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Algebra recommendations...


buttercup
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This has been on my mind a lot lately and the more research I do, the more products I find in this area. What Algebra Curriculum have you used and recommend besides Saxon or Teaching Textbooks? I have seen Thinkwell, Videotext, Chalkdust (which are too pricey for me) and some others. For a child who is not the math whiz but does fairly decently currently in Saxon Math 8/7 (scoring 90-100's on her tests), but not as well on her daily work, what would you recommend? Just trying to explore other options as well besides just TT and Saxon...Thanks!

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My favorite is Kinetic Books. If you do a search on this board, you'll see my posts pop up repeatedly.

 

I've only used their Algebra I and Algebra II.

 

Pros:

computer-based with instant feedback on most problems

inexpensive ($40 for one-year subscription (or one-year cd-rom) to regular version, $60 for 6-year cd-rom of regular version, $50 for one-year subscription to homeschool version)

solid, rigorous program (definitely covers what it's supposed to cover)

homeschool version has a money-back trial period (I think it's 30 days)

 

Cons:

can't really be resold, times out after either 1 year or 6 years

doesn't have solution manual

 

There are three types of instant feedback problems.

 

(1) Many of the instant feedback problems have a step button. If you see that, you can hit the step button to see what the first step is supposed to be. It will have you enter your values and then you click step again for the next step until you get all the way to the end.

 

(2) Some of the instant feedback problems only have the option to see the solution.

 

(3) Some of the instant feedback problems just link you to an example problem.

 

The pencil-and-paper problems in the end-of-unit section only have an answer key and the answer key is only for the odd-numbered problems (but the odds are PLENTY).

 

KB came out with Pre-algebra and Geometry just last year. I would have my youngest doing their prealgebra program right now if I could get her to go near a computer-based program.

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I really like VideoText. We did Foerster's last year, and my dd is repeating Algebra I and doing Algebra II with VTI. (I also own Jacob's, Dolciani, and I have taught Saxon.)

 

You can buy it used or about half price, and then sell it again for about the same amount you spent. It ends up being free, as it holds its value so well.

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My daughter used Margaret Lial's Beginning Algebra (Algebra I) and followed that with Harold Jacobs' Geometry and Lial's Intermediate Algebra (Algebra II). From there she placed into College Algebra (Algebra III) which she followed with Trigonometry at the local community college. She was well prepared and received As in both of those classes.

 

Regards,

Kareni

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Are Jacobs, Lial's, and Foerster's courses that children for the most part could self-teach? I am not a mathy person, neither is my dh, so we would need something pretty self-explanatory, although I can try to relearn it again, if my dd comes upon some problems. Also, I really liked the samples of Thinkwell and Kinetic books (I've tried pulling up a sample of Videotext, but can't get it to launch on my computer). Do you think that Thinkwell and Kinetic books are fine by themselves and cover what needs to be covered in Algebra 1 or would they need to be supplemented?? Also, could the Key to Algebra series be used to cover Algebra alone? Thanks!

Edited by buttercup
more questions.
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Are Jacobs, Lial's, and Foerster's courses that children for the most part could self-teach? I am not a mathy person, neither is my dh, so we would need something pretty self-explanatory, although I can try to relearn it again, if my dd comes upon some problems. Also, I really liked the samples of Thinkwell and Kinetic books (I've tried pulling up a sample of Videotext, but can't get it to launch on my computer). Do you think that Thinkwell and Kinetic books are fine by themselves and cover what needs to be covered in Algebra 1 or would they need to be supplemented?? Also, could the Key to Algebra series be used to cover Algebra alone? Thanks!

 

I would say that math needs to be taught. So, if you can't teach it, then it may be wise to invest in a program that includes video instruction.

 

Key to Alg is very simple. It doesn't really get into deeper application problems. However, it does cover basically the same info as TTAlg1. You can in fact do Key to and move into TTAlg2.

 

Key to Alg also gives very clear explanations as an introduction to topics. So, if you wanted to use some of the Key to pages for the introduction and then move on to that topic in a text that includes multiple step and application problems, then both you and your child should have no problem following along.

 

All of my children have used some of the Key to books as a stepping stone. I think they are wonderful, but perhaps lacking in the depth of thought required from the typical Alg1 text. :)

 

HTH-

Mandy

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I would say that math needs to be taught. So, if you can't teach it, then it may be wise to invest in a program that includes video instruction.

 

 

 

I would agree with the idea that math needs to be taught. Some kids do just fine with self teaching, but many do not. If you do not keep up with what is going on in your student's math program, when he or she runs into problems it is *much* harder to help. Video instruction can only go so far. I learned this the hard way earlier this year.

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Thanks ladies for your advice. I guess I'll be brushing up on some old math skills. This year is Saxon Math 8/7 we came upon some concepts that I had to help my dd out with, so I had to reteach myself the concept so I could help her. Then for someone like me, and my dd, what Algebra course would you recommend? I really like the looks of Kinetic books and Thinkwell. Just do not really know.

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I can tell you for sure that Jacobs and Kinetic Books are both complete courses.

 

Both can work well for independent workers, but KB is definitely better for independent workers because the practice problems all have immediate feedback. That way you don't do an entire lesson incorrectly because you thought you knew how to do it, but were wrong.

 

Kinetic Books definitely covers everything you need in Algebra I and in Algebra II. Those are the only levels I've used for KB.

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Do you realize many of the popular courses have dvd's to go with them? I specifically suggested Foerster because the text is straightforward and has recorded lessons available. Dolciani is a bit more obtuse but as abbeyej said has online courses. (I learned from Dolciani in school, so I feel slightly qualified to have an opinion on it.) VTI is a video course. Of course Thinkwell, Chalkdust, etc. have videos.

 

I knew a mom who never even graduated from high school who taught all her kids through Calculus. It CAN be done. You're just going to have to stay a step ahead.

 

Here's a link to the Math Without Borders lessons to go with Foerster. http://www.mathwithoutborders.com/index.html Remember too, you can pick up copies of many of these texts used on amazon for under $10. So basically you can order Foerster, Lials, etc. and see them for yourself. VTI has a free dvd they'll send you. It's really helpful to see the options side by side and compare them to get a feel for the different styles and emphases. It's worth the extra cost, and you'll easily be able to sell off the ones you don't want.

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My dd has a spiral notebook that she does the pencil&paper work in.

 

Most of the problems in KB are immediate feedback. You enter the answer into the computer (and the interface is VERY intuitive and easy to figure out) and it tells you whether you're right or wrong. My dd does the work in her notebook.

 

The end-of-unit problems are a page of problems that you are supposed to answer on paper. I think of them as quizzes. At the very bottom of the page is a link to click on so you can view the answers to the odd-numbered problems. I assign only the odds and I have my dd check the answers herself. She comes to get me when she can't figure out why her answer is different from theirs. I found 4-5 errors in the answer key for Algebra I (which they fixed in the next release of the software) and we've found 2 errors so far in Algebra II.

 

You can buy a print copy (or at least you used to be able to) but I don't recommend it. It is just screenshots from the program and is not at all pleasant to look at.

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The Lial's books do have a Digital Video Tutor component that is available at an extra cost. We did not use that resource. My daughter did Beginning Algebra by herself with only the occasional question to me. My husband taught her when she used Jacobs' Geometry and Lial's Intermediate Algebra.

 

Regards,

Kareni

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The Lial's books do have a Digital Video Tutor component that is available at an extra cost. We did not use that resource. My daughter did Beginning Algebra by herself with only the occasional question to me. My husband taught her when she used Jacobs' Geometry and Lial's Intermediate Algebra.

 

Regards,

Kareni

 

We used Lial's for Pre Algebra and will use it for Algebra I next year. We haven't used the DVT because the books are so good at explaining the concepts, but they are available if needed. I have been very pleased with these books.

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