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Bridge to Algebra Review by Christy Sensenig

Carnegie Learning, Inc.
437 Grant St., Frick Building, 20th Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
888-851-7094
http://www.carnegielearning.com

Bridge to Algebra is, according to its own introduction, "a blended curriculum in which the software component and the text components compliment [sic] one another. Your student will spend about 40% of class instructional time using computer-based tutorials and 60% using the Student Text to collaborate with peers and work with his or her teacher." Included in the curriculum is the student text, student assignments, homework helper and software. 

The tracking portion of the software is a bit complex for home use. It is definitely geared toward a setting where there are multiple teachers and multiple students in multiple courses and sections. However, it does allow the teacher to view some very specific information about the student's mastery of various concepts. 

The student portion of the software requires a bit of knowledge about how software like this functions. I found myself frustrated on a number of occasions as I tried to work through some of the problems. The program isn't very intuitive, so I often didn't know where to click or what key to hit. 

Another thing that might bother some homeschool teachers is that when a student requests a hint, he or she is able to access a series of hints for that problem, and the last hint always has the answer clearly stated in it. Some may not like how soon the software gives the answer to the student. However, the teacher can log in and see how many hints the student has requested, on average, per problem. And requesting hints does appear to be taken into consideration when calculating a student's "mastery" of a particular area. 

The major drawback to this curriculum is that installing the software required a serial number that could only be obtained by registering with Carnegie Learning's website. When I tried to register on my own, I received a reply email from their Help Desk informing me that we could not register because we are not part of a school that has a "valid SchoolCare license." Unless you have this code to access the software, you will not be able to use a major portion of the curriculum. Since, as stated before, the software accounts for 40% of the total curriculum, it is essential. We were eventually given a serial number for purposes of this review. 

I used the Student Text with our 14-year-old son. The problems given in this textbook do cover the concepts thoroughly. However, the curriculum assumes that students are learning and working in groups of their peers. Instructions often mention forming a group or working with a partner. While these types of instructions can usually be overlooked or modified by a homeschool teacher, it is obvious that this curriculum was not designed with the homeschooler in mind. 

Although this curriculum appears to be very well-researched and very thorough in its approach, I am reluctant to recommend it for homeschoolers because of the issues mentioned. 

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