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You are here: Home → Curriculum reviews → Thinkwell
Thinkwell Mathematics Courses
Thinkwell mathematics courses combine a textbook with multimedia video lectures delivered on a CD-ROM. Each math course also has a website with review notes and an online testing system, which allows extensive opportunity for practice and quizzing.
Student watches video lectures filled with illustrations, examples, even humor. They do interactive exercises with feedback on the computer, or print them out to work on paper.
Real-life applications are tied in to the instruction often. You also get access to many interactive animations that help explain mathematical concepts.
The courses offered are 6th, 7th, and 8th grade math, Prealgebra, Beginning Algebra, Intermediate Algebra, Precalculus, Trigonometry, Calculus, and College Algebra. Prices vary $150-$200, and this includes exercises, chapter tests, mid-terms, and finals. All video instruction is by Edward Burger.
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Reviews of ThinkWell math courses
Time: 3+ years
Your situation: My son was enrolled in a failing school system with a cognitive based math curriculum that was years below grade level and there was no hope things would improve. He started the program in 5th grade. He initially completed Dr. Burger's Thinkwell math series as part of CTY's distance learning program and continued with pre-Calculus on his own. Once in a better school system, he used the calculus program to augment or review classroom based math.
Why you liked/didn't like the curriculum: Phenomenal is the only word I can use to describe the program and the curriculum. Each program offers a comprehensive curriculum in each math topic. The lectures are clear, accurate and delivered by a world renowned mathematician who is an award winning teacher, current Chair of the math department at Williams College and who continues to publish scholarly work. He is also a charismatic teacher who does not fit any stereotype of what a mathematician is like. He apparently did stand-up before math (and wrote for Carson, I believe)-and it shows in his lectures. It is a stand alone program in the sense that it does not presume any prior knowledge of the topic and does not require additional instruction. The lectures are thorough and thoughtful. My son relied entirely on the program for his math education. He was able to move through the courses independently with ease. My son's math background before starting the program was as a 5th grade student in a failing school that introduced the concept of "pairs" in 5th grade by having students survey their home and record 15 "pairs" they found--at which point I pulled him from school math. The Thinkwell (Burger) program was so comprehensive that my son was able to score a near perfect score on the NY State Regents Math A (Algebra A, some Geometry and some Trig) exam after 6th grade without having any additional tutoring/instruction. The true test came in 7th when he transferred to an outstanding rigorous public school and was placed in classroom math with other strong motivated students taught by outstanding teachers. His background from Thinkwell was as strong as that of the kids who had been in the excellent system all along. His Thinkwell background contributed to his ability (getting As) to complete AP Calc AB and to continue with Calc 2 (B/C) and 3 in local colleges. Thinkwell prepared him well for advanced math. I should also mention that my son does not fit any stereotype of a math nerd. So, if you are wondering if a typical kid would like the program, I will add that my son is one and did. He likes and is good at math but given the choice between staying inside and doing school work or going out with friends, he would easily choose the latter. The joy of the Thinkwell program is that it is efficient. He was able to learn difficult math concepts efficiently-leaving him much more time for other activities than if he had to plod through classroom based math.
Any other helpful hints: Be sure to get an accurate assessment of the child's current math level prior to beginning the program so that the child does not end up with gaps in understanding important concepts. Any gaps will impede progress later on even if they don't show up immediately. So it is better to start at levels at or slightly below those you know the child has achieved in order to be sure that there are no gaps later on. Dr. Burger is captivating so your child won't be bored even if he or she already knows material he is covering. Also, you may want to watch lectures with your child because they are so interesting. Dr Burger's explanations make concepts easy to understand. You may learn the whys behind things you learned to do as a child by rote. And, I guess that is one of the good things about the program. Kids learn the reasons behind why certain formulas or calculations are used-although pneumonic's are included, they are done so only after the concepts are explained well.
Review left November 30, 2012
I am a home school parent who has used Thinkwell Math for both of my children. My son completed pre-calculus a couple of years ago. I am using Algebra 2 with my daughter this year. I am viewing all the videos and working all the problems with her.
Why you liked/didn't like the book:
The Thinkwell Algebra 2 & Pre-calculus are high standard, honors level courses. They are rigorous and thorough for a strong math student. There is not as much integrated review in the course as other courses, such as Saxon. However, the course does an excellent job of explaining the concepts, providing plenty of practice problems, and significant emphasis on word and real-life applications.
Any other helpful hints:
This is an excellent choice for strong, highly motivated math students. Students can work at their own pace, and proceed through the program at a quicker pace than the course is traditionally covered. Thinkwell offers a "free" two-week trail for all their courses. I would recommend spending some time on the free trial before purchasing. I would not recommend this program for students who struggle with math, and / or students who are not strong independent learners.
Review left December 26, 2010
Second year of homeschooling my then 13-year-old son who is a reluctant, highly distractible student.
This program is presented online with video lectures taught by award-winning Professor Edward Burger. An overhead camera shows his hand writing the problems while he is speaking, with printed examples off to the side of the lecture screen. His engaging speaking style kept the interest of my highly distractible son.
Each lesson consists of: video lecture segments, accompanying notes, sample problems with solutions, 12 questions for the student to complete and an online written transcript of the lecture.
The Chapter Checklist keeps track of what has been completed, and my son could log in, find the next lesson, and easily pick up where he left off, even if it was in the middle of an exercise. He was 100% independent in his math for 7th grade!
Thinkwell is a quality math program that is absolutely in our future for continued homeschool math.
I am extremely pleased with the Thinkwell curriculum, (now available from 7th grade and up), and would highly recommend this program to homeschool families interested in an alternative to the traditional book-driven math experience.
Review left August 25, 2010
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