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How to "schedule" or "approach" AOPS Pre-Algebra?


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#1 JHLWTM

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 01:06 AM

Hello Hive, 

Hoping that some of you who have been-there-and-done-that can provide some advice or examples of how you or your child used AOPS Pre-Alg.

 

DD9 is finishing up Beast 5D in the next 2 weeks. She has worked through Beast largely on her own. I step in if she is having trouble with the problems, but for the most part she uses it on a self-teaching model.  She aims to complete roughly 2 pages out of the WB each day. If there are lots of star/ double star problems, she might do only one page.

 

Looking now at AOPS Pre-Alg (yikes, I know I'm late to the game - I didn't think she's finish 5D so soon), I'm not sure how to help her structure her approach to each chapter. I would love to have her to continue to "self-teach" from the text as much as possible (she's developed confidence, independence and problem solving grit this way). I don't know whether that is reasonable, or whether this is a program in which I will need to be more actively teaching / guiding.  The AOPS text looks like it is still written to the student, but it's not quite so "fun," it's denser and there are no pictures  :crying: , and she is only 9. The format of the text is also different from Beast and I'd like to get some ideas on how to approach it and how to pace.  I don't necessarily need her to finish in a certain time frame just for the sake of finishing, but do want to have a rough idea of how to break it up in a reasonable way.

 

Looking at the text, each chapter has sub-sections (e.g. 1.3, 1.4...). Each sub-section has the initial problems, then the explanations / solutions, then a few exercises at the end.  There are 78 total sub-sections, so if we wanted to finish over the course of a year at a relaxed pace, we could try to do one section over 2 days. This would require 156 days, leaving plenty of "room" to slow down if needed (assuming 180 school days/year).  If we did this, I was thinking day 1 would be to read through and attempt the problems. Then read through and understand the first few solutions. Day 2 would be to read through and understand the rest of the solutions, then complete the exercises.  I would check her answers and meet with her each day to talk through the ones she found challenging (that's what I currently do with Beast). 

 

Does that sound reasonable? If you foresee any pitfalls, or if you have other suggestions and advice, I'd love your input! 

 

I see that there are also videos online. Have you found those to be a helpful adjunct? Is the book sufficient (without the videos)?  

 

Ideally, I would work through the text ahead of her, but realistically, I don't know that I'll be able to keep that up consistently.

 

Thank you in advance!


Edited by JHLWTM, 09 November 2017 - 01:08 AM.


#2 Amoret

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 06:12 AM

My DS9 is still early in the program, but here is what we do:

 

DS watches relevant videos for the chapter

Works through initial problems/explanations

Completes practice problems

Done for the day

 

He does most of the sections fairly quickly, but the review problems and challenge problems at the end of the chapters are harder and take longer. The videos are helpful to give a context for the initial problems (for example, he had no idea what they were looking for in the very first problem when they said something along the lines of "show that 2+3=3+2". The video introduced the commutative property of addition, which he knew, but didn't realize that was what they wanted.)

 

I am not trying to schedule it out -- I have found AOPS to be uneven and hard to predict -- some days DS flies through it and others, it is a slog (i.e. some sections have taken 30 minutes and others have taken much longer). We have plenty of time, so we are just taking it one day at a time, and when we are done, we will just move on to the next book. I tried to work ahead, but have too many other things to do. We have a math hour where we all sit at the table together and I am available to help as needed. 



#3 regentrude

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 08:11 AM

We did not use the prealgebra text, because that had not yet been published, but used the rest of the AoPS sequence.

 

I found it hard to predict how long any given section or problem would take, since they vary in difficulty. Without actually working through each problem beforehand it would have been impossible to predict, and even then, without a lot of experience it is very hard to anticipate where the student will have difficulties and get stuck. You don't always see from skimming a problem that it will take an hour to solve.

 

We solved this by not "scheduling" AoPS. We simply set a time for math, kids worked on math, got how far they got, and resumed the next day where they had left off.


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#4 SparklyUnicorn

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 08:37 AM

You might find that it doesn't work so great for a 9 year old.  I would not commit to a rigid schedule either way because the difficulty varies quite a bit.

 

It's just SO SO radically different than BA...that hmmm...it might not be a great fit at this point. 



#5 slackermom

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 08:51 AM

My kid also started AOPS Pre-Algebra at 9, I believe after finishing BA 4B, since the other books were not out yet. I found we could not keep to my pre-determined schedule of 2 days per sub-section, and just had to develop a routine for the book. AOPS was usually done Monday through Thursday, and we did different math on Friday. The kid consistently chose it as the first subject of the day. At our pace, we did 5 chapters per semester, and finished in 3 semesters. The kid liked to do the following, fairly independently, which usually took 2-3 days, with each day ranging from 45-60 minutes, with a brief check in with me at the end of each math session:

 

-do the initial problems

-read through the solutions/explanations 

-watch the corresponding Richard videos online, usually with me (he is fairly animated, which helped keep the energy up)

-do the exercises

-review the solutions to the exercises

-review the sub-section with me

-do some challenge problems, which we sort of took turns choosing

 

If we had not done other stuff on Fridays, I think we could have gotten through the book in 2 semesters, but I think the pace was good for us. In addition to learning Pre-Algebra, my kid had to learn about ways to tackle more difficult subjects, and we had to address a struggle with perfectionism.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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#6 RoundAbout

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 09:37 AM

My son did AoPS pre-algebra while he was 9 in a little over 9 months working every problem, including challenge problems. We often do a lot of math though and sometimes even on the weekends. 

 

I would throw out the idea of scheduling it at all. Some of the chapters are a breeze, others are very very tough or just time consuming like the rates and proportions chapter. I also did not expect self-teaching. I think its written for an older audience so self-teaching from that text can be a slog for a younger students. Also, I went to a gifted program that entirely expected self-teaching in math and I know that I often took short cuts without thoroughly understanding so did not want to repeat that experience with DS. We do a mix of a math discussion, joint problem solving, and independent work with AoPS and its been very successful so far. 



#7 Arcadia

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 10:11 AM

My kids self studied for prealgebra and I just grade their work as DS12 has a photographic memory so if he sees the solution in the solution manual, it spoils the fun of correcting his careless mistakes. They have an alcumus account for years and they can post any problems they are stuck on there or even post that they don’t understand the alternative solution in the solution manual.

My kids did the online classes for social reasons and it help keep my easily distracted DS11 on task. He works better with schedules and hard deadlines for any task. He procrastinates on soft deadlines. DS11 started with the original intro to algebra class and the intro to geometry class concurrently after starting the books a year earlier. DS12 started with intermediate algebra class and intro to geometry class concurrently, also after a year of using the books concurrently. My kids like geometry more than algebra so doing the intro to geometry concurrently relieved some boredom of doing the algebra.

My kids started the AoPS books at 8. When BA came out, I bought a set to look see and none of my kids take to it. They rather have the wordy AoPS books.

DS12 has done the books from prealgebra to calculus, including the number theory and the counting and probability books. He thrive on the online class schedule but he is a kid who loves schedules since he was a toddler. DS11 did not thrive as much on the online class schedule but he does worse with no schedules.

My kids found the videos entertaining but they learn better by reading and doing. For video learning, DS11 has to watch more than once as the first time would be spent being distracted by presentation rather than content. My kids counted how many times the presenter wore a particular sweatshirt for example.

My kids has plenty of time for math and other subjects as their friends play soccer and other team sports and my kids aren’t into sports so my kids end up with lots of down time per day. Both kids spend more than an hour a day on math. My DS12 can spend the whole weekend on math if he runs out of books to read. Put my DS12 in a bookstore and he spends the whole day reading.
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#8 SanDiegoMom in VA

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 11:35 AM

My son started at 9 and took about 10 months or so. A calendar year with a break for summer. Scheduling didn't happen -- some days he got one problem done!  Typically he did the initial problems and then watched videos, then the next day did the exercises, but the end of chapter review ALWAYS took long -- like a week long. 

 

 



#9 silver

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 02:54 PM

We're in chapter four right now, so this is just what's worked for us so far.

 

He has a certain amount of time that he works on math each day. For some sections, that means it takes two days to do (one day doing the intro w/explanations and one day doing the exercises). For some sections, he's been able to do both the intro and the exercises in one day. The review and challenge sections at the end of each chapter have taken him several days each. We don't use the online videos, but he does Alcumus a few times a week. If he wraps up a section but still has ~10 minutes left, I'll let him do Alcumus with the remaining time.



#10 seaben

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 02:59 PM

Just to throw another routine out there:  We started AoPS pre-alg in the middle of 2nd grade which was a big lift. Initially we did  10-15  minutes a day with me acting as a tutor and watching how it went. The initial adjustment for the first 4 chapters was fairly hard. Half way through the book or so we switched from reading the exercises to watching the videos instead but otherwise we also worked through all the problems however long it took. Sometimes that looked like 3 weeks on a chapter and I also took the freedom to use the time for additional topic/videos if they looked interesting for example watching a numberphile video (I think this was important from a joy perspective).  Overall adjusting for Summer break this was a 20 mo. process i.e. slow but steady.  I was fairly happy, with the results in terms of retention and growth in problem solving.

 

 

 

 

 

 



#11 JHLWTM

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 06:12 PM

What a wealth of information you all are. Thanks for the input. Could someone explain Alcumus and how you use it? Is it meant to be supplementary? From Arcadia's post, it sounds like there is a "forum" aspect of it where your child can post questions?



#12 JHLWTM

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 06:29 PM

My kid also started AOPS Pre-Algebra at 9, I believe after finishing BA 4B, since the other books were not out yet. I found we could not keep to my pre-determined schedule of 2 days per sub-section, and just had to develop a routine for the book. AOPS was usually done Monday through Thursday, and we did different math on Friday. The kid consistently chose it as the first subject of the day. At our pace, we did 5 chapters per semester, and finished in 3 semesters. The kid liked to do the following, fairly independently, which usually took 2-3 days, with each day ranging from 45-60 minutes, with a brief check in with me at the end of each math session:

 

-do the initial problems

-read through the solutions/explanations 

-watch the corresponding Richard videos online, usually with me (he is fairly animated, which helped keep the energy up)

-do the exercises

-review the solutions to the exercises

-review the sub-section with me

-do some challenge problems, which we sort of took turns choosing

 

If we had not done other stuff on Fridays, I think we could have gotten through the book in 2 semesters, but I think the pace was good for us. In addition to learning Pre-Algebra, my kid had to learn about ways to tackle more difficult subjects, and we had to address a struggle with perfectionism.

 Thanks, slackermom.... umm, from your post, your handle seems to be a misnomer :)

 

I have a strong feeling my DD will want to work as independently as possible. I am thinking I'll need to set aside a 2-4 week transition period for myself. I will lighten up on her other subjects, and also on what I need to do with DS (he cannot work independently yet). During that time, I think I'll let her try on her own, but hover and observe and help her trouble shoot.


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#13 Arcadia

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 06:48 PM

Could someone explain Alcumus and how you use it? Is it meant to be supplementary? From Arcadia's post, it sounds like there is a "forum" aspect of it where your child can post questions?

Alcumus is supplementary.
“Alcumus offers students a customized learning experience, adjusting to student performance to deliver appropriate problems and lessons”
https://artofproblem...ing.com/alcumus

AoPS forums which uses the same account as Alcumus
https://artofproblem...g.com/community

ETA:
For under 13, there is a consent form to email back to
AoPS to get the account created.

Edited by Arcadia, 09 November 2017 - 06:55 PM.

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#14 boscopup

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 10:30 PM

I've used this book twice now. The first one was with a 9 year old. We spent 2 years on the book, though the second year I was having a complicated pregnancy, so school was kind of hit or miss that year. :p My current 5th grader (just turned 11) is working on it now and is almost done with chapter 2. In both cases, we typically did Problems one day and Exercises the next. Occasionally the Problems will take longer or the Exercises will take longer, and then I split them over a couple days. No big deal. We had to do that with an Exercises section just this week, as it had 11 problems, but the first 5 took a long time. So we did the rest the next day. Review section gets a couple days and Challenge section gets 2-3 days. We do all the problems. With my oldest, I did a lot of handholding the first couple chapters. Once he got to chapter 3, he took off and worked independently. My current student doesn't read well enough to learn from the material on his own, plus he has dysgraphia, so I read the lesson to him, we read the problems together, and we take turns doing the writing. I just ask him what I need to write, and he tells me.

 

Anyway, with you starting so young, feel free to just take your time. It's ok if the book goes past a school year. And don't freak out in the first two chapters... The first chapter is weird - explaining why 2+3=3+2. I understand why they do that, but the student is likely to think, "Well, duh." The second chapter gets into nitty gritty exponents, and if your student hasn't done much with exponents yet, it can move kind of fast. My oldest really struggled with that chapter. My current student is doing better with it, much to my surprise.

 

The videos are great! We usually watch them after doing the problem set.


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#15 daijobu

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Posted 10 November 2017 - 11:19 PM

 

I have a strong feeling my DD will want to work as independently as possible. I am thinking I'll need to set aside a 2-4 week transition period for myself. I will lighten up on her other subjects, and also on what I need to do with DS (he cannot work independently yet). During that time, I think I'll let her try on her own, but hover and observe and help her trouble shoot.

 

Take a look at message #30 in this thread where I copied verbatim from AoPS prealgebra.  For my own kids (who don't insist on independence) I would write things out as I read them, particularly to illustrate dense paragraphs such as that one.  Reading math is hard, kind of like reading in a foreign language you are still mastering.  


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#16 JHLWTM

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 12:34 AM

Take a look at message #30 in this thread where I copied verbatim from AoPS prealgebra.  For my own kids (who don't insist on independence) I would write things out as I read them, particularly to illustrate dense paragraphs such as that one.  Reading math is hard, kind of like reading in a foreign language you are still mastering.  

 

Very helpful. Thanks for the specific example. I think I really will need a transition period to figure out how we'll use this... Will report back in a month or two :)



#17 gold11

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 11:51 AM

Thanks for asking this question. We are also on the same boat with my 9 year old just starting AoPS Pre-algebra. I am thinking of extending each section into 4 days. First two days to do the problems and exercises and then practice similar problems (that I will get from other sources) for two days to reinforce what he learnt. 


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