Courses like these from Chalk Dust are critical for many families who are deciding whether or not they can handle homeschooling through high school. The courses really do allow students to work independently, which means parents who never went beyond Algebra 1 can still provide their children with a solid math education.
Professor Dana Mosely is your video instructor in this outstanding series of math courses for sixth grade through early college levels. High production quality and skillful presentation combine to make these top-notch DVD courses. Mosely's many years of teaching experience are obvious as he clarifies commonly confusing issues. He keeps the presentation moving at just the right pace, although students can always review if they don't catch it first time around.
Parents with weak math backgrounds should love these courses since they really do the teaching for you. Even better, purchase of a course entitles students to free technical assistance from Professor Mosely for all students within the family that may use the course. (And those who purchase complete used courses can pay a $100 fee for consultation service per student, per course.)
Courses start with Basic Math (6th grade level) and continue through Calculus I. (Chalk Dust also produces The ACT-SAT Math Review which is not included in this review.) Each course has from 7 to 18 DVDs. The number of DVDs per course reflects both the size of textbooks and complexity of concepts taught.
All courses include a textbook and solutions guide. Mosely follows the textbook lessons in order of presentation. In all the courses, he usually expands upon the textbook presentation, sometimes adding his own learning strategies to the lessons. He covers the main concepts then works out sample problems on a chalkboard with an occasional computer graphic or graphing calculator illustration.
Students should watch a section on the DVD, then go to the text and work about 25-30 exercise problems in that particular section in the textbook. Each section requires about 3-5 days to complete. In most of the texts there are far more problems than most students will ever need to complete, but Chalk Dust provides "suggested assignments" for each course.
The textbooks are from Houghton Mifflin or Cengage Learning, and the lead author on most of them is Ron Larson, one of the most respected and prolific math authors in the United States and reflect college quality at the particular course level. The Basic Math text is authored by Aufmann, Barker, and Lockwood, and these authors are also responsible for the Prealgebra text. Many texts are identical to those used in colleges. Algebra 1 and 2 texts are hardbound standard.
The textbooks are designed for classroom teachers, however, the combination of DVD presentations and solutions guides with the texts and student technical support from Dana Mosely result in excellent courses that work well for independent study.
This series of texts is strong on real-life applications and word problems that enhance conceptual understanding. They include calculator use at all levels. In addition to lessons, examples and practice problems, textbooks also have reviews and tests.
The Complete Solutions Guides for Geometry, Statistics, College Algebra, and Calculus 1 include complete solutions to all problems. The Student Solution Guides for Basic Math, Prealgebra, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Trigonometry, and Precalculus are student editions that have worked out solutions to odd problems from student exercises, although they have all solutions for test questions. Since each textbook section may contain 150 or more problems and the student will be working 25 to 30 problems from "suggested assignments," finding enough problems to work will not be a problem even if the section is repeated. Solutions Guides are a valuable component in these courses. You can purchase components separately, but you really need all three components—text, DVDs, and solutions guide.
Chalk Dust's website has sample teaching demos for each program available for free viewing so you can check it out before purchasing. A free “DVD Evaluation Sampler" can be ordered online or by phone. Full-set orders include a 30-day money back guarantee and student technical support directly from Dana Mosely.
Basic Math 9th Edition (2010)
9 DVDs, softbound text, student solutions guide, and student technical support - $389
The text for this course is Cengage Learning's Basic Math, 9th Edition by Aufmann and Lockwood.
This sixth grade course includes one chapter each on whole numbers, fractions, decimals, ratio and proportion, percents, applications for business and consumers, statistics and probability, U.S. customary units of measurement, the metric system of measurement, rational numbers, introduction to algebra, and geometry. With the addition of the last three chapters (which were not included in previous editions), this is a solid sixth grade course.
Many practical applications appear in examples and word problems, and an entire chapter is devoted to business and consumer math skills such as percent calculations in making purchases, computing interest, calculating the cost of buying a home or car, calculating wages, and balancing a checkbook.
A four-function calculator might be used along with this course, but it's not absolutely essential. If you are looking ahead, you might want to go ahead and purchase a TI-83 Plus graphing calculator since it can be used with all courses.
Prealgebra 5th Edition (2009)
10 DVDs, softbound text, student solutions guide, and student technical support - $409
This prealgebra course is fairly similar in content to Saxon's Algebra 1/2. The text is Prealgebra, 5th Edition by Aufmann, Barker, and Lockwood, published by Cengage Learning.
This approximately 650-page, softcover textbook includes instruction, examples, exercises, tests, and answers to odd-numbered problems in the exercises. It comes with a softcover Student Solutions Manual that contains step-by-step solutions to odd numbered exercise problems, and all "end of chapter" and "cumulative review problems."
The text first reviews basic math skills and concepts, including exponents and radicals, before moving on to topics such as polynomials, first-degree equations, the rectangular coordinate system, measurement, proportion, percent, geometry, statistics, and probability. Even though this level of math covers many algorithms with no immediate applications, this text still includes many word problems and practical applications that are listed in the left margin of the "Contents" for each chapter.
Periodically, lessons include mention of how to use a scientific calculator with a few questions directing students to perform calculator operations. Calculator use is introduced at this level, and students should use a scientific or graphing calculator with the course.
Courses such as this used to be considered eighth grade level, but the new math standards have advanced the math agenda, so this is now considered seventh grade level in most states.
Algebra 1 5th Edition (2010)
10 DVDs, hardbound text, student solutions guide, and student technical support - $419
The textbook for this course is Elementary Algebra by Larson and Hostetler published by Cengage Learning. This is a traditional course targeted toward the average student. Mosely's thorough presentations plus the combination of DVD instruction with textbook reinforcement should make it easy for most students to master algebra while working independently through the course. In addition the Student Solutions Guide will help when both students and parents are stumped.
While this text does not incorporate geometry instruction it does include algebraic applications in geometry and the appendix lists "Further Concepts in Geometry." The Algebra 1 course has lessons and exercises for using a graphing calculator. In addition, the book's appendix adds sections on graphing calculators, geometry, and statistics, but the appendix sections are not included on video. The appendix also has an Index of Applications which lists hundreds of application problems in biology, business, chemistry, and physics.
Algebra 2 5th Edition (2010)
13 DVDs, hardbound textbook, student solutions guide, and student technical support - $449
The textbook for this course is Intermediate Algebra by Larson and Hostetler published by Cengage Learning. Mosely closely follows the lessons as presented in the textbook teaching concepts and working sample problems. Many first-year algebra concepts are reviewed at length, a boon for students who have taken geometry after one year of algebra and need a refresher. The Student Solutions Guide covers all odd exercise problems plus all mid-chapter, end-of-chapter, and cumulative test problems.
The scope and sequence is a bit different from some other Algebra 2 courses. While it covers functions at length along with radicals, inequalities, conic sections, systems of equations, matrices, and logarithms, sequences, series and the binomial theorem it does not introduce trigonometry. The inclusion of elementary trigonometry techniques is a relatively recent trend in Algebra 2 courses and Chalk Dust follows the more traditional approach in offering trigonometry as a separate and much more comprehensive course.
Instructions for using a TI-83 graphing calculator are part of the DVD instruction and also appear in a separate section in the appendix. Additional calculator information appears as "technology tips" in sidebars throughout the book. Occasionally, DVD lessons actually show the calculator and its screen so that students can use their own calculators and follow along performing operations.
In my opinion, this is one of the most practical solutions for covering Algebra 2 unless parents are great at math and have time to teach it themselves. Even though the cost seems high, keep in mind that everything can be used with other children then resold when you are finished, or you could share a set of DVDs with another family.
College Algebra 5th Edition (2008)
13 DVDs, hardbound textbook, complete solutions guide, and student technical support - $409
The College Algebra textbook is by Larson, Hostetler and Edwards published by Houghton Mifflin. The text follows the same format as do Larson's other algebra books. As you might have guessed from the course title, College Algebra is really a college course rather than high school. However, you might use it after Algebra 2 or, in rare cases, instead of Algebra 2.
The course reviews much of the material covered in Algebra 2 but takes it to a deeper level in most instances and at a more rapid pace. For example, in the section on graphing equations, we encounter new types of equations and graphs. In the study of functions, we encounter more complex functions than previously.
It might be possible for outstanding Algebra 1 students to skip Algebra 2 and move directly into this text, but for most students it should follow an Algebra 2 course for the humanities (non-sciences ) student. Some students will be able to skip the first section of the course that reviews fundamental concepts of algebra.
Although the course is titled College Algebra, it is only a little more challenging than Algebra 2. In comparison to Saxon's math series, the content of College Algebra is somewhat equivalent to algebra coverage in Saxon's Advanced Math. The use of a graphing calculator is highly recommended, but the course can be completed without one.
College-bound humanities students who do not need calculus and trigonometry will have a very solid math background if they continue algebra studies through this course. Students completing the Chalk Dust College Algebra course should be able to test out of college algebra at the college of their choice.
College-bound students interested in an engineering or science degree are advised to take the Chalk Dust Precalculus course that covers topics in both the Trigonometry and College Algebra courses plus other material. An additional benefit of taking Precalculus rather than Trigonometry and College Algebra separately is the cost: $554 for Precalculus versus $838 for the other two courses.
Geometry 5th Edition (2011)
Statistics (Understanding Basic Statistics) 5th Edition
7 DVDs, softbound text, spiral bound complete solutions guide, and student technical support - $394
The textbook for this course is Understanding Basic Statistics by Brace published by Cengage Learning. This is a traditional course with 11 chapters which cover organizing data, functions, correlation and regression, elementary probability theory, the binomial probability theory, distribution and related topics, normal curves and sampling distribution, surfaces and solids, hypothesis testing, inferences about differences, and additional topics using inference. Statistics can be taken anytime after Algebra 2.
Trigonometry 7th Edition (2007)
9 DVDs, hardbound textbook, student solutions guide, and student technical support - $429
The text for this course is Trigonometry, 7th Edition, by Larson and Hostetler. This is a traditional course covering both trigonometry and some analytic geometry. Graphing calculators are referenced throughout the text and demonstrated throughout the video as well. Although these calculators can be somewhat expensive, they can be critical in demonstrating equations and the relationship between the algebraic form (the equation) and the geometric form (the graph). The TI-83 Plus is recommended.
If students are not already familiar with the calculator, they should go through the user-friendly instructions that come with it and learn the calculator techniques on a need-to-know basis as they are encountered during the course.
The solutions guide is a student edition with complete solutions shown for only odd problems from student exercises. All test solutions are shown. (Note: Precalculus covers the content of Trigonometry and College Algebra so students need not do either of those courses in addition to Precalculus.)
Precalculus 5th Edition (2008)
18 DVDs, hardbound textbook, student solutions guide,and student technical support - $554
There are more DVDs for this course than for other Chalk Dust courses because this course is really two courses in one, College Algebra and Trigonometry, with the addition of even more material not contained in either of the other two. There are over 40 hours of video presentation associated with this course.
Dana Mosely follows lessons in the text, expanding concepts with explanations and working out sample problems. With this course, students really should stop the DVD occasionally and try to solve example problems so they can fully grasp the concepts.
This would be a one-semester course at the college level, but high school students should definitely take a full school year or more to complete it. (This is a true college level course and the textbook is frequently used in colleges throughout the USA.) The text used is the 2008 edition of Precalculus Functions and Graphs, Fifth Edition by Larson, Hostetler, and Edwards. Both content and presentation in the textbook help make the course more appealing. There are a number of fully-explained examples for each topic in the book. In addition, the text has some full-color illustrations; historical/biographical sidebars; and real life, business, and science (biology, chemistry, physics) applications within the chapter problems.
With the combination of DVDs, textbook, and the student solutions guide, students really should be able to learn independently. After completing this course, students should be ready for college-level calculus so they should be able to test out of College Algebra and Trigonometry, or out of Precalculus.
A graphing calculator is standard equipment for this course. The TI-83 Plus is recommended. (See the review of Trigonometry for comments on the calculator.)
Calculus I 9th Edition (2010)
12 DVDs, hardbound text, complete solutions guide, and student technical support - $464
The text for this course is Calculus of a Single Variable, Ninth Edition, by Larson and Edwards. The text actually covers two courses—Calculus 1 and Calculus 2—but the DVDs ;and the complete solutions guide cover only Calculus 1 which includes chapters on preparation for calculus; limits and their properties; differentiation; applications of differentiation; logarithmic, exponential, and other transcendential functions; and differential equations. The textbook includes hundreds of application problems in biology, business, chemistry and physics.
This is a true college level course. I suspect that most students tackling such a course will want to earn college credit if possible, so students should check with the college of their choice beforehand to make sure they will have the opportunity to test out of Calculus I once the course is completed. I would not be surprised if the college uses the same text since it is one of the most popular calculus texts.
Chalk Dust for the Elementary Grades 3, 4, and 5
1 CD, one spiral bound Program Book, and student technical support - $55 per course
I have to add a note about Chalk Dust's computer-based math courses for the elementary grades, marketed under the trade name Math Matters. These courses for grade levels three through five were developed under the direction of Dana Mosely of Chalk Dust. The courses include colorful illustrations and animations as well as voice instruction for a key topic in each lesson. You can check out free sample lessons on line.
Each course has approximately 180 lessons and covers an entire year's math curriculum. All lessons include cumulative review. Some of the lessons allow the student to type answers in blanks provided while others call for written work from the student. Written mid-chapter and chapter tests are provided in the binder.
The typical lesson requires reading four to six sentences and answering about ten exercise problems and a few review problems. This will take about 30 minutes per day. Additional exercises are included if a lesson has to be repeated.
Unlike other math courses offered by Chalk Dust, students are not expected to work independently unless they are exceptional readers. Parents will still have to monitor and control the learning experience.
Students also have the opportunity to take the mid-term and final tests written in the standardized format called MCAT (Math Comprehensive Assessment Tests).
Math Drill Express
1 CD and student technical support - $20
Math Drill Express is a CD-ROM program for grades one through four that allows each student to learn math facts and to practice four function arithmetic. You can configure the program for: language (English or Spanish), level (1-4), answer output (flowers, baseballs, etc.), function (add, subtract, multiply, divide), and time to answer each problem.