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Author Topic: Our view- Jones Geniuses Vs TouchMath  (Read 33545 times)
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waterdreamer
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« on: January 17, 2011, 11:46:32 PM »

I thought I'd post a article I wrote on my blog here for those of you that are not regular reader. Its just our personal experience with Jones Geniuses and TouchMath Math Programs
~~~~~~~~~~~

Jones Geniuses Matrix Vs TouchMath

Originally, I received one program for review and I purchased the other program. This fact DID NOT influence my opinion and neither program asked me to write this entry comparing the two programs. I just wanted to share with my readers the differences and reasons why we decided to use one program over the other.

As a homeschooling parent, the one area you will hear me write a lot about is math. Math scares me, like it does a lot of people out there, young and old. There are two topics that stump me no matter how much effort I put into them---Chemistry and Division. Well, I don’t want this for my child. I want math to be easy and fun for him. I want him to be able to take Pre-Calculus and Calculus in High School and not spend hours feeling frustrated. I have tried several math programs with my son and most of them just didn’t feel right, so I had to get back on Google and try and find on that did.

Two programs that I stumbled upon that were somewhat similar were Jones Geniuses Matrix System and TouchMath’s TouchPoint system.

TouchMath(TM) describes themselves as:
“TouchMath is a multisensory program that uses its signature TouchPoints to engage students of all abilities and learning styles.
Our award-winning, step-by-step approach covers: Counting • Addition • Subtraction • Place Value • Multiplication • Division • Time • Money • Fractions • Story Problems • Shapes • Sizes • Pre-algebra”

Jones Geniuses(JG) describes their program as:
“Jones Geniuses Accelerated Education is the number one provider of accelerated learning math curriculum for homeschoolers, after-schoolers and their families. We operate under The Institute for Accelerated Learning, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation with headquarters in Kerrville, Texas”

Both systems teach a child to place dots on the number in a specific order, and then to count the dots in a specific order. If you show a child the number 3, they may know it is the number three, but do they understand what that means in quantity? Children that use the JG program or TM program truly learn what the numbers represent. In turn, if the child knows what the number truly means, mathematics becomes a whole lot easier. Math is a language, just like English, French, or Japanese, and I want my children to truly understand this important language.

Both programs have their pros and cons, however in the end one of them works better for our family at the moment.

The first program I tried with my son was Jones Geniuses. There was a big hype on the Brillkids forum, and Dr. Jones himself offered several online conferences free of charge and explained his program to us. This was fantastic as I was able to ask questions directly to the man who created the program. They also offered Brillkid forum members a co-op style deal. So I ordered their program. I dealt with their representative Chris who was extremely helpful and friendly on the phone. We chatted about homeschooling and the public education systems in Canada and the US vs. the UK. I was extremely impressed with the time and effort both Chris and Dr. Jones took to make sure all my questions were answered. Watching some of the older children in the more advanced JG Programs made me realize they were on to something.

However, I think I can speak for a few of the forum members, and some of us were disappointed with our packages. For myself, it seemed homemade and not very child friendly. Posters were printed on plain paper instead of cardstock. I was expecting a more professional looking package for the price I paid. I later found out after reading a blog review that part of my kit was missing. I called my friend who was waiting for her kit and emailed another who had just received hers a week or two earlier, and they too were missing that piece. To the JG organization’s defense they did send us our missing pieces quickly, but I for one do not enjoy having to double check packages to make sure all the pieces are included. The other thing that surprised me was that it had passed their quality assurance inspection noted on the inside of the lid, everything was checked off and signed that it was in the package.

One thing I found with this Early Learning program from JG was I did not like the step based approach. Personally I think if you’re doing a step based program you should start with Step 1, then once that is mastered move on the Step 2. With JG Early Program, you’re working on several steps all over the place. I felt disorganized as a parent/teacher, and my son (5) was getting bored.

So after a phone conversation with Dr. Jones, we jumped right into the worksheets. They were plain looking sheets that started off with 4 questions per page with dots and increased to 100 questions with no dots. Having my son do these sheets was like pulling teeth. There was nothing physically attractive about them to interest a young child. Also I didn’t like that I had to teach my son to place the dots one way and count them another. When we got to larger numbers like 7, 8 or 9 it seemed like dots were all over the place. My son was frustrated; he would place the dots like he was suppose to count them, and the other way around. And even though I was staying completely calm and positive, subtraction problems had my son so frustrated he burst out crying. This was not what I wanted for my son. It broke my heart, and I packed up our JG program and put it away.

Then while on another desperate search for the “Perfect Math Program” for my son I stumbled upon TouchMath.  I emailed the people at Jones Geniuses and asked them what the difference was between their program and TM. This was the reply I received:

 “Our Matrix is a dramatic improvement on Touch ...in a nutshell ours is simpler to understand. Touch is too abstract for the younger brain to understand.”


This was discouraging to me, and I thought, well if JG dots are so difficult for him to place TM with be even worse with their double touch point. Boy was I wrong!

I decided that I had to do something so I emailed TouchMath and asked them if they would be interested in doing a review/giveaway on my blog. Bob promptly emailed me back and we started hashing out the details. I was sent the computer software Kindergarten Math Program, and the Digital Kindergarten Kit 4 program.  I was excited and nervous while waiting for the program to come in the mail. At this point I was really sick of trying so many math programs and being disappointed time and time again. I was also nervous because TM has double touch points. If my son couldn’t handle single touch points how would he handle double?

When the product arrived there were 3 CDROMS. I registered the products and loaded The Kindergarten Software’s first disc on to my computer. While the program had a minor glitch in the first lesson, my son learned his touch points in 45mins the FIRST time using the software, the double touch points and all. Subtraction was presented to him using both touch points and objects to cross out. Suddenly it clicked for Wesley! The Digital Kindergarten program took what my son knew and brought it to the next level! He was adding 3 numbers together, and learning things that JG program doesn’t hit, for example patterns, time, fractions, etc.

I contacted Bob and told him we were having difficulty with the software program. Nothing major, just the touch points were difficult for a 5 year old with a lot of computer experience to place. He told me they were already addressing this issue and it would be corrected in the next version. A month or two later I received this email:

 “According to our records, you have purchased and registered our TouchMath Tutor Kindergarten Software. We will soon begin production on an updated version, and because you are users of the current product, we want to give you the opportunity to help with the process!

Please take a moment to complete a very brief survey and give us your feedback. By sharing your thoughts, you will receive a FREE copy of the updated software when it’s released later this year!

The survey will close on January 21, 2011.”

This proved to me that TouchMath does stand by their product! And they are willing to listen to suggestions and improve their already great program. I also enjoy that I can download free samples of each Kit and try them out with my son. It allows me to know what to expect when I order, and helps me decided what grade level I should be ordering him.

The thing I think that scares people away from TouchMath though is the price. But the way I look at it is, it’s an excellent product, and it works. The new digital kits make it easier for families to reuse the program over and over again with younger children. And when your family is done with it you can resell it, just like you do a textbook.

In the end, I know JG is working on a Matrix 1 program. My son was not ready for Matrix 3, however the Early program was not for him either. He may have benefited more from using the Matrix 1 program if it was available. Touch Math is presented in a fun way with cute characters, and is more aesthetically pleasing to my five year old right now. At this young age I have to respect him and present him things that keep him interested.

So for now we will continue using Touch Math till he is at the Upper Grades Level (Grade3) Then I will likely look at going back to Jones Geniuses program, when he is older and more mature and may have more patience for it. I know other parents who have made Dr. Jones program work for their young children. They created manipulatives and other tools and their children are doing excellent. But right now in our day to day lives I know I don’t have the time or motivation to get these types of tasks done in a timely matter. Touch Math has done the work for me, manipulatives are available to purchase and the worksheets are fun and keep my son coming back for more. He actually completed 11 sheets in ONE sitting, he wanted to do more, but I hadn’t printed out enough. On average he does between 4-6 sheets a sitting. I see him loving math, and getting excited about it. For me this is thrilling! I can finally lay off Goggling math program options.    




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« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2011, 12:40:30 AM »

Hi Waterdreamer,

Thank you for the detail review. I have recently emailed Chris too to ask questions regarding the difference between JG and TM. As I saw many parents on the BK forum ordered the program and almost none was interested in TM or Numicon, so I placed an order for the early learning kit. I did wonder if the TM materials would attract my kids attention more as my son is mildly autistic, it's been very challenging teaching him in the last 1 1/2 years. I'm still waiting for my kit to arrive and I hope it'll work out for us, otherwise I'll really kick myself for not following my instinct.

By the way, have you had a chance to look and consider Numicon? I'm thinking of combining JG with Numicon for my son as Numicon offers lots of opportunities to manipulate with the shapes, pegs etc while learning which I think might interest him more. As I mentioned, the last 1 1/2 year has been so challenging teaching him but I can see that he's more keen to work with the Montessori Sensorial Materials.

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« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2011, 01:02:36 AM »

Hi!
I'm sorry I can't say that familiar with Numicon. My son has mild autism as well and is doing very well with TouchMath. I'd be interested to learn more about Numicon if you find more info.
Thanks!

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« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2011, 11:16:33 AM »

Brilliant review, waterdreamer! Thank you.

I must say DJG approach did seem a bit too "left brain" to me. I have not used Numicon as such myself, but I did make some DIY manipulatives similar to Numicon shapes and I have to say, showing "bigger/smaller", "odd/even", "add one", as well as some number bonds have been a breeze!  (My daughter has a developmental disorder with similar challenges to autism and is a visual learner).

I need to start focusing on math in a more structured way now, so your review has been very helpful.

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« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2011, 01:45:21 PM »

Thanks Waterdreamer - fantastic review! Karma! I've been looking at Math programs for my older son, too. I started him late with Doman dot cards and LM so he never really took to either. Now I find it difficult to teach him Math in any meaningful way. I was about to get JG but luckily I read your review first. Based on what you've written, I think my son would not like JG either.

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« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2011, 06:47:11 AM »


My oldest just turned 8 and I have been using TouchMath since she was in preschool. At that time they did not have a preschool curriculum or many manipulatives so I had to adapt the kindergarten materials. I made a lot of manipulatives because my DD's learning style is Very tactile. I even made my own Touch cards by printing out each number with touch points on 8 1/2 x 11 paper, laminating them, and cutting the inner circles out of red felt and the outer rings out of sand paper. Finally, I hot glued the felt circles and sand paper rings on their corresponding spots. She Loved to feel her cards (those were her words). It was very easy for her to remember where the touch points were on each number. Teaching her math using this program was very easy and I would recommend it to anyone with a math phobia because it's just so user friendly and not intimidating like some other programs are. We tried several different programs that just did not work before I found touchmath.

TouchMath has been a great program for us. She is in 2nd grade now and is using the upper grades kit B which is skip counting, multiplication, and division. She has learned fractions, time, and money too. She loves math and loves to do the TM worksheets.  I am a homeschooling mom on a budget so I can't afford to buy the new kits on the TouchMath website, I buy the older kits on ebay (they work just as great and cost much less).

I got the Jones geniuses Math 3 program for her a month ago (because sadly she is at Touchmath's last level and I needed something that would take her to the next level), and I am just very confused and intimidated. I watched the dvds, and read the binder, but I feel as if the instructions are broken apart. I think I would be able to understand it better if it were organized a little better. I also agree with the other comments on the quality, my instructional dvds came blank, the binder was broken, and the posters were printed on regular paper. I was very disappointed because the program cost a lot of money. They did send me new dvds tho and the customer service was great. But I still haven't figured out how to actually start teaching with this program. If anybody has any suggestions please help.






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« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2011, 12:15:58 PM »

My dd is going through a very tactile learning stage which is fine. That is where I believe the JG program falls down in the sence that it is not very tactile. Also the part where the materials are not sturdy to hold up against a 2 year old is also very true.

But in JG defence the program is only $130 where to a certain degree for that price you can pay for what you get also I am happy to laminate the products or colour them in if it helps my DD to learn and it is not the only EL program I have had to modify when using. I don't think it is fair to compare the two on manipulatives when the price descrepancy is huge and for the touch math pre k complete kit is $899 and I can tell they have invested largely on their manipulatives and they look very high quality, and for $900 odd dollars so they should be.

I think this has been mentioned before about the manipulative to Dr Jones and he has said to keep his price down he has made the manipulatives on the not so best materials.

I can't comment on TOuch MAth but I do have to agree the step by step program is a little hard to follow and you do feel like you are teaching several steps at once. I agree that to me the logical order is teach step 1 master it than move on to step 2 master that. I have decided to work on only step 1 and 2 before I move on. Also the dvd and the math matrix folder do not marry up with each other and it wasn't until I posted some questions on the forum that dr Jones said that there had been a step change and to follow what was in the folder and not the dvd. Which would have been nice if that was mentioned before hand.

The good thing about JG is there customer service is 2nd to none and some of the best I have ever come across. They are always willing to answer your questions and are extremely helpful to the point where i would say they would bend over backwards to help you.

Like you waterdreamer Math as a subject scares me to. It is I belive a hard subject to teach because it is a very cut and dry and there can only be one right answer so maths can be a bit of a boring subject and I have found hard to make fun. So I am always looking for ways to make it more fun and hands on.



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« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2011, 03:31:58 PM »

Hi,

After much consideration, I have decided to combine JG with Numicon as my gut feeling is that my son ( who is mildly autistic) would potentially enjoy the tactile/ sensorial activities that Numicon offers, and the fact that I've already ordered the JG Early Learning Kit, I'd like to give it a fair chance to experience the system. I'm hopeful that my daughter will enjoy and benefit from this brilliant system albeit the quality of the product. ( too late to cancel anyway). Below is the email I sent to JG regarding mixing these two brilliant systems and the reply from Dr Jones. ( Oh and btw, I also asked about the difference between JG and Touch Math and below is the reply from Chris for those who might be interested to know more)

Touch Math and Matrix Math are significantly different.  Matrix Math is superior to Touch Math in a couple of critical ways.  If I thought Touch Math was the best early learning math on the market I would advise you to go there
and do that.

Number One:  Touch Math uses double dots which saves space but is a significant conceptual hurdle for a young mind to grasp.  One needs to keep concepts as simple as possible for the youngest learners.  Teaching them there are two types of dots, one that stands for one, and one that stands for two is not simple, especially when we are just introducing the child to the quantities of 1, 2, 3 ... etc.

Number Two:  Matrix Math incorporates all the numeration concepts the youngster needs for initial competency with digits.  We flash the digit with the dots and teach the name.  The child counts the dots and practices placing them until they master the quantity. They practice connecting the dots to form the number.  These concepts are not conveyed nearly as well with the Touch Math schemata.

Number Three:  Acceleration of Learning, Matrix Math ties into a system of Jones Geniuses Accelerated Mathematics so children are seamlessly taken on to the next level which is often quickly mastered because their foundation skills are firm.  For example, many students of first grade age will complete Matrix Math in two weeks if applied diligently & daily.  They will then be able to do a 100 problem factsheet in either addition or subtraction with proficient mastery.  Proficient mastery means they are nearing perfection in both timing and accuracy.  Perfect mastery means they have 5 minutes to achieve a 100.  Younger students will take longer, of course, but generally we are talking months not years.

Number Four:  The ability of the cerebral cortex to utilize symbols is crucial to both math and reading.  We recommend they be done together because they synergize each other.  The mastery of digit-quantities and letter-sounds go hand in hand.  Jones Geniuses offers a Threshold to Reading program that uses similarly effective mnemonics to teach early reading at the same time basic mathematics is being mastered.  An effective unified approach to math and reading is superior to piecemeal efforts.


and the reply from Dr Jones

Using two systems might be confusing to a youngster even if they are both good ones.
Although I don't recommend it, I do not think it would have a debilitating effect if that is what you want to do
.
We have experimented a lot with the use of patterns.  It is a fascinating area.  There
is a cerebral capacity for rapid recognition of numbers of that sort, items in a random pattern for example.  That skill, called "estimation", is much less important at the pre-school level
than the ability to recognize digits and their quantities and how to manipulate them.
We have found it much more effective to arrange the dots in the shape of the digit.  It leads
our students to master the fundamentals of math operations in a matter of days or weeks.

I will have Chris check on where we have the recordings to make them available to you.
Feel free to call or email me with any further questions you may have.
Dr Jones


Regarding Numicon, I emailed them to seek advice which kit to buy in order to best suit my son's need and at the same time not bore my normalised daughter hopefully and below is the email they replied.

Thank you for your query. I just want to give you a bit more info on the Closing the Gap and Firm Foundations Kits, which I hope will help you to decide which may be best to support your children's learning.

Closing the Gap

This kit has been designed specifically for pupils of any age who are experiencing significantly greater difficulty learning mathematics than the majority of pupils of their age. The aim of the Kit is to enable all pupils to have a positive experience of learning mathematics and to develop the sound foundation of basic number understanding that is essential if they are to achieve their individual potential.

This Kit is suitable for use as a Learning Intervention Programme and also for pupils who have special needs. It is well documented that pupils with SENs learn most effectively through multi-sensory teaching; Numicon’s emphasis on doing and seeing, alongside speaking and listening, capitalises on pupils’ visual and kinaesthetic strengths throughout the teaching activities.

Firm Foundations Kit

Designed for all early years settings, the Firm Foundations Kit gives teachers lots of practical ideas for helping children to develop understanding of numbers and number relationships. The Kit includes a series of multi-sensory games and activities where pupils are taught the colours and patterns of Numicon, to order the Numicon Maths Shapes and to learn their number values. They move on to ordering numerals and shapes together and then begin practical addition and subtraction within 10.

Suitable for pupils working at P level 4 to National Curriculum level 1B.

Please see this link for an excerpt from the Firm Foundations Teaching Materials. Plus this link for further advice on the use of the Numicon resoruces for Early Years maths.

This page has some great videos which explain each kit in detail: http://www.numicon.com/getting_started_videos.html

At this early stage, I think Firm Foundations would be of benefit to your twins as it covers very basic concepts, as with Closing the Gap. The Closing the Gap kit is usually recommended for older children that are severly struggling with basic maths concepts. The use of the structured imagery and visual approach to maths will work well with an autistic child and as this forms the basis of our approach, it's used across all kits.

Feel free to contact me for further advice once you've had a look at the above.

Best wishes,

Alexis


Hope the above helps.




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« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2011, 03:50:37 PM »

My review was strickly based on my own personnel experience with both programs. After using both programs I still stand by the fact that TouchMath is the superior product for MY son. However everyone iS different. I still don't believe there is any excuse for the lack of quality. I have purchased products of similar cost for example Math U See and the quality was much better. Cost is yes much with TM is higher but you can buy it used on eBay and each kit contains 300+ sheets. Way more then JG. Since my son is a worksheet junkie this is important to us.

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« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2011, 05:50:26 PM »

Matrix Math? Can't seem to find a link to that.
Anyways Touch Math is an excellent math program. I've used it for quite some time and my girls have really enjoyed it. My 4yr old loves her Touch Math and she is definitely making headway with it. I started using last year when my 3rd daughter was having difficulty with math.
I've love to see Matrix Math as well to compare.

Touch Math is very pricey, unless you get it from Ebay like I did. I was also able to get copies from our local school district for the upper levels. I bought an 'older' version of the PreK.
My daughter also loves the new Touch Math software that they have for Kindergarden. Once I can get some money gathered up I plan on getting it( or if I can find it on ebay) for her she loves the demo and plays it all of the time.

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« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2011, 01:01:23 AM »

Hi Waterdreamer, 

I can definately understand where you are coming from.  I think that is one of the reasons, i didn't buy it yet.  It just seems like parent is doing most of the teaching and on top of that adding in enthusiasm cuz the books seemed without color and/or handmade.   For the cost of 140 something, I really think more can be expected or the price should be lowered.  Math and English should be sold separate cuz English program is soo redundant for many BrillBaby members.   I was not going to buy the early level for my daughter.   We got her hooked on phonics, she loves the stickers, and the colorful workbooks.   

I can also agree from other parents standpoint that doubling of the numbers can be difficult.  And TouchMath seems to dividing even addition and subtraction to a different product, thereby making it soo much more expensive for the customers. 

We definately appreciated your feedback. 



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« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2011, 02:18:56 AM »

Tracy- I really love the idea of adding on textures to the dots (for either system). I am totally going to steal that and superglue some rough velcro dots onto my laminated JG flashcards (so the kids can't rip them off). Thanks for the idea!!

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« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2011, 04:30:35 PM »

Is touch match geared towards children with learning disabilities? 

touch math learning differences on their website
http://www.touchmath.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=WYT.welcome&page=LearningDifferences

Thank you

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« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2011, 05:02:26 PM »

It can be used with children with or with learning disabilities.
I don't believe it's gear towards people with disabilities per say, but it's so effective that even people with disabilities are able to use it with ease.


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« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2011, 08:35:53 PM »

Yes, actually it is geared  towards children with disabilities.  I know our school district only uses Touch Math with their learning disabled students.  I don't think that was the original intention of Touch Math to start with but in the end many teachers with students with LD's have have great sucess with it.
My 11yr old struggles with Math and Touch Math really helps her , ALOT . When she choses to utilize it.

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