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Light Speed Math: Measurements & Proportions Review by Melissa Theberge

Light Speed Video Learning
1661 Tennessee St. Suite 3-D
San Francisco, CA 94107

Need a math supplement? How about in the form of an entertaining DVD? Light Speed Math may be the solution. With young people teaching the lessons, the instructional segments are lively, informative, brief, and youthful, which connects with the middle school-age target group quite well. The two-disc set includes instructional video segments and a digital workbook for printing, and it's all packaged in a brightly decorated, durable plastic case. This is not a stand-alone math program, but rather could be used as an introduction to a math concept, a review or even as a reinforcement tool.

The first disc in the Measurements & Proportions set covers eight math topics in less than half an hour: measurement, standards of measurement, perimeter, area, solid figures, ratios, ratios and proportions, and rates. Each video segment covers one of these topics fairly briefly. The live student tutorial segments incorporate graphic explanations, easy-to-read type, and bold drawings. The drawings become highlighted as the instructor speaks, enabling the viewer to pinpoint what part of the diagram is being referenced in the lesson. The teaching voices change regularly, as different young people are used to present the lessons. The mix of male and female speakers helps to keep the interest of young viewers. The modern look of the backdrop set, the student teachers, the graphics, and even the sounds keep the feel of this video lighthearted, making math entertaining and practical--and helping to convince viewers of the same.

For a touch of humor, comical animated drawings are sometimes used to enhance lessons. Other segments show brief humorous vignettes about Hiro, a competitive hotdog eater. There are also examples aimed at relevance to typical classroom students. For instance, one of the ratio lessons uses number of students on a school bus or in a classroom, which is less relevant to a homeschooling family, but even so, the example is worked out completely and purposefully.

The second disc in the set includes a 25-page PDF document that contains handouts for reference, several pages of activities, worksheet pages, and quiz pages. Answers for all worksheets are included as well. The first page of the document suggests having the handouts available while viewing the segments on the first disc to enable student learning. Activity pages that follow offer opportunities to apply learning to a mini project. In this case, the activity involves several pages of word problems comparing customary English units versus metric measurement units. The student is then asked to determine which method was easier and to make other judgments about the two methods. Another activity involves a twist on the traditional children's game of rock-paper-scissors; it helps kids quickly judge measurement and shape of various objects. Next, a three-page worksheet packet provides grocery store math calculations to help hone cost-per-unit calculation skills and budget keeping. Finally, a three-page quiz is available for assessment purposes.

While I find the video portions of this program to be well developed, I am a bit perplexed by the second disc of printable documents. I feel the activities and worksheets could have been more varied rather than three or four page documents focusing on one type of activity repeatedly. After enjoying the videos so thoroughly, I found the second disc disappointing. The activities provided are not problematic themselves; there is just not enough variety provided to match the depth of teaching in the videos.

Light Speed Math's Measurement and Proportions video proved engaging and helpful as a supplement and review for our middle-school-age child, and this alone makes it worthy of my recommendation. Other visual learners would likely benefit from it as well. While the second disc of printable helps was disappointing, we are finding ways to adapt to this. I'm sure others could too.

Product review by Melissa Theberge, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April 2010