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Math-U-See PreCalculus Review by Dr. Anne Margaret WrightSteve Demme
P.O. Box 8888
Lancaster, PA 17604
Every once in a while the right curriculum comes to our attention at just the right time! My husband and son were struggling through a calculus course and not really understanding much of the material, which had both of them frustrated. They were very excited to see the Math-U-See PreCalculus course arrive for review. The course covers trigonometry and other topics that will be helpful in preparing for calculus, and assumes mastery of geometry and algebra 2. See http://www.mathusee.com/default.php?cPath=23 for a complete list of topics covered in this course. Even though our son has just finished a trigonometry course, we decided to back off calculus and work through these materials first to see if it helped. Math-U-See offers a Calculus course which is currently only available online however it is slated for printing and should be available this fall (2010).
The PreCalculus course consists of a Teacher's Kit (which contains the Teacher Manual, Solutions Manual, and DVD for $70) and a Student Kit (which contains the Student Text and the Test Booklet for $30). There are three steps for each new lesson. First, the teacher prepares for the lesson by watching that section on the DVD and reviewing the materials in the Teacher Manual. Second, the student and teacher watch the video and read the lesson; then they do the practice problems together until the student understands the material. Third, the student works through the pages in the Student Text until he has demonstrated mastery of the material (when he can teach the material back to you) and then takes a test before moving on to the next concept. The Student Text begins each section with a review of the topic just covered, including some sample problems, followed by a couple of practice problems, including complete solutions. Then there are several sets of problems for the student to solve. The Solutions Manual includes the steps necessary to solve each problem, the answer, and various graphs and other helps. The Test Booklet has tests for each of the lessons with both traditional problems and multiple-choice questions to help prepare the student for standardized tests.
We found the DVD to be the core of the program, as the video lessons really helped our son (and my husband) understand the material. Mr. Demme gives each lecture in front of a small class of students, which makes the format more interesting. He has an engaging personality and shows a love for the material and for teaching. He seems to really enjoy watching the kids "get" the concept. We were impressed with the creative ways he used to present the material to make it more understandable. We also really liked the emphasis on mastery; if you can't apply the material, you haven't really learned it. The various books are not overly interesting in and of themselves, but together with the video they make a nice, comprehensive course. Overall, we were very excited about the Math-U-See PreCalculus course and recommend it heartily for any student needing to cover trigonometry and precalculus. Our only question is where is the Chemistry-U-See or the Latin-U-See?