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Hitting a wall w/ Saxon Alg. 1...help.


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Dd14 has always done fairly well in math. She has always liked math. Until now. :glare: Now it a daily struggle and one that almost always ends in tears. Hers AND mine. :glare: She is just NOT understanding the more advanced concepts. She is on Lesson 46 (you can see were are progressing SLOWLY) and I can tell that she just doesn't have enough practice with the previously learned concepts. I'm having to add problems to each lessons just so she has enough practice and that makes math take For.ev.er. So, is this normal or should I be looking for a NEW math program? If so, which? FWIW, she has used Saxon, since 5/4 and has never had a problem or complained about it. Thanks for any suggestions you can give me.

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Did she do 8/7 or Algebra 1/2 or both?

 

Was she solid in the pre-algebra concepts? If not, you may want to have her go back to 1/2, if she hasn't already done that. If she has done that and did well, then maybe it's just a matter of taking a break from moving forward, and instead go back to the beginning. I know that sounds like it would take longer, but if it allows the algebraic concepts to sink in and begin to make sense, it could save a lot of time in the long run.

 

I know many will say that Saxon is the problem, but I doubt that if she's done well with it in previous years. The teaching style doesn't change. The text does look much different from the 8/7 book, but is similar to 1/2.

 

These are just some thoughts. And it may be that you'll need to switch to a different text. Have you thought about giving her the Saxon placement test online and seeing how she does? I know you've been doing Saxon all along, but it would help to see if she's solid enough in the pre-algebra concepts.

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Dd di Saxon 8/7 in 7th grade and passed with a 90% or better. For 8th grade, she went to our local ps and took Pre-Algebra. The year was a cake-walk for her but it DID help to solidify the concepts she had already learned in 8/7. I do believe she was well-prepared for Alg. 1. I think a lot of it is hormones, lack of diligence (laziness) and the desire to get her work done "quickly" instead of completing it to the best of her ability. B/c the previous year was so EASY, she got used to not really having to apply herself. Make sense? I think we will go back to square one and progress forward from there. Unless there is a different program somebody could suggest. I like Saxon...think it is the most thorough. But, I know there are others out there. Perhaps the DIVE CD would help?

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If the math was that easy last year, it's possible that she's forgotten some of what she learned in 8/7. I'd suggest doing the placement test and maybe picking up algebra 1/2. She can do what Art Reed suggests and just take the tests until she starts getting below a certain grade 80 or 85% and then pick up the lessons there. That should get her back to having to work at math and will give her some time before having to tackle algebra again. Because Saxon includes geometry and you don't have to take out a year for a separate course, I wouldn't worry at all about her being "behind". With good understand, she can end up right on schedule in another year or two.

 

No idea if the DIVE would help, but it wouldn't hurt to try. :) But I'd have her do the online test first so you know where she should be at.

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This is why many people (like me) jump ship with Saxon when it stops working for our kids.

 

You can either go back and REWORK the text from the beginning to reinforce weak or missed concepts (they are really 'micro concepts') or you can change programs. Those little numbers out to the side will be of LITTLE HELP the further you get in the text as the 'newest' versions of lesson 5 problems will look NOTHING like the actual lesson 5 problems!

 

The students are supposed to put the pieces together on their own. For many students they just CANNOT under these circumstances. Other students THRIVE with the variety in each problem set!

 

If you switch to a more traditional program (we went with Lial because it was CHEAP) it will be like a breath of fresh air.

 

Your daughter will be able to use the foundation from Saxon's lower years and will be able to apply it to Algebra --but instead of moving in too many directions she can apply it to sequential stages that build on each other.

 

The end result of Saxon Algebra 1 and Lial's Intro Algebra are the same... I guarantee the Lial one will maintain the 'rigor' but with a lot LESS frustration!

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This is why many people (like me) jump ship with Saxon when it stops working for our kids.

 

You can either go back and REWORK the text from the beginning to reinforce weak or missed concepts (they are really 'micro concepts') or you can change programs. Those little numbers out to the side will be of LITTLE HELP the further you get in the text as the 'newest' versions of lesson 5 problems will look NOTHING like the actual lesson 5 problems!

 

The students are supposed to put the pieces together on their own. For many students they just CANNOT under these circumstances. Other students THRIVE with the variety in each problem set!

 

If you switch to a more traditional program (we went with Lial because it was CHEAP) it will be like a breath of fresh air.

 

Your daughter will be able to use the foundation from Saxon's lower years and will be able to apply it to Algebra --but instead of moving in too many directions she can apply it to sequential stages that build on each other.

 

The end result of Saxon Algebra 1 and Lial's Intro Algebra are the same... I guarantee the Lial one will maintain the 'rigor' but with a lot LESS frustration!

 

Jann gave me this exact advice two years ago when dd had the exact same problem your dd is having. She had done fine with Saxon until she started the algebra, and then floundered. We switched to Lial's at Jann's suggestion and she did very well with it.

 

Good luck...

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My son had the same problem at the same point in the book. I backed him all the way up to the beginning of the book, and that did the trick. He hasn't had many problems since then (he's on lesson 45 of Advanced Mathematics now.) Now my daughter is doing Algebra 1, and she's having the same trouble at lesson 44! I'm about to back her up to the beginning as well.

 

Just wanted to let you know your daughter isn't the only one. :)

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I am so relieved to hear others have faced this problem. Dd is as well! Thanks! I'll mull this over and see how she would like to proceed from here. The one good thing is that she is a "young" 9th grader and we could technically consider this her 8th grade year. But, I'd like to not have to do that. BTW, if we do swithch to Lials Algebra, which text should we use and then where would we go from there? Where can I purchase Lial's? Thanks!

Edited by Sue G in PA
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I read in Art Reed's book about how to successfully use John Saxon's math books, that students who generally start falling down early in the book (lsns 34-45 or so) generally do so because they have not either finished Saxon Math 87 (2nd or 3rd Ed) or Saxon algebra 1/2 (3rd Ed) or they came from another curriculum and they have developed "holes" in their math basics that are creating the trouble. Switching math curriculum may make the student feel better because the new book will be less challenging, but according to Art Reed, the problem needs to be addressed head on to enable the student to got as far in mathematics as they desire.

 

You can contact him by telephone for free advice by calling him at (580) 234-0064 (CST) or email him at mathhelp@thesaxonteacher[dot]com he has over twenty years experience with success using John Saxon's math books from Math 54 through calculus.

 

JC Rogers

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I read in Art Reed's book about how to successfully use John Saxon's math books, that students who generally start falling down early in the book (lsns 34-45 or so) generally do so because they have not either finished Saxon Math 87 (2nd or 3rd Ed) or Saxon algebra 1/2 (3rd Ed) or they came from another curriculum and they have developed "holes" in their math basics that are creating the trouble. Switching math curriculum may make the student feel better because the new book will be less challenging, but according to Art Reed, the problem needs to be addressed head on to enable the student to got as far in mathematics as they desire.

 

You can contact him by telephone for free advice by calling him at (580) 234-0064 (CST) or email him at mathhelp@thesaxonteacher[dot]com he has over twenty years experience with success using John Saxon's math books from Math 54 through calculus.

 

JC Rogers

 

This sounds like an advertisement.

 

I would start with Algebra 1/2 and try the Dive CDs. I have been very happy with the Dive cds.

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My son hit a couple of points in Algebra where he just needed to let the idea simmer for a while. Not sure if this is the case for your dd, but kids like my ds don't learn by going thru the motions but instead their brain needs to just absorb the new thing over a bit of time. It gets very frustrating for ds if I push or repeat while he is going through this process :eek:

 

I'll also throw this out there: I think the Math Relief instructor is gifted in making algebra understandable.

 

Julie

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Saxon does not teach COMPLETE concepts (at one time or at any visible sequence). It gives students tiny pieces of a variety of DIFFERENT concepts and cycles through them in an unpredictable format/method. (There is a method to their madness but it is not obvious to the user).

 

Algebra is related. These pieces ARE related. Saxon does not teach the WHY and the HOW these pieces are related. A gifted teacher (like the beloved Mr Reed) can help put these pieces together--but then the students are exposed to LIMITED practice after the lesson...they don't get to camp out on a concept...and explore the subtle variations...

 

By lesson 40 in Algebra 1 the problems in the homework set have morphed. The students are expected to NATURALLY fit the tiny bits 'learned' in previous lessons together-- they are NOT shown how to do this-- it is supposed to be NATURAL. If students miss one piece then everything will snowball-- this snowball starts off gradually--and it may not be evident when Johnny misses 2-3 on each lesson--then suddenly he misses HALF of the problems!

 

A more traditional program teaches a concept like polynomials sequentially. The lessons naturally build on each other... the lesson taught on Tuesday builds directly off of the lesson taught on Monday. Students get a clear picture on HOW the tiny concepts fit together into the larger concept.

 

It is very possible to understand the daily LESSON in Saxon but fail the 'review' problems in the problem set. The tiny numbers add a false sense of security because when a student goes back to the lesson in question they will NOT find a problem that looks anything remotely like the one they missed. They missed a problem that was 'related' to the referenced lesson. They NEED to see HOW and WHY those concepts were put together to solve the problem.

 

Saxon is a strong program but it just does not work with all learning types.

 

Sure you can go back to the beginning again and again-- but Saxon still will not teach or MODEL how the pieces go together... if you repeat enough times the students usually figure out a pattern...

 

I used to teach from Saxon exclusively-- 10+years. I like the program. I loved it even--until one of my OWN daughters had this same issue come up. I immediately did what I was trained to do-- we restarted the text-- more than once before I finally woke up and realized it WAS a text issue-- and that Saxon's unique method was not the method my daughter learned best from. We changed to a more traditional program and my daughter found success--- not because the program was easier--the new program (Lial) is considered a rigorous text-- it is not 'easy'==but it is WELL EXPLAINED and has a natural progression that is EASIER to follow for most students.

 

Again, I'm not slamming Saxon-- I had way too many students go on to high math and science careers after learning high school math with Saxon's Methods... but I also witnessed many students DISCOURAGED because those 'unique' methods just did not make sense to them-- they felt they were just 'bad at math'.... when I changed them over to a different (traditional) format they blossomed and I've witnessed math haters become math majors!

Edited by Jann in TX
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We had a very similar problem with Saxon Algebra 1 not too long ago. Each lesson was taking FOREVER and was very frustrating. I started a thread seeking advise, I was ready to jump ship and head for something else.

 

But, dd is now on lesson 72 and it is going VERY well. She is moving through the lessons MUCH easier and her speed has greatly improved. It is as if someone turned on the "algebra switch" and she just "gets it".

 

What I did was slow down her lessons. She took 2 days to do 1 lesson. I thought we'd be in the algebra 1 book through 10th grade (dd is in 9th grade this year). All my science plans were flying out the window and dd was not happy about the prospect of doing math year round. We also made more use of the dvds (Saxon Teacher). If there was even a hint of confusion, or I was not happy with my presentation of a concept, she watched the dvd. If she was missing the same type problems, she watched the dvd. This slowed the lessons down even more. But, it took the pressure off. She could take as much time as she needed to do the problems. She could rework or double check her answers if she wanted. We work through the missed problems together so I can show her step by step what or where something went wrong.

 

After a week or so, things just started falling in place. She began to grasp the concepts quicker and work the problems easier (and faster). She is now back up to 1 lesson/day. It no longer takes 2 hours/lesson/day. Math will go into the summer, but not by that much. She said the dvd instruction really helps too when something is "fuzzy".

 

So, I'd suggest staying the course but slowing down.

 

I'd also like to add that I agree with Jann's post. Saxon is good, but not great, and not for everybody. My youngest in 6th grade is using TT 7 this year because I prefer TT's method of teaching fractions/decimal/percents to Saxon's method. I need to teach Saxon Algebra 1 because I can explain the concepts. The dvds, plus my instruction, have made this program work for us (so far).

Edited by HollyDay
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My son had the same problem at the same point in the book. I backed him all the way up to the beginning of the book, and that did the trick.

We tried the same thing and that STILL didn't work. We switched to Lials and it is going much better. Maybe the third time is the charm? By the way, we did lay the proper foundation. We did all of Alg 1/2, and his scores were good. That was not the problem.

 

So, my son spent two years in Algebra I. I just learned that our neighbor - who also spent two years in Alg I - just missed the Nation Merit Scholar cutoff by 10 points, and this is only his sophomore year. Maybe all that time laying the foundation really paid off.

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We are going back to the beginning. Thanks for all the advice. Dd and I had a long talk. Michelle, where can I get Art Reed's DVDs? Will likely try the DIVE as well.

 

My older ds used DIVE alg. 1, and we prefer Art Reed's DVDs. I suggest watching both online sample videos before choosing one or buying both.

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