Thinkster Math combines an online math tutorial service with the services of a personal math coach for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is designed to supplement your core math program, whether in a classroom or homeschool. While it wasn't designed to be a complete math program, according to a Thinkster representative, it is possible to have the math coach design the progression of worksheets to cover all of the needed topics. Thinkster Math can be used for students who need remedial help as well as for average and advanced students.
The program can be used on a computer or tablet. Their “free trial” video explains some details about getting started and gives you a good visual overview.
After you set up a student, they take a skills assessment. An academic advisor personally reviews the assessment then sets up a phone appointment for a discussion with the parent about the student’s strengths and weaknesses. The academic advisor then assigns a math coach based on that conversation.
There are three subscription levels: silver, gold, and platinum. All levels include a free skills assessment, access to worksheets and videos, a personalized learning plan, and the assistance of a dedicated tutor. The silver plan includes up to two parent-coach discussions per month (10-15 minutes per discussion). There is no direct tutoring done by the coach with the student with the silver plan. The gold plan includes two 30-minute student-coach sessions per month, and students have access to both homework and test prep help. The platinum plan adds another hour of tutoring beyond what is offered by the gold plan. The cost for all plans is higher for older students, so you will also select lessons for kindergarten through fifth grade or for grades six through eight.
Based on the skills assessment and ongoing progress, the coach selects appropriate online “worksheets.” Students will generally be assigned about 15 worksheets per week. Parents can request coverage of particular topics as well.
Online worksheets present one problem at a time. Problems are presented in many formats, including word problems and visual problems. Students can work online using proprietary tools to write, erase, and rewrite to solve problems, showing their work on the screen. Each online worksheet is linked to a video tutorial so that students can get instruction on a topic as they need it. Access to the video library for all topics is available to students at any time, so if they need help with a topic not addressed by an assigned worksheet, they can get it.
The system records the student's problem-solving work so that the coach can follow his or her line of thinking. The coach reviews the student’s work daily as worksheets are completed and provides feedback when students appear to have difficulty. Feedback is usually given through notes written on worksheet pages.
The learning plan designed by the coach focuses on only two or three topics at a time. There will be a progression of worksheets on each topic. Students have some choice within the assignments to choose which topic they want to work on next. The expectation is that students will work 15 to 20 minutes per day in Thinkster Math. While content within Thinkster is aligned with the Common Core State Standards, math coaches can add other topics that parents or teachers want covered.
Parents can easily track student progress on a computer or through a free phone app. A graphics display in the parent’s tracking system shows student progress on various math concepts, with color coding reflecting student mastery of a topic.
Students can earn virtual medals as they complete assignments. Some students are likely to be even more motivated by the fact that they can also earn points toward gift cards to use at Amazon, Target, and other stores.
Thinkster Math’s hybrid model for tutoring takes advantage of the computer to keep costs reasonable while adding an actual tutor who gets to know the needs of the students working under his or her supervision. This is almost always going to be more efficient and effective than any totally computerized tutorial system, and it’s much less costly than total reliance on a tutor or an "after school" enrichment program such as Kumon. You can check it out with Thinkster Math's one-week free trial before purchasing.