Monday, July 9, 2012

Professor B (Schoolhouse Review)

Professor B is a unique math program that claims to cover 3 years of content in only one year. Many students who have used Professor B have made huge gains in their standardized test scores. The focus is on teaching children to understand concepts instead of simply memorizing the steps needed to “find the answer.” Every lessons aims to “develop mental programs for processing the operations on whole numbers, decimals, and fractions.” The result is second graders mastering long division to 5th and 6th graders mastering algebra.

Professor B curriculum is sold as either books or an e-learning curriculum. We tried out the e-learning curriculum.

Although I found the informational portion of the website a bit awkward to navigate, the e-learning program was easy to use. It’s a bit different from other online programs that I’ve used. The lessons are presented in a power-point type format. I stayed with Emily as she worked through the lessons, making sure that she understood each example and that she was working out problems as assigned. There is no audio in the slides, so the script must be read aloud by the teacher or the student. Although it is an online program, it is actually a fairly low-tech product.

We used Instant Master Teacher Level III, which is intended for 6th through 8th grades and remediation of older learners. The concepts taught in Level 3 include: comparing fractions, multiplying and dividing with fractions, place value, computation of decimals, equivalent fractions, transforming percentages to fractions and decimals and vice versa, and rounding.

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Emily had actually covered all of these topics in the 6th grade curriculum she used last year. Notably missing from Professor B is any instruction of geometry, measurement, or graphs and charts, —concepts Emily also studied in the 5th and 6th grades.  Because of this, I would not recommend it as the only math program used.

I  liked the way concepts were taught. Operations are explained in multiple ways, using diagrams. The slides usually ask questions about each incremental step of the operation for the student to answer before advancing to the next slide. This ensures that the student is paying attention and actually comprehending the material. I feel confident that a student using this program would understand the “why’s” rather than just memorizing procedures. A pdf workbook is also included as part of the program for additional practice. Students are expected to keep reviewing previous lessons using the workbook pages to ensure complete mastery.

Professor B is very teacher intensive, though, because I needed to be there as Emily moved through each of the steps. Although everything was clearly explained by “Professor B,” moving through each concept was a fairly lengthy process—more so than using our regular textbook. This isn’t a bad thing, but something to take note of if you prefer a more independent approach or expect the program to “teach” your child.

In summary, I think Professor B does a very good job of teaching the math topics that it covers and the workbooks provide a good cumulative review so that children don’t forget what they’ve been taught. However, many important mathematical topics are not included, and would need to be supplemented. It is also very teacher-intensive and my child didn’t enjoy using the program, so it wasn’t a good fit for us.

A Professor B e-learning subscription costs $20 a month for the first level. Discounts are available for multiple levels. The 3 levels of the Instant Master Teacher Program cover Pre-K through 8th grade levels.

Please visit the Schoolhouse Review Blog to read more reviews of Professor B.

3/5 stars StarStarStar

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a free e-learning subscription to Professor B in order to write this review. All opinions are my own.

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