# Can't seem to get through algebra...

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I have a friend whose daughter has been through algebra 3 times, and is not getting it. She even hadher take it with a teacher. She is just not getting it, anyone have any helpful hints? Suggestions?

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I have a friend whose daughter has been through algebra 3 times, and is not getting it. She even hadher take it with a teacher. She is just not getting it, anyone have any helpful hints? Suggestions?

First I would make sure her prealgebra is solid. Is she proficient in arithmetic (addition, subtraction, multiplication and divisions) with positive and negative integers and fractions? If not, that must be corrected first.

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What curricula has been used? I highly recommend Foerster. His explanations just make sense....

I also agree with the person above me - gotta have those basics down well.

Beyond that - maybe she's just not mature enough to get the concepts?

I think for some, even 8th grade is still too young.

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First I would make sure her prealgebra is solid. Is she proficient in arithmetic (addition, subtraction, multiplication and divisions) with positive and negative integers and fractions? If not, that must be corrected first.

This.

And then Lial. I'd go through the Lial book with her and have her (without instruction) try to do each example problem. If she can do the example problem without any trouble, move on to the next example problem. Once she encounters a problem, explain how to do the problem, and then have her do the practice problems. Then assign half of the problems that correspond to that particular problem type. Have her check her answers as she is doing the assigned problems so that if she has trouble it can be corrected *before* she has done the whole problem set incorrectly.

This can be done with a parent or a tutor.

What not to do:

Put her in a class (either online or b&m)

Have her work through a math book on her own

Use a program with video lectures

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Which algebra programs did she use each time? How strong are her arithmetic and prealgebra skills? How old is she?

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I will ask her mom about her pre algebra skills. I am notsure what all programs, i think Saxon twice and Teaching Textbooks once. She is 17ish, with no other difficulties really in school. She is a great young lady.

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My dd struggled through several programs and finally understood algebra with Math Relief (my mathy ds also loves Math Relief). I know you have a lot suggested already, but this guy is just gifted at one thing -- teaching algebra. And prealgebra is really embedded in it.

Sample video on YouTube or here:

http://www.mathrelief.com/

Edited by Julie in MN
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I tutored a boy that had done 3 programs of algebra before. I tested him and immediately backed him up to basics. That's usually the problem with algebra--that levels before--esp fractions and multiplication. MUS has good basic tests for their placement test that will help you see what topics need to be filled in first.

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She could start at the very beginning of khan academy exercise web. If the student knows the material, they progress through it very quickly. This has been helpful for DS who had a rough time getting into algebra. He did have gaps and weak areas that needed shoring up.

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My dd struggled through several programs and finally understood algebra with Math Relief (my mathy ds also loves Math Relief). I know you have a lot suggested already, but this guy is just gifted at one thing -- teaching algebra. And prealgebra is really embedded in it.

Sample video on YouTube or here:

http://www.mathrelief.com/

:iagree:

This would be my suggestion as well.

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First I would make sure her prealgebra is solid. Is she proficient in arithmetic (addition, subtraction, multiplication and divisions) with positive and negative integers and fractions? If not, that must be corrected first.

I agree.

And, although it's not politically correct to say so, not all kids are bright enough to "get" algebra, and algebra II in particular. The transition from concrete to abstract thinking is beyond the abilities of many. I've read credible estimates from various sources that only about 50% of kids will ever actually "get" algebra II. Of course, the proportion is probably higher among home-schooled kids, who tend to be brighter than average.

How does the girl do on other challenging topics?

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I agree.

And, although it's not politically correct to say so, not all kids are bright enough to "get" algebra, and algebra II in particular. The transition from concrete to abstract thinking is beyond the abilities of many. I've read credible estimates from various sources that only about 50% of kids will ever actually "get" algebra II. Of course, the proportion is probably higher among home-schooled kids, who tend to be brighter than average.

How does the girl do on other challenging topics?

:iagree:

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I agree.

I've read credible estimates from various sources that only about 50% of kids will ever actually "get" algebra II.

Is this of those who attempt it or all students?

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I agree.

And, although it's not politically correct to say so, not all kids are bright enough to "get" algebra, and algebra II in particular. The transition from concrete to abstract thinking is beyond the abilities of many. I've read credible estimates from various sources that only about 50% of kids will ever actually "get" algebra II. Of course, the proportion is probably higher among home-schooled kids, who tend to be brighter than average.

Do you have a link to some source for this, in terms of numbers? I have wondered about this often myself as it seems to fit in with some of my anecdotal observations, but I have never read anything "serious" about the topic, so... :bigear:

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Is this of those who attempt it or all students?

It's been a long time since I read the paper (probably 30 years or more), but IIRC this was referring to all students. That is, only students on the right half of the IQ bell curve were capable of "getting" algebra II. I've also talked with various junior high/middle school math teachers over the years, and there seemed to be pretty consistent results when I asked them about algebra. That was all during the years before political correctness came to the fore, but the consensus seemed to be that algebra II sorted out the academic (college-bound) students from those who weren't. Of course, nowadays a lot more kids are going to college that wouldn't have back in 1970 or thereabouts.

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Do you have a link to some source for this, in terms of numbers? I have wondered about this often myself as it seems to fit in with some of my anecdotal observations, but I have never read anything "serious" about the topic, so... :bigear:

No. I remember reading the paper, but it's been a long, long time. It was in some academic/education/sociology journal, but I don't remember which.

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I have a friend whose daughter has been through algebra 3 times, and is not getting it. She even hadher take it with a teacher. She is just not getting it, anyone have any helpful hints? Suggestions?

My ds has the same issues so I have backed him up to the basics with MUS. We are shoring up all the basics and pre-algebra he had trouble with. I will also include Khan Academy as we move forward. He will finish Algebra 1 this semester in class with Jann in TX, continue to review over the summer, finish the second half of geometry in the fall, and start algebra 2 in the spring.

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