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What Algebra program would help meet these goals?

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We have been using MUS since primer and we are finishing up zeta, I can't believe I'm already at the stage of having to choose what we will use for upper level math! The time has gone so fast! My children have done really well with MUS and I would say they are strong in math. We have combined it with CWP to make it a little harder. I have been very pleased with MUS, but I'm not sure it is what I want to use for upper level math.


My goals for upper level math are for my children to truly understand math and for them to feel like they can apply it to real life if needed. I think lots of good real life word problems would be nice. I don't think I am as concerned with how rigorous the program is or how much depth it goes into; I figure as long as they have a good base, they can always take more math in college. I do however want the curriculum that I choose to cover a wide enough scope that they won't feel lost if they take more math in college. And last but not least, I want to choose a curriculum that will help them score well on the ACT. My husband works at a prestigous college and if we my children can score well on their ACT's, they can get admitted and attend for free!


So to re-cap, my goals are:


1. a program that focuses more on helping the student to understand the "why" and be able to apply what they learn to real life. I don't want a program that just teaches how to plug in numbers. I'm not concerned with rigor or depth as much as true understanding.

2. Score well on the ACT


Any suggestions for Pre-Algebra or Algebra?


Thanks so much!

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There are a lot of great programs out there. So I'm sure you'll get a variety of advice. Based on your goal for practical application I would start with Real World Algebra by Zacarro. This book is a good primer and suppliment to Algebraic topics to come. Its supplimental to whatever main (spine) program you select.


Finding a program that addresses the 'whys' will be a bit more challenging and comes with other considerations. For example one of the most well known for this AoPS. However it is also known to be one of th most rigorous programs. It is geared toward those who 'love' doing math and struggling with the most difficult problems. Their 'Discovery Approach' does not work for everyone. But it's at least worth considering. We are considering it for our oldest ds11 after he finishes Pre-A. They have online lessons which correspond with the books here: http://www.artofprob...pe=introalgebra


You didn't mentioned other important considerations like if you plan to lecture/teach the lessons? Or are you looking for lessons/lectures provided? That will help narrow the field. Another very good Algebra 1 program that comes to mind is Foerster. This book is well known for great word problems, though its not as theoretical as AoPS. You can combine it with Math without Borders lectures for a thorough coverage of the subject matter.


ds11 also used MUS exclusively before Pre-A. He is really enjoying TabletClass Pre-Algebra right now. I think its great preparation for more challenging Algebraic concepts to come. I'm especially happy with its S&S along with the thorough video lessons. Its designed around Core Standards which standardized tests are also based upon. Though I wouldn't say it focuses heavily on the 'whys'. That's where you could suppliment with Zacarro. BTW, I wouldn't recommend MUS Pre-A which we started out with. I didn't care for its limited S&S.

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Thank you Dereksurfs for the information. I would love to know why you chose not to continue to with MUS pre-algebra? Also, was it easy to jump from Zeta into another pre-algebra program or did you need to cover negative numbers and a few other things first? I've always been so pleased with MUS and how they explained the "why" behind math...I'm a little nervous to switch. I think that when a child understands "why" then it will help them to never forget the process. But perhaps there are programs out there that do this just as well, even better?


I think you are right when you said, "Finding a program that addresses the 'whys' will be a bit more challenging and comes with other considerations. For example one of the most well known for this AoPS. However it is also known to be one of th most rigorous programs."


I'm really not looking for something rigorous. Our family does well at math, but we don't find it "fun" to sit around and solve difficult problems. :) I also don't want to push my daughter to the point of frustration when I don't see her pursuing a career in a field that requires much math or science, however, I do have several sons that I could see choosing careers in math or science field.


The Zaccaro Real World Algebra looks really interesting. Is this something I could start using before beginning a pre-algebra program?


I would like a program that has videos or dvd's to help teach. I am comfortable with math, but it has been a long time, and I'm going to need a refresher! That's why I always liked MUS...it was easy to sit down and watch the lesson with her. A textbook would be okay too, as long as it was laid out nice and clear.


Thanks again for your help.

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Thanks for the additional information which help to clarify your goals for your children.


With regards to MUS I did use the first ~ 4-5 chapters of Pre-A before our transition to another program. Like you, I was a bit concerned about this, especially since MUS was all he had ever known from Primer through Zeta. And as you are likely aware MUS's S&S is quite different from other more traditional programs. So I wanted to cover topics which may not have been addressed such as negative numbers to avoid gaps. Once he completed those chapters he and I were both ready for a change. During that time I demo'd and evaluated half a dozen or more programs. I also included him in the selection process which I think smoothed the transition to TabletClass which we both liked the most.


The reason that we did not continue with MUS was primarily two-fold. First, he was really ready for a change and expressed this desire. Second, I wanted something which was more standards based in terms of S&S. In comparing the S&S of MUS with standard Pre-Algebra and Algebra 1 programs I found it lacking certain common topics/concepts. In addition ds11 is good with math and I did want something more challenging and in-depth. He shows interest in STEM careers and I want to best prepare him for that. I felt that MUS was on the 'light' side and as such wasn't the greatest fit for him beyond the elementary years. That said I know some love and use MUS all the way through. So I'm not discounting that. However it's simply not the best fit for him based on our educational goals. For our daughters I'm not sure yet as they are still young. But I do know MUS wasn't a good fit for them. They do better with spiral in the elementary years. So we switched them to CLE and they are doing much better overall.


I would recommend focusing on one child at a time as they are all different with a variety of skills and interests. Maybe MUS would be fine for your dd all the way through and then not so much for your sons depending on their goals and interests. Much depends on the child as they all learn differently. While there are many great programs out there the key is finding what works best for them and still fulfills your educational goals. Even if you do stay with MUS you could always supplement with another program to cover core standard gaps in S&S when it comes to testing. Quite a few families use a variety of materials to balance things out adding breadth as well as depth to their math programs as you did with CWP.

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Derek, are you saying that you think it is necessary to supplement MUS Algebra to make up for gaps in S&S in order to do well on testing? If I didn't supplement MUS would there be stuff on the ACT that we hadn't covered?


Also, just curious what your thoughts on Teaching Textbooks v MUS are?


Also, the Zaccaro Real World Algebra looks really interesting. Is this something I could start using before beginning a pre-algebra program?


Sorry to ask you so many questions, but you seem to know your stuff. :)

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We have the Zaccaro text along with a variety of other Pre-A and Algebra books. I find it falls strongly into the Pre-Algeba category. Depending on which Pre-A program you use I would introduce it part of the way through. IMO, the best thing to do is to order the book *before* you start Pre-A and look it over. Then when you feel your dd is ready begin the first chapter and start working through it. You could do this lets say one or two days a week while going through the pre-A spine program in parallel. Or ~ 1/3 or 1/2 way through pre-A stop and focus on the book only. Starting it right after Zeta may be too much of a stretch since MUS doesn't include much algebraic thought or topics before its pre-A course. So equations and the more abstract math would all be 'new concepts' for the most part. And of course negative numbers have not been covered yet either. I recommend beginning those things first.


I have not used TT but have read many reviews on it comparing it with MUS. I have also talked with parents in our HS groups who use it. The general consesus is that TT is ~ one grade level behind in terms of its S&S and MUS is little bit ahead of that. I also know quite a few families on this forum who have used MUS Algebra 1 as their 'pre-A' before moving on to another more standard Algebra 1 program.


With regards to the tests there are certain knowledge areas which are expected once one completes an Algebra 1 course. And some of those I find missing in MUS such as the lack of covering Quadradic Equations among other things. When evaluating a math program I have to ask the question, what did the authors base their curriculum decisions upon including its S&S? That is one of the things which I like about TabletClass. John Zimmerman, the author, took these core standards into account when developing his program. Here is a quote from him when I asked him about this:


"All states “had†their own standards a few years ago but many (over half now) have switched to the common core curriculum national standards. The common core standards are a federal standard and all states will be using them eventually."


You can look over the common core standards comparing them with whatever math program's S&S you are considering for High School: http://www.corestand...h Standards.pdf


Based on these standards I think supplementing would be very beneficial for both MUS and TT. Otherwise they may encounter concepts on a test not yet covered in their Algebra 1 programs, postponed instead for later courses to follow (e.g. Algebra 2 and beyond).

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First off: I have not read all the replies yet.


Scoring well on the ACT is not determined by a certain program or curriculum but by UNDERSTANDING math and being able to do problems correctly.


The best algebra program is the one where each individual can best understand and perform. I'm not meaning "easy" for the student, but "understandable" for that student. When a student understands they can then tackle and grapple with "hard" problems.

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