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Discover the Basics: Squares, Roots, & Exponents Review by Stacy Kalisz

Jeff Simpson
Mastery Learning Systems
532 North School Street
Ukiah, CA 954582
800-533-4181
http://www.masterylearningsystems.com/

Discover the Basics: Squares, Roots, & Exponents helps children understand what squares, roots, and exponents are and how to add, subtract, multiply, divide, and factor with them. Intended for fifth grade and above, this curriculum assumes the student has already mastered basic multiplication and division.

Discover the Basics: Squares, Roots, & Exponents has a comprehensive introduction that clearly explains how to use the program and provides a number of teaching tips (including how to talk to the student when they make a mistake). There is also a pre-test, post-test, and answer section. Lessons begin by introducing basic concepts, such as defining and picturing squares and roots. From there, students move at a fairly slow pace, allowing them to gain a thorough understanding of each concept.

This curriculum covers more than just the basics; besides adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, and factoring with squares, roots, and exponents, it includes instruction for using squares and roots with decimals and irrational numbers, and it even delves into the world of negative exponents. The text explains how to find the area of a circle and the length of a hypotenuse as well. Children also develop fluency with their addition and subtraction facts by going through these lessons. The more difficult basic division facts are reviewed too.

Discover the Basics: Squares, Roots, & Exponents could be used in a classroom, homeschool, or private tutoring setting. It is excellent for first-time instruction and would also be very helpful as remedial work. I feel a 10 or 11-year-old could use it independently with a little help now and then. The text is basic black and white. No colorful, glossy paper here. There are pictures throughout, but they are not distracting. Instead, they actually help make sense of the definitions. Real-life applications are used frequently, making math seem so much more reasonable. Often these real-life applications and pictures combine to make one great explanation or practice tool. For example, a diagram of a twins' family tree is used to picture different exponent problems.

I like this curriculum and find it very easy to understand. It is not just a textbook full of sums and problems. Discover the Basics teaches why as well as how in a unique way; it guides the child along and allows him to discover the answer himself. If your student goes through the text as instructed, he will know his math facts and be able to use them quickly.

It is important to note that there are no set lesson plans. Students are encouraged to do some new work and review previous pages for a total of 20 to 30 minutes each day.

In conclusion, Discover the Basics: Squares, Roots, & Exponents is a comprehensive text that gives children a firm foundation in this subject. Easy-to-understand explanations and lots of practice ensure that those who complete the lessons will truly understand how to recognize and use squares, roots, and exponents.

Product review by Stacy Kalisz, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2011

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