As a fully-featured, rigorous online math program for pre-Algebra through Calculus 2, and with its engaging videos, thorough practice and capable automated course management features, Shormann Math can be an excellent option for homeschooling families looking for an efficient and efficient way to learn math.
What We Like
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What Is Shormann Math?
Created by scientist and educator Dr. David Shormann, Shormann Math is a digital, Christian self-study math curriculum that’s inspired by the Saxon method and aimed at students in middle and high school.
In order to teach its material, the program uses a digital learning platform that provides homeschooling families with full video instruction, interactive exercises and assessments, automatic marking, grading and reporting and much more.
What Ages Or Grades Is Shormann Math Intended For?
At time of writing, Shormann math offers six classes:
- Algebra I
- Algebra II
- Pre-calculus (with Trigonometry)
- Calculus 1
- And even Calculus 2, a level not typically seen in homeschool math curricula
(As with Saxon, parents should note that Shormann Math blends geometry into Algebra I and II, rather than keeping it as a separate course).
Consequently, the program can be said to be roughly aimed at students in grades 7-12 – i.e. middle and high school.
With that said, it should be noted that Shormann Math is a self-paced homeschool math program and so can be used by students learning outside of a traditional grade progression.
There is, for example, nothing stopping precocious learners or those in need of remedial support from taking the course of their choice, so long as they have the prerequisite skills necessary for success.
For many homeschooling families, starting a high school math curriculum can be a bit tricky, particularly for those who are used to using a less traditional K-6 math program, as there can be fairly significant differences in the scope, sequence and pacing of foundational knowledge.
This can make it a bit more difficult for parents to know if a student is ready to start Pre-Algebra with a new program or if significant gaps still remain in their knowledge and skill.
This can be especially true when there are significant gaps in the programs’ respective level of rigor, such as when those used to a more gentle approach to math begin a more standard high school level course.
Unfortunately, although inspired by a pretty thorough and traditional math program, Shormann Math doesn’t really offer a placement test of its own.
It does, however, offer parents access to downloadable Saxon placement tests, which it holds as roughly analogous in terms of challenge and rigor, as well as a rather extensive amount of online information, help and even personal consultations to help homeschooling parents determine if their child is ready to start a given level.
In particular, the company website hosts a number of checklists with often quite helpful information for users switching in from other popular homeschool math curricula, such as Singapore, CLE and others.
It also offers parents some suggested cut off scores (usually 75% final grade or so), which can be helpful in determining if a student’s prerequisite skills and knowledge are adequate.
Overall, the placement support offered by Shormann is actually pretty comprehensive, although going through it can take some time and may require parents to make honest assessments of their students’ abilities, something that can be a bit challenging to new homeschoolers.
Shormann Math Look, Feel and Features
Shormann Math makes use of a cloud-based digital learning platform that contains a fairly wide variety of learning tools that parents and students can access from any web-enabled computer or mobile device.
While the use of a digital learning platform does mean that students will generally spend considerably more time staring at a screen (likely a few hours a week), generally speaking we feel that the aforementioned tools and features it provides can be quite useful when it comes to upper-level courses of K-12 math as they tend to rely more on self-study/self-paced learning on the part of students.
The program offers full video and PDF instruction, interactive exercises, quizzes and tests, video solutions, automatic grading and progress tracking, all of which can make it a lot easier and efficient for students to work through algebra and calculus concepts on their own.
This is particularly true given the fact that many homeschooling parents may struggle with the concepts themselves and not be able to offer much in the way of help or be able to devote the time necessary to properly assess their student’s performance and help guide their studies.
Look and Feel Of The Shormann Math Learning Platform
In terms of the overall look and feel of the Shormann Math learning environment, we found it to be pretty clean looking and easy to navigate through.
The site uses a good deal of white space, meaning there aren’t a lot of elements to clutter up the screen or distract students from their learning.
Elements in the program are pretty intuitively laid out, with a detailed table of contents on the side, notifications, chat and direct messages on top and a large man window in the center where lesson information, videos and links to practice/tests are displayed.
The site is text-heavy, however, with not a huge amount in the way of on-screen animations, colors or imagery beyond textbook or practice examples.
As a result, the site isn’t the most fascinating to look at, particularly if students are using it for a couple hours a day, but at the same time there isn’t a lot that will confuse, distract or otherwise cause students to get lost while using it, always a plus with self-study programs.
To the program’s credit, although there is a good deal of text, most of the essential lesson instructions and information is laid out in note form, which keeps things easy to read and prevents the site from being filled with huge blocks of text that might intimidate some students.
Further, Shormann Math makes it pretty easy for students to pick out important information in the presented text, often using all-caps, eye-catching buttons, colored and even enlarged text to make certain points stand out.
While perhaps not always the most aesthetically pleasing, this formatting does grab attention and makes reading through lessons a little easier for students working alone.
And, also like the above programs (and unlike programs such as Nicole the Math Lady), the video instruction is done on a digital screen or blackboard.
Rather than being able to see Dr. Shormann himself, students are usually presented with some prepared series of slides, watching and listening as he uses a digital pen to introduce concepts, highlight information, work out examples, solve practice problems and write out explanatory notes.
For the most part, the Shormann Math videos are pretty average in length for an online math course.
Depending on the lesson and its topical complexity, they can range from about 15 to 30 minutes or more.
Although the videos are longer than some of its competitors, due to Dr. Shormann’s casual way of explaining things and his real time mark ups, they generally aren’t too hard to sit through and don’t seem overly long, particularly given that this is a program aimed at older students.
That said, given the dark screen/lecture style format of the videos,we feel that some more easily distracted students may still want to pause and take a short break to refocus from time to time.
In terms of their controls, the videos are pretty standard, allowing students to freely go forwards or backwards, enlarge the screen and adjust the volume.
The videos are not captioned by default, however, which could be helpful for those with hearing difficulties and auditory processing disorders.
The program does, however, provide access to relevant digital textbook pages (in PDF format) for each video lesson that contain the examples and practice sets worked on, which can be useful if a student wants to practice them on their own, or if they missed something.
Students and parents should note, however, that these PDF textbook pages do not contain the concept explanations from the videos, and so they should really be seen as a supplement, not a replacement option.
Interactive exercises and assessments
In addition to the videos, Shormann Math also offers students the ability to do lesson practice, review, quizzes and tests right inside the learning platform.
Accessible from the in-lesson text, these interactive exercises present students with a problem and either a variety of multiple choice solutions, matching responses or a blank space for a typed response.
Students then work their problems out on a paper and input or select the appropriate response.
The program will them offer immediate feedback (correct/incorrect) and, with practice problems at least, a chance to retry (with a small penalty) if they get things wrong.
These interactive exercises are pretty straightforward and easy to use, although they don’t offer any explanation for a given answer.
Although perhaps a bit frustrating for some it does help to prevent cheating, especially on assignments where students can retry questions.
Instead, students will either need to re-watch a lesson or, once finished, read the detailed responses in a PDF answer sheet that the program will offer.
Interestingly enough, the program even provides a video solution where Dr. Shormann works through the practice problem in a step-by-step manner, something that is fairly useful and innovative compared to competing online math programs.
Automatic grading, reporting and progress tracking
Perhaps one of the most useful tools for homeschooling parents in Shormann Math is its automatic assessment grading, reporting and progress tracking functions.
As students complete their lessons’ quizzes and tests, the program will mark and grade their responses in real time, storing their progress for later parental review.
As Shormann Math tends to deal with more upper level K-12 math, this can be extremely useful for homeschooling parents as they won’t have to spend quite as much time and effort looking at and correcting problems, especially as the courses begin to introduce more complex and multi-step problems.
It also means that parents won’t actually have to rely on their own memory of math when examining student work, which is always helpful for those whose skills have become a bit rusty.
In general, the progress tracking offered is pretty robust, offering insights into students’ lesson and practice completion, their scores, their responses, their retries, their time spent on practice and lessons and so on.
The program even allows parents and students to go back and review their work, which is always a nice feature.
That said, the progress tracking and grading functions only really show the correct answers for any given question and do not offer the correct methodology or work to find that answer, requiring parents looking for a more detailed review to make use of the program’s videos or PDFs.
Approach To Teaching Math
Shormann Math is based around a spiral approach to learning.
In other words, the program breaks larger concepts down into smaller topics and teaches them a little at a time before moving onto another concept.
Periodically, the program will review and revisit that first concept in greater depth and complexity, allowing students to learn a complete concept in a more incremental and easy to digest manner (rather than in a long burst).
Further, Shormann Math also makes use of continual review and practice, where concepts are reviewed again and again over time, with previously learned concepts being mixed into new sessions.
In this way, students are given greater opportunity to revisit and engage with already-learned topics, which in turn can help with long term retention by preventing knowledge and skill gaps from forming over time.
Overall, this spiral approach can make learning math a bit more dynamic, with new topics being introduced regularly, and can be very effective at helping students who tend to forget things over the course of a year.
On the other hand, the greater emphasis on practice and revision of concepts can seem a bit repetitive to some students, particularly those who tend to “get” things quickly.
Like Saxon and CLE Math, Shormann Math tends to take a more traditional, procedural approach to teaching math.
In other words, the program tends to place a relatively stronger emphasis on helping students learn how to solve math problems accurately, rather than focusing on the why as is typical of more conceptual programs like Math Mammoth or Singapore Math.
As a result, students tend to learn particular methods for solving problems in a systematic and step-by-step manner using particular algorithms and strategies.
There is also a stronger emphasis on practice, drill and assessment compared to more conceptual programs, which is designed to help develop automatic recall and skill fluency.
As a result, students working with Shormann Math can develop very strong and capable skills in math, being able to solve even more complex problems correctly and quickly, something that can be particularly helpful when it comes to standardized and academic tests.
Standardized Test Prep
In addition to teaching general math concepts, starting around Algebra I Shormann Math also includes material specifically designed to help students prepare for standardized tests, such as the CLEP, PSAT, SAT, ACT and so on.
While we don’t think that Shormann Math will replace dedicated test prep materials (although the company does also offer dedicated short prep courses), the program does teach all the material that students will need to know and includes periodical sample problems from these different tests in its practice materials, which can be a bit more helpful for homeschoolers interested in taking these exams.
Not Just Math
Although middle and high school math is certainly the main focus of Shormann Math, the program does touch on other topics during its learning.
In particular, the program tends to integrate a good deal of history learning into its lessons, often teaching students the origins of certain mathematical discoveries and their historical importance.
In addition, at times the program even brings in discussions of fine art, using pictures and artwork to help demonstrate the use of mathematical principles in achieving certain techniques (proper perspective, for example).
By bringing in non-math learning, Shormann Math can not only help students better appreciate math as an important subject, but can also help students who are perhaps more interested in other subjects connect with the material by creating more integrative and broad based lessons.
That said, it is important to recognize that not every student is necessarily a fan of this kind of teaching, with some preferring to keep their math lessons focused on math and separate from other subjects.
Shormann Math also approaches math instruction from a strong Christian perspective, something that helps distinguish it from most other online math programs out there.
Broadly speaking, Shormann Math views math as the language of science, helping us to better discover and understand the beauty and wonder of God’s creation.
Its materials don’t just sprinkle the occasional inspirational quote or message, but instead frequently discuss the role of God and the Bible and pretty frequently link learning back to scripture, emphasizing the importance of what a student is learning and how it relates to faith.
As a result, Shormann Math can provide a deeper bible-based math learning experience than many other Christian curricula out there, which is good news for strongly Christian homeschools.
That said, this may limit its appeal to neutral and secular homeschools, as well as faith-based homeschools of a different religion.
Self-Study, Self-Paced Learning
Finally, Shormann Math is a self-study, self-paced online math program.
Through its use of video and interactive exercises and assessments, the program is capable of guiding students through their lessons and practice pretty effectively, allowing students to learn on their own and develop stronger independent learning skills.
More than that, its capable grading, reporting and tracking functions can allow parents to step away from direct and constant lesson management into more of a general oversight role, allowing them to focus their time on the many other tasks that homeschooling life can require.
In this way, Shormann Math can be a better fit for homeschools with busier homeschooling schedules, as well as for parents who are either new to teaching or who are simply uncertain about their own ability to teach middle/high school math.
The only real thing that parents will have to consider is that (much like other self-study programs) Shormann Math does require a fair amount of self-motivation and maturity on the part of students in order to get the most out of it, requiring them to be able to sit, learn and take notes and not actively try and cheat on their practice and assessments.
Compare: Saxon Vs Shormann Math
Shormann Math is a math program inspired by Saxon Math, a highly respected curriculum whose traditional, back to basics approach has been successfully teaching homeschooling kids math for decades.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the two programs can be quite similar at times.
Both programs take a spiral approach, for example, as we’ve mentioned previously.
Rather than spending weeks on a particular math topic (such as multiplication), Shormann and Saxon tend to break these topics down into bite sized chunks and teach them a little at a time, revisiting them as necessary later on.
Further, both programs tend to take a more traditional approach to math, teaching students specific ways of approaching problems (rather than teaching them lots of different strategies for approaching a problem) and baking lots of practice, review and drill into their lessons.
Finally, both programs tend to be fairly rigorous, with lots of practice exercises, assessments and challenging questions to get students thinking and to help them become fairly skillful at math.
That said, while Shormann Math and Saxon can be fairly similar in their approach, they do have significant differences that parents should be aware of.
Faith-based vs Secular Curricula
While Saxon is a secular program, Shormann Math is a Christian math program, and a pretty deeply Christian one at that, frequently discussing God, faith and scripture in its lessons.
Digital Learning vs Paper-based
Shormann is also based around a digital learning platform, offering students access to video instruction, electronic texts, interactive assessments and exercises, automatic grading and more.
In contrast, Saxon Math is a traditional pencil and paper curriculum, with students working out of a textbook and doing their work by hand in dedicated student materials.
Coverage of Other Topics
Another difference between Shormann and Saxon is that, at times, the former integrates discussions of history and other topics into its lessons, while Saxon remains more or less focused on math.
Broadly speaking, Shormann Math is not a common core aligned math curriculum.
Saxon, meanwhile, has a couple different versions of its curriculum floating around, some of which are standards-aligned.
While Saxon and Shormann Math both cover Calculus 1, Shormann Math has taken things a step further and offers homeschooling students Calculus 2, making its coverage of math a bit more broad and comprehensive.
Both Shormann Math and Saxon are known to be fairly rigorous math programs, offering lots of practice and drill to help students properly develop skill fluency.
That said, in general Shormann Math tends to offer slightly fewer weekly tests and homework questions compared to Saxon, and tends to have fewer overall lessons per yearly course.
This can make Shormann Math a little more student friendly and less drill-heavy compared to Saxon, which can be good for students who tend to get frustrated with lots of repetitive practice.
Standardized Test Prep
As we discussed previously, Shormann Math deliberately integrates CLEP/PSAT/SAT/ACT questions into its practice, helping students get used to these kinds of exercises as they develop broader math skill.
In contrast, Saxon mainly focuses on the teaching of math concepts and doesn’t really touch on standardized test prep.
How It Works
As a math curriculum, Shormann Math is pretty intuitive and easy to use.
Once parents and students have determined the right level to start with, they can then set up and access their individual accounts on the company’s website at any time.
Each level tends to begin with a block of 25 or so lessons that cover fundamental and pre-requisite course material, something that can be handy for those coming into the series from significantly different math programs or who may have some remaining skill or knowledge gaps.
Once these are complete, the balance of the program’s lessons are dedicated to new learning.
Unlike many other math programs, there isn’t really a specific schedule for Shormann Math, although the company encourages students to approach the material at 1-1.5 hour a day, 4-5 day/week pace to get through a level in 30-32 weeks.
That said, students are free to study at their own pace and, to their credit, most courses (except pre-Algebra) tend to offer a fairly generous 24 month access to the materials, better supporting those who prefer to learn at a slower pace, which is nice as parents won’t need to pay to renew their license at the end of each year.
Each daily lesson in Shormann Math is laid out in a sequential manner on the learning platform’s central screen.
In general, it should be pretty easy for students to follow along, especially as the lessons tend to follow a common 3-part structure.
A lesson usually begins with a review of a topic’s rules, definitions and any req-requisite skills, often using built-in digital flashcards to help with any fact practice or memory work.
This review typically only takes a few minutes to complete but can be helpful in making sure that previously-learned concepts remain fresh in a student’s mind and can help make sure that students are ready to learn.
Next, students watch a video lecture on a particular math concepts.
These videos are around 15-30 minutes long (with some longer and some shorter) and, much as in an in-person math class, students are encouraged to take notes on notable formulas, approaches and examples that they will store in a binder.
In addition to helping students learn to properly take notes (always a helpful skill), this can also promote active and engaged learning, which in turn can help students better retain the information they are presented with.
Once the video portion of a lesson is complete, students are then linked to practice exercises.
As mentioned previously, these are built into the program itself and students tend to work problems out by hand and then input a response into their browser, which are automatically scored and graded for them.
Usually, each lesson contains quite a few questions (20 or so).
While this may seem like quite a bit, and while some students may not be big fans of this amount of practice, it is still fewer than a traditional Saxon lesson and helps to reinforce learning and better develop skill fluency, which is important.
Most practice sets also tend to have example questions taken from the CLEP, SAT or ACTs, which makes for good long term preparation for standardized tests, and there are often questions that deal with real life applications of math.
These applications can help make learning a little more interesting and engaging for students by allowing them to see how the math they are learning can actually be used to solve problems they can relate to or understand.
At the end of each practice session, students can receive a score and can try again, although their first attempt is the only one recorded for fairly obvious reasons (they would have the answers).
When students have completed their practice set, they can then access a PDF answer sheet or fairly detailed video-based solutions for each problem to figure out if and where they went wrong and to learn from their mistakes.
In terms of assessments, the program offers short, timed quizzes every 4th lesson or so (making for about 21 in total).
These are open book and the results are recorded.
Parents should note that the fact that these are timed and recorded can make them a little more stressful for some students, however it should be noted that students are given quite a bit of time (around 20 minutes), which is ample enough and should help prevent things from becoming too overwhelming in our opinion.
Shormann Math also has cumulative quarterly exams.
These are not open book but students do get two (unrecorded) practice exams to prepare themselves, which is pretty thoughtful.
As students progress through these practice sets, quizzes and exams, their responses are automatically corrected, graded and recorded, which not only saves time but also allows parents to easily monitor student performance and progress from their account at any time.
Interestingly, Shormann Math also provides parents with some information on how to grade a student’s lesson notes, which is kind of cool as it allows homeschooling parents to use lesson participation as a factor in grading, something that most other online math programs don’t offer.
Pros and Cons
At considerably less than $200 per course and providing up to two years of full access to a host of digital learning tools, Shormann Math is both more affordable and more fully-featured than many other options out there, which makes it quite good value for money.
Offers sibling accounts
For larger families interested in its approach, Shormann Math offers relatively inexpensive sibling licenses with the purchase of a full-price license.
These allow younger students to take the same course as their older siblings when the time is right, at a considerably reduced rate, which can save larger families quite a bit of money in the long run.
Multisensory, video-based learning
The heart of Shormann Math lies in its engaging and in-depth video lessons.
These explain and demonstrate math concepts in a clear and step-by-step manner, making learning a little more multisensory and a lot more approachable for students of different learning styles.
Rigorous math instruction
Shormann Math offers solid and rigorous math instruction, with students diving fairly deeply into the material and doing plenty of interesting and sometimes challenging practice exercises, quizzes, tests to help them hone their skills.
Offers students second chances for practice
Although fairly rigorous, Shormann Math also offers students the ability to retry practice questions.
In addition to encouraging students to be bolder learners, it can also help reduce their stress and make the program a bit more student-friendly.
Efficient automatic grading, marking and reporting tools
Shormann Math can make middle and high school math learning a lot easier on parents by taking on the task of correcting marking and recording student work automatically, something that can save them considerable time and effort.
Easy to use interface
With plenty of whitespace, note form instructions and an intuitive layout, Shormann Math is also easy to use, something that helps support its self-study nature.
Extends to Calculus 2
Unlike most other homeschool math programs, Shormann Math extends its math learning past Calculus 1, allowing interested students to study more advanced concepts with Calculus 2.
Not the most visually stunning platform
While simple and easy to use, Shormann Math doesn’t feature quite as much in the way of stunning graphics and animations, which can make it a bit more plain to look at compared to some other programs out there.
Progress tracking not quite as in-depth as some other programs
While it certainly contains the essentials, such as correct responses, lesson progress, attempts and so on, which can help parents keep an eye on things, Shormann Math doesn’t always offer quite as much detail or granular data as some other learning platforms out there.
Who Is Shormann Math Ideal For?
Shormann Math’s video-based self-study/self-paced nature, combined with its easy to use functionality and automatic grading and reporting tools, makes it an ideal solution for parents who don’t have the time to sit, teach, monitor, correct, record and grade student work.
Fans of video-based learning
While some students do really well with traditional, textbook-based instruction, others tend to benefit from more dynamic audio-visual lessons, something that Shormann Math does quite well.
Those looking for a rigorous, traditional and Christian middle high school program
Shormann Math dives into its math fairly deeply and challenges students to develop strong math skill fluency through fairly frequent review, practice and assessments, making it a pretty rigorous and traditional math curriculum.
In addition, it also weaves Christian learning into its materials pretty deeply for a math program, with discussions of God, Creation, the Bible and faith being woven into its lessons fairly tightly.
New homeschooling parents and those uncertain of their own abilities in math
With Shormann Math being able to guide students through instruction, practice and examination, and with the program being able to correct, grade, score and record student work, it can be a good option for those unused to teaching math, as well as those uncertain about their own ability to teach the subject.
Those looking to integrate standardized prep into lessons
In addition to providing a comprehensive middle and high school math curriculum, Shormann Math makes an effort to help students prepare for the quantitative sections of standardized tests through direct topical coverage and the integration of sample questions into lesson practice.
Fans of history
Interestingly enough, Shormann Math also integrates a good deal of history learning into its lessons, making it a great option for those interested in the history of math.
Who Is It Not Ideal For?
Fans of mastery or conceptual math programs
Inspired by Saxon, Shormann Math uses a particular procedural, spiral approach that, while certainly effective, may not be the best option for those interested in mastery-based or conceptual approaches.
Those looking to reduce screen time
At the end of the day, using a digital learning platform will increase the amount of time students spend in front of a screen, in this case adding a few hours’ worth a week, something that can be an issue for some families.
Secular, neutral and non-Christian faith-based homeschools
While Shormann Math’s strong Christian approach can be great for Christian homeschools, it can be an issue for those looking for a secular or neutral math program, as well as those of different faiths.
Note: Prices correct as of writing, all prices in USD.
As with other online programs, access to Shormann Math is granted on a per-license basis.
In other words, each purchase of a course provides access to a single student (and parent) for a limited period of time (12-24 months).
As of writing there are six courses offered by Shormann Math:
Pre-Algebra – $149
Algebra 1 – $169
Algebra 2 – $169
Pre-Calculus – $169
Calculus 1 – $169
Calculus 2 – $169
Interestingly, and something that can be quite helpful for bigger homeschooling families, Shormann Math also offers sibling accounts.
Once a family has picked up a course at full-price (whose license will expire in 12-24 months), at a later date (such as a couple years later – there is no time limit as of writing) they can pick up the same course for another child at a significantly discounted price.
Sibling account for a course – $45.99
As always, parents should check the latest prices for this program, as well as for any discounts or offers that might be available.
Is It Worth It?
Overall, we believe that Shormann Math can provide a lot of value to the right homeschooling families.
The program offers middle and high school students a solid and rigorous self-study/self-paced math education whose in-depth videos and supporting texts can make learning math a lot more understandable, and an overall structure and design that can guide students effortlessly through their weekly lessons.
Further, the program offers a variety of digital tools and features that can help make learning a lot more efficient and effective for all involved, including interactive exercises and assessments, as well as automatic scoring, grading and recording.
Interestingly, Shormann Math also manages to integrate a strong Christian worldview, linking topics and concepts in math (as well as the discipline itself) to the beauty and wonder of God and His creation through interesting discussions and biblical quotations, something that Christian faith-based homeschools will certainly appreciate.
Finally, at significantly less than $200 per year for a complete digital high school course, Shormann Math is more affordable than many other options out there that we’ve seen and, with its reduced-price sibling licenses, can also be a budget-friendly option for larger families.
As a fully-featured, rigorous online math program for pre-Algebra through Calculus 2, and with its engaging videos, thorough practice and capable automated course management features, Shormann Math can be an excellent option for homeschooling families looking for an efficient and efficient way to learn math.
About the Author
David Belenky is a freelance writer, former science and math tutor and a tech enthusiast. When he’s not writing about educational tech, he likes to chill out with his family and dog at home.