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The Math Video Tutor: Fractions Thru Algebra! Review by Donna Campos

Jason Gibson
Math Video Tutor
PO Box 1165
Seabrook, TX 77586

Fractions Thru Algebra! from the Math Video Tutor is a ten-hour DVD course presented by Jason Gibson. The course covers the number line, integers, properties of real numbers, fractions, exponents, simplifying expressions, solving equations, factoring, solving inequalities, polynomials, and more. The 21 separate sections on the DVD can be viewed in order or by specific topic. Mr. Gibson works hundreds of example problems on a write on/wipe off board, narrating the step-by-step process for each. The DVD stands alone; there is no additional workbook or written material. However, students will need paper and pencil to work problems and take notes.

The company website states the philosophy behind this course: "Algebra is Easy!" The program begins with basic definitions and explanations of symbols and then moves on to algebraic material. Jason Gibson is the "tutor" throughout the program; usually the viewer sees only his hands working the problems on the write on/wipe off board. He continues through the sections, pausing only to wipe off the board after each example. The program feels very much like having a tutor right in the room with you, with the advantage of stopping the DVD whenever the student desires. The student gains confidence as each new concept builds on the previous ones. Ideal for homeschoolers, the course allows a student to work as quickly or as slowly as desired.

We found this program to be more than adequate for Algebra basics and enjoyed the direct teaching style. Mr. Gibson sometimes offers "tricks" to help the student complete problems more quickly, and he often presents several different ways to reach the answer. I was a straight "A" student in Algebra, and yet I had several "Aha" moments while watching this program, things I wish someone had pointed out to me when I was learning Algebra. I am thrilled to have this program for my children.

The professionalism of the program could be improved; we caught spelling errors and a few math errors along the way. We heard a low buzzing noise in several of the sections toward the end. It is obvious that the program is not scripted; there are times that Mr. Gibson catches his errors and stops to correct himself, just as any tutor would if he were sitting in your living room. One helpful addition to the program would be access to the problems in a printable format. This would enable the parent to quiz the student beforehand and find specific areas that need to be improved upon. The student could then watch the step-by-step process for any problems he missed.

We found this course to be a must-have for anyone who wants to learn the basic skills of Algebra. The program could be used to help a struggling student, or it could be used as a brush-up course for a student preparing to take the SAT or ACT. It could also be used as a refresher for parents preparing to teach Algebra. One benefit of having no consumable materials is that the program can be used by multiple students without additional expense. We recommend the Fractions Thru Algebra DVD for any homeschooled student on the middle or high school level.

Product review by Donna Campos, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2007