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The Assistant Professor: Decimals to be Exact, Part 1 (DVD) The Assistant Professor: Fractions and All Their Parts, Part 1 (DVD) Review by Cindy West

Allied Video Corporation
PO Box 702618
Tulsa, OK 74170

The Assistant Professor Math DVDs are a series of cartoon-like lessons on such topics as fractions, decimals, angles, area, subtraction, and more. I had the pleasure of reviewing Decimals to be Exact, Part 1 and Fractions and All Their Parts, Part 1. Both DVDs are approximately 20 minutes in length and contain three different teaching lessons. The colorful graphics that go along with each lesson are smooth moving and slow going. That's a good thing! In other words, there aren't a lot of flashy extras or fast-moving animation to distract your children from the task of learning. Clear explanations are given, and the graphics remain on the screen long enough for your child to soak in the concepts. 

Humorous animal characters are used to demonstrate many of the concepts. During most of the lessons, a narrator is speaking while the animals or other graphics are on screen. The DVDs are nothing fancy, but the math concepts are taught quite well. Both DVDs are recommended for children 4th grade or higher, but my experience with them leads me to make a recommendation of 2nd grade or higher. 

In Decimals to be Exact, Part 1, the three lessons include why we need to be exact in measurements, the function of the decimal point, and decimals through thousandths. Dr. Kingsley, who is a dog, helps Denise understand the purpose and function of decimals. He uses lots of real-life examples to explain how decimals help us to be more exact. For instance, two insects finish a race at almost the exact same time. Looking at a stopwatch to determine the finish times (using decimals) helps the judges determine the correct winner. Other real-life examples that prove the importance of decimals include knowing exact amount and prices at the grocery and finding exact measurement of feet for properly fitted shoes. After each lesson, Dr. Kingsley asks Denise to review what she's learned, which makes for a nice review for the audience too. 

In Fractions and All Their Parts, Part 1, there is a little less of a story line. This DVD is more of a narrator and on-screen illustration lesson, but I still felt like the lessons were engaging. The topics covered include understanding fractional parts, naming fractions and their parts, and finding fractions of a number. By the third lesson, demonstrations of fractions such as 2/3 of 12 are being taught. 

Although cute and colorful, these DVDs are still math lessons. That's good, because the entire reason to buy them would be to teach a math concept! I doubt your children will beg to watch them over and over again. At the same time, I wouldn't expect them to whine about watching them either. Solid teaching is presented in an interesting manner. For children struggling with a certain concept or needing an explanation in a more visual way, these DVDs are perfect. At nearly $35.00 per DVD, though, I'm not sure I would buy them for my personal use unless there was an extreme need. They were originally produced for the classroom setting, where it makes more sense to spend that kind of money on something that could be used many times by many teachers. 

The only content complaint I have, and it's probably just me being picky, is the use of the word "and" when teaching decimals. The DVD teacher stresses the use of the word "and" when talking about a decimal point. This is exactly what children should do. However, when saying a whole number like 128, they say "one-hundred and twenty-eight." (The correct way to say 128 is "one-hundred twenty-eight.") I normally wouldn't even mention this, except it struck me that using "and" in a whole number AND when talking about a decimal could be confusing for a struggling child. See, I told you I'm probably just being picky. Enjoy the DVDs with your children! 

Product review by Cindy West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December 2009