MasterMath presents free math courses online for grades six through eight as well as for Algebra 1. Courses are taught lesson by lesson in a logical sequence. However, the program allows students to access all lessons from all four levels at any time. So it is easy to also use these lessons selectively as supplements or for review.
A video lesson presents the concept for each lesson. Students then complete one or two printable worksheets for each lesson. Printable answer keys are provided. There are generally only a few problems per worksheet, but some of these will take some time to complete since problems are often complex, requiring multiple steps.
Registering for the courses (free) gives students access to online quizzes for each lesson. Quiz scores are tracked by the program. Each course also has printable quarterly assessments and final exams with answer keys.
MasterMath is one of the most user-friendly sites for math courses I’ve ever seen. The lessons can all be accessed from a single page. And on each lesson page, you have immediate access to all lesson components.
Video lessons consist of visual explanations, drawings, and animations with a voiceover by Stan Lisle, a former middle school math teacher. Near the beginning of each video, we see Lisle with his headphones as he begins to teach the lesson. Lisle’s style is encouraging and friendly--and sometimes humorous, as if he were doing a one-one-tutoring session. The lessons might be compared to those from Khan Academy, but I think these lessons are easier to understand than those from Khan Academy. While the videos are not polished professional productions, they are surprisingly well done for free courses.
The material is challenging; it might move too quickly for some students. The scope and sequence seems to be a little more advanced than the Common Core State Standards. Core concepts are taught for each level, and Lisle also adds a lesson on Test Taking Tips for each of grades six to eight as well as six lessons on financial literacy for eighth grade.
The videos for each lesson seem to average about 15 minutes in length, although I spotted one that ran just under ten minutes and many that ran more than 20 minutes.
During the video presentations, from time to time Lisle has “You try it” slides where he instructs students to pause the video while they work on a practice problem. This mirrors a typical classroom presentation where the teacher first teaches a concept then has students practice it to see if they understand. This means that lessons will take longer than just the runtime for the video presentation itself.
Students might need to review a lesson a few times to grasp all that is being taught. They might also need to jump back to a previous lesson to review a concept. The program allows them to access all lessons from all four levels at any time.
The number of lessons per course varies from level to level. There are 32 for sixth grade, 40 for seventh grade, 36 for eighth grade, and 53 lessons for Algebra 1. You can see that this is far fewer lessons than you get in most programs. Concepts spread out over multiple lessons in other programs are sometimes condensed into a single lesson in MasterMath. Cool links at the bottom of each lesson page might link to another video, a math problem, a Khan Academy lesson, or an informational site. Some video links present the same topic in a different fashion and might be helpful if a child needs to hear it from a different angle. These links often expand and enhance the lessons significantly, so I would generally recommend that students use most of them.
While parents need to grade student worksheets and assessments, the online quizzes give students immediate feedback. If students miss a problem, they are given brief notes about their error. Quizzes test students on cumulative knowledge rather than just the lesson material.
MasterMath might be used as a supplement alongside another math course. (For example, I think MasterMath should be a fantastic resource to use alongside the Life of Fred series.) It is easy to find topics covered in each lesson presentation if you are trying to match up to another course. MasterMath can also work as your primary math courses for grades six through nine. However, you need to use all of the lesson components and supplement with additional material to provide enough hours of math instruction. Lisle recommends IXL Math as a complement to his program. IXL Math works, but I think Life of Fred makes a better complement.
I’m surprised that MasterMath is not more well-known since this is a fantastic resource. I would love feedback from those who use it since my biggest concern is whether or not the material is too advanced or moves too quickly for students. (Please use my contact form to let me know about your experience with it.)
Lessons are free, but you might consider donating to the site if you find them beneficial.
Feedback from Ginger in Georgia:
My 13 year old has done all of the courses and just completed Algebra I. My son is in public school and takes gifted middle-school math courses. Master Math is a far better curriculum, and the sequencing is more logical than the gifted math courses. It is not too advanced or difficult to follow. Each lesson can be done in a day with gifted students or spread out over three days for average students. Lessons for grades 6-8 are truly exceptional. However, the last quarter of Algebra I (when the course gets into quadratic math) is too fast-paced and advanced for any student.