Review: Thinkwell Honors 8th Grade Math

I have been eyeing Thinkwell for a couple of years already, but never seriously considered it due to budget constraints. I was thrilled to be chosen to review one of their 6th to 8th Grade Math courses.

After taking the placement test, Raine (12yo, 7th grade) qualified for the Honors 8th Grade Math course. It has 21 more topics and 64 more videos than the regular 8th Grade Math course, and is faster-paced. As with all the Thinkwell courses, Honors 8th Grade Math is a complete curriculum that is taught via online videos, worksheets and quizzes. The quizzes and exercises are automatically graded and tracked (yay!). There are also printable notes, video transcripts, worksheets, and answer keys for most of the lessons. You can also print out the quizzes and tests (which is recommended).

Raine works on her Thinkwell course both online on her Kindle Fire and on printed worksheets. She also uses a whiteboard to solve problems.

I was happy that Raine could easily access her course on her Kindle Fire (not all online courses work well on Kindle Fires). She logs in to her account, and goes to the Chapter Checklist. This screen shows her what lessons she's already completed, and which components (video, notes, exercises, and worksheets) she hasn't gone through yet.

Course Checklist can be accessed from the menu on the left side of the screen

I also printed out the lesson plan so she can check off what she's done, and I can check where she's at without having to go online.

The lesson plan has a suggested pace. We are going slower than recommended pace at the moment. And Raine keeps forgetting to update this printed version.

However, since Raine keeps forgetting to update the printed lesson plan, I check her progress online. One thing I find puzzling about Thinkwell is that it doesn't have a parent's dashboard where I can track Raine's progress. From my account, I click on the course, and I am led to Raine's student account. I can actually take her quizzes and do her lessons for her! It would have been much better if there were a separate dashboard with a summary of Raine's activities and scores, so I don't have to click through the course to see how she did in her exercises and quizzes, and if there are any lessons she's missed.

The dashboard of the student account

But that minor issue aside, we like Thinkwell. We've been looking for a Math curriculum that would work well with Raine, and that I would be able to monitor easily. Thinkwell's Honors 8th Grade Math is the first online one we've tried, and it's working out quite well. She thinks that the instructor, Professor Edward Burger, can sometimes be corny, but I hear her snickering often.

The very entertaining Professor Burger can keep Raine engrossed in her lessons--something I haven't seen before. The lessons are presented clearly--with the right side of the screen showing the equation and how it is solved. There are also notes at the bottom

No need to force Raine to do Math. She actually asks to do Thinkwell every day (although at this point, I think that being able to use her Fire is a bigger factor, since they have limited screen time, so any screen time is good). She likes the instructor; aside from being funny, he can explain the lessons in a way that sinks in.

Raine trying to teach Breeze how to solve a simple algebraic equation. The great thing about teaching someone is that you learn along the way. They finally solved this problem correctly.

We're also transitioning to more independent studying, and Thinkwell helps achieve that goal. As I said, Raine logs in on her own, and uses the checklist and her lesson plan and studies on her own. She gets automatic feed back on her exercises and quizzes--and she gets an explanation on why an answer is wrong immediately.

It's easy for Raine to work independently. All she has to do is click on the links as she works through her lessons
Right after her quiz, she gets to see her score. If she did this in her old workbook, she'd have to wait for me to get 'round to checking it, which could take days.
You can see the correct solution for any problems that you answer incorrectly. Order of operations is something that Raine struggles with (anybody remember PEMDAS?)

Content-wise, the course seems to be at a challenging level without being overly frustrating. Raine has been known to be what we call petiks, almost always taking the path of least resistance, doing things with the minimum effort. She tends to be very laidback when it comes to schoolwork. She got a low score? Oh OK. That happens. Then she flits off to whatever has her attention at the moment (that's why--bad mommy alert--I was a bit surprised with her placement test results). With her Thinkwell, however, I've seen her go back to the exercises she didn't perfect and do them over. I am amazed. And quite pleased.


Aside from the worksheets and the quizzes, you can also print out the lesson plan, and notes. Raine, however, didn't want a printed set of notes since she prefers reading them on her Kindle Fire. I still think, though, that a printed version helps you learn more, so we shall see. A downside though, should you want to print out all the notes and worksheets in one go, is that you'd have to go through each and every lesson and download each PDF file. It would be nice if they included a consolidated file in the Resources section (where the lesson plan file is). They do offer a printed book of worksheets for sale.

Other than the course, Thinkwell also has links to other resources.

Overall, both Raine and I are satisfied with Thinkwell 's 6th to 8th Grade Math courses. Honors 8th Grade Math is challenging, but I think it's what Raine needs to keep from being to laidback. I would love to try out their Science and Economics courses in the future.

Other families tried out the different Thinkwell courses. Click below to read about their experiences.

6th to 8th Grade Math (Pre-Algebra) and High School Math  (Algebra to Calculus) {Thinkwell Reviews}
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