website and thought of everything!  I think that seems quite likely as some of the topics are so specific, it never would have occurred to me (a non-braniac, NOT from MIT) to set up practice for some of these functions.
For example, there’s practice for things such as tally and pictographs (not sure what that is), odd or even theory (I know the odd and even part...not so sure about the theory), using parentheses (who doesn’t need more practice with that?!), Perimeter and Area of Composite Figures (huh?), and even batting averages! Wow, and that’s just a smidgeon of the topics that Math Score will give your students, from 1st grade through Algebra 1, the ability to practice. Of course, there are loads of the usuals to work through as well. In grade 6, for instance, there are 86 different things to choose from!
If you have read many of my reviews, you know I can get overwhelmed by having almost too much information and choices to wade through. I do feel a bit like that when I get on the website, but that is mostly due to my own wiring. And although there’s much to take in on Math Score, it is arranged very logically and there are links to help you learn to navigate and understand what you are looking at. 
My daughters jumped in with ease, taking assessments and getting started on the worksheets. My 6th grader really loved racing against the timer, and then trying again to  beat her last score. Each worksheet is generated right then, so there is never the same set of problems, and the software is intelligent enough to adjust the level of difficulty to your students progress. Within each topic are different levels, beginning with the basics of that subject and moving on to more complex problems. To move up a notch you must get a certain score, showing mastery in the basics before moving on. By the time all of the levels are complete, you can be fairly certain your child knows that topic!
Parents, you will receive frequent email updates from Math Score (or you can log in and check anytime) that show your child’s progress, what they have mastered, what they are working through and what may need some intervention if they just aren’t showing any grasp or cognizance in a certain area.
Furthermore, there is detailed information for you to know exactly when and for how long your student worked on each subject. Even beyond that, you will see actual working time on the subject in addition to the time logged in; in this way you can see the fruitful time spent learning the subject, not just time logged on but potentially goofing off. I told you they thought of everything!
Although it seems that Math Score is marketed more for serious math practice and skill building, most likely used with other curriculum, it would not be a stretch to see this site used exclusively as a math curriculum as well. With sample problems and step by step solutions, most subjects could likely be grasped through the support offered on each topic. In fact, if you explore the parent section of their website, you can read how Math Score is working in just such a way for homeschooling families.
Of course, one nice thing about the internet based programs is that they usually offer a free trial, so you can really see whether their product will meet your needs. You can check Math Score for yourself, as well as sign up for a free trial by clicking here. If you like what you see, a membership costs just $9.95 per month for the first student, $5.00 for the second and $3.95 for each additional child. I would encourage you to peruse the site and just read up on the information given to see all that is offered by purchasing Math Score. I feel smarter just looking at it!

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At the Intersection of Creation and Evolution: A Dream

The alliterating story below is based on a dream I had several years ago. Please contact me for permission to reproduce.

Darkness devours me.

I am enveloped in emptiness.

Are my eyes open or are they closed? I strain against this shroud of night and still see nothing.

What is this place?

An image illuminates in front of me. A large, leafy tree streaks past and vanishes.

It deserts me to the darkness again.

In a moment, more images appear. A rapid succession of snapshots and thoughts clamor before my eyes and mingle in my mind.

I see seedlings. Several supple shoots have emerged before me and then swiftly stream away.

“The first trees on earth were not seedlings”, my mind observes. “They were not created as small insignificant saplings.”

That thought is rapidly replaced with a vision of a man.

He’s maybe 30; he is muscular and needs to shave.

He fades away.

In his place I see an infant.

A tiny bundle of pink skin upon a soft blanket flickers briefly in my brain.

“Man was created with age,” is the next statement I hear. “Adam did not begin his life as a baby, he began as a grown man.”

The voice seems like my own.

The thoughts do not.

Reeling before me now is a blur of rivers, forests, mountains and even layers of the earth. It is like a movie rushing rapidly before my retina.

The soundtrack of this epic is proclaiming a peculiarly plain concept:

“The earth was created with age. Creation and evolution are not in total opposition. There is a reason that science finds the earth to be quite old: it was made that way.”

Thoughts continue to tumble through my mind; pictures parade before me. I listen in amazement to what seems to be puzzlingly profound and yet rather apparent all at once.

“Adam was created as an adult. Trees and plants were made fully grown.”

I suddenly feel quite certain that, if I were to chop down some of the trees that had been spoken into existence, I would find a range of rings running through their trunks.

“The earth was brought to life with age built into it… just like Adam. He did not begin life as an infant. The earth came into being with what it would need to sustain the life that was created. It was old when it was young. The world was
made with maturity; it was also produced with purpose.”

These thoughts are thrilling. Why had I not seen this before? It seems so simple. Obtusely obvious. Had others not observed this correlation? If they had, why wasn’t it being candidly conveyed?

In the span of thirty seconds I have been ravaged by a radical revelation. I feel the weight of its worth resting on me; it is tantamount to tangible.

I am neither a theologian nor am I a scientist. I don’t claim that the ethics of evolution are completely compatible with the Bible’s account of creation. But certainly Science can come concurrent to creation and affirm our faith with facts.

Of course, the Omnipotent Originator of the Universe is exceedingly elusive to what our mind could ever envision. Above what science could ever extensively elucidate.

Accordingly, creation is confounding too. Each diverse discovery deems it more marvelous to grasp. Many scientists have reluctantly relented to the theory of Intelligent Design.

That’s why, alongside those facts, we also need faith.

Lying inexplicably at the intersection of those two essential elements is an exceptional endowment: the intermittent insight of our dreams.