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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Peterborough entrepreneurs launch Unlock Math online tutoring service

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"First 100 Peterborough residents to sign up for tutoring service to recieve first month for free." reports Sarah Frank.

A new online service based out of Peterborough is aiming to take anxiety out of the equation for students who need help with math. 

Alesia and Matthew Blackwood.
Photo: Kawartha Media Group

As a former teacher, Alesia Blackwood knows math is a tricky subject for many students to handle. Factor in the pressures that can distract students in a classroom setting and the time constraints teachers face, and it's no wonder some people end up with gaps in their math skills when they're older, Mrs. Blackwood says. That's why she and her husband Matthew Blackwood have spent the last two years building Unlock Math, which officially launched on Wednesday (Dec. 18).

To help kick-off their new business, the Blackwood's are offering Peterborough residents a chance to try out the tutoring program for free. They're giving the first 100 people one free month, as well as a coupon code for 30 per cent off in the following months. 

Currently, the service is offering a pre-algebra program, with algebra I and algebra II courses in the works to launch in August or September of next year. 

Mrs. Blackwood says she loves teaching algebra, but that's not why it's the starting point for the services, which is based mostly around a Grade 7 curriculum. Algebra is a stream most students struggle with. 

"So many students have trouble," she says. "And I was finding I spent most of my time re-teaching what students should have already known." 

Unlock Math uses fun videos to teach the lessons before giving students a chance to practice the material and eventually complete quizzes and tests. The problems are always presented one at a time, which Mr. Blackwood says helps students to focus without becoming overwhelmed.

The program doesn't use multiple-choice math problems.

"That just leads to students guessing," Mr. Blackwood says.

In addition to providing feedback to students, the program provides a detailed assessment that breaks down students' strengths and weaknesses. 

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