MasterMath presents free online math courses: 6th Grade Math, 7th Grade Math, 8th Grade Math, and 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. This makes it easy to also use these lessons selectively as supplements or for review.
A video presents the concept for each lesson. Students then complete one or two printable worksheets. 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 the problems are often complex and require multiple steps.
Registering for the courses is free and 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. The printable exams are completed offline and are to be taken without reference to a textbook or online lessons.
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.
The video teaching consists of visual explanations, drawings, and animations. Stan Lisle, the course author and a former middle school math.teacher, does the voice-over for the videos. 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-on-one tutoring session. 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. While the videos are not polished professional productions, they are surprisingly well done for free courses.
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. 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 lesson menus make this easy to do.) This means that the video portion of a lesson will generally take longer than the run time of the video.
The courses seem to be a little more advanced than the Common Core State Standards. The material is challenging and might move too quickly for some students. Core concepts are taught for each level, and Lisle also adds a lesson on "Test Taking Tips" for each of grades six to eight and six lessons on financial literacy for eighth grade.
The number of lessons per course varies from level to level. There are 32 lessons for 6th Grade Math, 40 for 7th Grade Math, 36 for 8th Grade Math, and 53 for Algebra 1. You can see that there are 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 the MasterMath lessons can each be completed in one day, these supplemental links will stretch some of those lessons out over two or more days.
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. These quizzes test students on cumulative knowledge rather than just one lesson's material.
MasterMath should work well as your primary math courses for grades six through nine. However, to do this 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. Those who want to use MasterMath as the core of their math program need to read "How Master Math works for Home Schooled Students" to make sure they understand the need to use other resources with it.
MasterMath might also 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 math series.) MasterMath's lesson menus for each course make It easy to determine which lessons cover specific topics if you are trying to match up to another course.
I’m surprised that MasterMath is not more well known since this is a fantastic resource. The courses might be compared to those from Khan Academy, but I think MasterMath lessons are easier to understand.
MasterMath lessons are free, but you might consider donating to the site if you find the lessons beneficial.
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.