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Uncle Dan's Algebra I Review by Kris Price

Daniel Suttin
HomeSpun for HomeSchoolers
PO Box 33274
San Antonio, TX 78265

My oldest child is in pre-Algebra at the moment, and math is definitely getting harder for her! Although I am good at math, I have considered purchasing a video course so that my children have the chance to review again and again a concept that they are just not comprehending. By being able to "rewind and review," they can spend as much time as they need on a concept until they understand it completely. My son, who has ADHD/Asperger's, thrives on video programs. In Uncle Dan's Algebra I, the author speaks clearly and slowly during his lessons, allowing the child to comprehend what is being said as the lesson is being taught. The DVDs that I received are not fancy--the author burns and labels his own DVDs. I'm sure that this allows him to keep his cost down since he is not paying a "professional" to market the product. Personally, this is NOT a negative thing for me. I honestly do not care how a product is packaged if it gets the job done!

The 12 DVDs contain two hours of teaching per DVD--that's 24 hours of video instruction. It doesn't seem like a lot, but it really is. The great thing is that a child can watch a lesson and, if it is review for him, just move on and watch the next lesson. Here are the topics covered in this program:

  • Basic operations and solving equations
  • Solving word problems with algebra
  • Coordinate geometry and systems of equations
  • Polynomials
  • Fractions
  • Radicals and roots
  • More on quadratic equations
  • Inequalities
  • Supplementary topics (square roots, decimals, fractions, scientific notation, distance formula

Uncle Dan tells the student when to stop and work on some practice problems that are in the printable workbook. Anyone can request the 192-page workbook just by emailing the purchase necessary! The workbook, once printed out, has plenty of room to work each problem on the page. No separate notebook is necessary. While watching the DVDs, the student is also told when to take a quiz or test from the workbook. Obviously, this means the older child can basically go through the program on his own without relying too much on needing parental supervision.

The workbook is in Adobe Acrobat. Upon looking at the Table of Contents, one has only to click on the chapter they wish to review or are currently working on and they will be taken directly to that page. No scrolling or page-by-page clicking needed--just point, click, and go! The CD with the workbook also contains the complete solution key, which shows each problem worked out step-by-step. It is not just a listing of the final answers, but the student can see the problem being worked out. This is very important for a family that is not strong in teaching math. Any student can look over the steps and see what it takes to solve a problem. The CD also contains a few corrections for the DVD and workbook in the Welcome letter.

Overall, I like this program. When reviewing a product, I try to find things that need improving, because no curriculum is perfect. However, I honestly can't find many "problems" with this product. Now, there are three video Algebra programs that come to mind--Math-U-See (MUS), Teaching Textbooks (TT), and Videotext Algebra. The last two are more expensive than Uncle Dan's Algebra I, which costs $109 including shipping. I've never seen Videotext, but I do have TT here for comparison. I love the simplicity of Uncle Dan's Algebra compared to TT--that HUGE spiral-bound textbook scares my pre-Algebra daughter! However, in looking over the workbook for Uncle Dan's Algebra, she felt confident that she could learn the material. Trust me, I'm all for simple, especially when it comes to teaching my ADHD/Asperger's son. Programs that explain concepts clearly and simply work best for him.

If you are looking for a good video Algebra program, definitely take a look at Uncle Dan's Algebra I. Remember, you can request the workbook FREE by emailing the author. If you decide you like what you see, then you can order the program to use with your family!

Product review by Kris Price, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October 2006