Friday, January 28, 2011

TOS Review: Ten marks

I had a love/hate relationship with math through my middle school and high school years.  On the one hand, when I understood a concept, I loved the challenge of being able to find the correct answer.  On the other hand, the repetition and drudgery of doing the same thing, so many times, all the time, frustrated me.  I can remember vividly sitting before a page of 30 problems, fighting tears.  It wasn't hard math, or anything that I struggled with understanding.  But I knew that those 30 problems would take me at least an hour to do, and I wanted to be doing other things.

I think that's why my kids both found Ten Marks to be so appealing.  Each child doing the Ten Marks program is assigned a total of 4 worksheets every week.  Each worksheet only has 10 problems.  The child works the problems and selects the answer.

Every problem displayed offers the child the option of help in the form of 3 hints, and a video lesson.

The video lessons show the type of problem the child is working on (not the actual problem) being solved using a whiteboard-like demonstration.

Once the child has completed their ten problems, they are shown how they did, and what problems need to be re-worked and corrected. The work is then submitted for evaluation, and recorded to a report card that the parent can access.  When I look at my parent screen, the first thing I see is a little "mini-report" for the child selected.

This gives me a snapshot of what's going on with his progress and allows me to go in immediately to change his curriculum.  Or, I can look at the bigger picture by going to his report card.

This provides more detail, and shows where he's strongest and where he's weakest.  The report card keeps track of how much "help" he is using, and what he's scoring on each worksheet.

From there, I get the best picture of what he has firmly grasped, and what areas he needs to continue working.  I can then customize his worksheets based on that information, or choose to let the program continue as planned. TenMarks personalizes the students´ learning experience so they can work at their own pace while following a curriculum based on their grade, proficiency level and learning preferences.

Ten Marks also offers the parent the option of providing rewards to motivate the child.  The parent chooses the reward (and can provide a picture of said reward), the start date, and how many worksheets the child has to complete to earn the reward.  We didn't choose to utilize the reward program, but for children reluctant to do even 10 math problems a day, this might be a great incentive.

Actually, I should say, I didn't choose to utilize that reward program.  There is actually a built-in reward program where "games" are unlocked when a certain number of worksheets are completed.  Both boys looked forward to unlocking new games (which - shhh, don't tell - are actually more math practice).

Ten Marks is priced very reasonably.  For each child, the program is $10 per month, $49 for six months, or $89 for the year.  Ten Marks is mapped to state standards.  Here's a great video that explains the entire Ten Marks program.

Overall, we really liked Ten Marks.  Several times the kids mentioned to me that the worksheets seemed to "get hard really fast".  Part of that, I think, was that I wasn't keeping up enough with customizing the curriculum, and the other part is that they're used to doing Saxon math, where they review the same concepts for weeks on end.  With Ten Marks they were just jumping from one concept to the next, with very little overlap or review.  In that respect, I wished that there were more built-in review.  I believe, especially with math, that it is critical to have mastery of each subject and Ten Marks doesn't ensure this to my satisfaction.  In the end, I wouldn't choose to use Ten Marks as a stand-alone curriculum because I don't see enough repetition to reinforce concepts.  But I could see using it as an every-other-day supplement to keep the "drudgery" of math to a minimum.

The Ten Marks customer service was excellent.  One day we had problems loading some of the videos.  I sent off an e-mail and within an hour we had a complete explanation of the problem and when it would be repaired (it was actually done much sooner).

You can see for yourself how Ten Marks works - check out their free trial.

Find out what the rest of the crew thought about Ten Marks here.

Disclaimer: As a member of the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received a complimentary subscription to Ten Marks in exchange for my fair, honest and unbiased review. No other compensation was received.

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