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Using AoPS with average math students


lewelma
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Why would you even consider it? (Please see Post #9, where I modified/clarified my question)

 

This might be really rude (but I hope it is not). I am sure you have seen the numerous questions about AoPS, some even for kids that don't like math. I am concerned that those of us who have used it are not being forthright enough and are not discouraging its use for non-gifted math students. Too much challenge is just as harmful as too little. We all seem to step so carefully, and I am guessing that there will be a lot of seriously frustrated students and a lot of money wasted.

 

I don't know about the rest of AoPS uses but my ds(11) is hg and **adores** math -- and he finds Intro Algebra a perfect level of challenge even moving at only 1/2 speed. How in the world will all these other students actually use the program?

 

Just curious. Really, really curious.

 

Ruth in NZ

 

ETA: I don't want to sound "better than the rest." My younger son is very good at math, but I think that AoPS might just be too hard and could lead to an unacceptable amount of frustration.

Edited by lewelma
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I don't think kids need to be "advanced" to use AoPS. I do think it is crazy to start young and push fast on AoPS with a kid that isn't wild about math.

 

AoPS has posted on their blog that part of their goal with beast academy (for elementary) is to reach more students to train them up to be more ready, willing and eager to face the rigors of AoPS.

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On the one hand I agree that throwing a kid into really really challenging math when they are not prepared is going to cause problems.... but on the other hand I think it's not really an IQ issue so much as it comes down to personality and attitude, and previous experience.

 

I've tutored some very very bright children who would have been completely overwhelmed by AoPS, even though they were significantly advanced in the regular math curriculum. And I've tutored kids who really weren't that far ahead, but had a good background in problem solving and were willing to jump in and try things... and who would be fine with the AoPS style.

 

So while I wouldn't recommend it to parents of kids who struggle with math... beyond that, I'm hesitant to tell people what is going to work with their kids unless I've actually taught them myself. I don't think there's one easily measured criterion that is going to determine who is going to enjoy it and who is going to drown... Generally though, I get nervous when they have no background in problem solving, when they've never been challenged before, and when they're particularly young. Any one of those may be surmountable. More than one and I start to really have my doubts... and with all three together I'd be concerned.

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Well, I know it is not PC, but IMHO there is some raw intelligence that comes into how well you can handle difficult math problems. I was a high school math teacher for 2 years and taught the full range of abilities at ages 13, 14, and 15. More than 75% of my students could not have attempted AoPS Intro Algebra at age 14. And even if I had had the kids from a younger age to "train them up," I wouldn't even suggest it to more than about 10 students out of the 120 I taught. I do think that a lot of math skill comes down to raw intellegence. There is definitely some personality traits and mathematical training involved, but I don't think you can ignore their innate ability. I really hate mentioning IQ, because obviously intelligence is not a number, but why would you put a struggling or indifferent math student into AoPS pre algebra in 6th grade? And why are we not more forthright in saying it is a bad idea? Obviously, I don't say it either.

 

I also think that with the dumbing down of the algebra curriculum in schools and shifting the standard grade to 8th for algebra, that parents who want their kids to be advanced think the prealgebra in 6th is ok. But AoPS Intro Algebra has not been dumbed down and is more appropriate for a standard 9th grader IMHO, so that puts AoPS pre algebra in 8th for a standard student. And even then, having been a math teacher, I would not suggest it to at least 90% of students.

 

Ruth in NZ

Edited by lewelma
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Learning how to think like a mathematician makes math *easier*. Some of the most challenging problems might perhaps be better skipped for students of lower ability (or better yet, solved in a group context), but learning how to problem-solve is necessary for all students. From what I've seen, AoPS is tops for teaching mathematical thinking, so I'd use it with students of all abilities at least to introduce topics, even if I needed to pull exercises from elsewhere.

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Learning how to think like a mathematician makes math *easier*. Some of the most challenging problems might perhaps be better skipped for students of lower ability (or better yet, solved in a group context), but learning how to problem-solve is necessary for all students. From what I've seen, AoPS is tops for teaching mathematical thinking, so I'd use it with students of all abilities at least to introduce topics, even if I needed to pull exercises from elsewhere.

 

I can see this, but it would never have worked with the students I have taught. no way. So I am curious, have you used Intro Algebra? and if so, with what age and how far into the book?

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I've looked at AoPS many times when trying to find something that will work for my non-mathy PG kid, and each time I do, I step away from it. I don't think an IQ score really matters, because if it did, I know my kid could handle it. I think it has a lot to do with how a kid thinks. He's darn good at language and can handle anything I throw at him, but he's a perfectionist, and really not all that great at problem solving, so math is a constant source of frustration for him. It's not going to hurt my feelings if the parent of a mathy kid tells me they don't think my kid can handle xyz curriculum. I'll be thankful I didn't go out and blow a bunch of money on it! If someone's ego is getting in the way, yeah, they'll probably be offended by a suggestion that a certain curriculum might not be a good fit, but for those who really want what's best for their child (even if it's not "the best" curriculum), who cares?

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My own children are too young for AoPS, though my son is chomping at the bit waiting for Beast Academy, but I also remediate math for underprivileged fifth-grade students in a public school, and have used some aspects of AoPS pre-algebra with them where appropriate. Specifically, I follow their model of (essentially Socratic) questioning to lead to discussion and exercises along the way when introducing new topics, and though I mostly have to teach to their class textbooks, I pull out the "AoPS way" for everything I can. My students range from slightly below-average to very bright in ability, and come from difficult backgrounds. One of them only learned to subtract this week (I brought in the SM 2A textbook and that did the trick--sneaky homeschooler!), but his lack of progress can be directly attributed *to* his innate mathematical thinking. "Borrowing" a "one" from the tens place that "magically turned into a ten" in the ones place made no sense to him whatsoever, *because* just knowing formulae isn't good enough for him; it has to make sense or he can't remember the formula. I explained it to him in the way SM/RS/Ma way exactly once, and he got it instantly. Anything I threw at him, he could then solve, because it finally made sense. Several of my students are likely "smarter" (they're certainly faster) than he is, but he's the one that really thinks about the concepts instead of just memorizing and getting it done.

 

"Slower, harder, and better" beats "faster, easier, and of mediocre quality" any day in my book, even if it means that a course needs to be stretched over multiple terms. That's a tough sell in a school, but homeschoolers have that luxury. Again, there are some problems I would never give these kids to do on their own, but the overall concept is applicable.

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So given these responses, I think I need to modify my question. I have not seen the pre-algebra book or beast academy, so I guess I am only really asking about Intro Algebra, which I get the impression is a step up from pre-algebra beyond the obvious increased level of the material. The material in Intro Algebra ramps up in difficulty, so I am interested in hearing from people who have done more than half of the book.

 

Has anyone used Intro Algebra as written (meaning as the primary/ sole curriculum) with a non-mathy kid? If so, I would like to hear how that went.

 

Alternatively, I would also like to know if anyone who has used Intro Algebra would recommend it to a non-mathy kid, and if so under what circumstances.

 

It sounds like the people who have responded so far have used the pre algebra text, or used AoPS for supplement, or have considered AoPS but not used it.

 

Thanks,

 

Ruth

Edited by lewelma
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Alternatively, I would also like to know if anyone who has used Intro Algebra would recommend it to a non-mathy kid, and if so under what circumstances.

 

That would be us (we used Algebra, Geometry, Intermediate Algebra and Precalculus).

I would under no circumstances recommend AoPS Intro to Algebra for a student who is not "mathy" in the sense that he/she likes math and is willing to spend more time and to work harder problems than with any other traditional math curriculum. Normally, these would be the kids who are good at math; I have a hard time imagining a kid who has this level of interest but is not good at it, and would assume this to be rare.

 

I can not imagine using it with a child who does not have the interest and the determination to sit down and puzzle out a hard math problem that may take an hour. A child who is struggling with math will get utterly frustrated. If I had to coax and prod a kid through the book, I'd much rather select a curriculum that is more suitable.

 

My DD worked through the entire book in twelve months; she is gifted, very ambitious and mature, loves math, but she had to work very hard.

MY DS is mathy as well and may possibly have more raw math intuition, but for him AoPS is a stretch, mainly because of maturity. It took him a whole school year to do the first 12 chapters (the algebra 1 portion), because he does not yet have quite the stamina, persistence and frustration tolerance the book requires (which is why we are currently taking a one semester break from algebra and do C&P)

 

I can honestly not imagine why I would want to subject a child who is not interested and not good at math to this program. To me, that would be a recipe for frustration and might possibly do more harm than good.

 

I agree with the previous poster who noted that one can borrow the discovery approach and the Socratic method and use it with any other math program; but that is not the same thing as using the actual book with the actual level of problems.

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Just an FYI... Some of us have been listening. ;)

 

My oldest will be hitting prealgebra/algebra early. I don't see him being ready for AoPS at that point in time, thanks to those of you who have regularly posted about this topic (8FillTheHeart, Regentrude, and others). He might be able to use some of the prealgebra... maybe. But the Intro to Algebra, I doubt it. While I'll get the books for myself and to maybe add some extra challenge now and then, I plan to use other texts for his main curriculum. I don't think he'd be ready anytime soon to puzzle for an hour over a problem. Maybe that will change in the next 2-3 years, but I doubt it will change enough to actually use AoPS as a full curriculum at that point.

 

I have Dolciani Prealgebra and Jacobs Elementary Algebra on my shelf. If I find MUS Algebra used and cheap, I'll grab that too (to use as prealgebra). I'll also pick up Foerster's Algebra. I think Dolciani would be too boring for DS (I'm going through it myself, and yeah, it's pretty dry - excellent instruction, but dry). Jacobs looks right on target for DS. He's already looked through it to read the cartoons. :D I think by time we're ready for it, it will probably be a good fit, and we can take it slowly and stretch it out over a couple years maybe. Eventually, DS might be ready for AoPS, or maybe not. I actually think my middle son may have the personality for it when the time comes, but I have to see how mathy he is (he's a bit of a late bloomer, but when things turn on in his brain, he suddenly knows more than I expect him to). Middle son is a better problem solver. BA will probably be good for him (DS1 is beyond BA, unfortunately).

 

Anyway, just wanted to chime in and say thank you to those of you who do post about this subject. Some of us are paying attention. :D DS1 is mathy and gets math very easily, but he doesn't like to puzzle over a problem. In fact, if he can't answer it immediately, he says, "Mama! I'm stuck!" :glare: We're gradually weaning off that, and he's only 7, so it's probably to be expected. I just don't know how much will change between now and age 9 or 10. I wouldn't be surprised if he needed to get to 12 or so to be ready to puzzle for a while on a problem. But again, he may surprise me. Kids usually do! :)

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Well, I know it is not PC, but IMHO there is some raw intelligence that comes into how well you can handle difficult math problems.

 

I've tutored profoundly gifted kids - who needed the extended scoring on multiple indices of the Wechsler - who would not in a million years be up to AoPS, and kids who were absolutely not highly or profoundly gifted, who would have found it a lot of fun.

 

I was a high school math teacher for 2 years and taught the full range of abilities at ages 13, 14, and 15. More than 75% of my students could not have attempted AoPS Intro Algebra at age 14. And even if I had had the kids from a younger age to "train them up," I wouldn't even suggest it to more than about 10 students out of the 120 I taught.

 

I end up with two groups of kids in my tutoring. 9-13 year olds in my math group, and 15-18 year olds for individual tutoring. I rarely get that last year of middle school or first year of high school.

 

In the younger group (kids who are interested in math) I have a fairly wide range of abilities, but probably not below average. I might not end up with anyone below "bright", but I don't have data to back that up. Of those kids, after I've taught them for a year (or better yet, two) I'd say more than half of them could do AoPS and enjoy it. But it's not correlated to IQ. Of the ones who I know have been tested, there's actually a negative correlation -- bright and hardworking absolutely trumps higher-IQ-without-the-right-attitude.

 

What does seem to correlate is a steady diet of Singapore Primary for the elementary years. And then what I do with the group is Math Olympiads, MathCounts, and AMC8 prep. If you deliver me a kid who has made it through six years of Singapore Primary, and give me a year to work on competition math, that combination has invariably produced someone who will make it through AoPS. Of course that's a self-selecting group -- they didn't bail when Singapore's explanations for long division were too vague, they didn't drop it when the word problems were just nuts... But I haven't seen any correlation to IQ there. More a willingness to hack at a problem for a while, and a willingness to throw out a wrong answer and try again.

 

With my older students, some of whom are struggling and some of whom are flying through advanced material, and with a much wider range of ability in general, I have never had one of any IQ or ability who had the background or interest. I've had some highly gifted teenagers to tutor, finding calculus easy in 9th and 10th grades, but by then they've been taught so badly for so long I despair of any of them getting past their memorized algorithms to some kind of understanding. It's shocking. And I try (oh how I try!) but simple things like the distance formula, midpoint formula, and equation for a circle all being exactly the same as the pythagorean theorem... or the quadratic formula being an extension of completing the square... They've just memorized for so long and done so well with that strategy, it's hard to get them even to care.

 

I think what AoPS has probably realized is that by the time you get to Algebra you've lost a lot of kids who might have been ready if they had started something earlier. So you're not going to find a lot of people who jumped right into Algebra with a student who wasn't already identified as gifted and mathy and up for the challenge. You might find more who can jump into prealgebra (I've never used it myself) or the Beast Academy materials. At that age I think there's a lot you can do to prepare.

 

I'm really not trying to be PC -- I know there are differences in abilities. But innate ability is not enough. And the longer I teach, the more distressing I find the state of math education. Math really can be taught very very badly without anyone so much as blinking, and eight years of that is a lot to overcome when you want to fix it at the algebra level. IQ certainly helps, but getting through elementary math with some number sense and problem solving skills is a much bigger deal than I ever would have believed before I started tutoring.

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This is very interesting, and Erica, your post is very enlightening and motivating.

 

I think for some people (myself included), there's a difficulty in determining just how mathy is mathy. My older son is very patient, very quick to learn new math concepts, and enjoys challenge...to a point. He had no trouble with any part of SM. (we switched to MM5 only because there was so much in SM5 he had already covered, and I thought it would be easier to pick and choose in MM and print only the material he needed. Plus it was much cheaper, and finances play a part right now in our homeschool). He is good with SM word problems, but does have some difficulty with some of the trickier Challenging Problems. Nonetheless, when he understands how to do them, he is quick to apply that knowledge to subsequent questions.

 

My son doesn't sit around doing math "for fun", however. While he works on math for about an hour a day, he doesn't "beg for more". (I've seen that very phrasing used here on the boards, so I am quoting it here :tongue_smilie:) He is a linear thinker, but at the same time, often surprises me with an approach I hadn't thought of. He glosses over the teaching portion of the lessons, but seems to intuit how to do most problems.

 

Is he a suitable AoPS candidate? I have no idea. I think perhaps there are other parents in the same boat as me, and are wondering whether AoPS would be a fit....with a child who is very good at math, "mathy" even, but perhaps doesn't beg to do math, who doesn't live and breathe math...or perhaps would just do better with more direct instruction. To be honest, even after 6 years of teaching my older, I don't quite know what approach is best for him when it comes to higher math simply because, while he has never struggled with any part of basic math, I can't say math is his passion.

 

Does that preclude AoPS? Perhaps.

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I've tutored some very very bright children who would have been completely overwhelmed by AoPS, even though they were significantly advanced in the regular math curriculum. And I've tutored kids who really weren't that far ahead, but had a good background in problem solving and were willing to jump in and try things... and who would be fine with the AoPS style.

 

So while I wouldn't recommend it to parents of kids who struggle with math... beyond that, I'm hesitant to tell people what is going to work with their kids unless I've actually taught them myself. I don't think there's one easily measured criterion that is going to determine who is going to enjoy it and who is going to drown... Generally though, I get nervous when they have no background in problem solving, when they've never been challenged before, and when they're particularly young. Any one of those may be surmountable. More than one and I start to really have my doubts... and with all three together I'd be concerned.

 

:iagree: I was a mediocre math student in a rote based, procedural math in elementary school. It wasn't until I got to more conceptual math that I was able to show my stuff (I have a math degree from a competitive tech program). I personally don't feel responsible for holding people off AoPS. I think it's better to try it and decide it's definitely not a fit and resell it than to wonder.

 

I also have a HG+ 11 year doing AoPS intro to algebra about half speed (compared to the online class anyway, which I personally think moves too fast unless all you're doing is math). He enjoys math some days, but it isn't a burning passion for him. There are some days we just do one or 2 problems (we really can't commit more than an hour a day to math, occasionally less). My kid also struggles with organization and maturity. If we finish this text over 2 years, I will be happy.

 

I'm not at all surprised the average 14 year old coming through PS would not be ready for AoPS. The average homeschool kid who's done well through Singapore maybe doing some of their IP? That would be a different kid indeed IMHO. I've done math tutoring too.

 

My son doesn't sit around doing math "for fun", however. While he works on math for about an hour a day, he doesn't "beg for more". (I've seen that very phrasing used here on the boards, so I am quoting it here :tongue_smilie:) He is a linear thinker, but at the same time, often surprises me with an approach I hadn't thought of. He glosses over the teaching portion of the lessons, but seems to intuit how to do most problems.

 

Is he a suitable AoPS candidate? I have no idea. I think perhaps there are other parents in the same boat as me, and are wondering whether AoPS would be a fit....with a child who is very good at math, "mathy" even, but perhaps doesn't beg to do math, who doesn't live and breathe math...or perhaps would just do better with more direct instruction. To be honest, even after 6 years of teaching my older, I don't quite know what approach is best for him when it comes to higher math simply because, while he has never struggled with any part of basic math, I can't say math is his passion.

 

Does that preclude AoPS? Perhaps.

 

This sounds a bunch like my kid who is doing AoPS right now. The other thing I have is a 5th grader who I have been holding out of algebra for a couple years and who just understood elementary math. He did Singapore with little to no instruction from me. I am quite sure if I handed him a standard algebra text, we'd be done in less than a year and I'd be staring down college level math much sooner than if I use something like AoPS. We may jump ship at some point, but for us right now, it's keeping him at a manageable pace. Often we both do the example problems, and if he get stuck I might throw him a hint his way (and here's a secret I haven't said - I LOVE doing AoPS with him! It's fun! :D) I definitely feel he's benefited from being forced to have to write out long problems and just not racing through 100 of the same types of problems.

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This sounds a bunch like my kid who is doing AoPS right now. The other thing I have is a 5th grader who I have been holding out of algebra for a couple years and who just understood elementary math. He did Singapore with little to no instruction from me. I am quite sure if I handed him a standard algebra text, we'd be done in less than a year and I'd be staring down college level math much sooner than if I use something like AoPS. We may jump ship at some point, but for us right now, it's keeping him at a manageable pace. Often we both do the example problems, and if he get stuck I might throw him a hint his way (and here's a secret I haven't said - I LOVE doing AoPS with him! It's fun! :D) I definitely feel he's benefited from being forced to have to write out long problems and just not racing through 100 of the same types of problems.

 

 

I agree that my older would likely work quickly through most of the traditional Pre-Algebra books I've looked at (Lial's, Dolciani) without substantial difficulty. And I see your point that using AoPS can serve to "delay" an accelerated younger child while challenging them. Thank you for your input

 

 

ETA: I am sorry for hijacking this thread. Back to your regularly scheduled programming :D

Edited by Halcyon
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Maybe part of the problem is that there aren't a ton of options for those levels (that are attractive to homeschoolers). People here rave about the unique approach of AoPS. I'm guessing. I know I seek out materials that don't look too much like the public school textbooks I grew up with. So what does that leave? Not much.

 

Could you mix it up a little, Wendy? Use AoPS as a supplement?

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I don't have experience with the Intro to Algebra book, so I suppose I'm disqualified (for lack of a better term), from the rest of this conversation. ;) I will say, however, that there seems to be a general assumption that mathyness and a high IQ/giftedness are mutually inclusive, and I don't believe they are. Simply put, it's very possible to have an aptitude for math, especially below the upper-division college level, and not be more than averagely intelligent. It's also possible to be PG and not have an aptitude for math.

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I'm holding off on AOPS as well-my DD is good at math and enjoys it, but she's not Mathy in the sense that it's what she normally picks up when she wants something challenging to do-she goes to language for that. She would rather diagram sentences or edit paragraphs or do wordy logic puzzles over math problems-and her favorite math problems are word problems-the HOE verbal problems book has been great for her.

 

She's dying to get to algebra, but I think that's because she sees the algebra textbooks that the older girls at dance have, and realizes that, hey, those books are mostly WORDS.

 

I'm thinking that continuing with LoF and lots of problem solving, logic, and practice supplements would be a good fit for her for the next few years. LoF provides the named math (algebra, geometry, and so on), in a wordy form, and I can get problem sets (I have the CK12 math sequence starting with Basic Algebra downloaded to my iPad). I have what I HOPE is at least a couple of years of logic/problem solving books here, at different difficulty levels, due to winning PP's giveaway and having them pick out a selection of books for DD after discussing her with me (and I think they did a great job of selecting things that she'll like and that will challenge her). It won't be a traditional middle/high school math sequence, but those aren't written for 7 yr old girls who like words, colors, and pictures.

 

I'm tentatively thinking that, unless DD decides that she wants to push for early college entry, we'll go back and do AOPS AFTER working through Fred. I think that by age 12-13 she'll be ready for the challenge of AOPS, probably really enjoy the online classes, and that they'll be a good "high school" math sequence for her. I'd rather have her enter college very, very strong on high school level math than with a ton of higher college math classes-and even if she decides, later on, that she wants to go into a STEMs field, she'll have a solid foundation.

 

If she decides that she wants to/needs to go to college early....well, I'll have to recalcuate routes again. With this kid, I didn't need a manual passed out in the delivery room, I need a GPS!

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I try to be very careful when I post about AoPS. I do not equate success w/AoPS w/IQ, though. I have no idea what my kids' IQs are and could absolutely careless. Perseverance, ability, and strong desire to master tough math topics are the ingredients I see necessary for success.

 

My biggest "concern" about AoPS threads are parents w/young kids rushing forward to start AoPS w/o a completely solid elementary math base and mentally mature kids (meaning kids that like to sit and work on school for long periods of time w/o exterior motivation) or implementing the online classes (alg 1 up sequence) for non-"super"-accelerated math students.

 

I also do not believe that AoPS is going to be a good program for most students. I don't think a Singapore background is a make or break component either. My strongest math students do not have a SM background at all b/c I do not use SM math. ;) I do agree that strong problem-solving skills are vital. I happen to believe that there are many paths to problem-solving skills outside of SM.

 

However, I think the biggest factor of success really boils down to how kids learn. Kids that need step by step sequential instruction are going to find AoPS very frustrating. Kids that like the big picture and can fill in those connections and enjoy the thrill of the aha moments might be a match. But, mathematical ability is going to be a factor as well (at least at the higher levels b/c no kid that doesn't enjoy math or see a need to learn it is going to put in the amt of effort it takes to succeed in the higher level courses. I have no idea where ds fits on the "gifted/accelerated" scale. But on the determination and effort scale, it is a solid couple of hrs/day.)

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:lurk5:

I don't know dd8's IQ...but I do know that I would not attempt AOPS for her because, at this point, it would kill her enjoyment of math. She loves prealg/alg currently due to our hybrid approach (TT Alg, Cybershala, etc). She is working hard solving mind-stretching problems and calculations. I throw a few aops problems at her on our white board and she digs it. But a steady diet of that wordy book would surely kill the fire....

 

We enjoy RR's videos (love!). Yay, homeschool.:)

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I don't think a Singapore background is a make or break component either. My strongest math students do not have a SM background at all b/c I do not use SM math. ;) I do agree that strong problem-solving skills are vital. I happen to believe that there are many paths to problem-solving skills outside of SM.

It's just a correlation in the particular set of kids I've taught. The ones that finished Singapore Primary are the ones with the strong problem solving skills and willingness to face a challenge. I'm pretty sure they could have gotten to the same point a dozen different ways, but Singapore does emphasize problem solving in a way (and to an extent) that isn't universal among math programs. So while someone could opt out for a perfectly good reason and still get to a perfectly good point in problem solving skill, the inverse might not be true. That is, it would be difficult to survive all six years if you weren't making some good headway in the right direction and if you weren't up for the challenge.

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It's just a correlation in the particular set of kids I've taught. The ones that finished Singapore Primary are the ones with the strong problem solving skills and willingness to face a challenge. I'm pretty sure they could have gotten to the same point a dozen different ways, but Singapore does emphasize problem solving in a way (and to an extent) that isn't universal among math programs. So while someone could opt out for a perfectly good reason and still get to a perfectly good point in problem solving skill, the inverse might not be true. That is, it would be difficult to survive all six years if you weren't making some good headway in the right direction and if you weren't up for the challenge.

 

:iagree: I mentioned SM also. Mainly because that's what my kids are coming up through. I've looked at many math curriculum and even the base program is much richer in terms of teaching understanding of concepts and deep problem solving than most. That doesn't mean there aren't other ways to get a rich math background. I would agree that a kid that came comfortably out of 6B would be in a good position to try out AoPS pre-alg.

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:iagree: I mentioned SM also. Mainly because that's what my kids are coming up through. I've looked at many math curriculum and even the base program is much richer in terms of teaching understanding of concepts and deep problem solving than most. That doesn't mean there aren't other ways to get a rich math background. I would agree that a kid that came comfortably out of 6B would be in a good position to try out AoPS pre-alg.

 

Just thought I would mention that I don't even necessarily agree that strong problem-solving skills need to even be equated w/math programs. My personal pov is that activities that require mental manipulation w/multiple-step strategies are equally good at developing problem-solving skills.....chess, Advanced Mastermind, Othello, and the list goes on. I have no data other than my own kids ;) but my best strategists do correlate to my strongest math students. Chicken or the egg......I have no idea, but I do know that I do see a difference.

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dd is not mathy, but after 6 years of SM and Miquon she's not satisfied with less.

 

We'll go at AOPS-prealgebra and see how far we get, then decide if intro-algebra is next.

 

 

I think dd will fall in this category:

 

And I've tutored kids who really weren't that far ahead, but had a good background in problem solving and were willing to jump in and try things... and who would be fine with the AoPS style.

Erica

 

Since we have time and dd is willing, we'll continue to stretch our math brains. Seems I've created an appetite for challenging math here. Why stop now? We'll switch when the need arises.

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Well, thank you hive for helping me to see other ways to use AoPS.

 

It sounds like my own personal experience is influencing my perception (of course). When I say that I taught the full spectrum of students, I taught all the way down to not being able to add at age 14 and up to the very mathmatically bright. So I stand by my 75% of students could not even begin to do AoPS Intro Algebra. I completely agree that among the mathy kids (top 25% of ALL students) raw intelligence does not matter, but diligence and passion and previous experience would. There always exceptions to any guideline, but I am talking averages here.

 

What encourages me is the idea that you could "train" kids to be able to handle AoPS algebra by using their pre algebra and beast academy. But I think this is a luxury of homeschooling. I don't know about American schools, but in New Zealand schools you teach to the test. I tried to focus on problem solving at the detriment to memorizing all the formulas and algorithms they needed to know, and my students did poorly on the first couple of tests. After I switched to "traditional" methods, their scores went up on subsequent tests. There was just not enough time to do both, and I did not have these students for multiple years so that the problem solving approach would eventually win out. So in the public schools here there is no way to get even the best 25% of the students up to level of AoPS algebra. I quit teaching math because of this huge frustration.

 

 

With my older students,... I have never had one of any IQ or ability who had the background or interest. .... but by then they've been taught so badly for so long I despair of any of them getting past their memorized algorithms to some kind of understanding. It's shocking. .... They've just memorized for so long and done so well with that strategy, it's hard to get them even to care.

 

Yes, this is my experience.

 

I think what AoPS has probably realized is that by the time you get to Algebra you've lost a lot of kids who might have been ready if they had started something earlier. So you're not going to find a lot of people who jumped right into Algebra with a student who wasn't already identified as gifted and mathy and up for the challenge. You might find more who can jump into prealgebra (I've never used it myself) or the Beast Academy materials. At that age I think there's a lot you can do to prepare.

 

Very encouraging. I guess I need to go by the pre-algebra book for my second :001_smile:

 

Thanks everyone for your responses,

 

Ruth in NZ

Edited by lewelma
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dd is not mathy' date=' but after 6 years of SM and Miquon she's not satisfied with less. We'll go at AOPS-prealgebra and see how far we get, then decide if intro-algebra is next.

 

I think dd will fall in this category:

 

And I've tutored kids who really [i']weren't[/i] that far ahead, but had a good background in problem solving and were willing to jump in and try things... and who would be fine with the AoPS style.

Erica

 

Since we have time and dd is willing, we'll continue to stretch our math brains. Seems I've created an appetite for challenging math here. Why stop now? We'll switch when the need arises.

 

Congratulations! IMHO, this is your own personal success! To bring a non-mathy kid up to this level is so encouraging.

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I guess I need to go by the pre-algebra book for my second :001_smile:

 

Yes indeed! From what you all have said both recently and in the past, I have the sense that the Prealgebra is a different "beast" than the Intro to Algebra, i.e., more do-able. Dd10 loves it - we tried to move away from it when the going got tough, but it's just so much fun, both the videos (which one could potentially use with any program) and the exercises, that we came back to it and will stick it out as long as we can.

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A struggling public school student is not necessarily low IQ or unable to access AoPS. More likely he's the victim of dysteachia or he is being subjected to rote algorithm memorization expectations rather than actually learning the whys of what he is doing.

 

I did take my struggling boy and put him in SM. He was very successful with that and middle school math club. I suspect there are many visual-spatial boys who would do well in math if they weren't subjected to the verbal teaching method used these days combined with dysteachia. In my day, they could get around it by simply reading the text -- these days there is no text.

 

This makes some sense to me!

 

"dysteachia" :lol:

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So given these responses, I think I need to modify my question. I have not seen the pre-algebra book or beast academy, so I guess I am only really asking about Intro Algebra, which I get the impression is a step up from pre-algebra beyond the obvious increased level of the material. The material in Intro Algebra ramps up in difficulty, so I am interested in hearing from people who have done more than half of the book.

Has anyone used Intro Algebra as written (meaning as the primary/ sole curriculum) with a non-mathy kid? If so, I would like to hear how that went.

Alternatively, I would also like to know if anyone who has used Intro Algebra would recommend it to a non-mathy kid, and if so under what circumstances.

It sounds like the people who have responded so far have used the pre algebra text, or used AoPS for supplement, or have considered AoPS but not used it.

Thanks, Ruth

 

I would suggest try not using AOPS algebra prior the age of 13-14.

The whole idea of seeing someone mathy/ non-mathy, gifted/not gifted before the age of 14 is moot.

Until ~14 focus more on memorizing techniques (example: steps to find LCM), and focus less on trying to elicit how mathy/ gifted your child is.

AOPS by publishing pre-algebra book enters new waters. Their target market is gifted high-school students.

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I would suggest try not using AOPS algebra prior the age of 13-14.

The whole idea of seeing someone mathy/ non-mathy, gifted/not gifted before the age of 14 is moot.

Until ~14 focus more on memorizing techniques (example: steps to find LCM), and focus less on trying to elicit how mathy/ gifted your child is.

AOPS by publishing pre-algebra book enters new waters. Their target market is gifted high-school students.

 

:bigear:

I hadn't read that here thus far. AOPS Alg is for 9th'ers? Hmmmm.....

I wonder what ages are taking the new AOPS prealg classes. I know some youngers here are doing extremely well.

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ETA: I think we are feeding the trolls.

A visitor with 3 posts - and spouting such nonsense?

 

The whole idea of seeing someone mathy/ non-mathy, gifted/not gifted before the age of 14 is moot.

 

 

I completely disagree. It is quite obvious that a 10 y/o who is succeeding in AoPS algebra or a 14 y/o who is finishing AoPS precalculus is mathy and gifted.

 

Until ~14 focus more on memorizing techniques (example: steps to find LCM), and focus less on trying to elicit how mathy/ gifted your child is.

 

:confused:

Memorization?? You're kidding, right? What besides the times tables could possibly be to memorize?

 

AOPS by publishing pre-algebra book enters new waters. Their target market is gifted high-school students.

Wrong. Target audience for AoPS is gifted students beginning in 6th grade (see website). The curriculum is designed for students beginning in 6th grade with Intro to Algebra (that was the designation before they came out with the prelgebra book).
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Yeah I wondered if that was a real word. :D
(quote is in ref to dysteachia)

 

It should be! Heigh Ho is a genius.

 

I would suggest try not using AOPS algebra prior the age of 13-14.

The whole idea of seeing someone mathy/ non-mathy, gifted/not gifted before the age of 14 is moot.

Until ~14 focus more on memorizing techniques (example: steps to find LCM), and focus less on trying to elicit how mathy/ gifted your child is.

AOPS by publishing pre-algebra book enters new waters. Their target market is gifted high-school students.

 

Thank you for my laugh of the day vito! I'd be very interested to hear why you think the above to be true (or perhaps you have a super funny bone for which I'm very thankful).

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I would suggest try not using AOPS algebra prior the age of 13-14.

The whole idea of seeing someone mathy/ non-mathy, gifted/not gifted before the age of 14 is moot.

Until ~14 focus more on memorizing techniques (example: steps to find LCM), and focus less on trying to elicit how mathy/ gifted your child is.

AOPS by publishing pre-algebra book enters new waters. Their target market is gifted high-school students.

 

:confused:

 

:bigear:

I hadn't read that here thus far. AOPS Alg is for 9th'ers? Hmmmm.....

I wonder what ages are taking the new AOPS prealg classes. I know some youngers here are doing extremely well.

 

Someone needs to tell my ds that. He took their alg 3 course in 8th. ;) BTW, he says the smartest kid in his cal class is 12. :lol:

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I will be very curious to see how this experiment pans out over time. I am very curious to see how the transition from the AoPS Prealgebra to Intro to Algebra will go for my DD, she is finishing Prealgebra 2 with the online class. My DD has never been mathy, but has extremely high problem solving skills. She is currently thriving with AoPS. We also have Jacobs and Forester Algebra 1 programs on the shelf if need be. A large portion of the material seems to have already been covered in the Prealgebra. Will that make Intro to Algebra any easier? I have no idea, but I have hope that it will. I think it is really to early to see what differences the Prealgebra being available will make.

 

I do know that without a lot of discussion about it that I would never have tried AoPS with my DD, she doesn't fit the "profile" of an AoPS student, and that would have been a true loss. Her experience with the online class has made a tremendous impact in her that will follow her no matter what she uses from here forward. Is AoPS for everyone, certainly not, but it might be something for more students than you think. ;)

 

Edited for future readers: The DD whom I speak about in this thread is not considered average in math. She does not "love" math, she just loves the way AoPS teaches it.

Edited by melmichigan
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I will be very curious to see how this experiment pans out over time. I am very curious to see how the transition from the AoPS Prealgebra to Intro to Algebra will go for my DD, she is finishing Prealgebra 2 with the online class. My DD has never been mathy, but has extremely high problem solving skills. She is currently thriving with AoPS. We also have Jacobs and Forester Algebra 1 programs on the shelf if need be. A large portion of the material seems to have already been covered in the Prealgebra. Will that make Intro to Algebra any easier? I have no idea, but I have hope that it will. I think it is really to early to see what differences the Prealgebra being available will make.

 

I do know that without a lot of discussion about it that I would never have tried AoPS with my DD, she doesn't fit the "profile" of an AoPS student, and that would have been a true loss. Her experience with the online class has made a tremendous impact in her that will follow her no matter what she uses from here forward. Is AoPS for everyone, certainly not, but it might be something for more students than you think. ;)

 

Thank you for posting. You make me think we should at least give AoPS a whirl.

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I really appreciate these AoPS threads as well. I am in an interesting place in choosing math for my son. He unfortunately had a mom who didn't dig into the amazing depths of math in choosing how and what to teach math wise his first 6 grades. Nothing in his math career has involved problem solving, etc. I just marched forward with learning basic math and that was that. Math came so easily and naturally to him and nfortunately instead of seeing a need to push him to go deeper because of his natural bent, I did the opposite almost. But in his video games, etc. he loves problem solving, he can't eat up puzzle type games fast enough.

 

The problem this last year is that he hasn't been learning that well with the more spoon feeding type math of Saxon. When you need to do x, do y, here is a list of basic problems to do. He is bored and breezes through it and forgets the next day.

 

So for kicks I had him to the two example chapters from AoPS Pre-Algebra. While it took a while and struggled a bit, the struggle was more from lack of training in math puzzles than ability. He did the chapter, did well, watched the video at the end and learned more in these two chapters than we have in thirty Saxon lessons. He fell in love with it and INSISTS he wants to do AoPS Pre-Algebra. He talks about it like it is fact.

 

I read these threads and am torn about what to do. I leave unsure if he can handle it but at the same time thrilled he is for the first time excited about math. Any advice? Should I try and use it somehow as a supplement? If so, to what? How? Or should we jump in with two feet and see how it goes? Life would be so easy if I had someone to just tell me what to do. LOL. Boring, but easy. Sometimes I hate that my sweet boy is the guinea pig for my five other kids.

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It will be interesting to see how the Beast Academy kids progress. I think it has the potential to develop mathematical thinking at an earlier age which should make it easier to progress through AoPS's algebra, geometry, etc.

 

ETA: I see Melissa already posted this!

Edited by MBM
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Re Beast Academy. We received the sample a couple of months ago, and my younger surprised me yesterday when we were playing a game with matchsticks. He knew how to form a rhombus and a parallelogram and when I asked him where he learned, he said "Beast Academy!" Turns out he has been reading the guide book for fun. It seems to have really sparked his math interest, and I am curious to see where it will lead.

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IMHO, AoPS is profoundly awesome. I think the way they have honed down mathematics into logical steps and definitions, etc is amazing. I think their concepts and fundamental core ideas could well serve nearly any math students. (Things like defining division as multiplying by a reciprocal, etc.)

 

However, the AoPS approach of tossing out problems to solve before teaching the content, and otherwise of tossing out loads of highly challenging problems that kids are NOT expected to have already been taught . . . Well, I adore this approach. I think it is just grand for my very math-gifted children.

 

I am sure that there are many "average" kids who could handle it, but I would presume it would take them a lot longer. My 9 yo doing PreAlg in about 4-5 hours a week is a perfect match for PreALg. . . but, I would guess that many kids of similar age and/or math background but without her profound talent and intelligence, would simply need much more hand-feeding of concepts and much more reinforcement. Maybe a "neurotypical" 9 yo, or even 12 yo, might need 6-10 hours a week instead of 5. Would it be worth the time? That's not my call. But, at the end of the day, there are only so many schooling hours available to each child, so I think there is a limit to how many of them should be devoted to math.

 

So, yes, I agree that AoPS is generally most appropriate for math-gifted children. And, yes, I agree that it is probably inappropriate for most non-math-gifted children (although I am sure an intelligent teacher could tease out and use many of the wonderful math insights it offers).

 

I feel the same way about people using MCT LA at young ages (even younger than it was designed for with gifted kids) but with typical/average kids. Just not a good idea, IMHO. Then they end up splitting up/diluting the program and, IMHO, gutting the beauty of it by divorcing the various threads of it and/or completely skipping portions.

 

I often think the kids would be better served if the parent chose a lower level of the program or simply a less challenging program. It seems ego-driven when a parent chooses a higher level of a gifted program and then modifies it beyond recognition . . . instead of simply choosing a more appropriate level and/or program. Everyone loses, IMHO.

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I often think the kids would be better served if the parent chose a lower level of the program or simply a less challenging program. It seems ego-driven when a parent chooses a higher level of a gifted program and then modifies it beyond recognition . . . instead of simply choosing a more appropriate level and/or program. Everyone loses, IMHO.

 

Interesting.

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Guest Hopeliaibia

A note on something Bertie mentioned about the math/science thing and Japan being one of the examples: They have almost no choice of what class they take, and I had been told that I would be able to get my math credit easily there because they were "so far ahead". I got there and was doing math I had done two years ago Algebra I/Geometry. So Im having to self-study a whole year of math and test to keep going on the set of classes I was on.After the note about that... xDIf he wants to, he should. I would most definitely recommend it, no matter what the country is even though I was dead set on Japan, so I cant really say much.

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I often think the kids would be better served if the parent chose a lower level of the program or simply a less challenging program. It seems ego-driven when a parent chooses a higher level of a gifted program and then modifies it beyond recognition . . . instead of simply choosing a more appropriate level and/or program. Everyone loses, IMHO.

 

Does anyone remember Myrtle? (Of course we do!) She modified SM CWPs to fit her son. She wrote out the bars and she let him fill in the blanks.

 

Modification is fine. Mom knows best. :)

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Does anyone remember Myrtle? (Of course we do!) She modified SM CWPs to fit her son. She wrote out the bars and she let him fill in the blanks.

 

Modification is fine. Mom knows best. :)

 

GASP.:001_huh:

 

Please tell me you are kidding.

 

Good grief. I stopped browsing the "I'm doing SM my way" threads a looooong time ago. I told the first 20 or so posters over the years to please not destroy the magic of SM by totally undoing all the good things in it . . . and explained why/how/what/when . . . and then, after the many years of banging my head on that wall . . . I just try to not even open SM math threads b/c they make me so sad.

 

Soon, I'll probably be that way about MCT and AoPS too. I'm sure someone will soon be talking about how great AoPS works when, instead of allowing their child to do the PROBLEM SOLVING, instead, they carefully extract all the rules, formulas, tricks, and such, and spoon feed each concept to their child before overwhelming the child with the oh-so-scary problems that they, GASP, have not yet been taught how to solve. Ohhh, I am sure there will soon be advocates of it. There will be one or two who post over and over about how great it is, and bring many others down their cheery lane . . . and somehow believing that by "modifying" the program in such a way, their child is getting the amazing benefits of the true curriculum which others had noticed and explained . . . (when it is used properly). Mark my words, I will not duke it out again. I will not. I will not. I will not. I will avoid the threads. I might ignore the frequent posters.

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Soon, I'll probably be that way about MCT and AoPS too. I'm sure someone will soon be talking about how great AoPS works when, instead of allowing their child to do the PROBLEM SOLVING, instead, they carefully extract all the rules, formulas, tricks, and such, and spoon feed each concept to their child before overwhelming the child with the oh-so-scary problems that they, GASP, have not yet been taught how to solve. Ohhh, I am sure there will soon be advocates of it. There will be one or two who post over and over about how great it is, and bring many others down their cheery lane . . . and somehow believing that by "modifying" the program in such a way, their child is getting the amazing benefits of the true curriculum which others had noticed and explained . . . (when it is used properly). .

 

I happen to be able to appreciate the incredible amount of insight and expertise that goes into a good math curriculum. I believe that in this case "mom knows best" is true for very few moms who are qualified to modify a math curriculum while retaining the logic, sequence, didactic value and mathematical rigor. (Of course one can always modify and create an inferior product.) Altering a math curriculum is, in fact, a very difficult task which requires a much higher level of mathematical knowledge than what the curriculum is teaching.

Much more difficult than altering a history or literature curriculum - because in math you can not omit anything, nor can you teach things in the wrong order.

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