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This year has been a true nightmare where Algebra I has been concerned. I am considering backing up and doing another year of Pre-Algebra, even though Saxon and Math U See placement tests put him into Algebra. I am that frustrated.

 

There are a few Algebra programs I have not looked at, Lials, Foresters and Janson (??) come to mind.

 

I need a program that is written to the high school student, not a college student.

 

So far this year we have tried Chalk Dust Algebra and Math U See Algebra. He has bombed in both programs. Up until now I have thought is was carelessness, but maybe his foundation just isn't strong enough. I honestly don't know what to do. He hates math, but wants to be a mechanical engineer or industrial designer.

 

I have tried to weed through the many posts here on different math programs, but it is so confusing.

 

For example, Lial. What is the difference between Beginning Algebra and Introductory Algebra?

 

What is developmental math? I think I saw that in conjunction with Lial.

 

Tell me about these programs - how many of them have real world applications that would appeal to a teen boy? Not figuring out a mortgage, but maybe figuring out gear ratios for a robot?

 

Can anyone give me some guidance? Today I just want to cry.

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This year has been a true nightmare where Algebra I has been concerned. I am considering backing up and doing another year of Pre-Algebra, even though Saxon and Math U See placement tests put him into Algebra. I am that frustrated.

 

There are a few Algebra programs I have not looked at, Lials, Foresters and Janson (??) come to mind.

 

I need a program that is written to the high school student, not a college student.

 

So far this year we have tried Chalk Dust Algebra and Math U See Algebra. He has bombed in both programs. Up until now I have thought is was carelessness, but maybe his foundation just isn't strong enough. I honestly don't know what to do. He hates math, but wants to be a mechanical engineer or industrial designer.

 

I have tried to weed through the many posts here on different math programs, but it is so confusing.

 

For example, Lial. What is the difference between Beginning Algebra and Introductory Algebra?

 

What is developmental math? I think I saw that in conjunction with Lial.

 

Tell me about these programs - how many of them have real world applications that would appeal to a teen boy? Not figuring out a mortgage, but maybe figuring out gear ratios for a robot?

 

Can anyone give me some guidance? Today I just want to cry.

 

It might help if you actually describe what problems he is having. I don't want to stress you further, but MUS is as about as basic an alg program as there is. I suspect that the problem is not with algebra, but some foundational concepts that he needs to back up and master prior to moving forward.

 

If you have an idea of what is causing the problem, there are books like Keys to.....(decimals/fractions/percentages, etc) http://www.keypress.com/x6469.xml Math Mammoth has concentrated workbooks (perhaps the 4 operations or the ratio/proportion workbooks) http://www.mathmammoth.com/blue-series.php (scroll to near the bottom of the page)

 

I used MM's ratio/proportion book with my 5th grader at end of the school yr last yr (she is an advanced math student) and I thought it was great for reviewing those concepts prior to MUS alg which she is using currently.

 

An approach you might also want to consider since he wants to pursue engineering is sticking it out with MUS this yr and then following up with another alg 1 text again next yr. (I take this approach with all my students. They do MUS alg followed by a yr of Foerster alg 1).

 

Perhaps he might be motivated in his persevering through his struggles if he got to go on a college tour of some engineering depts or shadow some mechanical engineers. Math is foundational for a career in any engineering.:grouphug:

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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13 seems young for Algebra. It could be his mind has not matured enough to handle Algebra and you do need to back up year.

 

We used Lial's and even though it's for a college student, the way it's laid out makes it easy to use. There are good, well explained examples and the application problems are also good. I believe both Introductory Algebra and Beginning Algebra are Algebra I courses

 

But really, you may just need to back off of the Algebra for a while. Maybe try the Key To series to work on some skills, or try Lial's Basic College Math book (you can buy it used and fairly cheap), which is a pre-Algebra book, and see what you think of that program.

 

:grouphug: It's hard when our kids struggle with a subject.

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I'm not sure exactly what you should do, but I did want to say that I've just gotten the Key to Algebra books, and I think they're a great supplement. I have dd12 working through Lial's BCM, and she was complaining that it was too easy (even though she bombed the 1st chapter test because she didn't bother to check her work and made lots of careless errors - although I think that really opened her eyes to the necessity of checking her work - I hope). But I wanted to add something more challenging yet still foundational. The Key to... books are new material, but not overwhelming, and all the info will be repeated once she takes Algebra for real next year. So, we're using BCM for review and consolidation, and Key to Algebra for some stretching and introducing some new material gently and without stress. I'm also having her do a problem from Singapore CWP6 a few times a week - the word problems in Lial's and Key to... are simple by comparison. She did Singapore 6 last year, but we never finished the CWP. I'm hoping we've finally found the right mix of materials...

 

The plan for now is to do Lial's Algebra I next year (I know the difference between Introductory and Beginning Algebra in Lial's is that one's hardcover and one's paperback and the layout's a bit different. I know Jann in TX prefers the paperback series, but I keep forgetting which title goes with which... :tongue_smilie:) Our plan is for the paperback, whichever one that is. :)

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This year has been a true nightmare where Algebra I has been concerned. I am considering backing up and doing another year of Pre-Algebra, even though Saxon and Math U See placement tests put him into Algebra. I am that frustrated.

 

 

Can anyone give me some guidance? Today I just want to cry.

 

Been there, done that.

 

The solution for us was the Key To Algebra series. It was the foundation we needed so that we could dive more deeply. I would suggest that you do Key to Algebra...each booklet, and then supplement with something that has the depth he needs for his career goals. Just add a bit of depth here and there as you encounter concepts. For instance, when my son began to study graphing of linear equations, Key to Algebra only covered two types. We used the supplementary program to teach the third type. Believe me, once his foundation is in place, you will be surprised at how much easier the more advanced concepts can be absorbed.

 

There are some folks that say Key to Algebra is not a complete algebra program. Don't let that scare you. Key to Algebra is not an pre-algebra program. It covers all the basic algebra I concepts and can be supplemented easily to "beef it up," for a student who is aiming for a science/math career.

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:grouphug:

 

I know you said you took the Saxon placement test, but has he done any of the Saxon courses? Sometimes their test places students a bit higher than where they're really at, but it is good for a basic idea. Since he's 13, and he's got plenty of time to get through the high school math courses, why not try a different pre-algebra text. We like Saxon, so I'm biased and would suggest trying 8/7 or algebra 1/2. Let him get really solid in his foundation this year, and the you may find that he breezes through the algebra next year. The Saxon texts are very thorough in their teaching and many students can work directly from the text on their own. I'd highly recommend Saxon 8/7. :)

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WHY did the algebra programs not work out? Did he not understand the actual algebra concepts, or was his prealgebra (particularly arithmetic with fractions) not solid enough? (your solution will depend on the answer to this question)

I second pp's suggestion. I personally do not like Saxon, but it is a solid program and we used 8/7 to get the kids proficient in prealgebra. It is not exciting, but gets the job done and is definitely written for a school age student.

 

Btw, why does he want to be an engineer if he hates math???? Does he know that he has to do a LOT of it and be good at it in order to become an engineer?

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:grouphug: We were there last year (and the year before) and I did what I absolutely did NOT want to do...I gave him time off from math. We restarted again this year and the difference between last year and this year is like night and day. He's having no problems whatsoever. He had always been ahead in math (it was easy and he was fast at it) and then for 2 years he stumbled over the simplest things that he ended up moving backwards more than moving forwards. So I don't know if it was the rest or the maturing or both but now Algebra is a breeze. :tongue_smilie:

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:grouphug:

 

I know you said you took the Saxon placement test' date=' but has he done any of the Saxon courses? Sometimes their test places students a bit higher than where they're really at, but it is good for a basic idea. Since he's 13, and he's got plenty of time to get through the high school math courses, why not try a different pre-algebra text. We like Saxon, so I'm biased and would suggest trying 8/7 or algebra 1/2. Let him get really solid in his foundation this year, and the you may find that he breezes through the algebra next year. The Saxon texts are very thorough in their teaching and many students can work directly from the text on their own. I'd highly recommend Saxon 8/7. :)[/quote']

 

:iagree:

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PM me if you'd like me to evaluate your son's work. Often times there are some minute 'logic' errors that hold students like your son back. Texts and videos do not help--because they don't answer the student's UNIQUE questions...

 

I've spent the last 25 years teaching and tutoring 13-14yr old boys (my typical student)... sometimes--especially with very bright ones-- their flawed logic is almost laughable--but seriously, once they correct it they find a renewed interest/passion for math.

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We are using Lial's beginning algebra with ds who is 13 and an 8th grader. It's challenging for him. But, we take it very slowly and methodically. I do not require a whole lesson per day. There are only about 80 lessons and then chapter reviews and tests so we've got plenty of time and do not need to rush. I work all of the examples with him and then hold his hand through several problems before letting him try them on his own. We do the odds one day and the evens the next. He's making progress every day but it is a carefully calculated one baby step at a time process and we will let him take as much time on each concept as needed to master it.

 

So, maybe your student would benefit from slowing down and doing more with each concept before moving on. Also, I have found that boys, in particular, get overwhelmed by the number of problems on a lesson. They don't see that some of these may be relatively easy to complete...they only see the number, get stressed over it, and that stress short-circuits their ability to concentrate. Ds's attitude and hence his mathematical performance at this crazy boy age improved greatly when I told him we were going for mastery of concepts - not a "lesson per day" schedule and that we'd take a whole year, 12 months, to get through this. No hurries, just honest hardwork and everything will be okay. Big sighs of relief and lots of better attitude once dh and I agreed to this path. Before that, much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

 

Foundational algebra skills are so vitally important to all subsequent maths that it's better to take longer. I'd much rather see an engineering/science student only make it through say half of a trig/pre-calc book before leaving for college but be a really solid algebra master, than make that push to get through trig and maybe even onto calculus but have the student making lots of mistakes, have no confidence, and always be second guessing him/herself.

 

My brother let math keep him out of a chemical engineering major and it's such a shame. He just needed some time to mature into it and an unhurried approach.

 

Tell your boy that Einstein, the Nobel Prize Winner for his Theory of Special Relativity, was no genius in math. As a matter of fact, he shared his monetary award with his ex-wife, as per his promise to her for doing his math for him, because she was the master mathematician! So, tell him to dream big but work hard towards his goal. If a kid whose teachers once though he was mentally retarded (Einstein was electively mute in school during his young years) can win the Nobel in physics, he is certainly very capable of excelling in math.

 

Faith

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It might help if you actually describe what problems he is having.

He makes careless (signs, mostly), inconsistent errors. He does not check his work. When doing corrections, he does not review the concept to find out where he has gone wrong, so he just guesses.

I don't want to stress you further, but MUS is as about as basic an alg program as there is.

I know. Scary.

I suspect that the problem is not with algebra, but some foundational concepts that he needs to back up and master prior to moving forward.

His basic math skills are solid. We constantly review multiplication problems to keep them fresh & he has no problem with them. If we stop reviewing, he has a harder time. Our solution is to keep reviewing & he does them almost flawlessly.

 

If you have an idea of what is causing the problem, there are books like Keys to.....(decimals/fractions/percentages, etc)

He did the first four Keys to Algebra over the summer. This fall he did the last few Keys to Fractions books while in the process of changing from Chalk Dust to Math U See. Again, he did very well with them.

 

An approach you might also want to consider since he wants to pursue engineering is sticking it out with MUS this yr and then following up with another alg 1 text again next yr. (I take this approach with all my students. They do MUS alg followed by a yr of Foerster alg 1).

This is definitely worth thinking about. At this rate, I don't expect him to complete Algebra I this year.

 

What do you like about Foerster? Why did you choose it?

Perhaps he might be motivated in his persevering through his struggles if he got to go on a college tour of some engineering depts or shadow some mechanical engineers. Math is foundational for a career in any engineering.:grouphug:

Well, he has had repeated exposure to the university atmosphere and has been in and out of many different labs. We live in an area with three major research universities & the professors love to have home school students in the labs with them. Additionally he had a ball in one of the Biology labs at the University of Illinois this summer. I don't think it's lack of exposure.

 

Thanks for the hugs!

 

I know you said you took the Saxon placement test, but has he done any of the Saxon courses? Sometimes their test places students a bit higher than where they're really at, but it is good for a basic idea.

No, he hasn't had Saxon since 2nd grade. He had Horizons 3rd-6th, then Chalk Dust Pre-Algebra.

 

Since he's 13, and he's got plenty of time to get through the high school math courses, why not try a different pre-algebra text. We like Saxon, so I'm biased and would suggest trying 8/7 or algebra 1/2. Let him get really solid in his foundation this year, and the you may find that he breezes through the algebra next year. The Saxon texts are very thorough in their teaching and many students can work directly from the text on their own. I'd highly recommend Saxon 8/7. :)

I am thinking of this as well. I will probably look for a Saxon 1/2 book to borrow to check it out. I am just so frustrated!

 

WHY did the algebra programs not work out? Did he not understand the actual algebra concepts, or was his prealgebra (particularly arithmetic with fractions) not solid enough? (your solution will depend on the answer to this question)

He was overwhelmed with the format of Chalk Dust - the videos were too long, the explanations in the text were in mice type and even though I didn't require him to do nearly 1/2 of the problems, having a problem set of 180 problems at the end of the section was simply overwhelming to him.

 

With Math U See, I have no idea what the true issue is if it isn't carelessness. There is no pattern to his mistakes, and every so often he pulls off a lesson flawlessly (just to give me a little bit of hope, I think).

 

Btw, why does he want to be an engineer if he hates math???? Does he know that he has to do a LOT of it and be good at it in order to become an engineer?

Personally, I think he's going to lean more towards industrial design or architecture by the time the dust settles. Of course, plenty of math is done in those fields as well.

 

No, at his young age, he doesn't really understand the big picture. We are diligently working on unfolding it for him, but w/his personality I don't think that he is going to get truly motivated until he sees a more direct cause/effect between his performance now and how that will impact his future.

Edited by TechWife
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My dd struggled with different algebra programs and excelled with Math Relief, which is video learning by a teacher is simply gifted at one thing -- teaching algebra. He really starts with understanding all parts of a "term" and then just gets to moving those terms around the equation. You can see a video sample on his website.

 

And I do think that age can be a factor. I know some kids who have done algebra early, but I'm not sure it's necessary if the child is struggling. There are other cool math things you can do as you wait.

 

Julie

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My 13 yr. old daughter is using Foerster for Algebra I and we LOVE it. You said you looked at it- not sure what you thought of it. It is simple, to the point- my daughter has done every lesson so far on her own just reading it. She has not missed more than 2 on a test- and usually only gets the problems wrong from careless mistakes. She is really understanding it. We used Saxon for all years prior to this year.

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Denise,

 

I haven't looked in detail at Forester. Can you give me a source for this book? A link or at least the ISBN so that I can make sure I am looking at the right thing? Is there a solution manual? Teacher manual?

 

Right now I am leaning towards continuing Math U See but re-doing Alg. I next year with a different program. If I can make it that far. I may drop Math U See after the holidays and use some prealgebra materials. I'm pretty undecided except that we are doing Alg. I next year as well (unless miracles occur, of course).

 

Thanks

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"No, he hasn't had Saxon since 2nd grade. He had Horizons 3rd-6th, then Chalk Dust Pre-Algebra.

 

 

With Math U See, I have no idea what the true issue is if it isn't carelessness. There is no pattern to his mistakes, and every so often he pulls off a lesson flawlessly (just to give me a little bit of hope, I think). "

 

 

Our daughter did a different math program through the elementary and junior high years, then we switched to MUS for Algebra. I found that because she hadn't grown up with MUS some of the concepts for Algebra were assumed rather than taught in the MUS Algebra book. Once we changed to a different program where no assumptions were made, she did just fine. In my opinion, MUS builds on itself and should not be jumped into at the Algebra level. HTH

Cindy

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You might want to try the Life of Fred series. Make sure to start with the first two books, Fractions and Decimals & Percents. He should be able to work through both of those in just a couple of weeks. Even if you think he has had enough of those math topics, IMO they prepare the student for Pre-Algebra & Algebra much better than any other curriculum. After that, move him into the Life of Fred Pre-Algebra books. There are 2 Pre-Algebra books (he should be able to quickly move through these as well, though not quite as quick). The best thing about the Life of Fred series is instead of just throwing a bunch of numbers at a student, it makes math come alive. It is all about real world mathematical applications. The first Pre-Algebra book ties math directly to science, the second to economics. The series as a whole makes many other real life connections.

 

The series is intensive and complete. It can be moved through quickly (in some of the early levels) but I have found retention to be much higher than any other math program we have used. My youngest son went from counting on his fingers to successfully doing Pre-Algebra fractions, percents & decimals with ease after just the first two books.

 

I should mention that one of the criticisms of these books that people make is how the answers are provided in the first four books of the series. The problems in the lessons have the answers provided in the lesson themselves. The answers to the "Bridges" (tests) are in the back. What I did was cut out the answers from the back. Both my youngest son and my daughter quickly learned that if they just read the story and copied answers in the lesson questions, they would not be able to cross the bridges. This taught them the downside to cheating. They started making sure they knew and understood the lessons and math problems taught before moving on. It took my son a little longer than my daughter but eventually they both learned self-accountability.

 

I would also recommend in your son's case to buy him various robot and physics kits (Lego mindstorms is excellent if you can afford it). Erector sets, snap circuits and anything else you can get your hands on. Just because your son is struggling with doing math in a textbook doesn't necessarily mean he can't be great with the math needed for engineering. He may just need to be more hands on. Some of the problems you have mentioned he is having suggest boredom. Alot of people think math should be boring in order to be properly learned (maybe because they themselves find math boring?) but I say that is silly. Learning should never have to be boring, difficult perhaps, but not boring. Help math come alive for him. If he really wants to be an engineer, then there is an inner math kid in there somewhere. Engineering is the more creative side of math. Allow him to explore that side.

 

Good Luck!

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We have been doing Saxon for several years and I seriously contemplated changing this year, but we've stuck it out. Here's the scoop:

 

My 14yo dd had just finished up 8/7 and I realized she was not doing as well as I thought when I finally got around to fully evaluating the situation and catching up on grading. I know many folks find that Saxon is "self-teaching" but that depends LARGELY on the child using it. I learned this the hard way.

 

Upon due consideration, I determined it wasn't the programs ineptness, it was our method of using it that needed to be reevaluated at this point!

 

Rather than back up and redo 8/7, as I find Saxon offers a great deal of repitition, we decided to go forth with Algebra 1/2, with the following methods of accountability and guidance in check.

 

1. She does one assignment daily. First she reads the lesson on her own, then goes on to complete the lessons with me checking it about midway through OR immediately assist her if she is stumped. (I usually preread the lesson for my own benefit and refreshment ;) )

 

I actually sat with her and we went over each individual problem of the entire lesson for about the first 7-8 lessons so that I could see exactly where her struggles were. (they we very similar to your sons).

 

After that close monitoring for a short time, I've stuck to the method in #1.

 

2. I check assignments daily. First at midpoint, then at complete finish. She gets immediate feedback and I know immediately where something needs to be retaught or practiced further. Corrections are done in real time!

 

3. We have the Saxon Teacher DVD's on hand. We don't use these regularly, but these are our "backup" in case we get stuck somewhere, as I sometimes find that while Saxon covers things well, sometimes it's not "well-enough" for some of us.

 

So basically, I found that my dd sometimes still needs the one-on-one instruction and more explicit coverage and examples, along with timely grading and accountability to help keep math flowing smoothly.

 

I think if you pick up with Saxon Algebra 1/2 and implement a plan like this, he'll be moving along in no time.

 

Blessings,

¸.·´ .·´¨¨))

((¸¸.·´ .·´ -:¦:-Tina ~

-:¦:- ((¸¸.·´*

http://seasonsoflearning.blogspot.com/

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My son struggles with careless errors too. I feel like I'm constantly harping about writing neatly, largely, methodically, etc. A while ago I had him work his corrections on the whiteboard because I was doing something else and couldn't sit nose to nose with him. He had no trouble whatsoever. He doesn't use the whiteboard all of the time now just when math starts making him cross-eyed. It really does help weed out the careless errors.

 

ETA: HA! I just started reading "up" the thread and see you're playing with a whiteboard now. Sorry for the duplicate info. :blushing:

 

Another edit: I'm still reading "up." My oldest is using Saxon Algebra 1/2. I also discovered like the pp that immediate feedback with regards to grading is essential. My oldest is very responsible and has very specific math goals and with that in mind I gave him the answer key...not the solution manual...just the answer key. He checks his own answers for correctness, fixes the wrong ones and re-checks. If he's still not getting the right answer then he comes to me. I still grade the tests. It saves me time which is a very precious commodity. I don't trust my 7th grader with this yet. It definitely depends on the kid.

Edited by silliness7
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I haven't read all of the threads, so forgive me if I'm repeating. According to what I've read (we're not there yet) some children struggle with Algebra due to not having fractions, decimals, and fractions down. You might check that he gets all of these concepts well before proceeding. I ditto what the pp poster said about Saxon 8/7. I would then move on to Pre-Algebra from there if he is still just not ready.

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I had the exact same problem with my son. He just turned 13 in Oct, but is really bright - we are doing 8th grade this year. I THOUGHT he had all the 'pre-alg' I could fine. He did LOF Decimals & Percents, Fractions - the same - all three sets of Key To's - MUS through Zeta and something else I am forgetting. So...I bought him the VT Alg for this year. That lasted about 3 weeks or so and he was bombing everything. Then, we tried Lial's - much better, but still not doing great and just seemed to hard to fast. I finally researched on here and looked at Kinetic Books. I also decided to back up to Pre-Alg with it and figured he is still young and would go through it fast. He absolutely loves anything computer - so he really loves this! I can't help him and feel like I have no control over the program - can't change or clear problems for him to correct, but it is going very well - he loves it and is understanding it sooo well!

 

HTH!

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This year has been a true nightmare where Algebra I has been concerned. I am considering backing up and doing another year of Pre-Algebra, even though Saxon and Math U See placement tests put him into Algebra. I am that frustrated.

 

 

 

We always used Saxon, have Life of Fred..but we really LOVE Foerster's..got it two weeks ago and my son has done the first 20 lessons already! As long as they have a strong grasp of multiplication/division, they'll do fine! I highly recommend it! :)

 

Tara

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I don't know if you/your son would be interested in a CD program, but we are using Kinetic Books pre-algebra right now, but will be using Kinetic Books again for algebra. It is definitely for the Kinetic learner. It's self-paced with a lot of practical practice throughout. DS 12 actually says he likes this math. We did CD pre-algebra last year, but it was hit and miss, so we are doing pre-algebra again to have a strong foundation before moving on to Algebra.

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I wanted to second the Life of Fred suggestion...I resisted even looking at this for years, as I thought it was fluffy and well, too off-beat, but I've been converted. Ds13 wants to go into engineering as well, and is strong in math, but we just could not find an algebra program that he really wanted to learn from. He could do the work, he just didn't see a point in doing so - and the complaints and silly mistakes abounded.

 

I tried Beginning Algebra from LoF, and I'm sold. He actually asks to do math...several lessons per day. In the past three weeks, he's gone through more than half the book with almost perfect retention - and because of the range and depth of problems given (as well as the fact that application is given for everything that's taught), he can apply the skills to just about anything he needs to.

 

You can check out samples of the books at www.polkadotpublishing.com - and they're pretty inexpensive. They also cover the full range of math, from fractions and decimals to calc, stats, and linear algebra.

 

Just my 2 cents! :D

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He makes careless (signs, mostly), inconsistent errors. He does not check his work. When doing corrections, he does not review the concept to find out where he has gone wrong, so he just guesses.

 

I know. Scary.

His basic math skills are solid. We constantly review multiplication problems to keep them fresh & he has no problem with them. If we stop reviewing, he has a harder time. Our solution is to keep reviewing & he does them almost flawlessly.

 

This is definitely worth thinking about. At this rate, I don't expect him to complete Algebra I this year.

 

 

 

This type of thing is so very familiar. My solution is to have them do algebra at the "best" time of day with me sitting there, checking each section as they finish. The immediate feedback has reduced the rate of errors and ensures that it is truly done. Algebra I is so important that I'm going to do the hand-holding version I've decribed, then run them through another book done more independently. We're on Chapter 6 of Jacob's right now and plan to follow it with Life of Fred. It is agony, but we're making progress after a very rough start where we were both in tears at times.

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