Have you heard of Standard Deviants Accelerate? This week, the Schoolhouse Review Crew are all sharing their reviews of this online program. Standard Deviants Accelerate has Homeschool Courses on all sorts of topics, everything from AP Chemistry, to Fundamental Mathematics. For this particular review, Bug, my oldest, has been working on the Arithmetic course.
I had heard about Standard Deviants before I started this review, because last year, I had purchased some of their educational DVDs from another homeschooler. Standard Deviants is a company that takes “difficult” concepts and breaks them down into easy to understand pieces in the form of videos. The delivery method is a little quirky and fun, so they appeal to my boys, but they aren’t overly goofy or childish.
Standard Deviants Accelerate is their new, interactive, online format. Right now, there are 14 courses available:
Arithmetic – Grades 3+
Fundamental Math – Grades 4+
Earth Science – Grades 6+
Nutrition – Grades 6+
Algebra – Grades 7+
Biology – Grades 7+
Chemistry – Grades 9+
English Comp. – Grades 9+
U.S. History – Grades 9+
AP Biolody – Grades 11+
AP Chemistry – Grades 11+
AP U.S. Government & Politics – Grades 11+
AP U.S. History – Grades 11+
AP Eng. Composition – Grades 11+
For this review, we used the Arithmetic course in depth, but I did quickly poke around at some of the other courses. As far as I can tell from my experience, they are all set up in the same format (as shown below, so keep reading!)
Our Experience with Elementary Arithmetic
The Arithmetic course covers these topics:
Whole Numbers and the Number Line
Addition and Subtraction
Multiplying Whole Numbers and Word Problems
Dividing Whole Numbers
Line, Shapes and Sizes
Patterns and Graphs
Under each topic are 2-3 lessons, with an introduction and review. Each lesson follows the same format.
The videos are all 5-15 minutes long, and include both students speaking directly to your child, and graphics to help solidify concepts. Along with each video, there is a transcript available, so your student can follow along with the text. You can also print the transcript for future reference. The video contains the “meat” of the lesson.
The next portion of the lesson is the vocab page, where you child can read the definition of the important concepts from the lesson, or click on the word itself to hear the definition read aloud. You can also print this page.
This is the interactive portion of the lesson. On the diagram page, your child will click and drag pieces to complete the work.
The quiz is automatically graded for you (you click the “Throw it against the wall” button) and gives your child automatic feedback.
This page is the same for all lessons. This is also the page that I didn’t have Bug complete. The questions listed here didn’t really make sense to him as a third grader (they are phrased a bit vaguely for me!). This is one part of the program I would love to see Standard Deviants improve upon, it would be wonderful for them to write specific questions for each lesson requiring a written response, rather than asking this broad question.
Bug completed one lesson a day in this program, and has moved very quickly though the Arithmetic course. He tolerates these lessons, and does them without complaint when I ask him to, but he isn’t eager to dig in. I think much of his reluctance is that he is a “mathy” kid, and much prefers his math to be all numbers, and no words, and this program is wonderful for explaining concepts with words, rather than relying on numbers.
The videos in this course are very well done. The students featured in them speak clearly, are interesting and relateable. The graphics are interesting and help clarify concepts. The format of this course is well done, and easy for Bug to navigate independently, which I appreciate as a busy homeschool mom. I enjoyed being able to send him to complete his lesson, and even at 8 years old, he was able to follow the format and the lessons on his own.
Going into this course, I understood that it was intended to be a supplement, so I didn’t expect it to be a complete math program for the year, but I was a little surprised that this program only covers conceptual math, rather than including actual practice of the functions. For example, it helped solidify Bug’s understanding of the definition of a fraction, and helped him better understand the concrete idea of what a fraction is, but there are very few practice math problems included (some topics have none at all), only a conceptual quiz is given. This program is a very good introduction (or review) of these concepts, but as a supplement, it wasn’t a great fit for us at this time.
The parent dashboard also frustrated me a little. Luckily, Standard Deviants Accelerate has wonderful customer service, so whenever I got stuck with something, or experienced a glitch, they were quick to respond to help me figure it out. Some features are missing from this program at this time, for example, when your child signs in, there is no way for you to see where they have left off in the program, so you have to remember right where you were at and navigate to the proper lesson. The grading also isn’t very intuitive at this time, and I found it difficult to use. There is tons of potential in the back end of this program, and it doesn’t interfere with your student’s ability to use and enjoy the program, but I do hope they improve on it.
Who is this program best for?
After exploring some of the other subjects, overall, I feel like this program is best for older students using the other (non-math) courses. The history and nutrition classes (which I spent the most time checking out) are very well done, and the conceptual format is much better suited to events and factual information than it was to a math course. I feel like the limitations I described above no longer come into play with these other subjects, and I am totally bummed that Bug isn’t old enough to enjoy them at this time.
This program would be best for an older student, especially those who are visual and auditory learners. I think for a student working on AP courses, this is a fantastic resource, and I really hope you check it out.
Core Curriculum subjects (such as the Arithmetic course featured in this review) are $99 a year, or $24.95 if you’d like to pay by the month. AP courses are $14.95 a month (purchase here).
However, The neat thing about the timing of this review is that right now, Standard Deviants Accelerate actually has an amazing promotion where you can use the program for 6 months, free. This means you can get started on any of these courses (and realistically, complete some of them) for free and find out if this program is a good fit for your family without spending a dime. If you have a child hoping to take an AP test this year, or who needs a little extra support in their classes, I hope you head over to the website to check them out! (Must sign up by November 15, 2014).