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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Online Curriculum REVIEW: The Factor Tree (math K-6)



The Factor Tree is an online state testing inspired math curriculum for K-6th grade. I tried out this curriculum with my 4 year old daughter and am writing this review as part of a word of mouth campaign for BzzAgent.com. My opinions are 100% uncoached and honest. I got a free trial and I'm telling you about this product to either warn you about how much I hated it or rave about how much I loved it! ;)

My 4 year old really enjoyed this curriculum. She wanted to do more than the daily work every time. I will admit that I wound up being without a computer for the last 3 weeks of my 1 month review trial so I only got to use it with her for about a week. During the week I was able to use it though, she was totally crazy about it and I could really see her counting skills improving every day. Her 2 year old brother was getting excited about it and wanted to do it too! Please note that the 4 year old is my oldest child and I cannot say if the program is as fun or effective for the higher grades as it was for the Kindergarten level, or moreso.

The benefits we found from using Factor Tree are
-my daughter loves it and constantly begged to do more,
-the graphics the kids are supposed to count are cute and brightly colored; interesting and easy to see,
-the tests would be easy for a child older than my daughter to do alone and correct themselves,
-I could see daily improvement in her math skills.

The things we did not like about the program are
-The site is a bit confusing to navigate,
-The detailed parent reports were not helpful to me; I wanted graphs, charts, and lists of what numbers she was having the most trouble with counting up to and past. I didn't want to have to search through each page and make notes of her score on each one and then compile my own statistics based on the data. I wanted that done for me. I don't want the ability to check each page manually taken away because it could be helpful in some cases, but I DO want the reports to be broken down for me into charts and graphs ALSO.
-My daughter would push Enter to get to the next page and her unsteady toddler hand would shake or hold a fraction of a second too long and accidentally wind up skipping multiple pages. A blank score on these pages was counted as a wrong answer and neither her nor I even knew these pages had been skipped or how to tell for a long time. When I finally DID figure out how to tell if the previous page was "wrong" [in our case it was 95% of the time that my daughter's hand had shaken on the Enter and accidentally skipped (a) page(s) rather than that she had actually counted wrong], I realized that even when we did go back and fix the accidentally skipped pages, the accidental skipping had already "ruined" her howevermany-in-a-row-correct streak.

Overall this site was very enjoyable and helpful for my 4 year old. I did not find the parent dashboard to be helpful for me, possibly because my child requires my supervision to use the program so I was there with her seeing everything I could have seen on the parent interface anyway. I am considering subscribing to The Factor Tree for my daughter's math curriculum this year (we homeschool). I have confidence the developers will work out the kinks and this site will become more user-friendly, which was my only issue with it.

If you would like a 2 week free trial to see for yourself if The Factor Tree is right for your kids, please go to http://www.thefactortree.com/ and sign up with the code "BZF" - no credit card is required for your free trial. If you choose to subscribe after your trial, it's $20 per month per student.
If you have any questions about my experience with this product, feel free to ask in the comments and I will respond as quickly as I can! :)

A big thanks to BzzAgent and The Factor Tree for giving me the chance to try this out! :)

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