Review Crew: Professor B Math

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Professor B Math is an online math program that equips the instructor to become a master teacher.  The program focuses on mastery and higher order thinking throughout its levels.  You can view FAQ’s about the program here or you can call and schedule a 30 day free trial (link at bottom right of main page).

The program is designed for Elementary to 8th grade.  There are 3 levels of material which cover multiple grades.  The scope and sequence is located here.  You can purchase 3 years of online access for each level at $100 per level purchased.  Individual math books are available for purchase for $25 each.

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How it works:
At the site you log in to the e-Learning section.  From there,  you can access the online lessons for the level purchased.  You go to the Table of Contents and click on the topic.  Once you choose the topic, a new table of contents is shown with all the lessons for that topic.  Your student works through the lessons with a parent to help guide them and check his comprehension.  The lessons are shown as a series of slides without any audio.  The parent and student are to read the slides together and then the student responds.  Once all the lessons for a topic are completed, there is a workbook page to be completed.  For level 1, the pages that we completed were to be done orally.  Pages from later lessons were to be completed in writing.

How we used the program:
One of the lessons is about skip counting.  You begin by skip counting by twos from 2.  The lesson shows fingers as the student watches the fingers count and holds their fingers up at the same time.  The next portion of the lesson shows the skip counting using the plus sign (2 + 2 = 4).  The student says each operation with the screen.  Then the student skip counts backward from 10 to 2 using fingers and reciting the operations with minus.

The lesson continues with skip counting by twos but starting at 1.  The student skip counts both forward and backward.

Curly and I sat together and held up our fingers and recited the numbers together.  After each short lesson in this topic was completed, we would stop and review to check for understanding.  This topic contained 16 short lessons and took us 2 days to complete.  For the next several days we continued to drill the skip counting and Curly recited the numbers both forward and backward to me.  We also used the worksheet page for review, completing it orally several times.  During this time, we progressed slowly into the next lesson, making sure to keep reviewing previous concepts.  At the end of the week, Curly could quickly skip count forward and backward by twos and her addition skills improved tremendously as she was able to picture the relationship between numbers and perform addition more quickly in her head.

Here are two screen shots of various lessons to help you visualize the teaching screen:


Cons:
My biggest complaint about the program was the difficulty I had in finding (or remembering) the last lesson we completed.  The program does not automatically direct you to the beginning of the next lesson that is to be completed.  You need to keep a written record of which lessons have been completed for each topic.


The software and format of the slides is very low-tech without any audio.  The lessons we completed for Level 1 showed hands as graphics (to help the student visualize the number of fingers for each number) along with the little bee who functions as the instructor.  Most text is shown in small bubbles above the bee.  The parent clicks on the arrow at the bottom of the slide to progress through the slides in each lesson. 

The lessons require a parent to be involved with the student for each portion of the lesson.  The program is not meant to be self-directed.

The text bubbles and the type are both very small.  I would have had an easier time directing the program if both the text was bigger.

Pros:
The lack of flashy graphics or loud sounds, enables the student to focus on the math.

The program is mastery based and is designed to give the student an understanding of numbers and the math functions rather than a focus on simply memorizing the facts.

Professor B helps the parent become a teacher as it guides you through the lessons and provides a script to read.  The program equips parents to teach the math topics with confidence.

The program is very open-and-go and easy to begin and use right away.  The parent does not need to read through a teacher manual, but rather read along with the student for each lesson. 

Overall:
I enjoyed the methodology of the program with lots of mental math and the focus on mastery.  Curly was challenged by the lessons and I saw an improvement in her math reasoning and mental math ability after a few weeks.  The program completed the other math program we use in terms of style and methodology.  Therefore, I enjoyed using it as a summer supplement to our regular program.

I’m not sure Curly feels the same way about Professor B, however.  She found the program to be rather boring and did not enjoy progressing through the slides.  She was always very ready to complete her lessons. 

I think my biggest challenge in using the program was the organization and ability to find the last lesson we completed.  If the e-learning were redesigned with a more user-friendly table of contents and a way to track lessons completed, I would find the program much more enjoyable.

We will continue to use this program as a supplement to what we already use.  I like the mastery aspect and the way it helps students visualize the amounts and then quickly apply what they’ve learned.  However, we enjoy math that is more hands-on and so we will continue to use our previous math program as the main program at our house.  I plan to continue to use the topics from Professor B once or twice a week to break up our math time as a form of a math lab.  I will also use their teaching methodology along with our regular math program, but I do not think the format of sitting at the computer and progressing through slides would work long-term as a main program for us.  Although, if the program were made more user-friendly with a way to save your lesson progress with larger type , I would be more likely to integrate the program more often as I do love the mental aspect of the math introduced.

Update:  The folks at Professor B have heard the suggestions about being able to find your place in the lessons more easily.  They are going to work on a solution to improve the program and make it more user-friendly.  I would love to see some type of progress tracker so I don’t lose my place!

Read other reviews of Professor B Math products here!

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Disclaimer:  I received a free trial of this product in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are mine.

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