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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Demme Learning's Math-U-See Digital Packs

Demme Learning Math U See Review
I am a big fan of Demme Learning's Math-U- See, a mastery based, hands on, student paced math curriculum.  I have used Math-U-See for years in my homeschool. It truly is my favorite math curriculum and one that we will stick with until they all graduate.  I currently have children in the Alpha, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, and Algebra 1 levels.  For this review we were given an opportunity to try out the new Digital Packs.
Demme Learning Math U See Review
My review will be focusing on the Alpha Digital Pack.
Demme Learning Math U See Review
The Alpha Digital Pack($38)  includes 12 month streaming access to:

Instruction Videos
Instruction Manual PDFs
Lesson Solutions
Test Solutions
Skip Count Songs (MP3)
Songbook PDF
Math U See Digital Manipulatives

The Alpha Digital Pack does not include the Student Workbook or Tests.  These are a necessary component to the program.

To access the Digital Pack after purchase you need to go to the Math-U-See store and log in.  From your account page you go to View Digital Packs.  From there you can select a level from your purchased digital packs.  You can then select your lesson and the correct video, lesson summary, lesson solutions, and test solutions appear for that lesson.  The instruction videos are the same ones you will find on the Math-U-See DVDs. 

You can also access the digital manipulatives in either Chrome or Safari.  On a computer it is a simple click and drag to get the blocks you want onto the screen.  A trash can at the top removes them when you are finished.  On a tablet you just pick them up with your finger and slide them where you want them to go.  You can turn them sideways or even stack blocks on top of each other.

My 6 year old daughter is using the Alpha Level of Math-U-See.  For our review I had her watch the instruction videos on the iPad.  She also used the online manipulatives instead of the physical ones we usually use.  We downloaded the Skip Count Songbook and listened to the MP3's of the Skip Count Songs.  

One of the biggest pluses to the digital pack is the portability.  You can view the instruction videos on any electronic device you own.  We chose to use an iPad, but it would also work on other tablets, computer, or even your phone.  Instead of needing to go to the family room and wait in line for the TV, Lily could watch her video right from the desk she was working at in the school room. The lesson instruction videos are short and even with out slow internet we did not have any trouble streaming the videos.  The digital manipulatives allow you to use those anywhere as well, which is especially helpful for people that need to do school on the go.  Lily enjoyed using the digital version of the manipulatives.  She called it her Math-U-See game. Having the videos, instruction manual, and solutions pages all in one place is also very handy for the teacher. 

Because the digital packs are accessed online, you do need to have internet access to use them.  Our tablets do not have built in internet so if we were trying to do school on the go, it would have to be on a phone.  The manipulatives also need to have internet access to work because they are used in a web browser not an app.  The skip count songs are an MP3, and I was able to download those to the computer but not our tablet so I needed an internet connection to stream those on the tablet. I would like to see those separated by track so you can find the ones you need to work on easily.  It is one constant file instead of smaller separated ones and if you want to skip ahead instead of listening to the whole thing you have to try and skip forward to find your place. 

For someone who is brand new to Math-U-See, the Universal Sets that include the Digital Packs are a great deal and gives you the best of both worlds.  You receive the physical products and also have access to the Digital Pack for a year.  For someone who only has one child that is using Math-U-See, purchasing the Digital Pack, along with the Student Pack may be a good option as it is a little less expensive than purchasing the physical teacher pack and it gives you the portability. The Digital Packs would also benefit families who have to do a lot of school on the go or for those who travel a lot. For families like mine though who have been using Math-U-See for many years, already own all the levels, have several children using the program, do not do a lot of school on the go, and prefers the physical manipulatives, it is not a very economical purchase.  The biggest way a digital product would benefit a family like mine would be if at some point Math-U-See offers the Student Pack as a digital download as well.  I would love to see that!

Members of The Crew reviewed all of the levels of the Math-U-See Digital Packs and some reviewed the Universal Sets as well.  To see what my Crew Mates had to say, stop by the Crew Blog.
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