I'm pretty sure we need to change. The book doesn't provide enough info for this non-mathy mom. We did work through Pre-Algebra, but Alcumus in Algebra I keeps throwing us for a loop.

Recommendations?

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Started by
Momofeat
, Mar 20 2017 03:24 PM

30 replies to this topic

Posted 20 March 2017 - 03:24 PM

I'm pretty sure we need to change. The book doesn't provide enough info for this non-mathy mom. We did work through Pre-Algebra, but Alcumus in Algebra I keeps throwing us for a loop.

Recommendations?

Posted 20 March 2017 - 05:56 PM

Honestly, it's a little hard to answer your question. All we know from your initial post is that AoPS isn't working (which is apparently not at all uncommon, so take heart!)

Could you maybe provide a little more information on what you are looking for in a new algebra curriculum? What type of learner is your student? Do you want something that you do have to teach? Can your student learn independently from a text, or do you want some type of lectures available? If so, video or live? Was there anything about AoPS that you particularly liked or disliked?

Happily, there are a LOT of choices out there, and I know that folks on this board have a LOT of wisdom to share . You will probably get more responses, though, once you've narrowed things down a bit.

- RootAnn and Julie of KY like this

Posted 20 March 2017 - 10:12 PM

Honestly, it's a little hard to answer your question. All we know from your initial post is that AoPS isn't working (which is apparently not at all uncommon, so take heart!)

Could you maybe provide a little more information on what you are looking for in a new algebra curriculum? What type of learner is your student? Do you want something that you do have to teach? Can your student learn independently from a text, or do you want some type of lectures available? If so, video or live? Was there anything about AoPS that you particularly liked or disliked?

Happily, there are a LOT of choices out there, and I know that folks on this board have a LOT of wisdom to share . You will probably get more responses, though, once you've narrowed things down a bit.

Thank you. I knew I was asking a broad question, but I'm not exactly sure what I'm looking for. Your questions are helping me think through it more clearly.

1) Type of learner--loves to read, does not really like academics. She complains about math, but I think it's because it requires her to think. She likes to answer questions and move on.

2) I think should could learn a lot independently with some extra help here and there. The problem is that Algebra is not my strength, so if she gets stuck, she needs some good example problems and explanations that can also help me!

3) She cannot take an online class at this time, although I believe she & I both would love it!

4) Problems with AoPS: The problems in Alcumus take great leaps from the problems in the book. We need more explicit teaching, I think.

5) Her math background: She did RightStart Math through Level E and Singapore Math through Level 6. Then we did AoPS Pre-Algebra. That was difficult, but I had read that the Algebra was easier. She did well in the first lesson in the book, but Alcumus has really thrown us for a loop.

Posted 21 March 2017 - 04:26 AM

We have never used Alcumus.

We just used the AoPS book + online video's

We stopped useing AoPS though when we had no longer video's along the book.

For the moment we are dabbling with Dutch & Flemish math texts, so no help with other options.

We just used the AoPS book + online video's

We stopped useing AoPS though when we had no longer video's along the book.

For the moment we are dabbling with Dutch & Flemish math texts, so no help with other options.

Posted 21 March 2017 - 05:48 AM

Are you working through the text with her?

AoPS is not a great "independent learner" curriculum, imho. Some may use it this way, but I believe it needs coaching.

If you are using it as an independent program, I would expect it to be difficult to jump in and help out here-and-there. It would be better to use it as a shared experience for the two of you. And, if you are already considering switching, it probably means there is still time to jump in and catch up.

If you are already working the course together (end-to-end), then you might need to do something a bit more drastic. If you can afford a tutor, I'd recommend it. If not, then I'd look for a traditional algebra 1 textbook - the kind you can get at a local Half Price store. As a last resort, I might try Teaching Textbooks or Math-U-See - they are reasonably good, but a bit delayed in their content. Since there are likely some fundamentals missing, that delay may not be a bad thing.

- Momofeat likes this

Posted 21 March 2017 - 06:50 AM

Thank you. I knew I was asking a broad question, but I'm not exactly sure what I'm looking for. Your questions are helping me think through it more clearly.

1) Type of learner--loves to read, does not really like academics. She complains about math, but I think it's because it requires her to think. She likes to answer questions and move on. How old is your daughter?

2) I think should could learn a lot independently with some extra help here and there. The problem is that Algebra is not my strength, so if she gets stuck, she needs some good example problems and explanations that can also help me! How are you using the textbook? My boys have gone through the AoPS textbooks and my daughter is wrapping up their pre-calc. With two of my kids, I found it very beneficial to work through the lesson problems in the book together. I think the step by step way the program guides the students to make connections is fantastic. After we go through the lesson problems together, my kids would work on the exercise problems by themselves.

Alcumus has expanded over the years, and the only subject available on Alcumus at one point was for Counting and Probability. The textbook provides enough problems without having to use Alcumus, imo.

3) She cannot take an online class at this time, although I believe she & I both would love it! In case you are not aware, the AoPS classes move extremely quickly.

4) Problems with AoPS: The problems in Alcumus take great leaps from the problems in the book. We need more explicit teaching, I think. Are you working through the lesson problems in the textbook?.

5) Her math background: She did RightStart Math through Level E and Singapore Math through Level 6. Then we did AoPS Pre-Algebra. That was difficult, but I had read that the Algebra was easier. She did well in the first lesson in the book, but Alcumus has really thrown us for a loop. I have also read comments that Algebra was easier. I didn't find those comments to be true in our house..

Posted 21 March 2017 - 07:28 AM

We stopped useing AoPS though when we had no longer video's along the book.

.

Does this happen in Algebra I?

Posted 21 March 2017 - 07:30 AM

Are you working through the text with her?

I'm not doing every last problem with her. However, when she does the exercises, I go over them with her, and if she has trouble with a problem on Alcumus, I work it with her. Lately I've had to help her with every problem on Alcumus, and I can't find good sample problems in the book to guide me through them.

Posted 21 March 2017 - 07:36 AM

Dd is 14. She completes the reading & exercises on her own, and then I check the exercises. If she has trouble with any of them, I go back and work her through them. She really didn't have any trouble with the first lesson in the book. It was when we started working through Alcumus that we started having problems. I'm starting to think that I need to just drop it.

Posted 21 March 2017 - 08:02 AM

Dd is 14. She completes the reading & exercises on her own, and then I check the exercises. If she has trouble with any of them, I go back and work her through them. She really didn't have any trouble with the first lesson in the book. It was when we started working through Alcumus that we started having problems. I'm starting to think that I need to just drop it.

If she has just started the book, maybe Alcumus is giving her problems that she hasn't seen yet. In my very limited experience with Alcumus, the program starts out giving the kids hard problems in order to determine the proper level. If the kids can't answer the first few problems, the level of problems drops until the program arrives at the correct starting point. (I need more coffee because I don't think I explained my thought very well at all, but hopefully you can muddle through my rambling and get my point.)

- Momofeat likes this

Posted 21 March 2017 - 08:32 AM

We use AoPS and alternate between liking the challenge and getting frustrated that it can move on to trickier versions of a problem type before my kid understands exactly what's going on. We've started doing sections from Jousting Armadillos, Crocodiles to Coconuts, and Chuckles the Rocket Dog to reinforce the concepts. If this kid weren't good at math and needing to learn that sometimes you can't just look at a problem and see the answer, we would probably switch to that series as our main math plan for algebra. I've got several years, but I'm planning to use it as the main curriculum with my younger child. It talks you through the problem types, has plenty of practice, and often offers a few challenge or puzzle problems. You don't have to use the whole series if there are parts that you think that you know - one is mostly about quadratic equations, one has a lot of basic concepts, etc - check the titles to see which to start with.

- Momofeat likes this

Posted 21 March 2017 - 09:22 AM

Foersters Algebra or Jacob's Algebra. Those are two texts I see praises and recommended here for math.

- Penelope and Momofeat like this

Posted 21 March 2017 - 11:21 AM

Does this happen in Algebra I?

The intro to Algebra book has only video's until the middle of the book.

Posted 21 March 2017 - 12:01 PM

I absolutely love Jacobs Algebra. It has the guided discovery aspect of AoPS without being so...difficult. But I recommend that you go over the lessons with her as the book assumes the presence of a teacher.

If you want a traditional, very straightforward Algebra I text, Lial is good, though I'm not a fan of her Algebra II text as I don't think it covers enough Algebra II concepts (it's more of a great big review of Algebra I with added topics). The Lial book has all of the teaching in the text, though I would suspect that many, if not most, students would benefit from the presence of a teacher.

If you don't want to be the teacher anymore, Derek Owens is fabulous.

Posted 21 March 2017 - 12:02 PM

The intro to Algebra book has only video's until the middle of the book.

I really needed to know this. Thank you!

- loesje22000 likes this

Posted 21 March 2017 - 12:48 PM

For a video-based course with teacher support for grading, I would recommend Derek Owens (although we have only used him for science, we have seen some math instruction contained within.)

Another option would be Foersters combined with the Math Without Borders videos. (I love Foersters. If I were the student, it's what I would pick. My child is a different sort of learner, though.)

- Momofeat likes this

Posted 21 March 2017 - 01:28 PM

The pre-algebra book was not yet published when my older kids were doing that level, so the Intro to Algebra book was our first AoPS.

One of my kids has told me that looking back, he really disliked AoPS, because he never felt like he knew what he was doing. I think the discovery style lends itself to that, because each lesson puts the student in the position of trying to reason through a new problem given past experience and skills. He scored very well on standardized tests, but I don't know how much of that was innate reasoning ability and how much was the AoPS math instruction. I know he much PREFERRED dual enrollment for pre-calc, where they were given direct instruction and problems to practice on.

The AoPS Intro to Algebra book covers more than a traditional Algebra 1 course. The typical suggestion on the board is to go through chapter 13 for Algebra 1. You might want to add in a little probability and statistics since this often shows up on standardized tests.

I found that the first chapter of Intro to Algebra was deceptively easy. The lessons seem very obvious (1+2=2+1). Then chapter two requires the student to apply all of those concepts in ways that test their understanding. I have had kids really stumble in the middle of chapter two and have to go back to chapter one again. I made them tab the summary section of chapter one to refer back to.

I also insist that they actually work out the sample problems, not just look at them and assume they understand what is happening. They also NEED to read the explanation for each problem, because there may be a more ideal way of solving the problem (which they will need to know for future problems) and because terms are defined in the explanations (ex. integer, complex number, reciprocal).

We only use Alcumus rarely. We mostly just used the books. With my current algebra student, I work each problem along with him. (It does help me know when he's lagging and when a problem is just tough.)

There is no shame in picking a different program. There are also some ways of getting better use out of the AoPS book.

- Momofeat and OnMyOwn like this

Posted 21 March 2017 - 01:56 PM

al).

We only use Alcumus rarely. We mostly just used the books. With my current algebra student, I work each problem along with him. (It does help me know when he's lagging and when a problem is just tough.)

There is no shame in picking a different program. There are also some ways of getting better use out of the AoPS book.

Thank you. Now I'm leaning towards dropping Alcumus & only working in the book for the next few weeks. I want to still look at other programs, though, in case this doesn't work for us. I would like to do my investigating now so that I'm not making a decision too quickly.

Posted 21 March 2017 - 02:25 PM

Is the no online classes because of scheduling conflicts for live classes or no computer/internet access?

We've used Mr D Math. It is online, but we have the canned option. All the videos for the classes are available to watch at any time. We don't need to answer to a schedule. I think he's phenomenal at explaining things. And he's engaging. I also like that he is on the video talking to them like they're in class, and its not just a hand or words popping up on a blackboard. I think it's easier to watch.

ETA link https://mrdmath.com

We've used Mr D Math. It is online, but we have the canned option. All the videos for the classes are available to watch at any time. We don't need to answer to a schedule. I think he's phenomenal at explaining things. And he's engaging. I also like that he is on the video talking to them like they're in class, and its not just a hand or words popping up on a blackboard. I think it's easier to watch.

ETA link https://mrdmath.com

**Edited by matrips, 21 March 2017 - 02:27 PM.**

Posted 21 March 2017 - 02:30 PM

Beware that common core standards pushed a lot of Algebra 1 topics down to grade 7 and 8, so Algebra 1 standards now start with functions, a topic you won't reach in the first 13 chapters of intro to Algebra book. When I asked about Intermediate Algebra here, I was told it's a must to complete before precalculus. So I think it's better to think of Intro to Algebra book as Algebra 1, Intermediate Algebra as Algebra 2. Sure they contain more than traditional textbooks, but they were written with kids in mind who want additional topics. If you stay with aops, you won't be able to go from the Intro book to precalculus, at least that's an advice I got on this board. I am only giving one credit for the entire Intro book to my student.

Posted 21 March 2017 - 02:34 PM

We are using the Algebra book without Alcumus. If she is doing fine with the problems in the book I would not assume that she needs a different curriculum just because she is struggling with Alcumus

Posted 21 March 2017 - 02:35 PM

Foerster seems to work well for some who do not click with AOPS so you might investigate that.

Posted 21 March 2017 - 03:19 PM

Is the no online classes because of scheduling conflicts for live classes or no computer/internet access?

We've used Mr D Math. It is online, but we have the canned option. All the videos for the classes are available to watch at any time. We don't need to answer to a schedule. I think he's phenomenal at explaining things. And he's engaging. I also like that he is on the video talking to them like they're in class, and its not just a hand or words popping up on a blackboard. I think it's easier to watch.

ETA link https://mrdmath.com

We are limiting Internet access for her for awhile--issues unrelated to math, but I really don't want to get into that on this thread. Just For now, we have to find something that will work without the Internet. Sigh.

Posted 21 March 2017 - 04:34 PM

Beware that common core standards pushed a lot of Algebra 1 topics down to grade 7 and 8, so Algebra 1 standards now start with functions, a topic you won't reach in the first 13 chapters of intro to Algebra book. When I asked about Intermediate Algebra here, I was told it's a must to complete before precalculus. So I think it's better to think of Intro to Algebra book as Algebra 1, Intermediate Algebra as Algebra 2. Sure they contain more than traditional textbooks, but they were written with kids in mind who want additional topics. If you stay with aops, you won't be able to go from the Intro book to precalculus, at least that's an advice I got on this board. I am only giving one credit for the entire Intro book to my student.

That seems right. Although, WTM Academy is using the books differently and filling in the holes a different way, so perhaps there are different paths that will work.

As far as functions go, from what I have seen, yes, Algebra 1 CC now includes the concept of a function, but only linear functions. The rest of the coverage is still in a later year. Someone correct me if I am wrong. It is the difference of a couple of lessons if a student had to take a placement exam.

- Roadrunner likes this

Posted 21 March 2017 - 05:15 PM

That seems right. Although, WTM Academy is using the books differently and filling in the holes a different way, so perhaps there are different paths that will work.

As far as functions go, from what I have seen, yes, Algebra 1 CC now includes the concept of a function, but only linear functions. The rest of the coverage is still in a later year. Someone correct me if I am wrong. It is the difference of a couple of lessons if a student had to take a placement exam.

Maybe. Local integrated 1 workbook has a ton on functions and universes and piecewise functions. I thought I saw some logs and exponential ones as well.

Posted 21 March 2017 - 05:24 PM

Beware that common core standards pushed a lot of Algebra 1 topics down to grade 7 and 8, so Algebra 1 standards now start with functions, a topic you won't reach in the first 13 chapters of intro to Algebra book. When I asked about Intermediate Algebra here, I was told it's a must to complete before precalculus. So I think it's better to think of Intro to Algebra book as Algebra 1, Intermediate Algebra as Algebra 2. Sure they contain more than traditional textbooks, but they were written with kids in mind who want additional topics. If you stay with aops, you won't be able to go from the Intro book to precalculus, at least that's an advice I got on this board. I am only giving one credit for the entire Intro book to my student.

Fwiw, my older kids did most of the Intro to Algebra and Geometry books, then did Pre-calculus as dual enrolled students. They needed to learn logarithm but otherwise did fine in precalc.

Posted 21 March 2017 - 05:57 PM

Fwiw, my older kids did most of the Intro to Algebra and Geometry books, then did Pre-calculus as dual enrolled students. They needed to learn logarithm but otherwise did fine in precalc.

Last time I had this conversation on this board and I asked if Intermediate was optional, I was told no, it was a must. All of this is super confusing.

Posted 21 March 2017 - 07:28 PM

When AOPS really stopped working for us, we switched to Foerster algebra, for which I have the textbook, the answer book, and the corresponding video lessons from ...i want to say "math without borders"? The latter comes in a flash drive (so, not internet based). Math is now completely indipendent here.We are limiting Internet access for her for awhile--issues unrelated to math, but I really don't want to get into that on this thread. Just For now, we have to find something that will work without the Internet. Sigh.

Posted 21 March 2017 - 07:41 PM

Maybe you could work through the book which should be thorough enough without Alcumus. I would go back and use Alcumus as review and challenge after you work through the book. Alcumus is not really a teaching platform, IMO. It's a challenge and practice platform when you already know the basics. She may need more practice and more time for the concepts to solidify.

Honestly, though...I think Algebra should be taught by someone confident in how to do it. If you don't feel capable, I would recommend outsourcing. If online is not possible, maybe you could find a high school or college student who will come over once or twice a week to go through AOPS or whatever you use instead with her.

- Momofeat likes this

Posted 21 March 2017 - 10:04 PM

When AOPS really stopped working for us, we switched to Foerster algebra, for which I have the textbook, the answer book, and the corresponding video lessons from ...i want to say "math without borders"? The latter comes in a flash drive (so, not internet based). Math is now completely indipendent here.

I've been looking at the same thing all day today. I'm 99% sure that's what we're going to do, but I've decided that I should probably sleep on it instead of buying today. I watched one of the sample lessons and thought, "That's the Algebra I remember!"

**Edited by Momofeat, 21 March 2017 - 10:04 PM.**

Posted 21 March 2017 - 10:10 PM

Maybe you could work through the book which should be thorough enough without Alcumus. I would go back and use Alcumus as review and challenge after you work through the book. Alcumus is not really a teaching platform, IMO. It's a challenge and practice platform when you already know the basics. She may need more practice and more time for the concepts to solidify.

Honestly, though...I think Algebra should be taught by someone confident in how to do it. If you don't feel capable, I would recommend outsourcing. If online is not possible, maybe you could find a high school or college student who will come over once or twice a week to go through AOPS or whatever you use instead with her.

I actually felt pretty confident in my Algebra skills until I started using AoPS, lol. I had no problem understanding CLE Algebra I for my older child. I didn't like its sequence, though. I am really leaning toward Foerster with the video lessons. Today I watched a video lesson from Chapter 3 and kept fast forwarding because I already understood it & didn't really want to listen to a drawn-out explanation. I think it will be great for dd, though.

I'll probably oversee her studies through Geometry and then outsource Algebra II when the time comes.