Friday, January 28, 2011


Have you ever dreamed of a source for math assistance 24/7? A way to have homework and tests automatically scored? How about step-by-step solutions for incorrect answers? Sound like math for some distant future?

Well, TenMarks has brought the future to you! This online supplemental math program covers 300 core math skills and is correlated with state standards. Targeted audience is grade 3 through 10 (up through Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry). Here's a great introduction from TenMarks themselves:

So what makes this program different from other online math programs?

  • Based on an initial assessment, a personalized program is created specifically for your child
  • Progress reports provided via e-mail

  • Rearrange the playlist of math topics for any given student
  • Pause the program when you are out of town or on a school break
  • Set up rewards for completed work (you pick the reward and the frequency)
  • Speed up or slow down the number of assigned worksheets based on your student's performance
  • Add content to the student's "playlist" (from any level in the program) that may have been forgotten or previously missed altogether
  • Worksheets are automatically assigned (notification received by e-mail)
  • Worksheets scored immediately with option for student to make a second attempt to answer
  • Test scored automatically
  • Student can view solutions worked out step by step
  • Student is notified when a customized reward has been earned
  • Students unlock new games when a certain number of worksheets have been completed
The program in action
When you first sign up, your student will be given an assessment to determine a personalized program. Students are then sent an e-mail alerting them to their first 4 assigned worksheets (due in one week). If they are not completed by the deadline, no worries, they can still be completed. Students won't get new worksheets assigned until the current ones are done. If the student is working at a faster pace, they can choose to receive assignments ahead of schedule.

For any given question, the student can request a hint and/or watch the video lesson explaining the particular concept. As students complete worksheets, TenMarks evaluates the "concept strength" of their progress. If they consistently use hints, their concept strength will be lower and they will be assigned a "do-over" worksheet (watching the video instruction does not diminish concept strength).

For the videos, students view a white board with problems being demonstrated and explained by an instructor (person not shown). To the left of the white board, students can read a typed version of what is being taught (helpful for times when handwriting may be a tad hard to read). Videos can be paused or replayed as often as needed [psssst....sometimes the question on the worksheet is worked out on the video]. Progress on a worksheet is saved in case a student's session is interrupted (bathroom break, snack break, break from a break, etc.). They can resume where they left off at any time.

Each worksheet consists of 10 questions and is scored automatically after completion. Students are given the chance to go back and try to answer the incorrect ones a second time. If answers are all correct after the second attempt, their final score will show 10/10. If the student is not able to get answers correct after a second try, then they can view the steps for the correct solution.

Tests are assigned as they progress through the material. There's a "Tests" tab at the top of the student screen where they can access the assigned tests. One small suggestion would be to have the student prompted to take an assigned test. My students usually had to be reminded by me to check the test page.

What my students thought
My 15 year old had some difficulty with the speaker's accent on the videos. I sat with him through the first few videos to help "translate." After several videos, he did grow accustomed to the teacher. At one point in his progress in Algebra 2 he got hung up on a concept. I realized later that I could have rearranged his playlist to move on to some other concept and then returned to the problematic section later.

This student wasn't motivated by the games that served as "rewards." [Teacher aside: I personally tried the first game myself and it drove me batty because you had to restart at level 1 every time you failed a level...thankfully more games are added as students progress so hopefully they'll find one they enjoy]. His overall assessment? In his own words, "It was an interesting feature to have it correct your worksheet for you and be given a second chance to correct your mistake before receiving a final grade." Overall, he thought it was a pretty neat program that did make math more interesting for him.

My 12 year old really took off with this program. He was extremely motivated to get his worksheets done and he enjoyed playing the games that were unlocked as he progressed (some were familiar to him). He was really excited when he realized I had added in a "custom" reward of some additional time on a favorite computer game after completing his next set of 4 worksheets. Unlike his brother, this son was not all bothered by the teacher's accent. He got so used to it, in fact, that he had a bit of difficulty adjusting to a new instructor partway through the lessons. After completing several sets of worksheets (where his concept strength was not as strong), I told him that using all of the hints was affecting his score. After that, he spent more time watching the video lesson (something he should have done in the first place!). This particular student usually accepted the score given and was not inclined to go back to try to correct mistakes. I appreciated being able to look back over his worksheets and tests and see which ones he had gotten wrong. I could then also walk him through the solutions that TenMarks had worked out step-by-step.

Try for yourself
Take some time to look over the TenMarks website and judge for yourself. Free trials are available for:
After the trial, if you decide this is a good fit for your family, you can subscribe for $10 a month. That wouldn't even cover one hour of tutoring in most cities! If your student needs a boost in math (or happens to love math and wants to cruise faster than normal), $10 is a very reasonable price for all that this product delivers. For an even better deal, sign up for an extended subscription--6 months is $49 and a year's subscription is $89 (per student).

The Final Score
It's probably no surprise that we would score this program 10 out of 10--what else?!? Be sure and read what fellow TOS Homeschool Crew bloggers thought of this program. And check out testimonials from satisfied buyers. Perhaps you'll want to share your success story once you've given it a try as well :o)

Contact Information
Address: 38 Glen Avenue, Newton, MA 02459
Subscription cost per student: $10/month; $49/6 month; $89/12 month

Disclaimer: TenMarks provided me a free trial subscription for the purpose of reviewing and blogging about my family's experience. No other compensation was received.

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