Overview: Teaching Textbooks 3.0 is a solid, engaging homeschool math curriculum that may be just what you are looking for. I was given free access to the curriculum and was compensated for my time, but my opinions are sincere and were not regulated in any way.
One of the most frustrating things about my time teaching math in the public school system was that the only teaching method offered (or encouraged, frankly) was using textbooks. And not only that, but every kid had to use the same textbook. Whatever curriculum the state of Texas picked, that was the textbook that EVERY student had to learn from.
It didn’t matter that I was given the classes filled with kids who were struggling in math. They used the same textbook that the “average” and “above-average” kids did. There was no support given to find inventive ways to teach concepts or to engage the kids in ways that would transform math from boring drudgery to fun exploration. There was no individualization of curriculum, just every class doing the same thing at approximately the same time. I even got a poor performance review once for trying to do something a little more exciting while the principal was in there to evaluate me. True story.
One of the beauties of homeschooling is that it doesn’t have to be that way. You can choose a different math curriculum for each kid, based on their age or learning style or academic level. This may become more of a thing at the high school level, when learning differences may show up more, due to the highly abstract nature of the math subject matter.
So I have been on a quest to try out just about every different homeschool math curriculum out there, to examine their pros and cons, their differences and their similarities, so that you can have the information you need to pick what will work best for YOUR kid. (And for the one(s) who come after, when it’s their turn.)
Recently I had the opportunity to use a free trial of Teaching Textbooks 3.0. I have heard so much about this homeschool math curriculum over the years, and I have been SO intrigued to see what it has to offer. I must say that I think it could be the perfect fit for many teens out there. Teaching Textbooks fills a unique niche that might be just what you are looking for.
Don’t let the name fool you; this curriculum is not a dry, boring textbook. In a nutshell, Teaching Textbooks 3.0 is an animated, video-based curriculum that provides an interactive explanation of concepts, guided practice, and independent practice for each lesson. It automatically grades the student based on problems attempted for each lesson. It also has chapter tests that are likewise automatically graded.
In the past, Teaching Textbooks has been a physical text with disks only (that was version 2.0); now they have an online subscription (version 3.0). The online version works on all types of computers, tablets, and even phones! Teaching Textbooks 3.0 is what I was given to use (Algebra 2, to be exact), and it is what I’ll be talking about throughout this review.
Teaching Textbooks 3.0 Online Homeschool Math Curriculum Review:
1) The first great thing about TT 3.0 is one I always love to find — it’s hands off for mom.
Once you set it up, which is super easy (it took me less than 5 minutes), then your kid can go to town completely on their own. I’m a huge fan of independent learning and also of my time, LOL.
2) The lessons provide explanations for every problem, so your teen can understand why they got something wrong.
They can see this after each problem, so they won’t do the same wrong thing for the entire problem set and have to go back and redo it all.
This can be a common problem with textbook-based curriculum, because mom often doesn’t want the student to have the answer key while doing their work. Yet, in math it’s vital that the kid understand EACH problem before going onto the next, so they don’t perpetuate a misunderstanding and solidify it in their head—and THEN discover it’s completely wrong.
Teaching Textbooks 3.0 provides this immediate feedback naturally, so as the student progresses through the problem set, they are gaining more and more comprehension.
3) The problem sets are spiral; in other words, they include concepts from previous lessons.
I love math programs that do this. I want my kid to remember what they learned three chapters ago, don’t you?
And the best part is that each review problem indicates the lesson it was taught in, so the student can look back to re-learn anything they may have forgotten. This is great for really cementing those concepts in their little teenage brains.
4) There is no talking head.
Lectures are comprised of audio with a voice that reminds me of Owen Wilson (at least for Algebra 2, anyway!) coupled with an animated notepad that will show key sentences and also demonstrate the various problems being worked out. The student will occasionally be asked for input in order to check comprehension throughout the lecture. This helps keep them focused.
5) And hey, there is also an ebook textbook that can be used instead of the lectures, if desired.
It includes the same text as the audio and the same problem set. If your kid wants to be able to read rather than listen, or read along with the lecture, the ebook can be printed out and utilized exactly like any textbook. I like this flexibility. Textbooks aren’t always bad, after all.
6) One thing that distinguishes Teaching Textbooks 3.0 from almost any other online homeschool math curriculum is that it is colorful and engaging.
It’s definitely not boring to look at. Something is happening all the time. This will help combat the math doldrums, which we all know are very much a thing, especially with teens, hello.
The student can choose a “buddy” who will hang out on the side of the screen and occasionally say something pithy. LOL. For Algebra 2, these buddies are definitely geared towards teens. And while a typical bored, cynical high schooler may declare that their buddy is somewhat “babyish,” my guess is that secretly they will enjoy having them there for moral support.
7) The online subscription for Teaching Textbooks 3.0 is very reasonably priced.
If you’ve avoided TT 2.0 in the past because of expense, you don’t have to do that any more. The new online subscription cost ranges from around $43 per year to around $67 per year, depending on the level. That works out to just a few dollars per month. And there is a free trial for the first 15 lessons of any level, no matter how long it takes you to get through them. Pretty nice, huh? (And if you prefer, there is still the option to by the hands-on text and discs, although that remains considerably more expensive.) There is also a large family discount. Woot!! And you can pause for up to 3 months. Double woot!!
Is Teaching Textbooks 3.0 as good a homeschool math curriculum as others out there?
One question that seems to come up about Teaching Textbooks (whether 2.0 or 3.0) , especially at the high school level, is the difficulty of the work. Some have stated that TT isn’t as rigorous as other math programs.
To be honest, I think rigor in math has gone down all across the board, no matter what curriculum you are looking at. I personally think that’s a measure of our priorities in society today. Just look at most Geometry curricula and notice how few proofs are required, compared to when you and I took the course, and you’ll see what I mean.
I personally am not convinced that TT 3.0 is any worse than others in this regard. While rigor might be a legitimate concern if your kid is going into science or technology in college, I think the average high school student will have a solid grasp of most Algebra 2 concepts by the time they have finished this course.
Also, a quick glance comparing topics covered shows the same topics in the Teaching Textbooks 3.0 Algebra 2 curriculum as in the Lial Intermediate Algebra book that my older kids used for Algebra 2. That one is actually a community college text, so I’m feeling like TT must not be that far off. Just sayin’.
Besides, when it comes to being prepared for standardized tests, I think it’s more important that the kid learns WELL the stuff they’ve got, rather than learning only so-so a whole bunch more. Ya know?
Reviews from others:
Here is some feedback from real moms who have used Teaching Textbooks (both versions):
“We have used Teaching Textbooks on and off again for many years. All in all, it is a win for us, but not for every kid. I have one who really struggles in math, like her mama; I have found TT to be a good resource to help her feel more confident.”
“Upper level math is not a matter of getting the right answer but learning how to get the right answer. In this fashion, we used TT (I have the old version—no online, no self grading). They would work through a concept, work through problems, and check answers. When they had trouble, they would work through the problem on the CD-Rom and learn from the example. Then they would continue to work through problems. It was like having a teacher sitting alongside them. They could look up the problem and work through it step by step. I”ve been happy with our experience with TT.”
“Last year was our first year using Teaching Textbooks (we use the online version). The oldest does well doing math independently, but she doesn’t want something super rigorous—just sufficient to prep for success with college algebra. She can learn from a math book, but she needs feedback as she goes or she will do entire lessons incorrectly. She does not want to do math near me and check every few problems, so Teaching Textbooks works perfectly for her. She has asked to use it for pre-calc this year. My middle child struggles with math; she always has. This was her second pass at pre-algebra, and she is much more confident this time. The explanations are good enough that she understands the concepts, and there is plenty of review (which is vital for her). She has also asked to continue with Teaching Textbooks for algebra this year. My 6th grader found Teaching Textbooks almost too easy, and sometimes the concepts weren’t explored deeply enough for him. He would *know* they were holding back, and it would frustrate him. He needs something a bit more rigorous, but everything else is so much more expensive that I honestly don’t know if I can afford to switch him.”
Hey, wait just a quick minute. For that last mom who said her youngest thought it was “too easy”—I wonder if she knows that there is a placement test to take to determine which level is best for your kid. They don’t have to start on the the one that matches their grade level. Find out exactly which one they need by doing the placement test first, which you can find here: Teaching Textbooks 3.0 Placement Test.
The longer I homeschool and speak with others who homeschool, the more I come to realize that different kids truly do learn differently. I know, not exactly new news, right? But I do think it’s easy to forget that not all of our kids will thrive with the same methods or curriculum. As these moms have said, TT may not work for EVERY kid, but I think it will work for many of them. It’s solid math presented in an engaging way.