Paintedlady Posted February 16, 2013 Share Posted February 16, 2013 DS, 12, just started AoPS pre-algebra about 2 weeks ago. He's completed MUS Alpha through Zeta and wanted a change of pace. Math has always been his strong suit and after looking at AoPS I thought he could handle it. DH took over math with him when he started because math at the upper levels is not my strength, but DH is a natural at all maths, even at the uppermost levels. DS seems to doing well with the material, but needs a bit of hand holding from DH, which isn't a problem, but DH is bugged by what he thinks is over-explaining/over-complicating it. I'm wondering if anyone else agrees with this, or is it just DH's natural ability to figure it out making it seem that way. I was hoping to stay with AoPS from here on out with DS if he does well with the pre-algebra, but DH isn't sure. Does anybody have experience with this? Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

regentrude Posted February 16, 2013 Share Posted February 16, 2013 DH is bugged by what he thinks is over-explaining/over-complicating it. I'm wondering if anyone else agrees with this, or is it just DH's natural ability to figure it out making it seem that way. I was hoping to stay with AoPS from here on out with DS if he does well with the pre-algebra, but DH isn't sure. Does anybody have experience with this? We have been using AoPS from Intro to Algebra through Calculus and never had this feeling. Keep in mind that the books are written TOWARDS the student to be used independently and contain every explanation a live teacher would give - so they have to contain a lot more explanation than a book that is designed to be used by a teacher. Since your DH already learned the material, he will feel there is too much explanation - but the explanation is designed for a student who is just learning. Also, AoPS aims at a thorough understanding of the underlying math concepts; it does not consider sufficient that the student can just solve the problems, but also wants the student to understand the reason behind every single step. I do not think the books offer any more verbal explanations than I would expect from an excellent live teacher. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

Spetzi Posted February 17, 2013 Share Posted February 17, 2013 I have two math-minded folks in my house...ds and dh. Ds has used AoPS for Number Theory, Counting & Prob and now PreCalc. Dh has a fairly high opinion of this curriculum and the topics it covers. Several times in Counting and Probability, ds had to go to the videos to hear a full explanation as the book's wasn't enough for him. Over-explaining doesn't seem to be an issue for your ds if he needs a little hand-holding. However, if your ds thinks the topic is made overly complicated then I would be concerned. After his dad goes over it does he say, "Why didn't they just explain it that way??!" ? If so, I'd have to make a change. If not, maybe dh just has to deal with it. :nopity: Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

lewelma Posted February 17, 2013 Share Posted February 17, 2013 My older has used Intro Algebra, geometry, counting, and number theory and they are great. I bought the pre-algebra for my younger and I *completely* agree with your dh. I think that the pre-A book is very much over complicated, and I don't think I will be using it. I know that Mathwonk on the Accelerated board got the same impression (he is an x-math prof). Instead, I will be using the first third of Jacobs Algebra as a Prealgebra course, and then moving to AoPS Intro Algebra. Ruth in NZ Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

amsunshine Posted February 17, 2013 Share Posted February 17, 2013 My older has used Intro Algebra, geometry, counting, and number theory and they are great. I bought the pre-algebra for my younger and I *completely* agree with your dh. I think that the pre-A book is very much over complicated, and I don't think I will be using it. I know that Mathwonk on the Accelerated board got the same impression (he is an x-math prof). Instead, I will be using the first third of Jacobs Algebra as a Prealgebra course, and then moving to AoPS Intro Algebra. Ruth in NZ Whew--I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks the pre-alg book is overly wordy/complicated. We were going to use it to supplement Singapore's DM, but I decided to drop it and just let dd do Alcumus problems on the side. I'm also glad to hear the more advanced books are different in that regard. Yay! We do like the problems in Alcumus and if they are anything like the upper level books, that is great. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

lewelma Posted February 17, 2013 Share Posted February 17, 2013 . I'm also glad to hear the more advanced books are different in that regard. Oh, I would not say that the more advanced books are less wordy! There are lots of explanations. It is just that IMHO the pre-A book makes a simple subject complicated. I am sure it is absolutely excellent for some kids, just not mine. Ruth in NZ Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

wapiti Posted February 17, 2013 Share Posted February 17, 2013 FWIW, we look through the solutions together, and I point out anything special to notice. Usually that will involve the highlighted boxes or any little nugget that ds10 didn't notice or get correctly while doing the lesson problems. By no means do I have him read every word. The way we do it together, the wordiness is not an issue at all. I'm glad the solutions are so thorough and I absolutely adore the book (Eta, to be clear, when we look through the solutions, that takes all of a minute or two. The lessons were already learned while working through the lesson problems.) Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

regentrude Posted February 17, 2013 Share Posted February 17, 2013 It is just that IMHO the pre-A book makes a simple subject complicated. I am sure it is absolutely excellent for some kids, just not mine. Just curious (we never used prealgebra since it was not out): would you consider Pre-Algebra too wordy even if the student had not been exposed to the material at all beforehand? What I mean is: most students take prealgebra mainly as a review course; they have already studied fractions etc and are just spending another year solidifying. But a student who was coming brand new to the topic from an elementary school curriculum, would it be overexplaining for him, too? Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

lewelma Posted February 17, 2013 Share Posted February 17, 2013 Just curious (we never used prealgebra since it was not out): would you consider Pre-Algebra too wordy even if the student had not been exposed to the material at all beforehand? What I mean is: most students take prealgebra mainly as a review course; they have already studied fractions etc and are just spending another year solidifying. But a student who was coming brand new to the topic from an elementary school curriculum, would it be overexplaining for him, too? It is not too wordy for what they are trying to explain. Rather, what they are trying to explain is too esoteric / too complicated to be pre algebra. ( And actually, it is not just pre-algebra, it includes many chapters of geometry, counting, and number theory too.) Perhaps it is just designed for an older student than mine, but it seems to be explaining simple concepts using underlying theoretical explanations that are easier to understand after more algebraic experience. I wish I could be more specific, but it is really just a feeling. Ruth in NZ Oh, I found mathwonk's comment: I bought both AoPS pre algebra and Jacobs' Elementary Algebra for my granddaughter, and after looking at them today, I second WendyK's remark that AoPS seems dry. One thing that is in short supply in math seems to be a sense of humor. Jacobs has plenty of it, and unless a kid just loves math so much that only the math content matters, I would lean to Jacobs rather than AoPS. To me, AoPS, although very clear and well written, makes it seem more like work, whereas Jacobs makes it seem like play. Both are good, and AoPS begins with a simple but challenging little number puzzle, but Jacobs begins with a cartoon that made me laugh out loud. It may make no difference with a child who is hungering for math, but for one I am trying to convince to dive in, I think Jacobs is definitely an easier sell. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

Arcadia Posted February 17, 2013 Share Posted February 17, 2013 It is not too wordy for what they are trying to explain. Rather, what they are trying to explain is too esoteric / too complicated to be pre algebra. ( And actually, it is not just pre-algebra, it includes many chapters of geometry, counting, and number theory too.) My older looks at the boxes first and explanation later if he does not understand. Would the counting and number theory books be too wordy/round-about for my eight year old who's favorite topic is probability and statistics, and game theory? I was thinking of re-borrowing the books from the library and run it by him this summer as fun enrichment. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

lewelma Posted February 17, 2013 Share Posted February 17, 2013 Would the counting and number theory books be too wordy/round-about for my eight year old who's favorite topic is probability and statistics, and game theory? I was thinking of re-borrowing the books from the library and run it by him this summer as fun enrichment. I really couldn't tell you as it depends on the child. But if you can get them from the library, then go for it. I just grabbed the pre-a book, and flipped to the number theory chapter. He is just a random explanation: Q: explain why 4650310 is not divisible by 4 explanation in the text: the number formed by the last 2 digits of 4650310 is 10, which is not divisible by 4 so we expect that 4650310 is not divisible by 4. To be sure we write 4650310 as 4650310=4650300+10. Since 4650300 is a multiple of 100 , it is a multiple of 4. Therefore 4650300+10 is between 2 multiple of 4 namely 4650300+8 and 4650300+12. So 4650310 is not a multiple of 4. We also might have noted that since 10 is not a multiple of 4, addinig 10 to a multiple fo 4 gives a sum that is not a multiple of 4. Therefore, 4650300 +10 is not a multiple of 4. I just don't think that my younger student will be able to plough through this text independently. I would have loved Pre-A to be easier to read, so that they student can slowly work up to self-teaching with the explanations. But instead, the authors are expecting the same level of reading comprehension with Pre-A as with the higher level books. Seems like a big ask to me. I am sure it is in the eye of the beholder. Keep in mind that we LOVE AoPS intro Algebra and up. I am ONLY complaining about pre-A. Ruth in NZ Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

Arcadia Posted February 17, 2013 Share Posted February 17, 2013 Thanks Ruth. He is using the AOPS pre-algebra book as enrichment. I am very sure he skip over the "boring" parts. I'll just have to check out the library and see what he likes. Unfortunately he does not like cartoons or the LOF style of math. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

Chrysalis Academy Posted February 17, 2013 Share Posted February 17, 2013 I really couldn't tell you as it depends on the child. But if you can get them from the library, then go for it. I just grabbed the pre-a book, and flipped to the number theory chapter. He is just a random explanation: Q: explain why 4650310 is not divisible by 4 explanation in the text: the number formed by the last 2 digits of 4650310 is 10, which is not divisible by 4 so we expect that 4650310 is not divisible by 4. To be sure we write 4650310 as 4650310=4650300+10. Since 4650300 is a multiple of 100 , it is a multiple of 4. Therefore 4650300+10 is between 2 multiple of 4 namely 4650300+8 and 4650300+12. So 4650310 is not a multiple of 4. We also might have noted that since 10 is not a multiple of 4, addinig 10 to a multiple fo 4 gives a sum that is not a multiple of 4. Therefore, 4650300 +10 is not a multiple of 4. I just don't think that my younger student will be able to plough through this text independently. I would have loved Pre-A to be easier to read, so that they student can slowly work up to self-teaching with the explanations. But instead, the authors are expecting the same level of reading comprehension with Pre-A as with the higher level books. Seems like a big ask to me. I am sure it is in the eye of the beholder. Keep in mind that we LOVE AoPS intro Algebra and up. I am ONLY complaining about pre-A. Ruth in NZ This is exactly my sense of AoPS preA as well, after having worked with it more myself. OTOH, I love Alcumus and I adore the videos - my dds accuse me of having a crush on RIchard R, I watch the videos a lot, and prefer them to the Khan videos. Thanks for explaining it eloquently as usual, Ruth. I'm fairly certain that this level of detailed theoretical explanation will *not* work for my dd. My current plan - subject to change with great frequency and no warning - is to use a highly-supplemented MM6 as preAlgebra. We'll be doing the two LOF PreA books, and using other resources like Zaccaro, HOE, and Math for Real Kids, as well as reading Kiss My Math. I also plan to use AoPS, probably mostly via the videos and Alcumus, as a supplement and to substitute for the Geometry and Statistics portions of MM - I don't like MM's treatment of Geometry. Then we'll do Jacobs Algebra, the first several chapters of which are Pre-Algebra, and LOF Algebra. Then we may try AoPS for "second-year" Algebra. I figure we have 3 years - 6th-8th - to do PreA & A, so I'm going to go through this collection of materials that work well for us at the pace and at the depth that makes sense that week, but with no rush or attempt to accelerate - I'd rather do 2 years of Algebra than be doing Algebra 2 or Geometry before high school. Anyway, thanks again for articulating my concerns with AoPS PreA so well! ETA: I don't know why I can't figure out multi-quote. I meant to include Ruth's quote of Mathwonk's quote as well. I read his original post, and it was a breath of fresh air for me when I was struggling to decide whether to do AoPS for PreAlgebra! Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

boscopup Posted February 17, 2013 Share Posted February 17, 2013 I am sure it is in the eye of the beholder. Keep in mind that we LOVE AoPS intro Algebra and up. I am ONLY complaining about pre-A. I've been going through the Prealgebra book myself, off and on. Most of it, I have enjoyed (though yes, I am pretty well versed in Prealgebra topics, so most of it is NOT new to me), and some of the problems like you described have given me pause about using it with my young son. In the very first chapter, it has things like explaining why 2+3=3+2. While my son fully understands the commutative property of addition, I think he would be confused by that question - just having to write out words that explain it. He'd probably be like, "Well, isn't it obvious if you look at it?" After all, that was MY first thought to that question, which has a picture of 2 blocks and 3 blocks together. The problem you posted, I think he would be fine with, but might need to explain it orally rather than writing an answer. I also agree that Jacobs Algebra is much more young-kid friendly - not just the cartoon at the beginning of the chapter, but just the way the text is and the interesting problem sets. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

nmoira Posted February 17, 2013 Share Posted February 17, 2013 I've been going through the Prealgebra book myself, off and on. Most of it, I have enjoyed (though yes, I am pretty well versed in Prealgebra topics, so most of it is NOT new to me), and some of the problems like you described have given me pause about using it with my young son. In the very first chapter, it has things like explaining why 2+3=3+2. While my son fully understands the commutative property of addition, I think he would be confused by that question - just having to write out words that explain it. He'd probably be like, "Well, isn't it obvious if you look at it?" After all, that was MY first thought to that question, which has a picture of 2 blocks and 3 blocks together. The problem you posted, I think he would be fine with, but might need to explain it orally rather than writing an answer. I'm not so concerned that DD the Elder generate all the "math speak" at this point, so much as understand it... like with beginning reading and writing: fluency first, then copywork (her notes), and I'll frequently have her write generalized snippets and expressions while going over her solutions to the problems, also making notes myself. I give as much assistance as she needs, but only after she has gone through the text enough times that she can show me where things start to go fuzzy for her. Even then, she's occasionally not able to do even this. A few weeks ago DD was having trouble wrapping her head around a technique to find the product of the divisors of a certain number that were themselves multiples of another number (e.g. What is the product of the positive divisors of 450 that are multiples of 3?). There are as yet no videos for Number Theory, so for a couple of days she struggled through trying to understand. She couldn't figure out what to ask, but I finally realized that there was a logical step missing in the the way the text attacked the problem that she needed to see, and it was such a simple step. All I had to ask was "What is the generalized expression of a multiple of 3?" and she was off, because the attack now made sense to her. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

wapiti Posted February 17, 2013 Share Posted February 17, 2013 After ds10 eked his way through chapter 2 last fall, we moved over to Jacobs for a bit. It didn't really catch his interest, so he moved back to AoPS after spending a little time covering number theory concepts in MM. I put him back into AoPS toward the end of ch 4, decimals. To me, it seems that ch 2 is second in difficulty only to ch 5, solving equations. Ch 5 is the one chapter I wish were broken up a bit more. I'm happy they included the geometry and C&P chapters later in the book - ds has reached the first geometry chapter and has found his true calling - easier for him than the earlier chapters. None of my kids have used Intro to Algebra yet, and while there are some identical lessons in both books, I'm daunted by the descriptions of Intro to Algebra and I'd like to incorporate more Jacobs one way or another - maybe in between Prealgebra and Intro to Algebra. The chapters early in Jacobs cover some different topics from AoPS Prealgebra - a lot more on graphing - such that I think the two books complement each other nicely even though they are entirely different. I just don't think that my younger student will be able to plough through this text independently. I would have loved Pre-A to be easier to read, so that they student can slowly work up to self-teaching with the explanations. But instead, the authors are expecting the same level of reading comprehension with Pre-A as with the higher level books. Seems like a big ask to me. I agree with this assessment. Honestly I thought it was just my kids, who are weaker in reading comp than in math and the fact that the intended audience is around 6th gr. This is why I don't have ds working on math in his classroom at school; now he does it all at home. Although it would be nice to have a little easier reading level, it works well for the way we've been using it - my being present during the lesson problems and helping as needed - and I'm anxious to get my other ds10 started in it. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

JadeOrchidSong Posted February 17, 2013 Share Posted February 17, 2013 My older has used Intro Algebra, geometry, counting, and number theory and they are great. I bought the pre-algebra for my younger and I *completely* agree with your dh. I think that the pre-A book is very much over complicated, and I don't think I will be using it. I know that Mathwonk on the Accelerated board got the same impression (he is an x-math prof). Instead, I will be using the first third of Jacobs Algebra as a Prealgebra course, and then moving to AoPS Intro Algebra. Ruth in NZ Ruth, Are you going to start per-algebra with younger right after SM5? My ds10 finished SM5 and I already bought Dolciani Prealgebra and would like to start soon. What do you think? Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

crazyforlatin Posted February 18, 2013 Share Posted February 18, 2013 I only have AOPS Pre-A, not the rest of the series, and it is wordy. I happen to have a kid who is more oriented towards languages than math. It seems to suit her because the math has just enough challenge to intrigue her with explanations that go on and on....and on. She is not the typical AOPS kid on the surface, but I do see a glimmer of excitement with Beast and most of the problems in Pre-A. I'm still trying to figure out what it is about AOPS - one aspect could be that it lets the kid try to figure out her own way and then presents another way. That always seems to hold DD's attention. However, at a certain point in this book, I feel we will need a more direct approach more as a break from the way AOPS teaches Pre-A. Sometimes it feels just too much and a slight break can reinvigorate her when I whip out AOPS. I have Dolciani, thinking of buying Jacobs, and currently using MM6 when we need a break. Oh, and reading LOF when the kid needs to read a fun math book. ETA: Oops, I remember we are using HOE, loving it by the way, Patty Paper starting next week, and Key to Algebra and Geometry. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

letsplaymath Posted February 19, 2013 Share Posted February 19, 2013 I think AoPS is a very algebraic pre-algebra. It is trying to push the students into thinking algebraically, even when the problems are just number calculations. My daughter and I have been enjoying that a lot more than we would have just a straight pre-algebra book. But we don't read it straight through, either. Since we sit on the couch with a white board and do math together, I can easily tell how much she understands. This is our system, which might perhaps suit the OP's DH, too: DD works out the gray-box problems at the beginning of a lesson, explaining her thoughts to me as she solves them. Mostly, these are review, but if she gets stumped, I will offer a Socratic question or hint. I skim through the answers in the lesson to see if they had a "cool" way to solve any of the problems, or if there are any conceptual points I want to stress. We take turns doing the problems in the exercise at the end of the lesson. In a few lessons, where the exercises seem to easy, we skipped all but the starred problems. Go back to step one for the next lesson. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

Woodland Mist Academy Posted February 19, 2013 Share Posted February 19, 2013 Just curious (we never used prealgebra since it was not out): would you consider Pre-Algebra too wordy even if the student had not been exposed to the material at all beforehand? What I mean is: most students take prealgebra mainly as a review course; they have already studied fractions etc and are just spending another year solidifying. But a student who was coming brand new to the topic from an elementary school curriculum, would it be overexplaining for him, too? Our experience has been that although my dd had been exposed to the some of the concepts before, AoPS Pre-Algebra has helped her truly understand them. She has commented that certain concepts are finally making sense. I contribute this to what some may see as over-explaining. It has helped her immensely to know the why. So even though it wasn't her first exposure, it has helped clear some of the mud from her first exposure. For the concepts that are new to her, the explanations have been vital. There are times when she doesn't need all the detail, so she skims. For the most part, though, she enjoys and learns from the explanations. There have been a few times when I wondered if the explanations were adding confusion, but later on I realized why the concept was being explained that way. Now I'm more likely to just trust there is a reason--even if the reason is that for some children the concepts need a detailed explanation and there may not be a parent or teacher available to adequately deliver it. DD is increasingly wanting to take ownership of learning math. I am so grateful for AoPs Pre-Algeabra. I don't know if AoPS led to this growing independence, or if it is just a perfect match to support it. Either way, for right now it's a good fit. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

Paintedlady Posted February 19, 2013 Author Share Posted February 19, 2013 I've been forwarding all of your responses to DH since he's the one doing math with DS, and I just wanted to say thank you to all of you who have taken the time to respond to this thread. It's been very helpful and enlightening! Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

songsparrow Posted February 22, 2013 Share Posted February 22, 2013 My older daughter has been using the Pre-Algebra book for over a month. At first, she was frustrated and confused, because she simply wanted to solve the problems being presented. I explained to her that the book's authors knew she could solve the problems, but that is not what they were looking for. If she sees a problem that involves lots of operations on big numbers, they want her to use the rules to find an easier way to do it. They want her to learn the rules/formulae and how to consciously use them. It required a big change in how she is thinking about/approaching the problems, and it took some time and practice. It has taken about a month for both of us to adjust to it, but the last few days she has flown through sections that would have left her in tears of frustration a couple weeks ago. That said, she does not work through the book independently. She does Alcumus problems independently, but when it's time to work through the book, this is what works for us: I have her look at the introductory problem in the gray box, and give her a few minutes to see if she can figure out how to solve it. If she can, we go through the steps she used and discuss which techniques she applied. Then we look at the author's solution to see if it's the same or different and why. Then she looks at the next problem in the gray box. If she's stumped by the problem in the gray box, I walk her through the solution, explaining the steps. Then I make up one or more similar problems for her to try. Once she gets all the steps without any confusion, we move on. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

wapiti Posted February 22, 2013 Share Posted February 22, 2013 My older daughter has been using the Pre-Algebra book for over a month. At first, she was frustrated and confused, because she simply wanted to solve the problems being presented. I explained to her that the book's authors knew she could solve the problems, but that is not what they were looking for. If she sees a problem that involves lots of operations on big numbers, they want her to use the rules to find an easier way to do it. They want her to learn the rules/formulae and how to consciously use them. It required a big change in how she is thinking about/approaching the problems, and it took some time and practice. It has taken about a month for both of us to adjust to it, but the last few days she has flown through sections that would have left her in tears of frustration a couple weeks ago. This is a very important point that I often forget about, and it is something that I cherish in this book, with one caveat: I would not refer to these as rules/formulae but as concepts. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

nandmsmom Posted February 22, 2013 Share Posted February 22, 2013 We are just finishing up the first chapter. I started by reading through much of it. I must admit that my very mathy brain fell instantly in love. However, it does tend to overcomplicate things for DS 11. What we have ended up doing for now, is to go over the first problems together, with my explanation of the book's explanation. Does that make sense? I would imagine it is similar to what the videos do, but I haven't looked at them yet. Language tends to get in the way of math for DS, so this works for him. He's a kid who loses his mind with word problems, but can figure out any equation put in front of him. While it is something we're working on, the book tends to make it worse. However, what the book is teaching is infinitely wonderful for both of us. It's like a giant math puzzle/game. If you aren't a mathy person, or have a child that finds the language overcomplicates, then it would be difficult to use. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

SunnyDays Posted February 26, 2013 Share Posted February 26, 2013 Just wanted to say I'm finding this thread very helpful. Next year we'll be having to make some prealgebra decisions. I was wondering the same as Rose about using MM6/LOF prealgebra books, plus supplements, for prealgebra... I am really not sure that AoPS PreA will suit my son. I love the look of Jacobs too, so we may throw that in and use it for a wrap up of PreA and then Algebra 1. Then again, we may use AoPS and just modify how we use it, as some have described. I'm glad we have so many options, but.... geez, so many options!!! ;) Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

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