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
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 Algebra — she 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.