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algebra in 9th - help (long)

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As another mom who has messed up her child's math, I am wondering if ds is at a disadvantage because we'll be doing Alg. 1 this fall. We actually attempted NEM in 7th, and finally got to the geometry section during 8th. Ds wasn't really getting it, though, so during 8th I did a lot of algebra research. We finally started Lial's Introductory toward the end of the year, and ds is nearly finished with the second chapter - he'd already be finished but he's struggling with the word problems. We also own Thinkwell for supplement, and I have a Foerster's text.


He is not going into a science or engineering type field, but I do want him to have enough math to be competitive at most colleges. Will he have enough math for the PSAT his junior year?


Concerning Lial's - it's a great book, and we're using the DVT's as well, but the lessons are so long it's hard to schedule. Ds did some exercises in Foerster's this summer for review, and I am debating whether to start 9th grade with the 3rd chapter of Lial's, or whether to switch to Foerster's now. I didn't compare the books a lot when I chose Lial's. Basically, Lial's arrived first (I ordered both at the same time), and it looked very clear, so I went with it. Now I am not sure if it was the right choice. Help!

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From your post, it sounds like he is not developmentally ready for anything higher than Algebra I and it sounds like that is even a bit of a stretch.


I am convinced that because of the abstract nature of algebra that many students would benefit from a better late than early approach. I know you are concerned with tests and college, but in the big picture it is more important for him to learn the subject. If he has to take some of his math at the college level, it won't be the end of the world.


For reasons of development, my youngest will be doing Pre-Algebra in 9th this year. I am not in the least concerned. I watched his brother, who was similar in learning readiness, struggle and feel stupid because we started Algebra too young. I watched his sister who is a textbook, A-student learner do ok in 9th. We started an Algebra program in 9th grade with her that happened to be poorly written, so we switched mid-year to Teaching Textbooks. Since she was only part way through the program, I had her review the previous lessons before moving on in 10th grade. Due simply to maturity, her ability to understand and retain far exceeded the previous year. If I had it to do over again, I'd start all three of my students in Algebra in 10th grade.


Our daughter is a senior this year and will do geometry. Yes, I know that from the "standards" she would be considered "behind", but I see a young lady who is confident in her ability to learn. Of all the mathematical disciplines she dislikes geometry the most, but she is not worried because she has obtained success before. She is far better off for her future with this confidence.


By the way, our oldest, who never found math easy is now working in an apprenticeship that requires trig. He is learning it hands-on in the field and is excelling. If I'd handed the boy a trig book, he would have collapsed.


Don't worry about your son. He'll be ok. Just meet him where he is at. As far as programs go, find what works for him. Don't worry about the best or most advanced. Find what he understands. You could even have him read samples on line of different programs to see what he finds communicates to him the best.



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Is he doing well with Lial's? Do you feel like the explanations are clear enough for both you and your ds? If so, then I would stick with the program; I think it would be easier than starting something different at this point. If not, you might switch to Foerster's or Dolciani.


As far as scheduling Lial's, I can help you with that. We've used Lial's for both Introductory and Intermediate Algebra, so I'm pretty familiar with the program.


Here's how we scheduled it:


1.) I have my dd's read through the lesson and watch the DVT for the lesson for the first day. If that is too long, then have him read approximately half of the lesson the first day. For example (this is from the 7th edition), Section 2.3 is entitled "More on Solving Linear Equations". Then the Exercises for 2.3 read, "Solve each equation, and check your solution. See Examples 1-4". So, on the first day, I might have my daughter read pp. 119-121, which covers Examples 1-4. Then she watches the DVT for that portion of the lesson.


2.) I schedule the odd problems only, so dd would do 1-17 odds (the first page).


3.) Then, the next day I'd have her read Examples 5-6, pp. 121-122, and then watch the DVT for that portion of the lesson; or, if there's enough time, watch the DVT for the entire lesson, for review. Then, I'd assign problems 1-29, p. 124.


4.) This particular lesson (2.3) is longer, so I might give an extra day to complete problems 31-51 odds, pp. 125-126.


5.) At the end of all of the lessons in a particular chapter, I have my dd's work slowly through the chapter reviews before the test, doing every problem, if necessary.


6.) Then, we do the test.


7.) Finally, we do the cumulative chapter review problems; usually the odds only again.


Since it sounds like you're working through the program over the summer, just take your time with it. I would consider working it over the summer, and then continuing through the 9th grade with the book, and possibly over the next summer as well (unless, of course, he finishes the book before then).


I agree with Cindy in WA---it's more important that your ds really understands algebra than that he completes a certain amount of math before the PSAT's. Yes---the PSAT's are great; a good foundation in algebra and geometry is very helpful to doing a good job on them. However, if your ds is struggling, you'll want to make sure he understands algebra well before moving on. Algebra is really foundational to understanding all of the upper-level maths.


If Lial's isn't a good fit for your ds, don't feel obligated to stick with it. However, if he's doing well, albeit moving slowly through the program, it might be easiest to stick with it to avoid confusion.


There are many wonderful moms on these boards who are so much more well-versed in math than I am! I could mention a few: Jane in NC, Jann in TX, LoriM, Myrtle, and others. Their help on these boards has been invaluable over the years! Don't hesitate to ask as many questions as you need!

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First, thanks so much for the encouragement. I guess algebra is like reading: when they're ready, it goes quickly, but if you try to do it before they're reading, you'll just be frustrated (and so will they).


In Lial's, he's right near the end of Chapter 2, but the word problems have got him stumped. A few weeks back, I gave him some straight algebra to do from Foerster's. He did exercises from various chapters, and was able to go through the first half of chapter 4. We skipped the word problems, but will go back over those. Lial's is nice and clear, but Foerster's looks clear, too - just approaches it differently, which might help him.


I thought Foerster's having shorter lessons would help him, too. Although I have split the lessons in Lial's, and divided the exercises, I think it does something to his motivation to actually finish something in less than a week! I've heard, though, Foerster's is harder. Not sure if that would be a good idea or not. Ds was always very good at math; it's just the last two years that he's struggled.

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No advice, just encouragement. : ) Totally agree with Cindy. Older son was ready and did well with Algebra 1 in 8th grade. Younger son struggles with math, esp. abstract concepts, so he'll be starting Algebra 1 in 9th grade, and we're prepared for it to possibly take 1-1/2 years to complete it. He is not a math/science guy either, and the important thing for us is that he really understand the concepts and will really be able to use the math he'll need for real life.


A friend's brilliant Asperger's son barely scraped by getting Algebra 1 done in 12th grade, having started/stopped/tutored etc. throughout high school. He's a computer genius and is doing just fine now. : ) BEST of luck, warmly, Lori D.

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In Lial's, he's right near the end of Chapter 2, but the word problems have got him stumped. A few weeks back, I gave him some straight algebra to do from Foerster's. He did exercises from various chapters, and was able to go through the first half of chapter 4. We skipped the word problems, but will go back over those. Lial's is nice and clear, but Foerster's looks clear, too - just approaches it differently, which might help him.


from other moms, and I would agree too, as I've worked through enough of the Lial's problems on my own, that the word problems in Lial's are difficult. I had to ask our math tutor for help with some of the word problems in Intermediate Algebra.


If you find that he's doing well in Foerster's, and Foerster's still incorporates word problems, then you might consider a switch to Foerster's.

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MOST students are not ready for Algebra 1 until 9th grade--and still many would do better if delayed until 10th or if spread out over 9th and 10th...


Here in Central Texas only 10% of students complete Algebra 1 before 9th grade. Many districts that 'push' students to take Algebra 1 in 8th grade have LOWERED their standards --the students are NOT taking a full Algebra 1 course because the majority are just not ready (but it looks good on paper!).


Try not to judge the Lial's program by the first 2 chapters. The first chapter is a rushed through review of Pre-Algebra. The second chapter is an INTRODUCTION to word problems. (Word problems will be addressed in all of the remaining chapters.) The presentation of this chapter is a bit awkward--but I think in a GROUP setting it would help the instructor to isolate any troubled areas and remediate before moving on.


Most of my tutoring students have moved slowly through this chapter as well. I use this chapter to teach how to write (show work) problems out on notebook paper--this is DIFFERENT from how a text usually shows work. I usually 'hold their hand' through most of it...and I'm not worried.


The book shows it's true colors beginning in chapter 3.


Michelle gave you some good suggestions as far as planning. It really is easy to break a lesson down into smaller pieces--my own dd needed most lessons broken down into 2-3 pieces. The homework problems are grouped according to example from the lesson....Read/watch the portion of the lesson assigned for that day, work the PRACTICE problems from the side bar (very important) and then work the assigned problems--usually only the odds.

Some of the last word problems can be skipped or used as challenge problems. This program teaches ABOVE the test. When in doubt just look at the types of problems on the test to help you decide if a problem is optional. (I sometimes work some of the harder problems together with my students).


Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions.

snikrepj @ gmail.com

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I think maybe we will stick with Lial's, then. I do like the chapter review, in-the-book test, plus the cumulative review.


I think also I need to plan on working through more with ds, rather than just covering the topic and expecting him to get it right away. Thanks everyone for your encouragement. I feel a lot less stressed about this now.

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