Kinetic books has Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, and Algebra II courses that really take advantage of the computer as a delivery system by including multi-sensory teaching methods, games, interactive exercises, and student tracking. You enroll a student in a course for an annual subscription fee. The program is installed on your own computer (either Mac or Windows systems), but records are kept on their server so you can easily reinstall on another computer and still access your student’s data.
A “Pacing Guide” serves as guide to the amount of material to be covered per lesson. A student clicks on a lesson to immediately move to where they need to begin. Students may also use a more detailed listing of chapter topics to navigate if they choose. The Pacing Guide divides material into lessons within which there are at least a few segments. For each segment students can learn from both a video presentation and a “text” segment on the same topic. Students can skip the video presentation but they must do the text segments. The videos feature a teacher working on a whiteboard, walking through the lesson, referring to the text segment being covered as they teach. This feature is great for students who need an actual teacher.
The “text” lessons are based on a digital text which you can print out if you wish. However, some features will be lost if you do so. The text segments frequently have buttons to “listen to explanation”—great for auditory learners. The auditory segments repeat key points from the printed material. Text segments also have practice and “Quick Check” problems that students answer online. A help button next to every question provides step-by-step help and/or the answer if students get stuck.
Quizzes and tests are also online. Scores are recorded and tracked. Parents can check on student progress whenever they wish. Because the program tracks the student, only one student can use a course subscription.
There are still more features that might be useful to some students. Clicking on buttons at the bottom of the screen allows them to highlight and insert notes as well as to enlarge or shrink font size on the display and set other preferences.
I reviewed the Algebra I course and found it comparable to other text-based courses in coverage and general style, even though it uses multi-media forms of presentation. It teaches a concept, offers practice problems, then has the student complete exercise problems. Quick Check problems cover only the skill taught in the current lesson. At the end of each unit, a section of problems called “Kinetic Homework” covers topics from the past group of lessons. With both Quick Check and Kinetic Homework problems, students get a second try. Help and solutions are available but students then get no credit. However, in the homework, when a student misses a problem and/or looks up the solution, the same type of problem is presented again at the end until they get it correct. So this is very much a mastery type program.
For even more variety, there are mental math activities as well as interactive problems that combine math challenges with games. For those who want students to have traditional paper and pencil activity, “End of Unit Problems” can be printed out and solved. There are many problems in these sections so you might choose to use some rather than all of them. Answer keys to End of Unit Problems can be viewed online or printed out.
At the end of each chapter (which encompasses quite a few lessons) are a practice test and a “standardized test,” both of which are completed online with immediate grading after submission. The standardized test uses the multiple-choice bubble format while other quizzes and tests frequently require students to enter complete mathematical expressions. Since mathematical language is difficult to write from a standard keyboard, the screen pops up mathematical symbols and functions for students to use.
There is more material in this course than most students would use. The digital text has 752 pages! But students need not use everything—only those elements that are helpful.
At the end of the digital text are supplemental lessons that some students might find useful. There is also an initial assessment with 97 questions. The answers for all of the initial assessment problems are available in the problem itself by clicking "Study Solution."
Alignment of Kinetic Books courses with the Common Core State Standards is available on the publisher’s public school-oriented website. The Algebra I course has been adopted into several states, so it is clear that the publisher intends for these courses to compete with those from the major publishers to the traditional school market. The relatively low cost for course delivery makes these courses from Kinetic Books strong competitors against traditional printed texts, both in the traditional and homeschool markets.
A 30-day money-back guarantee allows you to make sure a course will work for your student.