There are actually four different companies producing DVD or CD-ROM supplements to the Saxon math books: the Teaching Tape Technology DVDs, Art Reed's AJ Publishing CD-ROMs, Dr. David Schorman's DIVE Into Math CD-ROMs, and Saxon Publishing themselves with their CD-ROMs. While we haven't reviewed all four, we do carry the DIVE and Saxon discs and get plenty of questions just about the differences between the two.
Put simply, both are CD-ROM companions to the Saxon Math textbooks. Each CD-ROM (or CD-ROM set), from 5/4 up, works through the correlating text's lesson plans, offering your student basic instruction and helpful hints. It's not video in the traditional sense; you don't see teachers with outdated hair or clothing styles. Instead you see writing on a screen, with the recorded lecture. We don't believe these replace the Saxon materials—we still recommend your student read each lesson—but they will allow you more flexibility in instruction time and help if you are unable to teach the math concepts presented in the Saxon text: an affordable alternative to a math tutor.
So what are the differences?
Basically, we would call DIVE the economy option—fewer frills at a lower price. Since Dr. Schorman doesn't work for Saxon, he can't use copyrighted information. As a result, although his lessons correspond to the Saxon texts, he has to make some modifications. When the text includes practice problems, he offers similar but alternate problems. Also, he can't offer solutions for the problems in the book at all. Dr. Schorman is a Christian and includes exhortations for diligence and honesty. His teaching style is a little more energetic, but not quite as thorough as the Saxon CDs. While DIVE is still available in disc form, updated versions can be downloaded and streamed direct from their website. (As a result, we have mostly ceased offering these.) We suggest using DIVE from 5/4-8/7, perhaps as high as Algebra 1/2 (if you need tutorial help at this stage). While Dr. Schorman still offers help above these levels, he acknowledges that the Saxon texts are 20+ years old and don't cover everything PSAT and SAT exams test. He has released new courses for Algebra 1-Calculus called Schormann Interactive Math, and these may be a really good option!
Main drawbacks: these may not be resold, and you will still need the Saxon Solutions Manuals.
The Saxon CDs come in a box with five discs included. Like the DIVE format, there is a lecture for each lesson in the Saxon text, but since these are Saxon products, there is no copyright limitation. It works through all the practice problems, and it also offers video solutions for all the mixed practice problems as well. These are slightly higher quality productions, and the teacher is typically more thorough if a little more dry. These are more expensive (currently $99) but may be resold, and we suggest using them for Algebra 1-Advanced Math.
Main drawback: Saxon doesn't offer tutorial discs for Calculus & Physics.
Art Reed DVDs
Art Reed was a friend of John Saxon's, worked at Saxon Publishers as the homeschool curriculum advisor, and understands Saxon's pedagogy thoroughly. In fact, he's written the book on it! As DVDs, these are filmed teaching lectures, rather than voice-over screenshots. An older military gentleman, his presentations are professional and to-the-point, perhaps too brisk for some students to follow easily. These are nearly as affordable as the DIVE discs, and a little more flexible, as you can play them on a normal DVD player as well as a computer. Like the DIVE, these do not include practice problems from the texts or solutions for any problems. For Advanced Math, Mr. Reed splits his material into two courses, the first covering AM lessons 1-90, and the second covering AM lessons 60-125, along with the first 25 lessons of Calculus.
Main drawbacks: These don't fully cover Calculus, and don't teach Physics at all; you'll still need Saxon solutions manuals.
Teaching Tape DVDs
We haven't reviewed these, but understand that they are also filmed lectures. We've heard they're very engaging, but find the price tag (upwards of $200 per year) prohibitive. Classical Conversations prefers these instructional discs to the others.
Windows 95 or greater, Mac OS - all versions with appropriate QuickTime player, speakers, CD drive, and a printer (for DIVE Science).
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