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Saxon - tell me why it isn't more popular in high school?


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I understand why in elementary - the drill and kill. But, is it the same in high school? I like the idea of a more integrated math approach. I liked the use of word problem/real world application that I saw in the sample. What we are doing right now for Algebra is drill and kill, with very little real world application.

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I don't know why it is not popular, but I can tell you why we don't use Saxon in our family: too much drill and kill, spiral method, dry as dust and utterly uninspired. We want: mastery based, problems that are so different from each other that the student has to think about each one, a text that sparkles with enthusiasm and joy.

 

I would suspect that for some people the fact that geometry is not a stand alone course may be an additional deterrent; it played no role in my choice.

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Exactly what regentrude said.

 

That being said, I suspect that Saxon is superior to many of the programs used in public schools, which grant neither a conceptual nor a computational understanding. Saxon (if worked consistently) is excellent at giving a computational understanding. Some students are able to generalize from this to the conceptual understanding; some are not. Some students need information presented in bigger chunks rather than in small pieces like Saxon. Many people have had students who did well with Saxon, but when they were asked to apply the skills they have learned to real-world problems were unable to do so. Others have experienced exactly the opposite. This is very much a YMMV moment.

 

However, for me, it is so boring that I would rather gouge my eyeballs out than teach or learn from it. It kills the joy I find in mathematics. There are other textbooks that I would much rather use, both for average and for gifted learners. I like AOPS. I like Foerster. I like Dolciani. I like Jacobs. I don't like Saxon.

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I think quite a few people use Saxon in high school, and do so very successfully, as it is a good fit for certain students.

 

However, my guess is that there are so many more options these days, that people have the ability to more closely match their needs, and their student's learning style with one of the many newer high school math programs that have come out in the past ten years or so: MUS, Teaching Textbooks, Life of Fred, Art of Problem Solving, Chalkdust, Videotext, Kinetic Books, ALEKS....

 

 

Saxon was a bust for both of our DSs for very different reasons.

 

For older math-minded DS it was split out into too many tiny "bites" of instruction, with too many lessons in between before getting the next "bite" in that topic again. Plus WAY too much review. Also, the higher levels of Saxon seem to rely much more on memorization of formulas and then "chug and plug", rather than modeling and encouraging actual math thinking and problem solving. Instead, this DS did well with:

- Singapore Primary and NEM1 (encouraged real-life thinking and problem-solving)

- Jacobs Algebra and Geometry (GREAT for showing real-world use of every topic)

- Foerster's Algebra 2/Trig (another good real-life problem-solving program).

 

 

For younger math-struggling DS, Saxon was very abstract in presentation (he absolutely needs visual presentation and concrete explanations), too many different topics in a lesson (he needs mastery approach, one topic at a time), and way too busy layout / way too much info on a page to even begin to be able to focus on it (DS is *very* much a VSL, and is easily overwhelmed by too much visual at one time). Instead, this DS did well with MUS, with some supplement of Singapore Primary, Keys to... workbooks, and Jacobs Algebra.

 

 

I am just so thankful for all the wonderful options out there now! There's bound to be a "perfect fit" for your students! BEST of luck as you research your options. Warmest regards, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.
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I was not a Saxon fan when Dd chose it, I am learning to appreciate it more and more as the years go along.

 

That said I think there may be some other answers to the why it is not more frequently used:

 

1. It is not a flexible program. Practice problems, plus 30 problems for each and every assignment. Each problem matters, and skipping guts the program's strengths. How many people really want to commit to 4.5 years (if Algebra 1 in 8th grade) of the same format each and every day? Maybe doing 15 problems focused on a single topic gets it done. I just know too many people who when pressed will admit being locked to 30 problems per lesson for 120-130 lesson a year is not their style. On the other hand, Dd likes it, feels the practice is worth the time.

 

2. No color, no Jacob's style funnies, no straight up statement of objectives like Foerster, no discovery emphasis like AOP. Again, some students do better with variety, some thrive on consistency. Dd explores the others, but Saxon is her math spine and she likes what she calls a "no nonsense" approach.

 

3. I heard a high school teacher recently explain that her math department insisted on texts heavily written or revised in the last two years because they invested so much in whiteboards and graphing aps that they want integration. Now for me, I actually prefer that Dd is in a program where she is learning to use her graphing calculator but continuing to calculate, estimate and problem solve manually.

 

4. The support materials in video before we found Art Reed's products really bugged me. I didn't need a visual/auditory repeat of the solutions manual. When we discovered Mr. Reed's videos with their short and often alternative approach based lessons both Dd and I found something that we liked.

 

5. I have heard folks complain about the emphasis on unit conversions, sections on problem solving with chemistry and even some who question some of the distance problems. One thing I have grown to appreciate with the programs is that these continue thru the year and thus are not one and done. I will say that Saxon has helped tremendously with Dd doing Algebra based physics and the math for chemistry.

 

6. The geometry thing really does bug a lot of folks. You either like integrated math or you don't it seems. I tend to like that there is not a year between Algebra 1 and Algebra 2, and I especially like what I see in the Advanced Math text.

 

All that said, most people will admit that Saxon Alg. 1 - Calculus is a solid program. If it works as a method for student (and the guide/tutor/teacher) great and they will receive a solid math education.

 

Given the way that many public school teachers react to any direct instruction based/very regimented programs, I can't say I am all that shocked the public schools don't adopt it more.

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When I taught at a Charter (K-8) School, the upper grades would complain about Saxon all of the time. I taught 4th grade and loved using Saxon. However, the CA 8th grade Golden State Exam scores were horrible with our students using Saxon. They made the decision for 6th-8th to use another publisher. That was back in the 90's.

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I don't know about everyone else, but I tried Saxon with two students, one mathy and one non-mathy, and it didn't work for either, so I didn't bother even trying with the third. The scary part, for me, was that it looked like it was working. My sons did fine with Saxon. It wasn't until we watched them try to apply the math to the real world that I realized that it wasn't. If I had picked a math curriculum by looking at whether my students were able to do the problems and getting a good grade, this would have been a curriculum for us, I suppose. Instead, we switched to the very applied Singapore math curriculum, where my students struggled (well, not with PM but with NEM). I think that struggle is important, especially for my mathy ones. I don't think you should only have problems that you already have been shown how to do. My non-mathy one was unable to put together Saxons million little slices into a coherent picture of the way math works. Singapore's very applied, wide spiraling program worked much better for him. I might have switched to a different program for youngest except that middle non-mathy one was adamant that I had to use NEM with his younger brother because he (middle one) was watching his college classmates struggle with simple math ideas that seemed obvious to him, things he attributed to Singapore. (I suspect things having to do with rates and ratios, something Singapore greatly emphasizes.) That made me very glad we had switched away from Saxon for him. The year of Saxon he did do helped him in that it did a good job of teaching him certain algorithms. It didn't teach him to understand the algorithms enough to alter them to solve non-typical problems. The two years of Saxon the oldest did (prealgebra and algebra 1) resulted in his struggling greatly in algebra 2 in 9th grade in our very good public high school.

 

I have heard people here say that their children used Saxon and went on to have no problem in engineering school. I'm sure it is better than many other math programs out there. There are things about it that I like (as well as things I dislike). But it did not work for my family.

 

Nan

 

(In case anyone wants to know, youngest mathy one did Singapore PM, Singapore NEM1-3, Dolciani (oldish) Algebra 2 (to fill in holes), and then community college precalc and now calc. He placed into calc after NEM3/Dolciani but didn't want his first non-mummy math class ever to be calculus.)

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5. I have heard folks complain about the emphasis on unit conversions, sections on problem solving with chemistry and even some who question some of the distance problems. One thing I have grown to appreciate with the programs is that these continue thru the year and thus are not one and done. I will say that Saxon has helped tremendously with Dd doing Algebra based physics and the math for chemistry.

 

 

This is what I liked about the sample I saw online. Are there other math programs that really link math with real-world application?

 

Right now, we are using a basic PS text - Holt Algebra I. It is drill and kill, baby! My daughter hates it. I hate it. So maybe Saxon is not the right thing. I want something that makes her not only practice solving inequalities (chapter we just finished), but why she needs to do that.

 

DD hated AOPS. She does not like the discovery method.

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This is what I liked about the sample I saw online. Are there other math programs that really link math with real-world application?

 

 

What do you consider "real world" application of algebra? "Word problems" are often rather artificial and not actual applications.

 

I recommend an algebra based physics course as a wonderful real world application.

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This is what I liked about the sample I saw online. Are there other math programs that really link math with real-world application?

 

Right now, we are using a basic PS text - Holt Algebra I. It is drill and kill, baby! My daughter hates it. I hate it. So maybe Saxon is not the right thing. I want something that makes her not only practice solving inequalities (chapter we just finished), but why she needs to do that.

 

DD hated AOPS. She does not like the discovery method.

 

Foerster is a very solid, non-discovery text with a good emphasis on word problems, as well as both the conceptual and computational aspects of algebra.

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It's still popular in some places. And it may be more popular than you think; maybe it's only that the folks who don't like it are more vocal or something. :-)

 

A friend of mine was an unofficial Saxon rep many years ago; she'd go to the big ACSI (private school organization) in Sacramento and other places to man the Saxon booth, and I went with her to Sac a few times. There was a constant stream of math teachers all.day.long coming by to rave about how well their students were doing with Saxon, how much their standardized test scores had improved since whatever else they were using, how many more of their students were going on to higher maths than before, how well their grads were doing in college and math-related fields after college (they stayed in touch with their students, you know).

 

So, yes, Saxon is still quite popular.

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It's still popular in some places. And it may be more popular than you think; maybe it's only that the folks who don't like it are more vocal or something. :-)

 

A friend of mine was an unofficial Saxon rep many years ago; she'd go to the big ACSI (private school organization) in Sacramento and other places to man the Saxon booth, and I went with her to Sac a few times. There was a constant stream of math teachers all.day.long coming by to rave about how well their students were doing with Saxon, how much their standardized test scores had improved since whatever else they were using, how many more of their students were going on to higher maths than before, how well their grads were doing in college and math-related fields after college (they stayed in touch with their students, you know).

 

So, yes, Saxon is still quite popular.

 

Thanks! The BASIS school in Arizona uses Saxon. So, there must be something to it. :)

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What do you consider "real world" application of algebra? "Word problems" are often rather artificial and not actual applications.

 

I recommend an algebra based physics course as a wonderful real world application.

 

Maybe I just need to wait until she is in a more math-oriented science before launching a complaint about application. She's taking physical science this year. Because of the uni-model school she attends, next year she will take chemistry. They only offer it alternating years, so if I don't hit chemistry next year, she'll not get it in time for the succeeding courses.

 

Foerster is a very solid, non-discovery text with a good emphasis on word problems, as well as both the conceptual and computational aspects of algebra.

 

Thanks, I'll look into that one. Is there a specific edition that has good answer key and teacher's manual? I will need that if I branch out away from the uni-model school course.

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Thanks! The BASIS school in Arizona uses Saxon. So, there must be something to it. :)

 

 

Well, I think it has rather MORE to do with the teachers and how they teach. ;)

 

BUT... don't let anyone else's experience scare you off from using what would work well for YOUR family! :)

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I don't know about everyone else, but I tried Saxon with two students, one mathy and one non-mathy, and it didn't work for either, so I didn't bother even trying with the third. The scary part, for me, was that it looked like it was working. My sons did fine with Saxon. It wasn't until we watched them try to apply the math to the real world that I realized that it wasn't. If I had picked a math curriculum by looking at whether my students were able to do the problems and getting a good grade, this would have been a curriculum for us, I suppose.

 

Well said, Nan. This was exactly our experience with Saxon. My oldest used it up through part of Advanced Math with an A average on the tests. When I had him do Aleks one summer for review, I discovered that he could not do non-Saxon problems at all, even simple ones. He had gotten by very well just by memorizing algorithms. We switched to Chalkdust at that point, and he was much happier.

 

I do know at least one family IRL whose dc have used Saxon in high school and gone on to higher math and done fine. Her kiddos are very bright, though, and they seem to catch on quickly with whatever curriculum they use.

 

I would never use Saxon again, and I would not recommend it to others.

 

Brenda

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Do any of these other math programs mentioned above, such as Foerster, Jacobs, etc, have all of the teacher helps and extras that Saxon does? I love that with Saxon I can buy the solutions manual and a test packet, and that there are various choices in instructional DVDs. I'd have a hard time moving to a program that didn't offer such things, since I am not mathy myself. I am married to a electrical engineer, though, and perhaps at some point I'll turn math over to him, but I think he'd prefer not!

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Well said, Nan. This was exactly our experience with Saxon. My oldest used it up through part of Advanced Math with an A average on the tests. When I had him do Aleks one summer for review, I discovered that he could not do non-Saxon problems at all, even simple ones. He had gotten by very well just by memorizing algorithms. We switched to Chalkdust at that point, and he was much happier.

 

I do know at least one family IRL whose dc have used Saxon in high school and gone on to higher math and done fine. Her kiddos are very bright, though, and they seem to catch on quickly with whatever curriculum they use.

 

I would never use Saxon again, and I would not recommend it to others.

 

Brenda

 

Pretty startling, hunh? Definately one of my more dramatic failures. Although I wouldn't wish it on you for the world, I have to admit that your story comforts me. Sigh.

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Do any of these other math programs mentioned above, such as Foerster, Jacobs, etc, have all of the teacher helps and extras that Saxon does? I love that with Saxon I can buy the solutions manual and a test packet, and that there are various choices in instructional DVDs. I'd have a hard time moving to a program that didn't offer such things, since I am not mathy myself. I am married to a electrical engineer, though, and perhaps at some point I'll turn math over to him, but I think he'd prefer not!

 

Well, for Foerster there's Math Without Borders -- I've heard good things but not used it personally.

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The scary part, for me, was that it looked like it was working. My sons did fine with Saxon. It wasn't until we watched them try to apply the math to the real world that I realized that it wasn't.

 

I had the same experience. I honestly think that all that review causes things to be processed in a different part of the brain--the nonthinking part--and it makes it so the kid *can't* remember the underlying concepts and think outside the box. Seriously.

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I recommend an algebra based physics course as a wonderful real world application.

 

:iagree:

 

Sometimes I wonder how students in any math program can make it to college and suddenly discover they don't understand math well. If they are doing Chemistry, Physics, reviewing for ACT/SAT it seems odd they would suddenly determine they didn't get it for the first time in college. Then again, I see many place into a math in college and assume that means they should find it relatively easy because they "placed" into it.

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You asked about support materials for the other programs mentioned. I really like the solution manuals for AOP and the various website features (alcumus, videos). I like the Foerster Algebra and Trigonometry book and find it works well with the Khan website. Jacob's has the Dr. Sullivan videos and the TC Geometry course cites Jacob's Geometry. I like the Jacob's book, Math A Human Endeavor.

 

I guess my point is if a student likes Saxon, does it as instructed, they are not going to fail to cover huge chunks of content or have huge holes from their math experience.

 

We do not rush the program. For example, Algebra 2 we are often doing three lessons a week, which makes for 43 weeks maximum. Along the way, Dd explores other sources and we focus a great deal on problem solving in science.

 

One feature I do like from Saxon: the reference numbers provided with each problem to the lesson the problem addresses. As we go along if Dd misses a problem it is quick and easy to see if there is some weakness in previous material.

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You asked about support materials for the other programs mentioned. I really like the solution manuals for AOP and the various website features (alcumus, videos). I like the Foerster Algebra and Trigonometry book and find it works well with the Khan website. Jacob's has the Dr. Sullivan videos and the TC Geometry course cites Jacob's Geometry. I like the Jacob's book, Math A Human Endeavor.

 

Thank you so much for sharing this informtion!

 

I guess my point is if a student likes Saxon, does it as instructed, they are not going to fail to cover huge chunks of content or have huge holes from their math experience.

 

We do not rush the program. For example, Algebra 2 we are often doing three lessons a week, which makes for 43 weeks maximum. Along the way, Dd explores other sources and we focus a great deal on problem solving in science.

 

My 7th grader is currently doing Saxon Algebra 1/2, and he's been doing well with it. Mostly, I'm pleased with it as well. Especially since he can read the lessons himself, and he is understanding it. The only issue is that I know he finds it tedious, but I'm not sure that he would like any other math program better, unless there were fewer problems. :tongue_smilie: I think for this particular child, Saxon is certainly adequate, and maybe even good. The repetition that annoys some kids helps this child not forget how to do something.

 

Now, my younger son definitely has an engineer's brain, so maybe I should look into something a bit more creative for him. My fear with math is that I'm not mathy myself, so for any program to work around here, it either has to be completely independent, or it needs good teacher helps.

 

One feature I do like from Saxon: the reference numbers provided with each problem to the lesson the problem addresses. As we go along if Dd misses a problem it is quick and easy to see if there is some weakness in previous material.

 

I love the reference numbers as well. They have proven very helpful for my son.

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Well it's popular in my neck of the woods. Many hs'ers around here swear by it. I've been reluctant to use it b/c of the comments on this board, but I'm susceptible to the expert advise here b/c I am not a math person. However b/c I am not a math person, Saxon is the easiest program for me to use w/my older dc b/c of all the add ons (eg Art Reed's dvds and the page ref. #s). We tried Chalkdust Algebra w/the dvds last year w/my ds, but he didn't seem to p/u what he needed. We returned to Saxon Alg. 1 after completing CD. He's now in a rigorous private high school using a text I hate for Honor's Geom, Glencoe Geometry:Integ., Application, Connections, which purports to 'apply' geometry to the real world. He scored decently on the ACT (24) w/o having geometry last year.

 

Finally, we know a local tutor who recently retired as a full math professor at a local uni, who hs'ed his kids using strictly Saxon. They're all in math/science careers. It gives me some comfort.

 

Laura

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It took ME a few years of teaching it to really appreciate the program. It works well for many students. I did find (in my 10 years of teaching it) that about 30% of my students performed better (and developed better/improved attitudes towards math) when switched to a more traditional text.

 

30%-- one of my dd's ended up being in that 30%. I switched her to Lial and her once defeated attitude made a HUGE improvement. Her scores went from failing to A's and B's-- and the Lial program is not 'easy' or 'watered down'-- it is just as solid as Saxon--just presented differently.

 

My dd needed to camp out on a concept/procedure and explore it-- what happens when you put a negative here... what happens if... I did the last problem correctly-- I bet I can do the next one too...

 

With Saxon she was bouncing around from concept to concept with perhaps 5 practice problems (if she was lucky) of the 'mini concept lesson' that were similar-- everything else was totally different and unrelated (in her eyes).

 

When I taught Saxon I (as the teacher) had to make the connections between the concepts--VERY FEW students can make the connections themselves (or make them by reading the Saxon text). Saxon needs to be TAUGHT.

 

Some students breeze through the problem set-- taking perhaps an hour (at Algebra 1 level) to complete after instruction. This is reasonable. Students who were part of the 30% would take 2-3 HOURS and lots of frustration to work the same problem set. Parents/teachers would feel sorry for them and allow them to work only half of the set... still taking over 1 hour. This helped for a week or so-- then the 30%-ers were suddenly missing over half of the problems and the 15 problem lesson was taking well over an hour again!!! It spirals down for some.

 

Now- I must add-- that the students I had who did well with Saxon had NO TROUBLE transitioning to a traditional text for college.... they were well prepared.

 

The 30%-ers who made B's and C's did NOT transition well--- in fact most had to take remedial maths in college if they did not change to a more traditional text while still in high school.

 

Since I've been teaching from a 'traditional' text I find that I loose fewer students-- much less than 30%-- probably 5% or so (2-3 students each year). These students would be totally lost with a program like Saxon--and MOST have some sort of learning disability when it comes to Math... even the best teacher/program can only do so much-- the rest is up to student and their ability and aptitude (attitude too).

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It took ME a few years of teaching it to really appreciate the program. It works well for many students. I did find (in my 10 years of teaching it) that about 30% of my students performed better (and developed better/improved attitudes towards math) when switched to a more traditional text.

 

30%-- one of my dd's ended up being in that 30%. I switched her to Lial and her once defeated attitude made a HUGE improvement. Her scores went from failing to A's and B's-- and the Lial program is not 'easy' or 'watered down'-- it is just as solid as Saxon--just presented differently.

 

My dd needed to camp out on a concept/procedure and explore it-- what happens when you put a negative here... what happens if... I did the last problem correctly-- I bet I can do the next one too...

 

With Saxon she was bouncing around from concept to concept with perhaps 5 practice problems (if she was lucky) of the 'mini concept lesson' that were similar-- everything else was totally different and unrelated (in her eyes).

 

When I taught Saxon I (as the teacher) had to make the connections between the concepts--VERY FEW students can make the connections themselves (or make them by reading the Saxon text). Saxon needs to be TAUGHT.

 

Some students breeze through the problem set-- taking perhaps an hour (at Algebra 1 level) to complete after instruction. This is reasonable. Students who were part of the 30% would take 2-3 HOURS and lots of frustration to work the same problem set. Parents/teachers would feel sorry for them and allow them to work only half of the set... still taking over 1 hour. This helped for a week or so-- then the 30%-ers were suddenly missing over half of the problems and the 15 problem lesson was taking well over an hour again!!! It spirals down for some.

 

Now- I must add-- that the students I had who did well with Saxon had NO TROUBLE transitioning to a traditional text for college.... they were well prepared.

 

The 30%-ers who made B's and C's did NOT transition well--- in fact most had to take remedial maths in college if they did not change to a more traditional text while still in high school.

 

Since I've been teaching from a 'traditional' text I find that I loose fewer students-- much less than 30%-- probably 5% or so (2-3 students each year). These students would be totally lost with a program like Saxon--and MOST have some sort of learning disability when it comes to Math... even the best teacher/program can only do so much-- the rest is up to student and their ability and aptitude (attitude too).

 

Thank you for this insight. I believe this may be what is happening with my Advanced Math student. Would you mind taking a look at my post "What would you do? Regarding Math...."and give me any other insight you may have?

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  • 2 months later...

I understand why in elementary - the drill and kill. But, is it the same in high school? I like the idea of a more integrated math approach. I liked the use of word problem/real world application that I saw in the sample. What we are doing right now for Algebra is drill and kill, with very little real world application.

 

o_0

 

If I were looking for words to describe Saxon, "drill and kill" wouldn't be anywhere on the list.

 

Saxon is still popular in high school. I don't know why you think it isn't. ::scratches head:: Even if it were not, if *you* like the way it looks, then it doesn't matter what others think, right?

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o_0

 

If I were looking for words to describe Saxon, "drill and kill" wouldn't be anywhere on the list.

 

 

Saxon 2 and Saxon 3 contain daily timed math fact drill sheets -- which certainly qualifies as "drill and kill" (at least to me! ;)).

 

But perhaps the poster quoted also means "drill and kill" in the sense that the later (Saxon 5/4 and up) textbooks have so many problems per lesson that many people suggest just doing the odd-numbered or just the even-numbered problems to reduce workload. I.e., heavy workload = "drill and kill"... ??

 

Or, perhaps the poster quoted meant the higher levels of Saxon are more about "plug and chug", rather than "drill and kill"... By "plug and chug", I mean an emphasis on memorize equations, figure out which equation the word problem needs, plug in the numbers from the specific word problem, and chug through the equation steps to arrive at an answer.

 

From our experience with Saxon (older editions, and up into high school levels) and with other high school level math programs (Singapore, Art of Problem Solving, Life of Fred, and others), Saxon is much more "plug and chug" than actively developing math-thinking and problem-solving; Saxon is more abstract in presentation and about the logarithms and steps of equations. Just my 2 cents worth!

 

Warmly, Lori D.

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Chez J, I'm wondering which edition of Saxon you are looking at with the word problems? The third edition, which is what most homeschoolers use, has word problems that are kinda cute and use great vocabulary, but do tend to be repetitive and somewhat less 'real-life' - for example, "The number of dastards varied directly as the number of poltroons. When there were 800 dastards, the poltroons numbered 9600. When there were 24,000 poltroons, how many dastards were there?" There are some more standard word problems, but it's not what I'd call an impressive amount. usually about 5 word problems out of 30.

 

The fourth edition, which is mostly used by schools, has more real life problems like "Jupiter's radius is approximately 44,365 miles. Jupiter rotates faster than Earth. It takes approximately 9.8 hours for Jupiter to make one complete rotation. If an object is fixed on Jupiter's equator, how far does it travel in one hour due to Jupiter's rotation?" There are a LOT more word problems in the fourth edition, usually close to a third of the problems in the problems set, and they are, to my mind, more interesting and varied, and they definitely make me think more. Unfortunately, the support materials for homeschoolers for fourth edition are pretty bad - the solutions manual is FULL of errors and to my knowledge, no one is doing any DVDs or videos to go along with these.

 

Both the third and fourth edition have samples on line on the Saxon website, which is why I'm wondering which edition you are looking at, so you might want to check.

 

That said, I think Saxon works very very well for some learners. I flunked Algebra in high school and NEVER felt like I understood it at ALL until I went through the sequence with Saxon. Now I really enjoy math, tutor public school kids, teach math at my co-op, and have definitely found that the skills I learned with Saxon have carried over to the other math texts I have worked with since. I am very much a 'parts to whole' learner - you can tell me the big picture all day long and I will. not. get. it. until I get all the pieces figured out individually. THEN I can go back and go "OHHHHH, so THAT'S what the big picture is!" If that sounds like your kid, then it might work for you guys. But it's definitely not for everyone.

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I'm using Saxon Algebra 1 with my ds after we used Algebra 1/2. I've been having him do Alcumus (Art of Problem Solving) online for word problems and to check his overall math skills. We do about 3-4 problems daily. He is doing great with them and has solved problems from their Algebra 1 and Geometry levels. Saxon is doing just fine with us and we plan to continue it. I do teach it to him and don't just hand him the textbook. I believe math needs to be taught. I was a math major in college and every level math I ever did was taught - they never handed you a textbook and told you to just figure it out.

 

Beth

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I agree with bethben. Math must be taught at every grade. Saxon may have some lessons that your child could read and do herself, and making connections wouldn't matter (particularly if it is review). But the spiraling requires making connections between what they already know and what they are learning that day. How is it different? Why does it matter? What will it let you do? How might it be used in a several step problem?

 

Saxon is working for us.

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I know from experience that it works for some. However, even though we used Saxon from K-8/7, eventually the spiral method stopped working for ds. That feature also made it hard for me to teach once ds was ready for algebra--mostly because my own math skills were rusty. I think, too, that the Saxon approach was partly responsible for my not realizing that even though ds was doing well on exams, I put him into algebra too soon. I would not recommend it for high school unless the teacher is confident and well grounded in math.

 

ETA: Jann describes the importance of the teacher's role in showing connections. I think that is probably the most important aspect of making Saxon work at the high school level.

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That said, I think Saxon works very very well for some learners. I flunked Algebra in high school and NEVER felt like I understood it at ALL until I went through the sequence with Saxon. Now I really enjoy math, tutor public school kids, teach math at my co-op, and have definitely found that the skills I learned with Saxon have carried over to the other math texts I have worked with since. I am very much a 'parts to whole' learner - you can tell me the big picture all day long and I will. not. get. it. until I get all the pieces figured out individually. THEN I can go back and go "OHHHHH, so THAT'S what the big picture is!" If that sounds like your kid, then it might work for you guys. But it's definitely not for everyone.

 

 

This is exactly the type of learner for whom Saxon works. And if it is working for you and your student is doing well, enjoying it (or maybe even just tolerating it), and able to do math problems outside of the Saxon context, I would not switch.

 

On the other hand, if you have one who *cannot* remember without seeing the big picture and cannot absorb knowledge in bite-size pieces, but *must* see the whole picture before being able to work problems, Saxon is a terrible choice. If you have one who needs far fewer problems than Saxon provides in order to grasp the picture and be able to understand, it may be essentially busywork. The rest of my comments are at the top of the thread.

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I think it isn't more popular because there are so many good choices out there. Saxon is one of them. I know a lot of people who use it. Actually, it is probably the number one choice of the homeschoolers I know for math. (That spot is being taken over by TT though!) Those people just don't tend to visit these boards. Me, we don't use it because I tried it in elementary and it just bombed at my house.

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Exactly what regentrude said.

 

That being said, I suspect that Saxon is superior to many of the programs used in public schools, which grant neither a conceptual nor a computational understanding. Saxon (if worked consistently) is excellent at giving a computational understanding. Some students are able to generalize from this to the conceptual understanding; some are not. Some students need information presented in bigger chunks rather than in small pieces like Saxon. Many people have had students who did well with Saxon, but when they were asked to apply the skills they have learned to real-world problems were unable to do so. Others have experienced exactly the opposite. This is very much a YMMV moment.

 

However, for me, it is so boring that I would rather gouge my eyeballs out than teach or learn from it. It kills the joy I find in mathematics. There are other textbooks that I would much rather use, both for average and for gifted learners. I like AOPS. I like Foerster. I like Dolciani. I like Jacobs. I don't like Saxon.

 

 

This is exactly why we do not use Saxon. I use Lial's, Jacob's, an old college trig book that has turned out to be one of those texts we've fallen in love with and will be a very worn out book by the time the last one goes through it, and then either dh's college calc book or an AP approved calc text.

 

Faith

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