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Algebra I in 8th grade


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When I was growing up (80's) the honors track did Pre-algebra in 6th, then Algebra 1 over both 7th and 8th grade. It definitely helped solidify Algebra. I went on to be a Math major in college.

 

My ds11 is doing Algebra 1 now (6th grade) but I plan to teach it to mastery, so I fully expect it to take two years. But if not, we'll keep moving ahead as he demonstrates he is ready. That's what we've done so far and it seems to be working.

 

Oh, and in case anyone is interested, I used Dolciani and saved the books (because I loved using them). So I found the teacher's manuals and am using the same materials with my ds.

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This is what I've found, but, with my guy in 7th, pre alg/alg is 'what's next'. If I don't do it-what would I do? I'm asking honestly. This problem is why Colleen's spreading alg out over 7/8 sounds like a good deal. Slow isn't a bad thing!

 

Man, after reading the whole thread, I'm even more confused. My son in 7th is hating pre alg, because it's just review to him.

 

We took another route. We went ahead and did Algebra, and then we repeated it (with a different program.) A wise woman once recommended Algebra twice for most students, and I tend to agree.

 

It's painful to keep an algebra-ready student in fractions and triangle area problems. :D I vote for going ahead and then just taking longer, or repeating, or doing anything except making a student stall in basic math. :D

 

I find it odd that these discussions tend to go this way: it's better to hold student who aren't ready back so that they achieve mastery, but we also should not let students who are advanced move on. :confused: I would think if anything, homeschooling allows ultimate freedom in this area for students at all points on the continuum of math ability and background. We can do what *each individual* student needs, and we can move ahead, then slow down or repeat or go back or whatever. But we don't have to follow anyone else's blanket reommendations for what is best.

Edited by angela in ohio
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This is what I've found, but, with my guy in 7th, pre alg/alg is 'what's next'. If I don't do it-what would I do? I'm asking honestly. This problem is why Colleen's spreading alg out over 7/8 sounds like a good deal. Slow isn't a bad thing!

 

Man, after reading the whole thread, I'm even more confused. My son in 7th is hating pre alg, because it's just review to him.

 

You posted this while I was typing. I say, let him move ahead as he is ready. You don't want him to be bored. And you might find that he hits a wall somewhere in Algebra 2 and needs to slow down and take longer. That's the beauty of homeschooling. We don't have to cover one standard subject in a year, we can customize.

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We took another route. We went ahead and did Algebra, and then we repeated it (with a different program.) A wise woman once recommended Algebra twice for most students, and I tend to agree.

 

It's painful to keep an algebra-ready student in fractions and triangle area problems. :D I vote for going ahead and then just taking longer, or repeating, or doing anything except making a student stall in basic math. :D

 

That's a good idea. If my ds goes through Dolciani Algebra 1 quickly, maybe I will do a year of AoPS or something else that you experts love.

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Minimum graduation requirements for California

 

Truthfully, this thread got me a little worried because with my scope/sequence, ds11 won't be doing algebra until 9th grade. We got a bit behind when we unschooled. However, looking at state and college requirements, I think he'll be fine. Our state requires a minimum of 2 years of math to graduate, while 3 is recommended for college applicants, and we had planned on doing 4.

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This is what I've found, but, with my guy in 7th, pre alg/alg is 'what's next'. If I don't do it-what would I do? I'm asking honestly. This problem is why Colleen's spreading alg out over 7/8 sounds like a good deal. Slow isn't a bad thing!

 

FWIW, my dd's private middle school teaches algebra over two years.

 

My son in 7th is hating pre alg, because it's just review to him.

 

Why not accelerate through (by testing out of chapters or whatnot) until you hit new material? Maybe he could finish in a semester or less, and then you could move on to algebra 1, spreading it out over more than one year. Or, you could try a more challenging curriculum

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This is what I've found, but, with my guy in 7th, pre alg/alg is 'what's next'. If I don't do it-what would I do? I'm asking honestly. This problem is why Colleen's spreading alg out over 7/8 sounds like a good deal. Slow isn't a bad thing!

 

Man, after reading the whole thread, I'm even more confused. My son in 7th is hating pre alg, because it's just review to him.

 

Another thing I would recommend if this is the case. Consider the 'three strands approach' which consists of review, current subject matter and advanced topics. In this case Pre-Algebra covers mostly review. So introduce some algebra as well for the advanced topics for him to get his feet wet. You could do Pre-A 3x a week followed by Algebra 2x or some combination thereof. We were doing that with Primary Math and Pre-A last year. This seems to work well in building mental bridges to the next level and ds11 seemed to really enjoy the added challenge.

 

Something else to look at is the type of Pre-A he is doing. I've noticed some programs can be more challenging than others. With ds11 I'm moving to what I consider more challenging Pre-A from MUS. He is testing out KineticBooks and TabletClass right now. Of course AoPS is known to be super challenging. However its discovery approach is not for everyone.

Edited by dereksurfs
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Jim: For me, it's about mastery. Ds will be ready when he is ready. We will work as fast as his maturity allows but no faster.

 

This is our perspective too.

 

Nope, I'm not a doctor but I am one of the best in my field of work. Well, at least I think so.

 

Awesome. Inquiring minds want to know...what is your field?

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Awesome. Inquiring minds want to know...what is your field?

 

 

Given your handle, tranquilMind my story is a sleeper.

 

I had second thoughts about adding that and those that know me well will be the first to say that I rarely will take credit for how fortunate I've been over my career. I tend to say it was pure luck but they say you create luck. Anyway...

 

It's actually very boring to most. But, as a teenage I became interested in the financial markets. I would dream of sitting in a dark office watching the price of stocks, interest rate products, and currrency pairs. Arriving at a decision regarding the future trends I would write a report and slip it under the door. This was before the internet so it would be copied and sent to interested readers.

 

Thirty years later, I sit in an office, watch values click by, do research, and once a report is written (several times a day) hit a button and it's posted on the web for interested readers to access.

 

In school, math was my strong point but it turned out that expressing my opinion in the written form is essential and that has never proven my strong point. But school never ends and I've improved as ds has moved through grammar.

 

Back on topic, sort of. There weere a few comments about the ivy school and then the rest. I struggled through HS. Not so much grade wise, I was a solid student. But the school decided I was smart and put me in classes with others that were actually smart. I never backed down. I stuck with the classes. I worked hard while my friends never had to even think about what we were doing. AP class after AP class and they slept and I struggled. (I used this as the subject for the essays written as part of the college entry process.) I was a true learner because I pushed to the edge of my ability, always stretching, even when teacher after teacher suggested I might back off and take an easier class to push my GPA a bit higher. No way, my friends took these classes and so would I. I would push myself and if schools failed to respect that then they would not worthy of my efforts.

 

It did get me an early process interview with MIT, which I had no business attending. The person I spoke with spent considerable time with me and encouraged me to apply. He thought I had a reasonable chance to be accepted, though not based on grades but effort.

 

The discussion turned to what my effort would have to look like to succedd there. We agreed I would likely fail in the effort. But, to their credit, the rep was encouraging. Entrance decisions are made for many different reasons, not just grades. Education is more than a checklist. It was true then and I believe it is still true today.

 

You do your best. You push a bit beyond your skill set and that's when learning really begins.

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Ooooh, thanks.

 

BTW, do you know what these are? They look sort of like grade sheets for a summer course.

 

I'm the person who originally posted those links.:) They came from my days teaching year-long math classes for JHU CTY program. They used to have a once per week afterschool program in Richmond for gifted kids from all kinds of schools. Kids moved through the math courses at their own pace, so the checklists helped us keep track of which skills were mastered, & when it was time to move them up a level.

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In my son's case I will let him take his time with Algebra in 7th and 8th grade to really let the concepts solidify. I think Algebra is the most important subject to truly master since all other secondary math builds upon it as the foundation.

 

However for my younger girls, who knows. They may or may not be ready for secondary math as early as he is. And I think that's ok too. ;)

 

I'm leaning toward just this myself. I can't bear to have him hate math because he's so bored. And my girls are on the same schedule, but I don't believe in pressuring them at this age, so if they hit algebra at 7th, so be it. :001_smile:

 

We took another route. We went ahead and did Algebra, and then we repeated it (with a different program.) A wise woman once recommended Algebra twice for most students, and I tend to agree.

 

It's painful to keep an algebra-ready student in fractions and triangle area problems. :D I vote for going ahead and then just taking longer, or repeating, or doing anything except making a student stall in basic math. :D

 

I find it odd that these discussions tend to go this way: it's better to hold student who aren't ready back so that they achieve mastery, but we also should not let students who are advanced move on. :confused: I would think if anything, homeschooling allows ultimate freedom in this area for students at all points on the continuum of math ability and background. We can do what *each individual* student needs, and we can move ahead, then slow down or repeat or go back or whatever. But we don't have to follow anyone else's blanket reommendations for what is best.

 

Such a good idea, repeating it with two different programs. Thank you!

 

You posted this while I was typing. I say, let him move ahead as he is ready. You don't want him to be bored. And you might find that he hits a wall somewhere in Algebra 2 and needs to slow down and take longer. That's the beauty of homeschooling. We don't have to cover one standard subject in a year, we can customize.

 

That's so true, Dd17 did hit a wall, and that extra time we had was very beneficial.

 

Another thing I would recommend if this is the case. Consider the 'three strands approach' which consists of review, current subject matter and advanced topics. In this case Pre-Algebra covers mostly review. So introduce some algebra as well for the advanced topics for him to get his feet wet. You could do Pre-A 3x a week followed by Algebra 2x or some combination thereof. We were doing that with Primary Math and Pre-A last year. This seems to work well in building mental bridges to the next level and ds11 seemed to really enjoy the added challenge.

 

Something else to look at is the type of Pre-A he is doing. I've noticed some programs can be more challenging than others. With ds11 I'm moving to what I consider more challenging Pre-A from MUS. He is testing out KineticBooks and TabletClass right now. Of course AoPS is known to be super challenging. However its discovery approach is not for everyone.

 

Both ways seem feasible for my guy--but to be honest, when I asked him about doing just algebra, his eyes lit up. And I agree that many programs are more challenging than others so I don't want to make a huge jump and have him struggle. That would be a shame, and unnecessary.

 

Thank you all, I was quite in a tailspin after reading this thread--but this seems more manageable now.

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I'm the person who originally posted those links.:) They came from my days teaching year-long math classes for JHU CTY program. They used to have a once per week afterschool program in Richmond for gifted kids from all kinds of schools. Kids moved through the math courses at their own pace, so the checklists helped us keep track of which skills were mastered, & when it was time to move them up a level.

 

Want to take my kids in for the summer?

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Both ways seem feasible for my guy--but to be honest, when I asked him about doing just algebra, his eyes lit up. And I agree that many programs are more challenging than others so I don't want to make a huge jump and have him struggle. That would be a shame, and unnecessary.

 

Thank you all, I was quite in a tailspin after reading this thread--but this seems more manageable now.

 

justamouse, this sounds like a perfect opportunity to turn things around for him. One additional word of advice. Be careful what you select and include him in the process. Let him see the programs/materials you are considering. There are quite a few Algebra 1 offerings with trials. I suggest you consider more than one. It can be surprising how some work better for one child over others even in the same family. And you could start with an easier program such as MUS, Lial, etc.., then follow-up with something more challenging in 8th grade. He may also enjoy the computer based programs such as KineticBooks.

Edited by dereksurfs
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We took another route. We went ahead and did Algebra, and then we repeated it (with a different program.) A wise woman once recommended Algebra twice for most students, and I tend to agree.

 

It's painful to keep an algebra-ready student in fractions and triangle area problems. :D I vote for going ahead and then just taking longer, or repeating, or doing anything except making a student stall in basic math. :D

 

I find it odd that these discussions tend to go this way: it's better to hold student who aren't ready back so that they achieve mastery, but we also should not let students who are advanced move on. :confused: I would think if anything, homeschooling allows ultimate freedom in this area for students at all points on the continuum of math ability and background. We can do what *each individual* student needs, and we can move ahead, then slow down or repeat or go back or whatever. But we don't have to follow anyone else's blanket reommendations for what is best.

:iagree::iagree::iagree:

He may also enjoy the computer based programs such as KineticBooks.

If parent/teacher doesn't need a solutions guide/answer key. :)

Another thing I would recommend if this is the case. Consider the 'three strands approach' which consists of review, current subject matter and advanced topics. .

Great idea! :)

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justamouse, this sounds like a perfect opportunity to turn things around for him. One additional word of advice. Be careful what you select and include him in the process. Let him see the programs/materials you are considering. There are quite a few Algebra 1 offerings with trials. I suggest you consider more than one. It can be surprising how some work better for one child over others even in the same family. And you could start with an easier program such as MUS, Lial, etc.., then follow-up with something more challenging in 8th grade. He may also enjoy the computer based programs such as KineticBooks.

 

Thank you!

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I have read this thread with great interest. I'm sure Amber didn't realize her innocent little question would stir such a hornet's nest. :D But if one is honest about it, it really does beg the question of why we care to introduce Algebra so early in the first place? TaraTheLiberator, makes some compelling points about really getting the foundational skills down solid vs. rushing through a bunch of courses to appease college boards somewhere. However when considering the other side of the coin some do take college entrance board criteria more seriously, especially if their child is working toward getting into a more difficult school, not necessarily Ivy League.

 

I see valid points from both sides of this argument and appreciate the input. I'll add in my perspective of things. As a senior software engineer who is on a hiring team for a fortune 500 Co. I find we don't put as much weight on 'Ivy League' pedigrees. However for other fields this may be more important. Once out of school and looking for a job, experience even while in school through internships and part-time work is much more important than where the degree came from, as long as its accredited of course. Now I do know of *some* companies who like to hire Stanford grads in the Bay area for example, especially if the founders are from there themselves. But overall I don't see this as a limiting factor for professional development in the IT industry if someone is truly good at what they do.

 

 

:lol: I was stunned when I came to check in on it and found it had exploded!

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I think this really misses the point of mastering math for the sake of mastering it, rather than jumping through hoops for college admissions committees. :confused:

 

Let me ask a difficult question to consider. Are these goals necessarily mutually exclusive? In other words do you think it is possible for some to work toward both simultaneously?

Edited by dereksurfs
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I'm thinking about it...:)

 

:party:

 

I find it odd that these discussions tend to go this way: it's better to hold student who aren't ready back so that they achieve mastery, but we also should not let students who are advanced move on. :confused: I would think if anything, homeschooling allows ultimate freedom in this area for students at all points on the continuum of math ability and background. We can do what *each individual* student needs, and we can move ahead, then slow down or repeat or go back or whatever. But we don't have to follow anyone else's blanket reommendations for what is best.

 

:iagree:

 

Most of my son's friends are attending Penn State. Those kids worked their tails off to get into that school - many APs, high SAT scores. ALL took Calculus and Physics. All started out with algebra in 7th or 8th grade. They attended an average, suburban public school.

 

My son goes to a private college - similar stats. Just a different kid who needed a different fit. And found it. Like a previous poster mentioned, many schools prefer a rigorous course load and want to see calculus/physics. We don't have to like it, but it is a fact. That certainly doesn't mean our kids haven't mastered maths. And it doesn't mean our kids need to aim for those schools.

 

If you hop over to the college board, you'll find that there is no pressure to attend top tier colleges. There is a such a wonderful variety! Ha! We are a bunch of homeschoolers with minds of our own, you know! ;) There are many fabulous schools out there - public and private; some just happen to be more "exclusive" than others.

 

And an FYI - many private schools give enough merit aid to make it equal to public schools. We couldn't afford it otherwise. Penn State didn't offer a penny to my friend whose salary is less than a year's tuition!

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Let me ask a difficult question to consider. Are these goals necessarily mutually exclusive? In other words do you think it is possible for some to work toward both simultaneously?

 

My son's friends who ended up at top colleges are there because they are bright, ambitious and determined. They knew where they wanted to go and why. They aced their AP classes and impressed the admissions committee. So, yes, both of those goals are able to be met simultaneously.

Edited by lisabees
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So let me add this ... CA is transitioning from state standards to Common Core. SS list Algebra in the 8th grade, but CC has Algebra in the 9th grade. Educators are desperately trying to figure out how to deal with this b/c schools must finish their transition by 2014.

 

There are middle schools near me that allow students to do pre-algebra in 6th and Algebra in 7th. It is just called acceleration. I believe that schools here that now offer Algebra in 8th grade will continue to do so.

 

I am interpreting Common Core standards as a guideline on what competency to hopefully achieve, and not that Algebra can only be offered in 9th grade.

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My son's friends who ended up at top colleges are there because they are bright, ambitious and determined. They knew where they wanted to go and why. They aced their AP classes and impressed the admissions committee. So, yes, both of those goals are able to be met simultaneously.

 

 

I did not mean my question in a facetious sort of way but rather one to consider on a case by case basis. For some children I think both *may* be attainable. Yet at the same time I don't want to discount or dilute the importance math mastery as the primary objective. I think that is the thrust of the other side of the arguement and points which were made. Too often it may seem that kids and parents are rushing through math, checking off all the boxes, in a mad dash to impress admission committees. Then the math and science professors find freshman students weak in their most fundamental math skills.

 

Ultimately I think it is best to emphasize mastery first with adequate challenges along the way. Then see where the child lands. Some end up ready for more advanced topics earlier while others are not. Both are ok in my mind as all children and adults have different gifts and abilities.

Edited by dereksurfs
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I did not mean my question in a facetious sort of way but rather one to consider on a case by case basis. For some children I think both *may* be attainable. Yet at the same time I don't want to discount or dilute the importance math mastery as the primary objective. I think that is the thrust of the other side of the arguement and points which were made. Too often it may seem that kids and parents are rushing through math, checking off all the boxes, in a mad dash to impress admission committees. Then the math and science professors find freshman students weak in their most fundamental math skills.

 

Ultimately I think it is best to emphasize mastery first with adequate challenges along the way. Then see where the child lands. Some end up ready for more advanced topics earlier while others are not. Both are ok in my mind as all children and adults have different gifts and abilities.

 

We agree. ;) Every child is different. Every situation is different. I just wanted to point out that it is possible to go through algebra in 7th grade and come out fine in the end. Some kids are not being pushed - they are bright and self-motivated. That is when it is okay, in my book, to move forward. Just as it is okay to slow things down for another child. :001_smile:

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Given your handle, tranquilMind my story is a sleeper.

 

I had second thoughts about adding that and those that know me well will be the first to say that I rarely will take credit for how fortunate I've been over my career. I tend to say it was pure luck but they say you create luck. Anyway...

 

It's actually very boring to most. But, as a teenage I became interested in the financial markets. I would dream of sitting in a dark office watching the price of stocks, interest rate products, and currrency pairs. Arriving at a decision regarding the future trends I would write a report and slip it under the door. This was before the internet so it would be copied and sent to interested readers.

 

Thirty years later, I sit in an office, watch values click by, do research, and once a report is written (several times a day) hit a button and it's posted on the web for interested readers to access.

 

In school, math was my strong point but it turned out that expressing my opinion in the written form is essential and that has never proven my strong point. But school never ends and I've improved as ds has moved through grammar.

 

Back on topic, sort of. There weere a few comments about the ivy school and then the rest. I struggled through HS. Not so much grade wise, I was a solid student. But the school decided I was smart and put me in classes with others that were actually smart. I never backed down. I stuck with the classes. I worked hard while my friends never had to even think about what we were doing. AP class after AP class and they slept and I struggled. (I used this as the subject for the essays written as part of the college entry process.) I was a true learner because I pushed to the edge of my ability, always stretching, even when teacher after teacher suggested I might back off and take an easier class to push my GPA a bit higher. No way, my friends took these classes and so would I. I would push myself and if schools failed to respect that then they would not worthy of my efforts.

 

It did get me an early process interview with MIT, which I had no business attending. The person I spoke with spent considerable time with me and encouraged me to apply. He thought I had a reasonable chance to be accepted, though not based on grades but effort.

 

The discussion turned to what my effort would have to look like to succedd there. We agreed I would likely fail in the effort. But, to their credit, the rep was encouraging. Entrance decisions are made for many different reasons, not just grades. Education is more than a checklist. It was true then and I believe it is still true today.

 

You do your best. You push a bit beyond your skill set and that's when learning really begins.

 

That's an interesting story, Jim! Your job sounds great! It is true that many of the most successful people didn't really like or do that well in school, as I'm sure you know.

 

I like that last bit and sure hope it is true. My daughter, who's a real academic and takes everything in stride, called me today to tell me that she believe she bombed an AP Bio test at her (gifted - you have to be admitted) school. Well...duh. She never took Biology at all - her home school did Physics in 9th and Biology in 11th grade (she is now in 11th). This school assumed all students had done Biology and offers ONLY AP Bio and Biology is a state requirement. They simply put her there with no background, telling her she had no alternative. The teacher canceled a review session; she had never seen half of the material before.

 

Time to get on Khan Academy and teach herself Biology! She actually didn't do as badly as she thought, but it wasn't her usual performance.

 

It's her time to be pushed to the edges and actually learn something. It never really happened before (and she's in some 3rd year college classes, as a 16 year old).

 

I'm feeling compelled to write a book lately. I have no idea how to do this. Time to be pushed to the edges of my skills and figure it all out.

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It's painful to keep an algebra-ready student in fractions and triangle area problems. :D I vote for going ahead and then just taking longer, or repeating, or doing anything except making a student stall in basic math. :D

 

I find it odd that these discussions tend to go this way: it's better to hold student who aren't ready back so that they achieve mastery, but we also should not let students who are advanced move on. :confused: I would think if anything, homeschooling allows ultimate freedom in this area for students at all points on the continuum of math ability and background. We can do what *each individual* student needs, and we can move ahead, then slow down or repeat or go back or whatever. But we don't have to follow anyone else's blanket reommendations for what is best.

 

Yes. This.

 

If your student is struggling with important pre-algebra skills such as fractions, YES, you should camp out/slow down. Honestly, an elite school is not going to be interested in a student who got through an advanced curriculum with a C level understanding at each level, and it will show in their standardized test scores. They'll do a lot better in any college math/science courses they need to take with an A level understanding of fewer courses than a C level understanding of many. Honestly I wish my students even had an A level understanding of pre-algebra and Algebra I.

 

If your student does well in pre-algebra and then starts to really struggle in algebra, you can drop back and do a non-algebraic geometry, a more hands-on algebra as a second year of pre-algebra, or other options depending on the child. Maybe a year of math history with regular pre-algebra review. There are lots of people here who could help you come up with options. Don't be afraid to move on IF the student has done well in the previous level! In the public school, you'd HAVE to worry, because they can't pull out the people mid-semester who aren't doing well in algebra I and say 'hey you guys, we're doing something else for a year until your brains are ready for algebra.' This is exactly the sort of flexibility that homeschooling should give.

 

I strongly, strongly believe it's important not to be so committed to a plan that you forget to evaluate how it's working for your student.

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Then the math and science professors find freshman students weak in their most fundamental math skills.

.

 

Amen to that.

I teach calculus based introductory physics, and I see many students who have trouble with math - not with calc, but with basic algebra: solving quadratics or systems of linear equations.

 

I disagree, however, that the problem is that students begin algebra too early. In the US, algebra is introduced much later than in many other countries; I refuse to believe that American students are developmentally behind. The problem is rather that they have not been taught well (bad math curricula, teachers who lack a higher math education and actual understanding).

One problem is the compartmentalization of math in this country. In many other high performing countries, there is no such thing as "algebra1" and "prealgebra" and "algebra 2" - it is just math. Easier algebra concepts are introduced earlier (in my home country, linear equations are taught in 7th grade); mixed with geometry concepts (proofs of triangle congruency in 6th), more abstract topics are introduced later (quadratics in 9th). This way, there is no waiting for the "algebra readiness" for the most abstract concepts (while driving students crazy spending three years on fractions); math is taught as a continuum, not as a series of labeled packages.

Edited by regentrude
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I'm thinking about it...:)

 

Oh, let me know when you start to build your customer base. I think that Cauliflower especially will end up outstripping me before he's out of high school.

 

One of the side effects of letting him sit down with the cute frog counters and a Saxon K lesson way back on the first day of Rutabaga's school career was that he's now in 8th grade and doing Algebra II.

 

I try not to dwell on where that may end up. He could easily land in calculus before he's old enough for dual enrollment and before he has a driver's license. (On the other hand, he could go through the 13 year old funk and retain almost nothing from day to day, too. One reason I don't like holding back students who are ready to start algebra is that it may take more than one year to get them through a course when they are teens. Not waiting can buy options; not waiting doesn't have to mean pushing.)

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One problem is the compartmentalization of math in this country. In many other high performing countries, there is no such thing as "algebra1" and "prealgebra" and "algebra 2" - it is just math. Easier algebra concepts are introduced earlier (in my home country, linear equations are taught in 7th grade); mixed with geometry concepts (proofs of triangle congruency in 6th), more abstract topics are introduced later (quadratics in 9th). This way, there is no waiting for the "algebra readiness" for the most abstract concepts (while driving students crazy spending three years on fractions); math is taught as a continuum, not as a series of labeled packages.

 

This is what I'm liking about Singapore Discovering Mathematics.

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I did not mean my question in a facetious sort of way but rather one to consider on a case by case basis. For some children I think both *may* be attainable. Yet at the same time I don't want to discount or dilute the importance math mastery as the primary objective. I think that is the thrust of the other side of the arguement and points which were made. Too often it may seem that kids and parents are rushing through math, checking off all the boxes, in a mad dash to impress admission committees. Then the math and science professors find freshman students weak in their most fundamental math skills.

Ultimately I think it is best to emphasize mastery first with adequate challenges along the way. Then see where the child lands. Some end up ready for more advanced topics earlier while others are not. Both are ok in my mind as all children and adults have different gifts and abilities.

 

The bolded above may well be true in many cases. But I wonder if it is more common among public/private schooled kids where the threshold is a passing grade and then advance to the next topic.

 

I see an opposite tendency popping up among homeschoolers. Kids or parents who are frustrated with math curriculum that require hard work. So they keep looking for the next great thing that will provide relatively effortless learning. Or they get fed up because the learning isn't instantaneous and permanent. You can argue over delivery method (text vs video; spiral vs mastery; mathematical language vs everyday examples), but the fact that Johnny did a lesson on Monday and is still working to internalize it on Thursday isn't always a bad thing that needs fixed. It doesn't even always indicate a problem with the curriculum. It might just indicate that Johnny needs more time working with the concept and more practice.

 

But folks tend to hop around. And sometimes the criteria for a program isn't it's depth or clarity, but how easy it is to implement. I'm not sure that is the best measure. Sure there are programs that are so complicated that they aren't worth messing with. But does it have to be effortless? For student AND for parent?

 

Math has skills that build upon each other. In history or literature, if you miss a time period or a book, it doesn't always change your ability to understand the next topic or work. But in math it might.

 

What I see happen more than rushing through in homeschools (and of course this is just my observation) is families who put off math lessons or who keep shifting gears or who dismiss the need for algebra and advanced maths entirely. How do you ever find out that a kid is talented with math if you don't give him time to stretch and grow?

 

[i think it's compounded by parents who aren't comfortable with their math abilities either, wonderful homeschool trailblazers who were lovers of word and history, a lack of homeschool trailblazers who are lovers of math and science, and in some quarters a distrust of science that leads to a devaluation of the math that supports it.]

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Too often it may seem that kids and parents are rushing through math, checking off all the boxes, in a mad dash to impress admission committees. Then the math and science professors find freshman students weak in their most fundamental math skills.

 

If you don't "play the game", the child won't end up sitting in those classes at all in favor of someone who did check the boxes & impressed the admissions committee.

 

Is it possible to get back on the honors track by doubling up in math? Of course. My DH's grammar school did not offer algebra 1 in 8th (back when that was standard for the honors track) so he doubled up on geometry and algebra 2 in 10th. But that makes for a harder workload and room for fewer electives.

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I see an opposite tendency popping up among homeschoolers. Kids or parents who are frustrated with math curriculum that require hard work. So they keep looking for the next great thing that will provide relatively effortless learning. Or they get fed up because the learning isn't instantaneous and permanent. You can argue over delivery method (text vs video; spiral vs mastery; mathematical language vs everyday examples), but the fact that Johnny did a lesson on Monday and is still working to internalize it on Thursday isn't always a bad thing that needs fixed. It doesn't even always indicate a problem with the curriculum. It might just indicate that Johnny needs more time working with the concept and more practice.

What I see happen more than rushing through in homeschools (and of course this is just my observation) is families who put off math lessons or who keep shifting gears or who dismiss the need for algebra and advanced maths entirely.

 

[i think it's compounded by parents who aren't comfortable with their math abilities either, wonderful homeschool trailblazers who were lovers of word and history, a lack of homeschool trailblazers who are lovers of math and science, and in some quarters a distrust of science that leads to a devaluation of the math that supports it.]

 

Sadly, from what I see with the IRL homeschoolers I know, I have to agree 100%. In our local homeschooling group, pretty much none of the kids do math at what I would consider grade level, and in most families math ranks very low on the priority list.

We recently had a discussion about this, because one mom had a rude awakening when she realized her 18/y would have to talke the ACT and was nowhere near prepared in math - she now seriously questions her decision to unschool math.

What execerbates the problem is the widespread notion that "students will be able to learn something easily once they realize its importance". This may be true in general, but catching up on several years of math is not going to be easy. Most of the homeschoolers in our group are big on child led learning. I love child led learning - but at some point, it is up to me as the adult to make sure that math gets done; I can not sit around waiting for the insight that math should be done to develop in the student's mind.

 

Parents who themselves are uncomfortable with math, or whose daily lives includes little math probably face additional difficulties. If the parent is not convinced of the importance, it is hard to make a child do something difficult.

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If you don't "play the game", the child won't end up sitting in those classes at all in favor of someone who did check the boxes & impressed the admissions committee.

 

Is it possible to get back on the honors track by doubling up in math? Of course. My DH's grammar school did not offer algebra 1 in 8th (back when that was standard for the honors track) so he doubled up on geometry and algebra 2 in 10th. But that makes for a harder workload and room for fewer electives.

:iagree:

Universities want to see that a student has taken the most rigorous classes AVAILABLE to the student. So if the top students at a school are taking Algebra in 7th grade and making it to Calculus by 11th at a school, that sets the standard. In some districts over 10% of kids are taking Alg. 1 in 7th grade. If Algebra is only offered to 9th graders at a school and no one at the school takes Calculus, universities understand that track is the most rigorous program at that school. So even if you are homeschooling it is beneficial to see what is the most rigorous program offered at your local public school.

 

For our family, the major factor in pushing our kids to take the most rigorous classes is financial. We are middle class and will not be able to afford to send our kids to a private college unless they get some kind of merit aid. We live in California where the cost of living is more expensive, so our salaries do not go very far, but they are enough that we will probably be shut out of financial aid. Meanwhile, public universities in California are getting increasingly competitive and expensive. When I started at the University of California in 1988, tuition/fees were 1500 dollars. Now it is 15,000 dollars a year plus room and board AND it is much more competitive to get admitted.

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Sadly, from what I see with the IRL homeschoolers I know, I have to agree 100%. In our local homeschooling group, pretty much none of the kids do math at what I would consider grade level, and in most families math ranks very low on the priority list.

We recently had a discussion about this, because one mom had a rude awakening when she realized her 18/y would have to talke the ACT and was nowhere near prepared in math - she now seriously questions her decision to unschool math.

What execerbates the problem is the widespread notion that "students will be able to learn something easily once they realize its importance". This may be true in general, but catching up on several years of math is not going to be easy. Most of the homeschoolers in our group are big on child led learning. I love child led learning - but at some point, it is up to me as the adult to make sure that math gets done; I can not sit around waiting for the insight that math should be done to develop in the student's mind.

 

Parents who themselves are uncomfortable with math, or whose daily lives includes little math probably face additional difficulties. If the parent is not convinced of the importance, it is hard to make a child do something difficult.

I find this interesting. We don't talk a lot about curriculum in our group but I have gotten a bit of an impression that Math isn't as stressed by other people, whereas it is where we spend most of our structured time. Ds seems to be well advanced over others both his age and grade but I don't consider him all that advanced- especially compared to others here.

 

I have seen there is a bit of dichotomy of those who use boxed all the way and then pretty unschooly. I have a friend that has been randomly making up her own Math curriculum, I've tried to convince her to pick something and stick with it but she is very complacent about it and thinks it doesn't matter but he isn't progressing. It is then blamed on his attitude, unfortunately. I know others that just do random math workbooks here and there or just practice basic facts and I'm not sure how they are going to transfer that to higher Math, as there doesn't seem any plan in place past basic arithmetic and memorizing facts. It's not my problem though and I bite my tongue.

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Over half of the 2011 and 2012 graduates of 4 year colleges are still unemployed, and many more are underemployed. Do you think the chances of getting a good job after graduation are better as a graduate of a highly selective college or as a graduate of some no-name college?

 

My DH's employer only recruits at a handful of colleges, so unless the individual has family connections that he/she can rely on to bypass the normal recruiting channels, he/she would be S.O.L. as a graduate of any other college.

 

Interesting.

 

After graduating with a pair of Baccalaureates (equivilant of a BS) from Penn State, my husband scored a full ride to his PhD program- two, in fact; he gave one back so someone else could also win one-- that allowed him five years of PhD study without even needing to grade or be a TA. His undergrad work was completed at a state university.

 

Upon completion of his PhD, he won another full ride ticket that allowed him to do a post-doc anywhere he chose, and he went... To another state university. Now at yet another state U as a full professor (a place where he had his puck of jobs in 2000, and has stayed despite being recruited more than a few times) the state U where he teaches, in a state most people forget even exists, his department is ranked as one of the top grad programs in the field in the country.

 

His only Ivy experience was heading to Cornell for his PhD, and they were glad to have him, on their dime, after his 'no name state U' undergrad degrees.

 

People care a lot more about what you know than about the name branding. There are a few holdouts and a few professions that stand as exceptions to this, but I stand by my earlier post. My husband and his colleagues get very frustrated by seeing bright kids get discouraged, GPA's drop, extra semesters incurred to complete high school level work, or kids even drop out of college because someone thought it was an awesome idea to give a kid an impressive-looking non-education. As a tutor to all too many, I have mopped up many of their tears as we visited all the way back as far as fractions or percentages or graphing with a kid who was supposed to be in calc 3. The kid had been done no favors, and the kid den the hall who had math solidly through trig on his transcript also got in. And the kids at this U (who do well, because they were prepared well) get into any grad school they want to, and work for duPont, Merck, the government, go to law school, PT school, med school, or anywhere else they wish to go.

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Amen to that.

I teach calculus based introductory physics, and I see many students who have trouble with math - not with calc, but with basic algebra: solving quadratics or systems of linear equations.

 

I disagree, however, that the problem is that students begin algebra too early. In the US, algebra is introduced much later than in many other countries; I refuse to believe that American students are developmentally behind. The problem is rather that they have not been taught well (bad math curricula, teachers who lack a higher math education and actual understanding).

One problem is the compartmentalization of math in this country. In many other high performing countries, there is no such thing as "algebra1" and "prealgebra" and "algebra 2" - it is just math. Easier algebra concepts are introduced earlier (in my home country, linear equations are taught in 7th grade); mixed with geometry concepts (proofs of triangle congruency in 6th), more abstract topics are introduced later (quadratics in 9th). This way, there is no waiting for the "algebra readiness" for the most abstract concepts (while driving students crazy spending three years on fractions); math is taught as a continuum, not as a series of labeled packages.

 

:iagree: this is one reason why I love Singapore, Life of Fred (the first elementary book introduces basic algebraic concepts), and games such as Dragonbox.

 

I also do not think a kid who is ready should be held back. But we are advancing into this "Lake Woebegone effect" where every kid is now treated as above average. Too many kids are being forced into fake college level work they ate not yet prepared for because the underlying skills are not yet solid.

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Interesting.

 

After graduating with a pair of Baccalaureates (equivilant of a BS) from Penn State, my husband scored a full ride to his PhD program- two, in fact; he gave one back so someone else could also win one-- that allowed him five years of PhD study without even needing to grade or be a TA. His undergrad work was completed at a state university.

 

This was my sister's experience. She got a full-ride to an Ivy for a PhD after getting her BS and Masters at a state school.

 

kids even drop out of college because someone thought it was an awesome idea to give a kid an impressive-looking non-education. As a tutor to all too many, I have mopped up many of their tears as we visited all the way back as far as fractions or percentages or graphing with a kid who was supposed to be in calc 3. The kid had been done no favors, and the kid den the hall who had math solidly through trig on his transcript also got in.

 

:iagree:

 

I would much rather my kids go to an average university but actually know that material they studied than go somewhere glitzy without a solid understanding. It's not mutually exclusive, I realize, but when I evaluate what I want for my kids academically, an impressive transcript just to woo the college admissions team is low on my list. I will serve my kids first and a selective college's ego last.

 

I understand what CrimsonWife was saying in her most recent post about income/financial aid, etc., but having two kids who struggle with learning disabilities, I don't and can't afford to buy into the idea that they have to tackle algebra early and must get into a competitive school. (My dd18 took algebra in 10th grade, failed it, and repeated it in summer school.) Those things are likely not the reality for my kids, and I'm unwilling to write them off as not properly educated because of it.

 

Tara

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Universities want to see that a student has taken the most rigorous classes AVAILABLE to the student. So if the top students at a school are taking Algebra in 7th grade and making it to Calculus by 11th at a school, that sets the standard. In some districts over 10% of kids are taking Alg. 1 in 7th grade. If Algebra is only offered to 9th graders at a school and no one at the school takes Calculus, universities understand that track is the most rigorous program at that school. So even if you are homeschooling it is beneficial to see what is the most rigorous program offered at your local public school.

 

This is what I am struggling with - the extent of the eventual admissions significance of algebra 1 in 7th vs. 8th, and thus calc in 11th vs. 12th, for mathy, advanced students applying to selective schools.

Edited by wapiti
too much
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I'm wondering who all these students are who get into Ivy League schools but don't know basic math? So they took Calc in 11th and got a high grade, got a high enough SAT Math score to get into a selective school, but they still don't know algebra? Is that a common problem really? And at the local non-selective university, who is sitting in those remedial math courses, since those non-Ivy dc must be better prepared, right? :confused:

 

Honestly, this conversation (and it happens frequently here) always sounds like sour grapes to me. "Well, sure their dc got into the big name school or got to Calc in high school, but I bet they don't *really* know the material; it was probably just all show for college admissions." Why can't we just all pick the path that works for the child in front of us and not make sweeping generalizations about everyone who takes a different path due to different circumstances? Then we end up with parents who are scared to follow the path their child needs because of everyone else's opinions.

 

Somewhere between the "must have an Ivy education or you are doomed" and "students going for selective school admissions don't really know anything" (that's intended to be hyperbole).... that's where I'll be, hanging out with my dc who are just doing the math they do. What a funny thread! :D

Edited by angela in ohio
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I'm wondering who all these students are who get into Ivy League schools but don't know basic math? So they took Calc in 11th and got a high grade, got a high enough SAT Math score to get into a selective school, but they still don't know algebra? Is that a common problem really?

 

I don't know, but I had a high math SAT and did well on the AP calc exam (AB, because my school didn't have BC) and I really didn't know calculus. At all, LOL - I was able to slide through without turning on the whole brain, using merely peripheral brain cells (though academically I tend toward math and away from language). I wasn't going into a STEM major, so it didn't ultimately affect me, and maybe that's it - I know plenty of (older) Ivy grads who were non-STEM majors and do not consider themselves to be mathy people (and yet took calc in high school). On the other hand, I did know algebra, or I listened at least half the time in class in 8th gr LOL, but then that was early-1980s NYS Regents, which just isn't the same level of rigor anymore from what I understand.

 

So, a couple random thoughts: (1) SAT and AP Calc may not necessarily test for certain kinds of mathematical thinking, which must be why certain schools ask for math contest scores, and (2) some current middle school Algebra 1 classes may not be at the same level of rigor as 9th grade algebra or as algebra might have been decades ago.

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I don't know, but I had a high math SAT and did well on the AP calc exam (AB, because my school didn't have BC) and I really didn't know calculus. At all, LOL

 

You don't need Calc to do well on the SAT Math test. That wasn't the conversation, though. It was about whether students who take Calc know algebra and other basic math. You do need those to do well on the SAT.

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So, a couple random thoughts: (1) SAT and AP Calc may not necessarily test for certain kinds of mathematical thinking, which must be why certain schools ask for math contest scores, .

 

I am wondering if the reason top schools ask for AMC/AIME scores is because many top math students can hit the ceiling on the ACT and SAT Math sections in middle school (or before).

 

There may be a huge difference in mathematical abilities between two students who both achieved a 36/800 on the maths sections of the ACT/SAT. The AMC/AIME helps to distinguish the two students.

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I'm wondering who all these students are who get into Ivy League schools but don't know basic math? So they took Calc in 11th and got a high grade, got a high enough SAT Math score to get into a selective school, but they still don't know algebra? Is that a common problem really? And at the local non-selective university, who is sitting in those remedial math courses, since those non-Ivy dc must be better prepared, right? :confused:

 

It is not so much the Ivy League schools -- it is the students who took the same track of math classes, but didn't do so well in the math classes, didn't score as well on the ACT/SAT, and are now in the remedial math classes at the state university DESPITE having had algebra 1 in 8th grade and calculus in 12th.

 

I spent a few summers grading placement tests for the remedial classes at my university. Among other things, we got to see the high school transcript. At least a third of them had had calculus in high school and still placed into beginning algebra, the lowest class we offer. Many of them had transcripts that looked something like (for example) geometry, C, algebra 2, B-, precalculus, C+, calculus, C, coupled with an ACT score of about 16. *This* is the kind of student that the people who are saying 'don't RUSH at the expense of understanding!' are referring to.

 

If your student is doing well in pre-algebra, GO AHEAD! Start algebra next year! But if they're getting a C in pre-algebra despite working hard, starting algebra next year is not the best track.

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It is not so much the Ivy League schools -- it is the students who took the same track of math classes, but didn't do so well in the math classes, didn't score as well on the ACT/SAT, and are now in the remedial math classes at the state university DESPITE having had algebra 1 in 8th grade and calculus in 12th.

 

I spent a few summers grading placement tests for the remedial classes at my university. Among other things, we got to see the high school transcript. At least a third of them had had calculus in high school and still placed into beginning algebra, the lowest class we offer. Many of them had transcripts that looked something like (for example) geometry, C, algebra 2, B-, precalculus, C+, calculus, C, coupled with an ACT score of about 16. *This* is the kind of student that the people who are saying 'don't RUSH at the expense of understanding!' are referring to.

 

If your student is doing well in pre-algebra, GO AHEAD! Start algebra next year! But if they're getting a C in pre-algebra despite working hard, starting algebra next year is not the best track.

 

Kiana, this sounds like trying to put a round peg in a square hole. Some kids just need more time in certain areas vs. the herd mentality of rushing ahead. With homeschool families this may be a bit harder to gauge, especially since you wouldn't necessarily have math transcripts to look at. So as the parents I think we need to be more in tune with where they really are. There is the tension between moving 'em along to keep up with an impressive schedule vs. true mastery and understanding of the material presented. It is ultimately *our* responsibility as the child will do whatever we tell them is next.

 

The honest truth is we have the full spectrum represented on a forum such as this. Some kids are math whizzes and may in fact end up attending top tier schools, Ivy or otherwise their freshman year. While others will struggle with algebra and take some remedial math at the local CC. There will be others who take dual enrollment and finish HS with their college math mostly completed. And the list goes on. I would venture to say that even within a large family there will be quite a bit of variance.

 

Then there is the nature vs. nurture question. Of course some children are naturally gifted. But how many students would thrive more if given the right opportunties to do so, especially with tailoring based on their learning style or slowing down where developmentally needed? Then there is the converse need to speed things up when they are ready and challenging their developing brains vs. dragging things out unnecessarily.

 

Such a simple original question brings up so many things to consider. I tend to believe everyone on here is trying to do the right thing for their child. Otherwise why even participate? Of course many will take different paths to get there. Still it is interesting to consider the various approaches taken and rationale behind them.

Edited by dereksurfs
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