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Algebra 1 - Kinetic Books Review by Christina Field

Kinetic Books
2003 Western Avenue Suite 100
Seattle, WA 98121

Choosing materials for higher-level math and science courses can be quite intimidating for homeschoolers. Each year, more and more resources are available to assist them. Kinetic Books offers thorough software/online courses in Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Algebra 2 and Geometry. There is also a physics course with lab. I had fun exploring the Algebra 1 course. 

The lessons are presented in a variety of formats. Let me explain. For each of the 136 lessons, there are several sections to explore. In some, the teacher, Mr. K., gives video instruction on screen. If every part of the course was this talking-head approach, I'm sure the student would become weary, but the course really switches up the presentations. One section might begin with Mr. K. and then switch to detailed problems worked out on the whiteboard. On the left side of the screen, sections of the lesson are indexed so that the student can go to a previous section or switch them around. Sections are interspersed with Quick Checks, where the teacher works a few problems on the whiteboard. There is a nice assortment of text, whiteboard interaction, and traditional quizzing in each instruction module. 

For each section, you can click on TEXT and the screen goes to a printed text but with a varied presentation. The text is interspersed with problems for the student to work, and students can click on "Listen to Explanation" to hear and see Mr. K. work through the problem. Other problem sections have quiz-like questions that enable you to click to see the steps or click HELP. One very neat feature is a box in the upper right screen where the student can make, save, and print notes. There is also a highlighting feature to use in the text portions. This makes personalizing the text simultaneously high-tech and old school. 

Topics range from an introduction to algebra to quadratic equations. It is suggested that students take 1-2 hours to complete each of the 136 lessons. There are 26 quizzes and 13 tests, which are tracked online by the program. The student can watch literally thousands of problems solved for demonstration. These programs have been adopted as the primary texts for the states of Arkansas and Utah. 

Video presentation of complex math concepts can get dreadfully dull. The mixture of presentation styles in Kinetic Books takes this method of instruction to a higher level. 

Product review by Christine Field, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November 2010