# Talk to me about pros and cons of Dolciani

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We have been using the pre a accelerated course for about a month now, after trying aops for a couple of months and deciding it wasnt a great fit at this moment.

For those of you who have used dolcian, can u tell me your experience? Pros? Cons? My son likes it, but part of me suspects that is partially because he finds it easy ðŸ˜³

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I have several editions of the Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 book.

Pros:

I love that it uses (what seems to me) to be real math language and symbology. There are symbols in some of the expressions that I've had to look up in the back of the book, just because they have fallen out of use in current textbooks.

Clean and uncluttered look. I really dislike books that spend a lot of space on cartoons, photos and bios of people to inspire the student to like math. I think that you like math when you develop some mastery and see that you can use it in powerful ways.

Lots of problems. You could use these different ways. Do odd the first time through and then come back and do even later for review. Do the A and B level and reserve C for later digging. Go through all of them, using the gradual increase in difficulty to "discover" how to solve more complex problems.

Practical problems. They don't have the mind blowing word problems that are in AoPS, but there are many problems that are very practical. For example, finding the area of shaded figures that are squares with circles cut out or circles with circles drilled through them. These remind me of calculations that we used to have to do with machining items on ships. It's a small step to go from calculating these complex areas to figuring out the volume to using the density to figure out the mass of the item when fabricated. I think these are really good for showing ways where multiplication of binomials is applied.

Cons:

Few answers available. If I were going to use just Dolciani, I'd probably start by finding teacher's editions or solutions manuals first and then buy the student texts. Some books will have answers to odd problems in the back, but not all of them.

Looks old. This isn't an issue for us. We are surrounded by books and an 50 year old volume is no big deal. But if you had a student who wanted illustrations, color or an up to date cover, this might not be the book for you.

Page layout. This is pretty straightforward. But some students do like to see a lot of text boxes that highlight what they need to be learning from the text. It might take some instructing on how to learn from a math book. You might even want to do some annotating in the book, making your own boxes.

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There are differences in Dolciani depending upon the date of the edition. Which are you using?

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We haven't started it, I just got it a few days ago. I like it that everything is in one book and it will be easy for ds10to know WHICH book to do as opposed to the multiple Singapore books I have to coordinate and pace so much. I hope ds will like it. We will use this first before we try AoPS Prealgebra after a month into Dolciani.

Thanks for starting this thread, Halcyon!

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We are using the 1970 edition of Dolciani's Modern Algebra Book 1. We've used AoPS Intro to Algebra for Algebra 1 & 2 and are using Dolciani to reinforce some of the more difficult concepts. I will admit that I'm old enough that the volume we are using is just slightly older than the texts I used in middle and high school. The advantage there is that the books are teaching algebra using nearly the same methods I used when I learned it so the kids and I have a common language to discuss their work. Also, according to my oldest, the use of both texts and their different methods are "complimentary even though they weren't made for each other." My middle child will finish AoPS Pre-Algebra and then do some reinforcement work with Dolciani as well. I think that the discovery method of AoPS backed by the clear and simple explainations of Dolciani work well with how my kids think about math. I should also add that they aren't particularly rebellious about seeing a page or two of problems to solve; they don't have a problem with having their assignment be to solve a large problem set. (Painfully slow in completing the assignment sometimes...)

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I have Dolciani Pre-Algebra and Algebra 1 (1992) edition. As others have mentioned the various editions are somewhat different. But I actually liked the somewhat newer one after reviewing them online at OpenLibrary. Although the 1970s book was my Algebra text I liked some of the layout refinements in the newer edition.

Slight text differences aside I think the main advantage is very clear, straighforward math instruction. The scope and sequence seems to follow most of the current common core standards from which standardized tests are based. Its a no nonsense math textbook which covers all the bases.

Disadvantages for us would be its concise nature which is really designed as a 'student workbook' to be supplimented by direct teacher instruction. There is simply not a lot of concept development and explanation in the book itself. There's a brief overview of the concept with a few examples and then mostly problems to solve. Unlike programs geared more toward independent learning like AoPS this traditional book is not. My wife does not want to lecture/teach from a book during the day. So if we went with Dolciani as the spine we would look for supplimental lectures. I think Derek Owens bases his Algebra 1 course upon Dolciani, though he expands on it quite a bit. In your case since you already are going through Dolciani Pre-A this might be a non-issue. I'm not sure how different families approach this with traditional workbooks only. But I would imagine it varies quite a bit depending on the student as well as the parents in terms of how much direct instruction is provided.

Foerster is very nice as well. I may even like it a bit more when comparing the two side by side, especially if we were to only use one as a spine. I think Foerster provides a bit more in terms of concept development and elaboration, though still concise. I recommend picking one up to compare if you do go this more traditional route. They are both very affordable on the used market. Foerster also has Math without Border Lectures which can be purchased and expand upon the concepts presented in the book, similar to the way I think it was designed to be used.

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We have been using the pre a accelerated course for about a month now, after trying aops for a couple of months and deciding it wasnt a great fit at this moment.

For those of you who have used dolcian, can u tell me your experience? Pros? Cons? My son likes it, but part of me suspects that is partially because he finds it easy ðŸ˜³

Our main pro was the straightforward teaching. I liked the extra word problems at the end of each chapter and the extra practice at the end of the book. We did hit some difficult bits (compound interest with a non-detail child!). He was completely prepared for Jacobs Algebra.

The only con I really had was that I didn't have a key for the Chapter Tests and had to do them myself. (But, of course, I got no sympathy from ds!)

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Derek thank you! i will purchase Foerster just for comparison's sake, and I also like to mix and match problems from different books so my child has the ability to process problems no matter how they are presented. When we hit anything tricky, I will be sure to visit Derek Owens videos. I have seen them before and like them, and have considered usiing him for Algebra when we are done with Pre A. What do you thinnk about supplementing with some Zaccaro?

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Derek thank you! i will purchase Foerster just for comparison's sake, and I also like to mix and match problems from different books so my child has the ability to process problems no matter how they are presented. When we hit anything tricky, I will be sure to visit Derek Owens videos. I have seen them before and like them, and have considered usiing him for Algebra when we are done with Pre A. What do you thinnk about supplementing with some Zaccaro?

That's a good question which I wanted to think about a little more before answering. You see I am in the midst of looking over 6 Pre-Algebra and Algebra books right now, comparing, contrasting, and evaluating them in light of where ds11 is currently at. I am considering various senarios or paths ahead including some combination of these resources. Zaccaro definately falls in the Pre-Algebra category I've discovered. So in looking at it again today I can see that some of the initial chapters would be redundant and actually easier than what ds11 has already done in TabletClass Pre-A. He is very vocal about doing things which he deems too easy. I think he is kind of like I was at his age. I would get bored if things seemed too easy. TabletClass is really doing a great job of stretching his brain right now diving deep into multi-variable linear equations. So in short I would recommend Zaccaro, but not too late into Pre-Algebra. Right now we could probably use at least half of it. However at the same time I am considering a model which actually begins to weave in AoPS Intro to Algebra. My son is looking over chapter 1 as I write this. I may have him start one day a week while finishing up Pre-A this year. At the beginning of the school year I would have said No Way! But his brain has developed so fast in such a short time its been amazing to watch.

Sorry for the long ramble. You just happened to catch me in the midst of one of my evaluation and planning stages. I'm such a planner. Yet I'm discovering that the best way to plan is to have a general idea of direction, then leave the door open for change based on reassessment of status. For example when ds11 started linear equations he hit a wall initially. So it was time to slow way down and look at various supplimentals. Khan and AoPS Pre-A really worked well in providing additional perspectives. Now that he's got it he's really taking off. At this point I'm looking ahead to his next challenge.

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