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AoPS PreA Users: Talk me through how you use it?


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I'm trying to get my mind around how we might use AoPS PreA. I had kinda decided not to use it, but I'm reading it again myself, and I keep coming back to the fact: this is the level of math understanding I want dd to have. She is a great math student, she learns quickly and doesn't struggle with anything in math, and although she has some conceptual understanding (we've used MM the past two years) I feel like it's still on the superficial side. I really want to use this year to solidify the whys behind arithmetic, focus on developing problem-solving skills, and lay a solid foundation for algebra.

 

So, I'm trying to think through how a math lesson might look. Will you talk me through how you have used this book? I know there will be lots of totally different answers, and that's cool! I'd like to have a bunch of options to consider.

 

Feel free to narrate how you use it, or to answer these specific questions:

1) Of the 3 parts (text, video lessons, Alcumus), which do you use? And how/in what order?

2) Do you do the lessons discovery-style, as written, or do you teach the concepts first and then have them do the problems?

3) Do you teach lessons, or does your dc read & work mostly independently?

4) If you teach it, how? Whiteboard? Buddy math?

5) Do you use it alone, or do you use other things too? If so, what, and how?

6) How do you pace/schedule it? A lesson a day, then something else, or work on it till time is up, or alternate it with other things? Or work on it till their eyes glaze over?

7) How many of the problems do you do in each chapter before moving on? (review problems vs. challenge problems)

8) If you started using it, then dropped it for something else, why? Do you plan on coming back to it later?

 

Anything else you can think of to tell me would be great! TIA.

 

ETA: this will be for my rising 6th grader who turns 11 in November, so I don't think it's too early age/maturity wise, and she's definitely ready for preAlgebra. Just trying to figure out if AoPS will work for her, and want a few ways to try it up my sleeve before jumping in

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For us, my dd generally does it mostly on her own. She watches the video, then goes through the problems and the review questions then I give her some of the challenging problems to solve. Sometimes she will not understand a question, then I will go brought it with her. If I find she is still stuck, we may watch some other video or use some other text to see how to solve it. We have been using it since January.

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I go through the text with my son and I have him tell me how he solves the problems, then he watches the video and does the exercise problems on the whiteboard while explaining how he does them. I do it this way because he has a high emotional need for me to be there (actually he hardly ever does anything by himself, he always needs someone else for company) and he tends to not write down the steps. By talking about what he does it is easier for him to remember to write things down and get into the habit of showing his work.

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First, we do the Lesson Problems (the problems in the gray boxes), usually socratic-style on the white board. How much socratic questioning has been necessary vs. independent work has depended on a lot of things - difficulty, type of topic, my student's age, etc. Then we look through the Lesson Problem solutions together to see if the authors did the problems differently or had any important notes; that usually only takes a few minutes. Sometimes we look at a solution for an individual problem right after we finish it rather than waiting until the whole group of Lesson Problems is finished.

 

Then the exercises in the text are done independently. When the exercises did not go well, I've pulled problems from Dolciani. Chapters 2 (exponents) and 5 (equations) have seemed the most difficult for my kids. I assign Alcumus for review, usually later on (Alcumus also has "levels" of mastery for each topic, so you can assign up to one level and then later assign up to a higher level).

 

The lessons in the first half of the book tend to be longer than the rest. When possible, I prefer to do the lesson problems all in one day and the exercises all the next day, or sometimes both the lesson problems and the exercises all in one day if they're short and there's time. Sometimes the lesson problems and/or the exercises get split in half or even thirds. It all depends.

 

I assign all review problems and a few of the challenge problems. The review problems usually take at least two days for my slow writers, sometimes three if there are a lot. Sometimes I wait until later to assign challenge problems, depending on how desperate my student is to move on to a new topic. The challenge problems make great review at the end of the book and also *suddenly seem a whole lot easier* when one is much further along in the book - I suppose some topics need time to gel :)

 

We haven't been using the videos lately - I prefer when they come after the lesson problems. If I don't have time to help with a lesson, I'd have them just dive into the Lesson Problems on their own, with or without watching the videos first. My kids' major complaint about the videos is that they take time and energy to pay attention :tongue_smilie:. One of my boys was really good about backing up, replaying over and over and asking me questions if he didn't understand something. The other one tends to tune out.

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I have my son start with the videos and then go through the section. He then works through the teaching problems on his own. I've found it works best if we then do the end of the section problems and challenge problems simultaneoulsy. After we do a problem we check the solution manual to see how we did and if we need to work the problem differently. He does Alcumus every few sections. The videos are his favorite.

 

ETA: We schedule by time. He does an hour a day. Some sections are meatier than others and he has already run into an area that took him nearly a week to get through.

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We've only been through the first few chapters, so whether we stick with it remains to be seen.

 

I've been having him work for a little over an hour, and stop where he is. This seems to work better for him than getting a certain amount done, because I really want him to think and not be focused on number of problems completed right now. So for the first chapters, it's usually been one day for teaching problems, one day for practice.

 

No videos yet. I help him if he needs help, but mostly he has done well on his own. He has had to work on writing out more of his answer than he usually would. A few times he has missed that he not only needs to "get" the concept, but write out more of the steps to get there.

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No answers for you, but we're in the exact same position--rising 6th grader, turns 11 in July, very comfortable with math (we've been using SM and she really excels at mental math). I'm posting to follow the thread!

 

A little OT--I just spent a year teaching part-time at a local technical college that is using a self-paced, online program for their learning support (remedial) students in math, English, and reading. Students are required to attend class, but they work at their own pace and test when they feel they're ready. They must score a minimum amount on a pretest to skip a chapter, or on a post test to continue to the next chapter, and they must complete a certain number of chapters before the end of the semester. The program provides videos, loads of practice problems, and practice quizzes and tests. The instructors were available to help students as they had questions they couldn't answer themselves with the online resources, and to encourage them and keep them on track.

 

I was fascinated to see how different each students' needs were. The program was flexible enough to allow students to explore what worked best for them--watch videos first, skip videos or use only as needed, target the practice problems most needed, or work every single problem. And I really enjoyed watching students figure out as the semester progressed, what clicked for them. All that to say...I think that with a program like AoPS, you'll find that one approach works better for one student, and another approach for others, and the same student might even need to vary their approach as time goes on. I'm looking forward to the flexibility provided by AoPS!

 

Watching this thread for more input...

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We have done it independently here. My DS11 is working on it now. He works on it for an hour a day, sometimes he gets a lot done, sometimes he doesn't. We haven't used the videos yet. We leave some of the review questions, and go back and do them when we finish the book. A mini run through again. We will do all the questions, and are using it with LOF.

My older son DS14 finished the book this year. He flew through it, but slowed down a bit in the challenging questions. It was review for him, as he had finished Advance Algebra with LOF.

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My daughter is older than yours, 14yo and in 8th grade. We started AoPS Algebra last fall, but it was too much for her, so we backed off to Prealgebra to solidify the foundations. All of it has been review so far, but a very algebraic-thinking approach to the topics, which has been good for her. My dd is a natural reader, and she could certainly do the book on her own if I forced her to (and would probably get through it more quickly that way). But she really likes working together, so that's what we do.

 

Because it's all review for her, we tend to skip and skim. We are mostly using the text, but she occasionally watches a video just for fun. She used Alcumus for awhile, but then drifted away to other interests, since I wasn't requiring it. Here is our procedure:

 

1) Sit together on the couch, with the book and a whiteboard. Check the time. We go about 30-40 minutes per day, because any longer than that leads to fatigue and grumpiness.

 

2) She attempts the "discovery" problems at the beginning of a lesson, doing all of these herself. I add comments, if I want to. After she's done them, I skim through the lesson to see if there are any key points that I want to mention, or if the book's method was different from hers.

 

3) We work through the exercises buddy-style, each of us doing alternate problems and explaining out methods as we work. We check each other and rarely have to look up anything in the answer book. If she had any troubles at all with the discovery problems, then we will do the whole exercise together. Otherwise, we often skip to the most difficult of the problems. We always do the star problems, and if one of them is particularly challenging, we will both work our way through it (dueling white boards?) and then compare methods. I love to see the way she thinks these things through!

 

3.5) If there are story problems, we explain HOW we would approach it and get the answer, but we often skip the actual calculation.

 

4) End-of-chapter reviews are the same: skimming and buddy math.

 

5) We put in a bookmark wherever we are when our time runs out, and that's where we start the next time. Sometimes we just get a few problems done (I think our "record" was two problems in a half-hour session), while other times we whiz through several pages.

 

We try to do AoPS math at least 3-4 times a week, except on the weeks that we skip (either due to sickness or time-intensive activities like NaNoWriMo or whatever -- I've always been laid-back about schooling). On days when we miss it, she's reading Danica McKellar's algebra and geometry books and we also started working through a series of online lessons on quadratic equations by James Tanton. The latter would be too advanced for most prealgebra students, but my daughter has a strange, eclectic background that made her well prepared for it.

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11 and 12 were tough years emotionally for my girls. Only my younger one did AOPS, and I just kept changing approaches when necessary:

 

If she was feeling clingy, we worked problems together on the white board.

If she didn't want mom to see her possibly make a mistake, I had her do alcumus on her own.

If she didn't want anybody to tell her how to do things, I had her watch the chapter videos without me.

 

What really helped me with kid #2 was to remember: It wasn't the curriculum, it was the kid. I really made a mistake with kid #1 trying to find something she would like, when no such thing existed.

 

Girls in early adolescence complain a lot. Accept that they cannot be made happy at all times, even if you give them what they say they want. Mixing up my approaches but continuing to make steady progress with the same curriculum was the much better choice.

 

 

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We go through the book from the first discovery question all the way through every question. He 'tries' all the challenge problems and then we check the answers. ds11 works independent during the day on it. And I go over any questions he has at night after work. We use the videos only when he needs some extra insight on a topic. He says that the book is very complete in terms of explaining the concepts. We are using it alone right now. But I do plan on integrating in Khan Academy and TabletClass when we hit road bumps like we did last year in Pre-A. We spend ~ 1.5 hours a day on it and he will get more or less done depending on the level of challenge which increases as one progresses through the each chapter.

 

Note that I considered it last year for Pre-A. But after reviewing it with him I realized he wasn't ready for AoPS yet. So we used another challenging program to work on solving complex algebraic problems which was TabletClass Pre-A. During this time we supplemented with AoPS which helped familiarize him with the style more. Then after finishing that course we gave Intro to Algebra a try as the spine. It was been going great so far.

 

Keep in mind that maturity also plays a significant role in AoPS readiness. So even if it doesn't work the first go around it may a little later on as it did in our case. For younger children the maturity has more to do with their ability and willingness to wrestle with complex problems. Being willing to walk away then come back to it and consider it from another angle. This involves delayed gratification. An acceptance that even if one is strong at math he/she won't get every problem right. AoPS is that way by design - see the Calculus trap. A willingness to 'discover' concepts not seen before. If this isn't the case one can always watch the videos first which can help. I'm not a purist in that regard.

 

Note: Sorry, I missed the part about 'Pre-A' users. I guess we used it in part, so it still applies. Our experience gives you another perspective on using it partially during Pre-A.

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I go through the text with my son. We do the examples together. For anything that he's not completely confident on, I also assign the videos (he has watched the videos less and less as we go through the book). I assign the review problems by time - do math for "x" minutes. I have him work on alcumus behind where he is in the book - this is great for reinforcement. The beginning of the book was hard for him to get used to, but he has improved a lot as he has gone through it.

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Thanks for all the comments so far, guys, I am reading and taking notes! :lurk5:

 

I guess as I assess this past year, I realize that dd did very, very well with MM5. She has a 95% average on tests for the year. So I should be happy, right? It's working, right? But . . . I'm concerned that it isn't challenging & stretching her enough - if she's mostly acing it, maybe it's too easy? And I know AoPS *would* challenge & stretch her, which is why I'm leaning toward incorporating it in some manner. OTOH, she does not *love* struggling & grappling with hard problems for hours. She doesn't live, eat and breathe math, she works on in for as long as I assign, without complaining. But she isn't hungry for more. KWIM? And this is what I hear a lot of people say you need to do well with AoPS. So, I'm just trying to think through what exactly I'm trying to accomplish and what role AoPS might play in that. I think we'll take a stab at it, though!

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She doesn't live, eat and breathe math, she works on in for as long as I assign, without complaining. But she isn't hungry for more. KWIM? And this is what I hear a lot of people say you need to do well with AoPS.

 

You don't need to like or love math to do well with AoPS. What you need is a child who is "willing" to spend time thinking through the problems when the going gets tough. Actually that works for any subject or curriculum, a child who is willing to perserve when hard work is required is more likely to see it through.

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Thanks for all the comments so far, guys, I am reading and taking notes! :lurk5:

 

I guess as I assess this past year, I realize that dd did very, very well with MM5. She has a 95% average on tests for the year. So I should be happy, right? It's working, right? But . . . I'm concerned that it isn't challenging & stretching her enough - if she's mostly acing it, maybe it's too easy? And I know AoPS *would* challenge & stretch her, which is why I'm leaning toward incorporating it in some manner. OTOH, she does not *love* struggling & grappling with hard problems for hours. She doesn't live, eat and breathe math, she works on in for as long as I assign, without complaining. But she isn't hungry for more. KWIM? And this is what I hear a lot of people say you need to do well with AoPS. So, I'm just trying to think through what exactly I'm trying to accomplish and what role AoPS might play in that. I think we'll take a stab at it, though!

 

You may consider a few hybrid approaches vs. all or nothing, especially if she hasn't gone through MM6 yet. For example you could do MM6 three days a week and AoPS two days in the beginning. Then gradually bring in more. I like letting ds11 work ahead which provides him greater challenge and motivation to get to the next level. There's no reason you couldn't start introducing AoPS now with some Alcumus, videos and possibly the first chapter. This allows both you and her to get a better feel for it and sense of how things may go at this stage on a variety of levels.

 

I also agree with Arcadia regarding 'what an AoPS student should look like.' I'm one who likes to break molds. ds11 didn't fit the typical mold of a kid who loves to wrestle with problems for hours and finds it fun. None of us have any desire to get involved with math competitions which many are drawn toward. On top of that the 'Discovery' approach was not something he really considered fun, at least at first. He preferred direct instruction. So that is why I decided to stretch him in other ways first, like tackling more challenging, algebraic problems, similar to AoPS. Aftering weaving in some AoPS with the other program I think it grew on him. He learned to appreciate the great explanations, videos and challenging problems. So in short I think AoPS can benefit a variety of students, even the non typical AoPS kids. But they will need to learn to struggle and persevere.

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Just a quick note, I'm using Pre-A as a way to introduce what it feels like to struggle, to get it wrong, to try again, to love a good challenge, to stretch her mind, to appreciate math. Use Pre-A to transition her - it does not have to be pure discovery for every single problem. I love a hybrid approach!

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Quickly reading, I notice little mention of Alcumus. Dd does not care for alcumus. Apparently there was an upgrade to the program, but she doesn't enjoy using it and says any improvements were minimal. We used to be more consistent about the videos, but the 2nd half of the book is much easier than the first, and we've neglected to watch them.

 

ETA: if you watch only one AOPS video, DO NOT MISS the least common multiple talk by Richard. It is pretty cool.

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We used to be more consistent about the videos, but the 2nd half of the book is much easier than the first, and we've neglected to watch them.

 

ETA: if you watch only one AOPS video, DO NOT MISS the least common multiple talk by Richard. It is pretty cool.

 

I have always felt that the second half has been much easier for my VSLs and I have been thinking that the first half is more sequential and the second half more spatial (by virtue of the topics). (and I agree about the LCM video - that was my kids' favorite when they were younger especially)

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Quickly reading, I notice little mention of Alcumus. Dd does not care for alcumus. Apparently there was an upgrade to the program, but she doesn't enjoy using it and says any improvements were minimal. We used to be more consistent about the videos, but the 2nd half of the book is much easier than the first, and we've neglected to watch them.

 

ETA: if you watch only one AOPS video, DO NOT MISS the least common multiple talk by Richard. It is pretty cool.

 

 

My girls are always teasing me that I have a Richard-R crush, and the other day I was watching a video on the laptop, and dh came in, and said, "oh, hanging out with your boyfriend?" so I made him watch the LCM video. He was totally cracking up, and gets why I watch the videos now!

 

Ok, here is kind of a crazy idea: I like MM, and it's worked well for us, though I really *don't* like the geometry, and the statistics is just meh. So, what if we did this: work through MM6, skipping the geometry & statistics chapter, then start on AoPS in Ch 10 w/ angles, work through the rest of the book, then loop through and do the first 9 chapters after that? Do you think that would work?

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So, what if we did this: work through MM6, skipping the geometry & statistics chapter, then start on AoPS in Ch 10 w/ angles, work through the rest of the book, then loop through and do the first 9 chapters after that? Do you think that would work?

 

 

Considering that the first chapter in the book that my older did was Chapter 12 because of Pythagorean Theorem, I'll be the last person to tell you that it won't work. If your child has already watch the AoPS videos for those chapters, she might just sail through the geometry chapters.

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My girls are always teasing me that I have a Richard-R crush, and the other day I was watching a video on the laptop, and dh came in, and said, "oh, hanging out with your boyfriend?" so I made him watch the LCM video. He was totally cracking up, and gets why I watch the videos now!

 

Ok, here is kind of a crazy idea: I like MM, and it's worked well for us, though I really *don't* like the geometry, and the statistics is just meh. So, what if we did this: work through MM6, skipping the geometry & statistics chapter, then start on AoPS in Ch 10 w/ angles, work through the rest of the book, then loop through and do the first 9 chapters after that? Do you think that would work?

 

I do stuff like this all the time. It really helps to present things a bit differently, break up the monotony, etc.

 

FWIW, we almost always use AoPS as a secondary/supplementary text. I don't think my children would benefit from it the other way (my oldest daughter would probably be more willing to struggle through the "discovery" approach, but I *know* without a doubt that both of my boys would not stand for it...they'll puzzle through one or two problems as a supplement, but that's it).

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we enrolled him in the online class. It was not what we expected to do, but it was a great decision for our family. I choked on the cost, but in the end it was worth it. We are in the last two weeks of the Pre-aglebra class, and we have already decided to enroll him in the intro to Algebra class in the autumn.

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Quickly reading, I notice little mention of Alcumus. Dd does not care for alcumus.

 

 

Exact opposite here. My AOPS DDs reaction to Alcumus was immediate and very strong: "Where has this been all my life???"

 

I actually had AOPS Algebra 1 on my bookshelf, but hadn't planned on using it. I pulled it out because of Alcumus.

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Feel free to narrate how you use it, or to answer these specific questions:

1) Of the 3 parts (text, video lessons, Alcumus), which do you use? And how/in what order?

2) Do you do the lessons discovery-style, as written, or do you teach the concepts first and then have them do the problems?

3) Do you teach lessons, or does your dc read & work mostly independently?

4) If you teach it, how? Whiteboard? Buddy math?

5) Do you use it alone, or do you use other things too? If so, what, and how?

6) How do you pace/schedule it? A lesson a day, then something else, or work on it till time is up, or alternate it with other things? Or work on it till their eyes glaze over?

7) How many of the problems do you do in each chapter before moving on? (review problems vs. challenge problems)

8) If you started using it, then dropped it for something else, why? Do you plan on coming back to it later?

 

(I wrote the following as a response to another AoPS question. Dd has used PreAlgebra, Algebra, Counting and Probability, and now Geometry. In the beginning with PreAlgebra she watched the videos between the "boxed" problems and the end-of-section problems. She didn't want to watch any of the Algebra or C&P videos. In general she gets through a section each day (when she watched the videos sometimes she took 2 days per section). The review and challenge questions take two days.)

 

Dd and I sit together at the table. She does the section problems (the "boxed" problems at the beginning of a section) either orally or on the whiteboard. If she gets stuck I may ask her a leading question, such as "What information haven't you used yet?" or "What do you see in the diagram?" If she gets the problem wrong, she reads the explanation and I go over it with her. That doesn't happen often as she usually gets everything correct.

 

We individually work on the end-of-section exercises and compare our answers to the solutions manual. We do the same for the review problems (she does them all) and for the challenge problems (she does 33-50%, usually). If she gets really stuck and frustrated, I will give her a hint similar to those at the back of the book. She hates for that to happen so works very hard before admitting she needs help.

 

Dd is taking the online AoPS Geometry course which is the most challenging thing she's ever done We do the book problems as described above. I sit at the table while she does Alcumus on the whiteboard, just in case (I'm usually reading then). I separately do as many of the Problem Set problems as I can (there are about 10 each week, including two or so proofs) so that I know ahead which ones are the doozies I might have to "hint her" on one or two of the problems.

 

I understand some people think that you should just give the kid the book and let them discover it all themselves. Dd likes to have a conversation about math. If she were in a class with kids of similar ability, I would expect that there would be a lot of back-and-forth in the classroom and then in study groups. I am in no way teaching her the math; I'm serving as her peer group, I guess.

 

I have the interest, ability, and time to approach math with dd this way. I am very lucky to watch dd's love of math grow every day.

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... If she gets really stuck and frustrated, I will give her a hint similar to those at the back of the book. She hates for that to happen so works very hard before admitting she needs help.

 

... Dd likes to have a conversation about math. If she were in a class with kids of similar ability, I would expect that there would be a lot of back-and-forth in the classroom and then in study groups. I am in no way teaching her the math; I'm serving as her peer group, I guess.

 

I have the interest, ability, and time to approach math with dd this way. I am very lucky to watch dd's love of math grow every day.

 

This sounds so much like my daughter! :iagree:

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I have always felt that the second half has been much easier for my VSLs and I have been thinking that the first half is more sequential and the second half more spatial (by virtue of the topics).

 

My boys are now buddying up on AoPS Prealgebra from Chapter 10. He wanted to use the same book as his brother. It is quite entertaining to watch their discussions. It is kind of interesting that my hubby just noted last week that our younger has strong visual spatial ability and he was faster than my older on the Chapter 10's challenge problems. I'll just let them buddy until the end of the second half.

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You may consider a few hybrid approaches vs. all or nothing, especially if she hasn't gone through MM6 yet. For example you could do MM6 three days a week and AoPS two days in the beginning. Then gradually bring in more. I like letting ds11 work ahead which provides him greater challenge and motivation to get to the next level. There's no reason you couldn't start introducing AoPS now with some Alcumus, videos and possibly the first chapter. This allows both you and her to get a better feel for it and sense of how things may go at this stage on a variety of levels.

 

I also agree with Arcadia regarding 'what an AoPS student should look like.' I'm one who likes to break molds. ds11 didn't fit the typical mold of a kid who loves to wrestle with problems for hours and finds it fun. None of us have any desire to get involved with math competitions which many are drawn toward. On top of that the 'Discovery' approach was not something he really considered fun, at least at first. He preferred direct instruction. So that is why I decided to stretch him in other ways first, like tackling more challenging, algebraic problems, similar to AoPS. Aftering weaving in some AoPS with the other program I think it grew on him. He learned to appreciate the great explanations, videos and challenging problems. So in short I think AoPS can benefit a variety of students, even the non typical AoPS kids. But they will need to learn to struggle and persevere.

 

 

Derek,

 

Thanks for sharing your approach with your son. Will you share precisely how you stretched your son at first? How did you provide those challenging algebraic problems to prepare him for AoPS? My oldest is a rising 5th grader, will be 11 this fall, and uses Math Mammoth on grade level. He is a capable math student but doesn't love math and prefers to get it over with. I want to begin stretching him as he has the capability to rise to the challenge.

 

Rose's questions mirror my own though I don't yet hold AoPS Pre-A in my hands! ;)

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Derek,

 

Thanks for sharing your approach with your son. Will you share precisely how you stretched your son at first? How did you provide those challenging algebraic problems to prepare him for AoPS? My oldest is a rising 5th grader, will be 11 this fall, and uses Math Mammoth on grade level. He is a capable math student but doesn't love math and prefers to get it over with. I want to begin stretching him as he has the capability to rise to the challenge.

 

Rose's questions mirror my own though I don't yet hold AoPS Pre-A in my hands! ;)

 

 

Sure, if I go back in time a bit while ds11 was finishing up MUS I started with Hands on Equations just to introduce algebraic concepts. That wasn't too difficult. Then once a week I had him work ahead of his grade level in MUS's Pre-A. Once he had completed some major milestones, MUS Zeta and part of the Pre-A book, we started TabletClass Pre-A in earnest. I selected that program specifically for its algebraic content and clear instruction. What I didn't quite realize at the time was it's level of rigor. So as he began that program the stretching aspect increased quite a bit. Though it was still direct instruction unlike AoPS which is more discovery based. This turned out to be that just right challenge which we had built up to. Whenever he hit rough spots we supplemented with AoPS and Khan Academy. This combination really helped him learn the two most important lessons for AoPS readiness IMO:

1. The willingness to struggle with complex, multistep problems - accepting that struggling is normal and actually a good thing

2. The ability to persevere - if something isn't understood right away its ok to take a break, study it from another angle then come back and solve it with greater understanding.

 

If a child has developed both of these traits at least to a reasonable extent I think they are in a good place to start AoPS.

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Thanks for sharing your approach with your son. Will you share precisely how you stretched your son at first? How did you provide those challenging algebraic problems to prepare him for AoPS? My oldest is a

 

If you are looking for "stretch" problems that will prep your student for aops, I would get a copy of old MOEMS exams, volume 2. If s/he can't do the middle school level problems, start at elementary level and work your way up. When MOEMS is mastered, you can move on to old AMC8's and MathCounts.

 

Taking these exams at home provides a low-stress introduction to these sorts of challenging problems, and helps prepare students for AOPS problem sets.

 

PS, I hear through the grapevine that volume 3 of the MOEMS exams will be published soon.

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FWIW, Katrina, we use AoPS itself to develop the patience for problem solving. IOW, we used AoPS to prepare for AoPS (so far, I've had three kids go from MM, through MM 5 and parts of MM 6, to AoPS Prealgebra). I really like daijobu's idea of using the MOEMS books alongside MM. There are other options for that stretching/struggling as well (SM IP/CWP, Zaccaro, etc.) though I think MOEMS might more closely relfect the spirit of AoPS.

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Derek, thanks so much for sharing your son's math course. Did he balk at all? Did you have to piggyback him through anything, deal with attitude issues, etc.? Were you prepared to stay the course even if he melted down (I don't mean tantrums but more like, "Mom/Dad, This is killing me! I can't do this. My brain hurts too much."? I am NOT a mathy Mom and my tendency has been to underestimate or under challenge my kids. Judging how much and how far to stretch them AND what to do or use to do that is beyond my experience or ability. I am trying hard to learn the ropes .... We have been using HOE for a few months now. :) I want a balance between "getting math done" and "my brain hurts".

 

I don't know anything about MOEMS, AMC8's or MathCounts ;). Should I google that? Any starting points?

 

Wapiti, Can *I* use AoPS to develop patience for problem solving? Should I do this before asking it of my kiddo? I am not mathy and I hate the discovery approach because it's hard for me. I want to own what I teach and though it's crazy hard I am working at it.

 

Rose, thanks for letting me participate a wee bit in your AoPS discussion.

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I had an end of school year meeting with ds today. I asked him to tell me the subjects where he thought he learned a lot. He came right out and said math. We have only been doing AOPS for a couple months so I asked for clarification on what math he was talking about. It was AOPS. This is not a math-kid, never really enjoyed math, and not really math advanced either. He likes it best when we do the end of section problems together and finds enjoyment in trying to complete a problem before I do.

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I don't know anything about MOEMS, AMC8's or MathCounts ;). Should I google that? Any starting points?

 

Wapiti, Can *I* use AoPS to develop patience for problem solving? Should I do this before asking it of my kiddo? I am not mathy and I hate the discovery approach because it's hard for me. I want to own what I teach and though it's crazy hard I am working at it.

 

Sure, you can use AoPS yourself - the Prealgebra text is a great place to start. Do you already have it? Go ahead and start working through it. At some point, light bulbs may start going off - look for the big-picture perspective on approaching problems, how to use the tools (math concepts) you know even when you don't know what to do. (Sometimes I tell my kids to look for the easy way :)) Feel free to use the videos.

 

As for tantrums, there have been a few around here lately on the part of my ds10s (one is in the Prealgebra, one is in Intro to Algebra). I don't hear "my brain hurts" - if I did, I might say, "good!" I get a lot of "just tell me what to do!" and general whining over the injustice of summer math. Today, dd12 commented that she remembered some foot-dragging when I homeschooled her in 5th grade (true) but she didn't know why - I think age plays a role. I just tell them resistance is futile; just kidding. Actually, I just try to limit the frustration to small amounts. They have plenty of time so there's always tomorrow for a fresh start and hopefully a fresh mood as well. I answer most questions with another question, which can be frustrating for them in and of itself :). I try to be patient in helping them develop patience with themselves - it doesn't happen overnight, especially for a raging perfectionist.

 

The MOEMS books are these (also available at AoPS):

Creative Problem Solving by Lenchner

MOEMS problems Vol 2 (IIRC, this book has separate sections for elementary and middle school problems)

MOEMS problems Vol 1 (the problems are mixed)

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I'm late to this thread and havent read through most of the responses. I think the approach to take depends a lot on the child. What's also important is to morph along with the developing child and the circumstances.

 

Ds10, started AoPS Introduction to Algebra last year. He isn't into the videos although he's watched some at the earlier stages. We've done a variety of methods, but what seems to work best now is if I run through the learning problems with him. He's very insistent on doing some on his own, so I let him. But at this stage, I still run through the answers in the book. We've had many occasions where he'd get the right answer but not see the big thread that they're pushing at him. Then he does the exercises himself. At this stage, he'd still have some problems, and I drop him hints. By the review stage, ds would have most of the problems down pat. The challenge problems present a different level of thinking, and I let ds mull over them. This part, I think, some parents may disagree - ds has mulled over for a verry long time. LIke he could take 1 question a day. He hates to be be given hints. But lately, in the interest of efficiency, I've given him leading questions which he may or may not accept. In any case, learning to accept help is something he ought to learn as well. I have a rule where, if he's wrong twice, he must at least take the leads I give him. I worry that his frustration builds up and he starts disliking AOPS!

 

I just took a glance one post up. These books are good! Ds actually did some when he was younger, but I'd forgotten about them. Will dig out what I have to see if we can add this on.

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  • 5 weeks later...
Feel free to narrate how you use it, or to answer these specific questions:

1) Of the 3 parts (text, video lessons, Alcumus), which do you use? And how/in what order?

 

Text, exercises, problems, videos, review and challenge problems, Alcumus.

 

The timing of videos varies because she often forgets about them.

 

2) Do you do the lessons discovery-style, as written, or do you teach the concepts first and then have them do the problems?

 

As written.

 

3) Do you teach lessons, or does your dc read & work mostly independently?

 

Independently at the moment.

 

4) If you teach it, how? Whiteboard? Buddy math?

 

In the past we sat side-by-side working together with varying degrees of discussion. At some point that might again work best. For now it doesn't. I don't think I ever actually taught it.

 

5) Do you use it alone, or do you use other things too? If so, what, and how?

 

It is our main program. We use Khan Academy during stressful times. Dh works with her on other math concepts. We also always have a math book for shared reading in progress. We have cut back on supplements since she started AoPS.

 

6) How do you pace/schedule it? A lesson a day, then something else, or work on it till time is up, or alternate it with other things? Or work on it till their eyes glaze over?

 

We started out with a set time only, but that didn't work well for us. Now DD has a goal for each day.

 

7) How many of the problems do you do in each chapter before moving on? (review problems vs. challenge problems)

 

I go back and forth about this.

At the moment she is doing all the problems including Alcumus. Of course, the consequence is that she is taking longer than most. Doing less problems and/or using a buddy system would most likely be faster.

 

8) If you started using it, then dropped it for something else, why? Do you plan on coming back to it later?

 

N/A

 

 

 

We are in such a state of transition, I'm hesitant to answer. This is what we are doing right now, as always it's subject to change at any moment.

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1) Of the 3 parts (text, video lessons, Alcumus), which do you use? And how/in what order?

 

So far, we're just using text and Alcumus. Though we definitely watched the LCM video last year when we hit that topic in Singapore 5. :D

2) Do you do the lessons discovery-style, as written, or do you teach the concepts first and then have them do the problems?

 

Discovery-style, as written. I find that they usually give enough hints to discover it easily. They lead you into discovery. It's not just, "here, play with this until you discover something." :)

3) Do you teach lessons, or does your dc read & work mostly independently?

 

Since I'm using this with a young 9 year old (we started just a few days before he turned 9), I am walking him through it. So I'll read the text out loud, then have him work the problem (or answer it orally if it's an "Explain why..." type problem). After each problem, we look at the solution and teaching, then he works the next problem. This is working well for him so far. He does the exercises on his own, but I'm there if he needs me to ask him a socratic question. ;)

5) Do you use it alone, or do you use other things too? If so, what, and how?

 

I am interspersing Dolciani where more practice is needed. In AoPS Chapter 1, I noticed two topics that he understood, but just needed a little more practice using. So I pulled out 2 sections of Dolciani Chapter 1, and had him do the odd problems. We spent 4 days doing that, then came back to do the Review section of AoPS Chapter 1.

6) How do you pace/schedule it? A lesson a day, then something else, or work on it till time is up, or alternate it with other things? Or work on it till their eyes glaze over?

 

I try to do about 30-45 minutes per day (again, because he's young), but it works out to doing Problems one day, Exercises the next day. The Review will take us 2 days (we did half of it today). The Challenge section may also take us 2 days.

7) How many of the problems do you do in each chapter before moving on? (review problems vs. challenge problems)

 

Since there aren't very many problems, I've had him doing all the problems. Having worked through half the book myself, and having worked through a little bit of Dolciani before that, I don't think we need to skip problems in AoPS, and it's not "too much" (like doing ALL the problems in Dolciani would be). A section of Dolciani usually has about 40 problems, whereas AoPS usually has more like 10. The AoPS problems require more thinking, but still... it's just 10 problems, and some of them are pretty easy, due to the techniques learned (like noticing that you're multiplying everything by zero, so you don't really need to calculate anything). Again, that's chapter 1, but I've worked through chapter 7 on my own, and the problems really haven't been that bad. There are usually several "easy" ones (if you're applying the material learned) and a few tricky ones.

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Thanks for all the comments so far, guys, I am reading and taking notes! :lurk5:

 

I guess as I assess this past year, I realize that dd did very, very well with MM5. She has a 95% average on tests for the year. So I should be happy, right? It's working, right? But . . . I'm concerned that it isn't challenging & stretching her enough - if she's mostly acing it, maybe it's too easy? And I know AoPS *would* challenge & stretch her, which is why I'm leaning toward incorporating it in some manner. OTOH, she does not *love* struggling & grappling with hard problems for hours. She doesn't live, eat and breathe math, she works on in for as long as I assign, without complaining. But she isn't hungry for more. KWIM? And this is what I hear a lot of people say you need to do well with AoPS. So, I'm just trying to think through what exactly I'm trying to accomplish and what role AoPS might play in that. I think we'll take a stab at it, though!

 

 

This is why I decided to try AOPS for this next year.  My ds does not think he wants to go into a STEM career, does not love math (or maybe he does and I misunderstand due to the male/female differences between us), certainly does not seem to love grappling with things that are a struggle.  But it is precisely because things like the Stanford course and Mindset have convinced me that he needs to learn to grapple and struggle that I am going to use AOPS (ordered it this morning).    I explained to him that it was a program expected to be hard and also expected to help him learn how to think and solve problems in general, not just in math.  I hope that will turn out to be true.

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This is why I decided to try AOPS for this next year.  My ds does not think he wants to go into a STEM career, does not love math (or maybe he does and I misunderstand due to the male/female differences between us), certainly does not seem to love grappling with things that are a struggle.  But it is precisely because things like the Stanford course and Mindset have convinced me that he needs to learn to grapple and struggle that I am going to use AOPS (ordered it this morning).    I explained to him that it was a program expected to be hard and also expected to help him learn how to think and solve problems in general, not just in math.  I hope that will turn out to be true.

 

Yeah, it's funny, Pen.  I started this thread and wrote that post before the Stanford class started, but you can see how I was already thinking along those lines . . . I think that's why it hit me between the eyes so hard.

 

I'm still undecided about when we'll start dipping into AoPS.  Not right at the beginning of the year.  I'm having dd10 do a lot of hard new things, in terms of more independent work, more time management, and some more intensive focus on reading & notetaking from more challenging texts (my reading-to-learn focus) and have some ambitious writing assignments planned.  So I think this is *not* the right time to throw some very tricky new math program at her!  

 

I am planning on spending more time on our various problem-solving/word problem resources, though, and I'm going to back WAYYYYY off on my "git 'er done" attitude.  So I will change my approach to math, but probably not the material, until we get the rest of the year kind of flowing well.

 

At least, that's my current plan!  ;)

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I'm working out the scheduling too. We thought we were going to move to Algebra this year after suring up PreA with Lial's over the summer. However, DD LOVES AoPS PreA and she wants to really work through it. Frankly, I love this idea because, as I posted on another thread, I had some concerns about her maturity level to handle long complex problems. AoPS may be the perfect training ground for those skills, I think. So, we'll be using this with Zacarro and HOE thrown in.

 

That said, for those who have used AoPS PreA, is it realistic to plan that each lesson will take an average of two days working 1 hour/day....? I know some will be shorter and some longer, but I'm just trying to pace the year with the other programs I have for her. She loves math, so bumping up to 1.5 hrs/day is doable too.

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I'm working out the scheduling too. We thought we were going to move to Algebra this year after suring up PreA with Lial's over the summer. However, DD LOVES AoPS PreA and she wants to really work through it. Frankly, I love this idea because, as I posted on another thread, I had some concerns about her maturity level to handle long complex problems. AoPS may be the perfect training ground for those skills, I think. So, we'll be using this with Zacarro and HOE thrown in.

 

That said, for those who have used AoPS PreA, is it realistic to plan that each lesson will take an average of two days working 1 hour/day....? I know some will be shorter and some longer, but I'm just trying to pace the year with the other programs I have for her. She loves math, so bumping up to 1.5 hrs/day is doable too.

 

Are you talking about each section?  It doesn't really have lessons.  I don't think you can really plan out how long it will take,  Some sections may take 1-2 days and others may take 2-4 days depending on the topic.

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That said, for those who have used AoPS PreA, is it realistic to plan that each lesson will take an average of two days working 1 hour/day....? I know some will be shorter and some longer, but I'm just trying to pace the year with the other programs I have for her. She loves math, so bumping up to 1.5 hrs/day is doable too.

Only partway though here, but so far that has been the average here. But it varies. Keep in mind too that some topics they will have worked with before (fractions, decimals), where some, like exponents, may be brand-new.

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