Review: ThinkWell

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Several weeks ago, when I posted about the curriculum we were using, a representative from ThinkWell commented and said that we should try their Algebra program.  Since Brianna was becoming a bit frustrated with her current math program, I asked her if she’d like to try ThinkWell, knowing that often just having someone explain something in a different way can make a huge difference.

She did want to try it, so I contacted ThinkWell and scheduled a review for them.  From the ThinkWell website:

Thinkwell was founded in 1997 in Austin, Texas with the mission to bring great teaching to students worldwide. Thinkwell’s multimedia products in math, science, and social science integrate technology, art, and video with great teaching to produce a new path to success for students.

For homeschoolers, ThinkWell offers:

  • Math from 6th grade through AP Calculus
  • AP Chemistry
  • AP Biology
  • Public speaking
  • Government

Around the end of August, we began using Algebra I , which is available as an online course for $125 (12-month access) and with an optional CD/workbook set for an additional $25.  The option CD set contains everything that is available on the online course, making the lessons available when an Internet connection is not.

I was a little apprehensive about making the switch several weeks into our school year because I didn’t want Brianna to get behind in math.  I guess that’s why I kept asking her — frequently — how she was liking ThinkWell.  While she wasn’t overly enthusiastic — I mean, it is Algebrashe has consistently said that she likes it better than what we were using because it’s explained in a way that is easier for her to understand.

Each lesson is taught via online video.  There are even illustrated notes worksheets and extra helps that students can print out.  After watching the DVD, the student completes the practice exercises for that lesson, which is automatically graded for you.  Students are shown the correct solution for any missed problems.

The only thing I don’t like about that is there is currently not an option for a student to retry a single missed problem.  The only option for correcting mistakes is taking the entire lesson again.  It appears that students can try a particular lesson up to three times.

Chapter tests and practice test are included and these are automatically graded, as well.  Each chapter test can be taken only once, but practice tests can be taken multiple times.  There is the option of emailing ThinkWell and requesting that they reset the test for, if you want to have a student retake a chapter test.  There are even midterms and a final.  Yes, your kids will be thrilled.

Students can check their grades at any time through their account and see how many times they’ve attempted each lesson.  One of the drawbacks that I’ve noticed with ThinkWell is that there isn’t a parent account.  You have to log in to your student’s account to check his or her grades.  I’d like to see a parent account where the parent could reset chapter tests or even individual problems within the daily lessons.

ThinkWell makes planning easy with PDF lessons plans that you can copy and paste.  I was surprised by that since most PDF files won’t allow copying and pasting.  This feature made it easy to add Brianna’s Algebra assignments to her assignment sheets that I type in MS Word and print out for her.

Being able to assign work on the student account would make another nice feature for a parent account, but being able to copy and paste the assignments was definitely the next best thing.  From what I understand, a parent account feature is being developed.

My biggest concern with ThinkWell is the fact that the purchase of a one-year subscription is good for only one student, so I couldn’t save the materials and use them with subsequent children.  I could use the CD set for them, if I purchased it, but I would lose the automatic grading feature, which I love because it’s saving me tons of time.

I know that ThinkWell is looking at some pricing tier options for homeschooling families to make it more cost-effective.  I hope that comes to fruition soon because Brianna has really done with with ThinkWell.  She feels that the concepts are explained well and ThinkWell has increased her confidence in Algebra.  After all, isn’t the that ultimate goal with any math program?

I received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it.  I received no other compensation for this review.  The opinions expressed in this review are my personal, honest opinions.  Your experience may vary.

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15 Comments

  1. Interesting… my kids are too young yet, but I'll be looking for something that relies on 'me' as the teacher once they get older. I'll keep ThinkWell in mind.

  2. You should try Teaching Textbooks, same idea, you keep the discs and the automatic grading! Our oldest two love it!

  3. @SmallWorld and Samantha,

    We were using Teaching Textbooks. My older dd used it last year and my younger two are using it this year. My oldest just prefers the way ThinkWell explains things.

  4. Thank you for this review, Kris – I was not familiar with that company. While we are happy with TT Algebra, it is good to know about other options – even in other subjects. I am still pretty unsure about what we will use for Chemistry as I have heard mixed reviews about Apologia Chemistry. We love Biology with them, though so maybe we'll love Chemistry too. It's good to have options!

    Samantha

  5. Thanks for the review!! Glad to hear Brianna liked Professor Edward Burger's way of explaining math.

    I have to admit I've been watching the videos this year and the amount of math knowledge I have now rivals what I knew in high school.

    We've also got some great courses in Natural Sciences and Government. As you can tell, I'm really proud of Thinkwell's products. 🙂

    Thank you for the feedback as well. We always appreciate suggestions because it helps us make our courses even better. Good luck!

  6. My son is now a senior.  He did Teaching Textbook for Algebra I and  II.    When he took the Sat and his pre-calculus class we realized that there were a lot of holes in his algebra background.  We had to get a tutor to get him back up to speed.   We will not make that same mistake with my daughter.   I appreciate the imput on Thinkwell.  I think I am going to give it a try with my daughter. 

    K

    1. I am considering jumping ship from TT and using Thinkwell for the same reason. My daughter loves TT, however I have had to spend thousands of dollars on Mathnasium to catch her up.
      How did Thinkwell work for you? Also looking at Study.com.

  7. Thanks for the review…what I'd like to know is do you feel that there is enough review built into the lessons, and is the material thorough enough?  I would like to know how kids do on their SAT's and ACT's using Thinkwell.

  8. I haven't seen any reports on how kids using Thinkwell do on their ACTs and SATs. I do know that my daughter really liked Thinkwell and felt that it explained things well. We're not currently using it because we've gone to Switched-on-Schoolhouse for everything for her. I liked it well enough that I would use it for my younger two, however, if the need arose.

  9. I am a student who used Thinkwell for Algebra II. When I just moved to Virginia from New Brunswick, Canada, I didn’t know the math gap between the two states and failed the Algebra II Test COMPLETELY (40% correct). However, I used Thinkwell and in few months, I got a 600 (perfect score) on my SOL (Virginia’s state test that every Virginia students must take). This SOL was the hardest one ever produced apparently, and about 70-60% of the students failed. It was so hard that it even went on the local newspaper.Thanks to Thinkwell, I could get a perfect score on Algebra II SOL, get a 100% (A+) for my Algebra II grade, and prove myself to those arrogant teachers who thought I would never be able to catch up to their Algebra II class level. So Thinkwell rocks. Plus, I didn’t even had to listen to Thinkwell like crazy like 6 hours a day. Only 4 lectures (like 20 minutes) was enough to boost me up that much.

  10. This is exactly what I wanted to see! After finding that the science program I had planned for next year (AP Chemistry) is not available unless we sign up for their online school, I started scrambling today to find an alternative. I came across Think Well Homeschool and was intrigued. I’m hoping it works for us!

  11. My son is taking the pre-calculus class with Thinkwell this year and really likes it. He took Algebra I and II, and Geometry with Teaching textbooks previously and likes Thinkwell better. I wish I’d known about this sooner for the other math. He says the professor makes it interesting and funny so the times doesn’t drag and the concepts stick. I’m really pleased he likes it. I’m going to check out the Government class and Chemistry for my other son.
    I hope they have somethings like tests I can print off for their portfolios.

  12. Planning to switch from teaching textbooks to think well for pre-Calc for grade 12. He doesn’t like math, and lets me know all the time! Hope this works well. Concerned that they cannot retake tests or problems, he gets frustrated and likes to try them again. Let me know if there are options to retry problems quizzes and tests.Thanks!

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