Cathy in MA Posted January 9, 2013 Posted January 9, 2013 This is our first year of homeschooling and my 13 (almost 14) yr old is in 8th grade. He completed a pre-algebra course in 7th grade in ps and after much debate about exactly where he was as far as placement goes, learning style, mastery vs spiral, and many other things, I started him with Saxon Algebra 1. He is not what I would call a strong math student (like my 12 yr old 6th grader), but he does well once he's had lots of time to absorb and practice a new concept. We hit a real slump in late Nov-early Dec when I was ready to throw in the towel and try something, anything! else. I did some research tho' and found this was very common, since the review aspects of the program were over and now we were dealing with the real stuff. So, I decided to stick it out and make changes where I could. It got a little better at first, but not anymore. Here are some of the things I'm talking about. My son thinks Saxon goes too fast by introducing a new concept in each lesson every day so I've really slowing things down and often do a lesson over several days. In fact, at one point, we went back 6-7 lessons and started over til he "got" it. He also thinks there isn't enough practice of the new concept in the problem set, so I've made up my own problems and added them for extra practice. And, finally, I love that Saxon reviews concepts taught in previous lessons in each problem set. My son hates that! He wants to learn something, practice it, be tested right away and then not see it again. But what else can I expect from him after 7 years in ps? So, my question is, what should I do? Do I continue to tailor the program to his pace (and take 2 years to finish it) or should I look for something else that would be a better fit? If so, what? I'm not crazy about switching this far into things, but I'm even less enthusiastic about dealing with his complaints and frustration every. single. day for the rest of the year! Oh wait, he's still a teenager right? Guess that isn't going to go away completely no matter what math program we use! Quote

boscopup Posted January 9, 2013 Posted January 9, 2013 I would switch programs for sure. I'm the same way with math - tell me how to do it, let me practice it, and then review a little bit on occasion. The way Saxon is laid out would drive me NUTS. Take a look at Jacobs Algebra. There is also Foerster (no samples for that one... I just bought it used for $10 to look at it), and there are Math Without Borders DVDs for that one if you needed them. Both of those are traditional textbooks that teach a concept, let you practice to mastery, then review the concept occasionally after that. In fact, most school textbooks are laid out that way. Quote

Cathy in MA Posted January 9, 2013 Author Posted January 9, 2013 Traditional textbook is actually what I was looking for because I thought it would be the easiest transition for my ps educated child to being a hs child. I thought that's what I was getting with Saxon. Silly me! I've never heard of Jacobs Algebra ... will def check it out. Thanks for the suggestion and the link. Quote

Ellie Posted January 10, 2013 Posted January 10, 2013 So, Saxon Algebra was his first Saxon text? If so, you should know that it isn't recommended to start at algebra with Saxon. :-( Did you have him take the placement test? Are you requiring him to do every single problem? How many lessons into the book is he? Quote

Cathy in MA Posted January 10, 2013 Author Posted January 10, 2013 Yes, this is his first Saxon text. Mine too!! I didn't realize I shouldn't have started with Saxon with Algebra. Honestly, I was overwhelmed with choices and curriculum and what was best for which child and all the other stuff that comes with deciding to pull 4 children out of public school and start educating them myself! From my research, I figured Saxon was one of the best programs out there and closest to what he was used to. So we went with it. I can't remember if he took the placement test. I don't think so. Again, it was all so new to me. I thought if he had done pre algebra already then Algebra 1 was the next logical step. We worked on lesson 41 today. We went over all the examples in the lesson together on the white board and I assigned the 4 practice problems along with the problem set. He did the practice problems without too much trouble. But, by the time he got to #20 and 21 (which were from lesson 41) he got all confused and forgot what to do. He says its because he had so many different types of problems from previous lessons in between and that confuses him. I try to make him do every problem in the set, but he usually resists. So, we compromise and he has to do all the ones from the most recent lessons, along with the ones from that days lesson of course. Today, I didn't make him do the ones from, say, lesson 4 or 5, but he did have to complete the ones from lessons 25 and up. I keep telling him that this amount of review and constant revisiting old concepts is the best way to insure that he understands it and really "knows" it. We've had many discussions about the way he was taught in the past (ie learn it for the test, then never have to worry about it again) and how we don't want to replicate that type of learning at home. However, he is the type of boy who's very easily distracted. He can't keep a lot of steps or directions in his head. He needs to be in a quiet spot to read or do his work. So, I can see how, to him, the review questions could seem to be an sort of interruption into the new things he's trying to process. Does that make any sense? Quote

Ellie Posted January 10, 2013 Posted January 10, 2013 It is confusing when you're first starting out, isn't it? :grouphug: And the truth is that no matter what y'all started with, there would more than likely be problems, just because there is a long adjustment period, especially when a child has been in school as long as yours has. :-) You know what Saxon would recommend? Going back to the beginning and doing it all over. Yes, really. And although starting with algebra might not be the best thing, it happens all the time in schools when students transfer in from another school, KWIM? so it might be tricky, but it can be done, I'm sure. Here are some comments about Saxon from other users: Janet in WA said: One of the ingenious things about Saxon's problem sets that even my sons noticed (when they didn't skip every other problem) was that often consecutive problems are related in a way that furthers the student's understanding of the way different math concepts relate (which is one of the underappreciated aspects of Saxon's incremental design, in my opinion). For example, a series of problems may all have the exact same answer, just arrived at by different but related processes. Or perhaps there will be 3 consecutive problems that amount to the same thing -- one might be a fraction problem, the next a decimal problem, and finally a percent problem -- all representing the same mathematical relationship (say 3/100, .03 and 3%). If you skip problems, your child misses this learning device. And: In my experience, Saxon always teaches the â€œwhyâ€. And they always introduce new concepts by relating them to previous ones. In fact, another criticism Iâ€™ve heard about the high school level books is that the lessons are too long -- too wordy. Thatâ€™s because they spend so much time explaining. However, because of Saxonâ€™s incremental design, you wonâ€™t always find the full explanation for â€œwhyâ€ in any one lesson. Sometimes it takes many lessons, over a protracted period of time, before the student has all the pieces to a concept, and knows why heâ€™s learned it and how it will be applied. For example, heâ€™ll learn and practice a particular method of solving simultaneous equations. Heâ€™ll practice it for many days, in fact, with no real certainty why. Then, when heâ€™s gotten proficient at that technique, Saxon will introduce a new kind of word problem for which that method of equation solving is useful. The student THEN sees why he learned that method. In other more traditional texts, with concepts taught in chapter format, this connection would be made more quickly and obviously. As carol nj says, Saxon is a â€œparts to wholeâ€ kind of math. You need to look at the whole picture to appreciate Saxon -- not just each book as a whole, but the whole series. Also, sometimes the â€œwhyâ€ of a concept isnâ€™t found in a lesson because the student has seen that concept before in a previous book -- and the â€œwhyâ€ was explained at the time the concept was first taught, not when he sees it as review. Now and then weâ€™ll hit a lesson that seems to just tell the student how to do something new, and never much about why, but those always turn out to be things Saxon doesnâ€™t place much importance on, and the student wonâ€™t see them or use them much. Now let me say, the fact that Saxon explains the â€œwhyâ€ behind concepts doesnâ€™t mean a student will understand that explanation -- or remember it. With Saxonâ€™s incremental format, some students have difficulty mastering concepts, and connecting them. And the tone of Saxonâ€™s high school books is rather â€œacademicâ€, and the length and wordiness of the lessons turns some students off. But the content is there. From Jann in TX: You will get many different answers to this question. There are many here on the boards who only give the odds or evens out...the PROBLEM with this is that Saxon DOES NOT design their program to be used in this manner (many other texts are designed this way). When you skip problems with Saxon you are setting yourself up for trouble later on...the problem sets do not have â€˜evenly spacedâ€™ concepts AND some â€œconceptsâ€ may â€˜lookâ€™ the same to the untrained parent--BUT each problem is actually teaching/testing in a different area. By routinely skipping problems you are missing out on critical review. In most of the series--7/6 and above the practice problems often DIFFER from the original concept (the one noted by the little number). As the studentâ€™s knowledge and experience increases so does their ability to COMBINE concepts. The review problems are often more difficult/complex than the original practice problems. Iâ€™m a certified Math teacher--turned homeschool Mother. I have taught/tutored Saxon for over 7 years (1st grade -Advanced Math). The vast majority of the students seeking tutoring in Pre-Algebra and above are those who routinely skipped problems--working only half of the problem set. Skipping problems in the texts below 7/6 MAY work out well for some students as the concepts taught are very basic. From 7/6 on it is very important to work EVERY problem. If the problem set takes â€˜too much timeâ€™ to do each day most likely the reason is that the student needs MORE practice!!! I have a dd with some learning differences and she has had success working 15-20 problems a day--continuing on the next day without skipping any problems. She completes a little over 3 problem sets a week. Some people are fine with their students making a â€œBâ€ in math. It is sad that those students could be making â€œAâ€™sâ€ if only they had used the text the way it was designed! It is probably obvious that I am passionate about this issue. When you choose to use a program such as Saxon that is designed with a complex spiral review it is important to use the program correctly--taking shortcuts will only shortchange your child. There may be other math programs where working only 10-15 problems a day is sufficient--but Saxon is definately NOT one of them. And Janet G: When a student learns a new concept in Saxon, he practices it with only a few problems -- rather than with a full problem set, as in most math curriculums. Then, Saxon spreads the practice problems for that concept out at the rate of one or two a day, for the next 20 or so problem sets, along with problems from many other previously learned concepts. So it isnâ€™t exactly review -- itâ€™s the equivalent of a problem set of 25-30 problems, spaced out over a period of many days. When that concept is dropped from the daily problem sets, it will reappear periodically throughout the rest of the book - which is the true review in Saxon. What makes Saxon really different -- incremental -- is that concepts are not taught â€œwhole.â€ There are no units or chapters that cover, say, fractions completely, and then move on to another topic. On a particular day, a student may learn a small â€œincrementâ€ of a concept -- say division -- and practices it for a few days before adding another â€œincrementâ€ of the division concept. Meanwhile, the next day, he may learn an increment of, say, fractions -- again, practicing that increment for a while before adding another piece to the fraction puzzle. So the student ends up practicing both the fraction â€œincrementâ€ and the division â€œincrementâ€, along with other â€œincrementsâ€ every day. How long the student practices the â€œincrementâ€ before adding another in the topic depends on the difficulty -- and newness -- of the increment. Saxon often follows a difficult new â€œincrementâ€ with several easier, or review, increments from other topics to give the student time to practice that difficult increment without distraction from other difficult concepts. There are no units or chapters in Saxon -- just a seamless whole. This may sound like chaos, and many have abandoned Saxon with just that reaction. But itâ€™s not chaos. Itâ€™s ingenious. Because Saxon hasnâ€™t just chosen these â€œincrementsâ€ willy-nilly. They are carefully chosen and presented, and offer something unique -- the opportunity for the student to see how *all* of the â€œincrementsâ€ and concepts of math are intimately related day after day, from the very first page of the book. Because when the child learns that increment of division, and then that increment of fractions, Saxon takes the opportunity to show the student how those two concepts are related -- both in the lessons and in the problem sets. It carefully and constantly matches and juxtaposes concepts both in daily lessons and in problem sets. When it gets to Algebra and above, it does the same thing by combining algebra, geometry, trigonometry, etc. into the same seamless whole. The student learns a little algebra, then uses it to learn a little geometry, and so on. Quote

Jeanine in TX Posted January 10, 2013 Posted January 10, 2013 This is my 2nd time with Saxon Algebra 1. Even though Saxon frequently reviews, it is still easy for dc to forget how to do certain problems, especially after a holiday break. What has helped my children is writing formulas and sample problems on index cards. When they couldn't remember a step, they looked at their cards first. For whatever reason this seemed more helpful than looking through past lessons in the book. Since starting this method, I have rarely had to go back and repeat lessons. Quote

Cathy in MA Posted January 10, 2013 Author Posted January 10, 2013 I understand the "incremental" approach of Saxon. In fact, I love it! It makes perfect sense to me and I can make the connections between the lessons and the fact they build on each other. But! And it's a big "but"! My son doesn't. He's so used to the "chapter" approach where the connections are made quickly and made for him that the Saxon way just frustrates him. Many times I've tried to point out to him that the beauty of this program is that it gives him the concepts in small, little bites and lets him work on each one before putting it all together in one big, complicated problem. And that it is always giving him small, little bites of previous concepts so he doesn't forget when he see it later on. While this makes sense to me, it totally frustrates him. He wants to practice the new concept til he gets it and then move on rather than (in his mind) waste time doing 20 or more problems on stuff he's already learned. And, yet, if he can't remember how to do things from previous lessons he thinks he's stupid and can't do math. :svengo: This discussion has really helped me hone in on the root of my dilema here. It's not so much about Saxon anymore, and is it a good program and will it work if done correctly but rather is it the best way for my ds? In talking it over with dh last night, he made a comment about one of the reasons we decided to homeschool being that we could tailor the instruction to the needs of each child. So, while I love Saxon and (deep down) want to continue with it, I now have to ponder is it the right way for ds. In the meantime, I'll try the index card idea. Sounds like it will save us some time instead of me explaining things again or having to look back through the book. Ellie, just for clarification, when you said go back to the beginning and start over what do you mean by the beginning? Of Algebra? Or further back in the Saxon series? Thanks so much ladies for taking the time to help. I don't post often, but I'm constantly lurking and gleaning lots of gold nuggets of wisdom! Quote

G5052 Posted January 10, 2013 Posted January 10, 2013 Just curious, did you do a Saxon Placement Test before putting him into Saxon Algebra 1? In my experience the majority of kids who come from another pre- algebra program need to go into Saxon 8/7 or Saxon Algebra 1/2. My own children used Christian Light Math up through 7th or 8th grade, and both of them went into Algebra 1/2 before doing Algebra 1 on the basis of the placement test. A lot of it was review, but we had plenty going on in other subjects, so I accepted that they were going to have another year of pre-algebra and a little algebra. No problems with Saxon since then. My oldest tried Jacob's Algebra, and it was a bomb. The incremental, spiral approach of Saxon works much better for us. Quote

Ellie Posted January 10, 2013 Posted January 10, 2013 I understand the "incremental" approach of Saxon. In fact, I love it! It makes perfect sense to me and I can make the connections between the lessons and the fact they build on each other. But! And it's a big "but"! My son doesn't. He's so used to the "chapter" approach where the connections are made quickly and made for him that the Saxon way just frustrates him. Many times I've tried to point out to him that the beauty of this program is that it gives him the concepts in small, little bites and lets him work on each one before putting it all together in one big, complicated problem. And that it is always giving him small, little bites of previous concepts so he doesn't forget when he see it later on. While this makes sense to me, it totally frustrates him. He wants to practice the new concept til he gets it and then move on rather than (in his mind) waste time doing 20 or more problems on stuff he's already learned. And, yet, if he can't remember how to do things from previous lessons he thinks he's stupid and can't do math. :svengo: And it isn't a bad thing that he thinks that way. :-) This discussion has really helped me hone in on the root of my dilema here. It's not so much about Saxon anymore, and is it a good program and will it work if done correctly but rather is it the best way for my ds? In talking it over with dh last night, he made a comment about one of the reasons we decided to homeschool being that we could tailor the instruction to the needs of each child. So, while I love Saxon and (deep down) want to continue with it, I now have to ponder is it the right way for ds. It is true that we try to find the best way for our children to learn. It is also true that they don't always know what's good for them, lol. Also, remember that since y'all are baby hsers, you don't know what's best, either, and you're questioning yourself all the time, KWIM? Nevertheless, there are other excellent publishers of math texts, and there's no shame in deciding that Saxon isn't The One for You. :-) Ellie, just for clarification, when you said go back to the beginning and start over what do you mean by the beginning? Of Algebra? Or further back in the Saxon series? To the beginning of the algebra 1 book. Because of your ds's age, and assuming that he'll want to take more math, it might not be a great idea to go back to an earlier text (such as Algebra 1/2), even though it might be better in the long run if you wanted to continue with Saxon all the way through--which would be possible: Alg. 1/2 (8th/9th), Alg. 1 (9th/10th), Alg. 2 (10th/11th), Advanced Math (11th/12th). Quote

Hunter Posted January 11, 2013 Posted January 11, 2013 Saxon is the only high school math I am capable of teaching through precalculus and calculus. Therefore if any student I am teaching is going to go past basic algebra, then they are going to use Saxon, and that's the end of it. PERIOD! If I'm just preparing a student to test out of remedial junior college math, I sometimes use Aufmann, as that is what most of the local junior colleges use for remedial math, and students test well that use it. My youngest started Saxon Algebra 1 when I pulled him out of PS, and we did fine jumping in. We did back up and repeat a chunk of lessons sometimes, though, so he could catch his breath. We never ever ever ever skipped problems. Saxon is NOT written to be used that way, unless a students is capable of figuring out math he was never taught. Students make discoveries while they are doing certain problems that prepare them to do later problems. If a key problem is skipped the student will flounder unless quite gifted and capable of making large mental jumps without assistance. I do not believe in Algebra 1 as a default grade 8 subject. I don't think all children are developmentally ready for it, and that 9th grade is plenty soon enough for many children. On the other hand, some children are ready even earlier, and should be given the opportunity to accelerate. Yes, it's great to be able to meet a student's needs, but "meeting their needs" and giving them "what they deserve" can get way out of hand. Sometimes they just need to do what they are told just because. I learned this the hard way. Math is where homeschoolers are often most strongly judged, but I haven't found it to be as important for college and adult life, as I thought is was going to be. I found character and English to be more important. Good luck :grouphug: Quote

EKS Posted January 11, 2013 Posted January 11, 2013 So, Saxon Algebra was his first Saxon text? Wasn't the Algebra I book the first text John Saxon wrote? If so, I would assume it is the intended entry point to the series. Quote

Ellie Posted January 11, 2013 Posted January 11, 2013 Wasn't the Algebra I book the first text John Saxon wrote? If so, I would assume it is the intended entry point to the series. No. The first one published was Math 76. At least, that was the first one available to the general public. And all texts below algebra were Hake-Saxon, not just Saxon. Steve Hake was co-author of the ohters. :-) Quote

Hunter Posted January 11, 2013 Posted January 11, 2013 I too heard that the first book published was Algebra 1. We used the 2nd edition of Algebra 1 way back in the mid 90's. I don't know if the later editions are different, but I never for one split second felt lost starting in Algebra 1. Maybe my son wouldn't have needed to repeat chunks of lessons if he had started lower in the series, but we never were confused. Quote

bethben Posted January 11, 2013 Posted January 11, 2013 Every once in a while, my son has trouble with some concepts and makes mistakes. I find that if I sit there with him and help him see the mistakes right away instead of at the end of the problem set, he's a lot more open to learning from his mistakes. It usually takes 3-4 times of me doing that for him to get back on track with a tricky concepts. Just today, we "did" math together. If you're not as well versed in Algebra right now, get the solutions manual. They have all the problems worked out step by step. Beth Quote

EKS Posted January 11, 2013 Posted January 11, 2013 No. The first one published was Math 76. At least, that was the first one available to the general public. And all texts below algebra were Hake-Saxon, not just Saxon. Steve Hake was co-author of the ohters. :-) From the publisher: Saxon History The founder, John Saxon, was teaching algebra at a junior college in Oklahoma when he discovered that his students were neither comprehending nor retaining the algebra they were being taught. What started as writing out some problems for his class became a highly successful algebra program. In 1979, Saxon Algebra was published in two texts for the junior college level. He continued to write and adapt his work into a text for high school algebra students and enlisted several high school teachers to try his manuscript with their students. They too were successful using the program. In October 1980 his Algebra 1 book for high school became a reality. In 1981, Saxon recruited twenty teachers to try his method of teaching. Approximately 1400 students were involved in the test. At the end of the school term, Saxon students were able to solve 2.6 problems for every one problem solved by students in regular classes. By 1986, when the company changed its name to Saxon Publishers, Inc., four books were available: Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Algebra 1/2, and Advanced Mathematics. By 1993 the company had published thirteen books and programs for students in kindergarten through high school, including a calculus and physics text. Quote

regentrude Posted January 11, 2013 Posted January 11, 2013 Math is where homeschoolers are often most strongly judged, but I haven't found it to be as important for college and adult life, as I thought is was going to be. I found character and English to be more important. This will depend entirely on the student's plans for the future. I see plenty of students whose pursuit of their dreams is seriously hampered by an insufficient math preparation - and that does not just include the obvious engineering and science students, but also students who want, for example, to become veterinarians or pharmacists. Of all the high school math courses, algebra 1 is the most crucial; a lack of calculus in high school can easily be remedied by taking it in college, but insufficient grounding in algebra will cause problems in all subsequent math courses. Thus, I would recommend to the OP to try a different program, if Saxon does not work well for her student (it did not work for mine at all). From the description, I would look into mastery based programs instead of spiral. But spending time now finding the right math program and getting algebra done well will pay off. Quote

Hunter Posted January 11, 2013 Posted January 11, 2013 Of all the high school math courses, algebra 1 is the most crucial; a lack of calculus in high school can easily be remedied by taking it in college, but insufficient grounding in algebra will cause problems in all subsequent math courses. :iagree: Quote

Hunter Posted January 11, 2013 Posted January 11, 2013 From the publisher: Saxon History The founder, John Saxon, was teaching algebra at a junior college in Oklahoma when he discovered that his students were neither comprehending nor retaining the algebra they were being taught. What started as writing out some problems for his class became a highly successful algebra program. In 1979, Saxon Algebra was published in two texts for the junior college level. He continued to write and adapt his work into a text for high school algebra students and enlisted several high school teachers to try his manuscript with their students. They too were successful using the program. This answers so many questions I've had, and why I've noticed that completion of just Algebra 1 and 2 prepares so well for College Algebra 101, at a junior college. Quote

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