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AoPS Pre-Algebra: Detailed Review


ErinE
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I know there's much anxiety over selecting a pre-algebra program. DS just completed AoPS Pre-Algebra and I kept detailed notes throughout so I decided to share it with the Hive.

 

If you don't know much about AoPS, the company teaches mathematics using the discovery method. The student works through example problems that gradually increase in difficulty to teach a particular concept. After the example section, there is an explanation of the concept taught. There's often call-out boxes with important notes. After the section, there are exercises for the student to work through. At the end of every chapter, there's a review section and challenge problems.

 

*** It is important that the student read the explanation section even if he or she understands the concept ***

 

Background

I began homeschooling DS in the middle of second grade. He is advanced, but not accelerated in math. He did Everyday Math in public school. At home, he did a combination of Primary Mathematics, Miquon, Beast Academy, and Math Mammoth plus a few other supplemental math books. By the end of fourth grade, he had completed MM5 and selected topics in MM6. He began AoPS Pre Algebra when he was 11 years old (fifth grade). He finished in a year and half (12 years old, sixth grade).

 

Why I chose AoPS

DS is good at mathematics and was easily bored by his elementary math programs. In primary math, he understood concepts easily, but gave up quickly when problems were challenging. I opted to use AoPS because I wanted to work on his problem-solving skills. I also wanted him to learn from being wrong. I admit that AoPS may not have been my son's choice at the beginning, but I was really enamored with the program (I questioned this decision multiple times through the past year and a half).

 

Strengths

The problem sets are excellent; I had a hard time finding an equivalent level of difficulty when DS needed additional practice. DS didn't spend hours working through equations that didn't vary much; he worked problems that required real thought. As he complained once, "These problems get hard quickly."

 

Weaknesses

Having read through AoPS Algebra, it's obvious this curriculum has a completely different tone. It seems much less conversational and more adult than Algebra (which is odd since this, being a prerequisite to Algebra, should have a more youthful voice). Oftentimes, the explanations use fifteen words when half the number would have been sufficient. In my opinion, the explanation sections of this book really need to be re-written to better serve its young customer base.

 

How We Used AoPS

For the first few chapters, we did buddy math. Since AoPS was completely different from anything DS had ever done before, we worked through example problems together. Next he'd read aloud the explanation part, then work through the section exercises, with me right by his side. After the first three chapters, he worked on his own. I never assigned problems; he just had a one hour time limit on math. DS did every problem: section, review, and challenge. For the challenge problems, I made myself available to provide assistance. 

 

I never told DS the answer outright when he needed help. I'd use guiding questions, trying to lead him to a strategy. If you opt to use AoPS, I'd recommend that you, as the teacher, work through Chapter 15 Problem Solving Strategies. This was the last chapter DS worked and once he reached it, I realized that I had already been teaching him these strategies when he was stuck. It's a good refresher for the parent.

 

Ch 1 Properties of Arithmetic

The biggest issue was DS was confused about "proving" concepts. He was uncertain about what this meant and what needed to be said. He was also confused by the "smiley" functions, proving the commutative and associative properties. Using a whiteboard, I showed him how functions can mean anything, even beyond the standard arithmetic +,-,*, and /. He had a bit of fun creating rocket, flower, and star functions and proving or disproving the commutative and associative properties.

 

Ch 2 Exponents

This chapter was the most difficult. For DS, perhaps it was that exponents were still fairly new compared to standard arithmetic, but he really had a tough time. I repeated often, "Multiplication is repeated addition; exponents are repeated multiplication. Write it down. Write it out. Simplify."

 

Ch 3 Number Theory

Here's where my son's arithmetic skills conflicted with his thinking skills. The mantra for this chapter was, "Don't be a computer. Be a thinker." We did take several brief breaks to work on prime factorization. DS would often compute first, before simplifying which caused much frustration. I purchased Lial's Pre-Algebra just to have additional problem sets for him to work through. It took him a long time to realize the benefits of simplifying before computing.

 

Ch 4 Fractions

This wasn't a difficult chapter for DS. Honestly it was a relief after the first three chapters. 

 

Ch 5 Equations and Inequalities

This was more difficult than chapter four, but still not as bad as the first three. This chapter he really needed to check his work and ask himself if the solution made sense, especially with the reversal of signs for inequalities.

 

Ch 6 Decimals

No issues with this chapter.

 

Ch 7 Ratios, Conversions, and Rates

In this chapter, I had to take a few minutes to discuss with DS the relationship between fractions, decimals, and ratios. DS tended to forget that there were different ways to look at similar numbers. 1:3, 1/4, 0.25 are all the same number, but expressed in different ways.  He did have some difficulty with rates that weren't expressed in terms of speed so I would encourage him to write out the problem.

 

Ch 8 Percents

No issues with this chapter other than we had a few conversations similar to the one above: 1:3, 1/4, 0.25 and 25% are all the same number.

 

Ch 9 Square Roots

He greatest difficulty with this chapter was understanding that x^(1/2) + x^(1/2) equals 2*x^(1/2), not x. We had to back up a bit and write out everything so he could prove to himself that this expression was true.

 

Ch 10 Angles, Ch 11 Perimeter and Area, and Ch 12 Right Triangles and Quadrilaterals

These chapters are grouped together because they passed quickly and required the same skills. The only note I had was that DS would often assume the pictures were drawn to scale, which is not an assumption he should make.

 

Ch 13 Data and Statistics

Another quick chapter. DS just had to make sure he wasn't making assumptions based on information that wasn't there.

 

Ch 14 Counting

As the second to last chapter, DS struggled a bit. I think because it was his first true exposure to probability. He could easily figure out the likelihood of rolling a one on a six-sided die. He could determine the probability of rolling two ones on two six-sided dice. Where he got confused was probability for separate cases, as in the likelihood of one penny and two pennies showing the same number of heads.

 

Ch 15 Problem-Solving Strategies

An easier chapter that DS flew through, except for the challenge problems, which are tough.

 

Final Thoughts

Looking back, I'm content with our experience even though I had many doubts through the past 18 months. After Chapter 5, I showed DS Lial's pre-algebra and asked him if he wanted to switch. He said no; he liked the challenge and "at least Art of Problem Solving is never boring." For Algebra, I gave DS the option between Forrester's and AoPS and he wants to continue with AoPS. Talk to me in a year and I may have a different opinion ;)

 

Like many other members have said, AoPS is not for everyone. For my dd, I'm pretty sure I'll use something other than AoPS. She would struggle with the uncertainty and find the frustration demoralizing. But AoPS worked for my DS in pre-algebra and I'm hoping it will continue to work for him in Algebra.

 

ETA: Corrected some wording

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Thank you so much for the detailed review. DD11 has just started the AOPS prealgebra journey, we should be finishing chapter 1 next week. We are planning to take our time and weave in some other resources.

 

Let me know if you have any questions, PM me or write a post. This was the first time DS was really challenged in math, and it led to serious readjustments in my approach to teaching.

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This is really helpful; thank you so much!  We are using AoPS as a supplement right now, and thinking about transitioning to this program entirely.  But, I am not confident in my own math abilities and that is holding me back because I am unsure of how I will know if DD truly understands and has mastered a concept.  There aren't any tests for me to use as a guide, are there?  I don't consider the exercises at the end of a section tests, really, but maybe that's the intent of them.

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Thank you for this review.  My DS sounds very similar to yours in ability.  

 

He is halfway through Singapore 3A, and we are on a break (have been since the end of October) to work on Process Skills in Problem-Solving.  I'm not sure when we'll hit Pre-Algebra, AoPS is my intended curriculum and this review was very helpful.  

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There aren't any tests for me to use as a guide, are there? I don't consider the exercises at the end of a section tests, really, but maybe that's the intent of them.

I treat the end of chapter Review and Challenge problems as assessment.

 

(Dd's done AoPS prealgebra, algebra, geometry, intro to number theory, intro to counting and probability, intermediate algebra, and is in the midst of precalculus.)

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This is really helpful; thank you so much!  We are using AoPS as a supplement right now, and thinking about transitioning to this program entirely.  But, I am not confident in my own math abilities and that is holding me back because I am unsure of how I will know if DD truly understands and has mastered a concept.  There aren't any tests for me to use as a guide, are there?  I don't consider the exercises at the end of a section tests, really, but maybe that's the intent of them.

 

I've found that my DS's ability to do the section exercises indicated mastery (or not). The problems vary enough that he couldn't just work an algorithm. I didn't give tests, but if I did, I would have pulled from the chapter review, perhaps varying then numbers so that they weren't the exact same problems.

 

ETA: If you are uncertain of your math ability, I wouldn't be too concerned if your child enjoys AoPS. The explanations in the solutions manual are very good. It provides the solutions, not just the answers.

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I treat the end of chapter Review and Challenge problems as assessment.

 

(Dd's done AoPS prealgebra, algebra, geometry, intro to number theory, intro to counting and probability, intermediate algebra, and is in the midst of precalculus.)

 

What curriculum did you use before this to prepare her so well at such a young age?

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Hmmmm, I must be the odd man out. We tried AOPS PreAlgebra this year &, um, well, let's just say I have not been happy with it. I think it vastly overcomplicates simple concepts and we find it visually confusing and hard to follow. I've seen Rich Rucsyck (sp?) speak, and he makes a very big deal about not letting kids give up on harder math, but I personally don't find the PreAlg books to be that helpful in getting kids to understand the harder math. (I do like his Alcumus videos very much.)

 

I switched DS to Math Mammoth PreAlg 1 and Lial's not long ago. Night & day difference.

 

We are still using AOPS for challenge problems and I plan to work through most of it through the year, regardless of my personal feelings, as I can see the level of depth it has. But, my estimation of how AOPS communicate/explain/teach in the books themselves has really dropped.

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Hmmmm, I must be the odd man out. We tried AOPS PreAlgebra this year &, um, well, let's just say I have not been happy with it. I think it vastly overcomplicates simple concepts and we find it visually confusing and hard to follow. I've seen Rich Rucsyck (sp?) speak, and he makes a very big deal about not letting kids give up on harder math, but I personally don't find the PreAlg books to be that helpful in getting kids to understand the harder math. (I do like his Alcumus videos very much.)

 

I switched DS to Math Mammoth PreAlg 1 and Lial's not long ago. Night & day difference.

 

We are still using AOPS for challenge problems and I plan to work through most of it through the year, regardless of my personal feelings, as I can see the level of depth it has. But, my estimation of how AOPS communicate/explain/teach in the books themselves has really dropped.

For my student, this is the book that lit up the love of math. He doesn't find anything overcomplicated. In fact proofs are his favorite parts and I can't be more thankful to authors for taking the approach they did. I don't know if my younger kid will feel the same, but for a right student this book is as perfect as it can be.

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Let me know if you have any questions, PM me or write a post. This was the first time DS was really challenged in math, and it led to serious readjustments in my approach to teaching.

 

One thing I have been wondering about is whether my dd will need more review that what the program provides. Are concepts taught in the early chapters used or reviewed consistently in later chapters? My experience with her in the past is that she needs to either be using the material in higher level lessons or she needs to be reviewing periodically to cement it in her brain. 

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One think I have been wondering about is whether my dd will need more review that what the program provides. Are concepts taught in the early chapters used or reviewed consistently in later chapters? My experience with her in the past is that she needs to either be using the material in higher level lessons or she needs to be reviewing periodically to cement it in her brain. 

 

I think this will depend on the child. The concepts are used in later chapters to a degree, but are all concepts reviewed consistently? No.

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I think this will depend on the child. The concepts are used in later chapters to a degree, but are all concepts reviewed consistently? No.

 

Thank you for the response.

 

I guess we'll see how things go and I will add in other resources for review as necessary. I seem to have acquired a whole shelf full of prealgebra resources... :)

 

I do hope at some point she will start working more independently again, she has been mostly independent in the past with Math Mammoth, but AOPS is definitely a "buddy math" program for us for now.

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I do hope at some point she will start working more independently again, she has been mostly independent in the past with Math Mammoth, but AOPS is definitely a "buddy math" program for us for now.

It depends on the level of independence you need from your child. My older will ask me if he is not sure about something like directrix in the int. alg. book. However if I am busy for whatever reason, he can post-it and continue on what he understand instead of waiting.

 

My younger need a quick review now and then and its easy to print random review problems from MEP or other free to use sources. My older didn't need review so far.

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One thing I have been wondering about is whether my dd will need more review that what the program provides. Are concepts taught in the early chapters used or reviewed consistently in later chapters? My experience with her in the past is that she needs to either be using the material in higher level lessons or she needs to be reviewing periodically to cement it in her brain.

So far we hope Alcumus set on high review rate is enough.

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Hmmmm, I must be the odd man out. We tried AOPS PreAlgebra this year &, um, well, let's just say I have not been happy with it. I think it vastly overcomplicates simple concepts and we find it visually confusing and hard to follow. I've seen Rich Rucsyck (sp?) speak, and he makes a very big deal about not letting kids give up on harder math, but I personally don't find the PreAlg books to be that helpful in getting kids to understand the harder math. (I do like his Alcumus videos very much.)

 

I switched DS to Math Mammoth PreAlg 1 and Lial's not long ago. Night & day difference.

 

We are still using AOPS for challenge problems and I plan to work through most of it through the year, regardless of my personal feelings, as I can see the level of depth it has. But, my estimation of how AOPS communicate/explain/teach in the books themselves has really dropped.

 

Please don't take my post as promoting AoPS.

 

Every few months I see a thread where parents are debating using AoPS. Given that AoPS is a different teaching style than most other programs, I wanted to share my thoughts and his struggles. My post is a review of what I saw when my son worked through the book. Our copy is torn up, scribbled on, and covered in stains. There was a lot of frustration vented on the book this past year.

 

Was I doing the right thing letting him struggle through AoPS when he might have felt more successful with another program? Was my son capable of handling being wrong *often* without losing heart? There were several instances where DS and I discussed these questions. I hope I conveyed that in the original post, but perhaps I should add a bit more.

 

I bought a copy of Lial's as well. At one point (I believe midway through chapter 5) his frustration was so great, I insisted on putting away AoPS and using Lial's. He begged to continue with AoPS. So long as he learned the concepts, I would have been happy no matter what book he chose.

 

I don't think AoPS is the only way to learn mathematics. I do think it is a great way (one of many) to learn mathematics. I hope that my post helps parents make the decision for his or her own child.

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I treat the end of chapter Review and Challenge problems as assessment.

 

(Dd's done AoPS prealgebra, algebra, geometry, intro to number theory, intro to counting and probability, intermediate algebra, and is in the midst of precalculus.)

 

Alcumus may provide both practice and assessment: the topic's bar is green = passed, blue = mastery.

 

ETA: one can also see the progress by topic in the 'report' tab.

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Thank you for the response.

 

I guess we'll see how things go and I will add in other resources for review as necessary. I seem to have acquired a whole shelf full of prealgebra resources... :)

 

I do hope at some point she will start working more independently again, she has been mostly independent in the past with Math Mammoth, but AOPS is definitely a "buddy math" program for us for now.

Just some thoughts prompted by your post, not necessarily directed at anyone in particular...

 

I'm sure some students do fine with absolutely no other math assistance except the AoPS book and solutions manual....mine is not one of them. ;) I imagine most students work with a parent from time to time, supplement with other resources, or take the class and have feedback from the instructor or teaching assistant. I doubt there are many who honestly have no other math input at all other than AoPS book and solutions manual.

 

I say that because I somehow got that impression somewhere along the way. I think sometimes people are hard on themselves, or their children, because using the books alone isn't working. In our case, my daughter became more and more resistant to any help at all with math. She would work for hours rather than accept a tiny bit of direction or clarification.

 

I wish I would have made math changes earlier. For some reason I had it in my mind that AoPS was the only math program that taught math. :tongue_smilie: Now my daughter has developed some sort of scary math state that we're trying to remediate. She can struggle with problems, come up with all sorts of clever approaches, etc., but she isn't fast. She also isn't good with pesky details because she gets sloppy with those as she ponders the bigger ideas. Sometimes she just looks at a problem and says the correct answer, but doesn't even know how she knows. She's not always right, though, which is part of the problem. She can't distinguish when it is one of those times and when it's not. That's the only way I can think to describe it. That and her near absolute refusal for assistance...well, thankfully AoPS is just one path.

 

All that to say that if you are hoping for a fully independent program, AoPS might not be it. Or it might be. ;) There are myriad math minds and personalities...

 

There are so many options. Don't be afraid to spend time looking for what works and don't be afraid to change what doesn't. Is AoPS better? Better for what? It's just different. Once you get to a certain level, better becomes subjective. AoPS is different. A different approach, a different goal, a different voice.....

 

In all the other programs I've researched lately, the math is just as beautiful...

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I'm sure some students do fine with absolutely no other math assistance except the AoPS book and solutions manual....mine is not one of them.  ;)  I imagine most students work with a parent from time to time, supplement with other resources, or take the class and have feedback from the instructor or teaching assistant. I doubt there are many who honestly have no other math input at all other than AoPS book and solutions manual.

 

I say that because I somehow got that impression somewhere along the way. I think sometimes people are hard on themselves, or their children, because using the books alone isn't working.

 

With any program, a good tutor/teacher will be very valuable. DC gets help from me occasionally, gets very useful feedback on the 'writing' problems in his AOPS class; the interactive online class sessions are also useful.

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With any program, a good tutor/teacher will be very valuable. DC gets help from me occasionally, gets very useful feedback on the 'writing' problems in his AOPS class; the interactive online class sessions are also useful.

 

This is good to know. We had considered the classes, but my dd had some unfortunate experiences on the AoPS boards which scared her off. They were much too competitive. It's a program geared toward competition, so that's to be expected, but it was almost bullyish at times. That's just not my daughter's personality. Competition she can handle. Bullying and rudeness? Not so much. She doesn't have time for that. I was rather disappointed in the attitudes. Maybe that's changed...it was a couple years ago...

 

Of course, attitudes are most likely kept under wraps in the classes, but it did color our views...

 

 

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Alcumus may provide both practice and assessment: the topic's bar is green = passed, blue = mastery.

 

ETA: one can also see the progress by topic in the 'report' tab.

Yes, of course. I also like to have dd's solutions on paper.

 

For those of you looking ahead past pre-algebra, not every AoPS book has a corresponding Alcumus topic.

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What curriculum did you use before this to prepare her so well at such a young age?

Thank you.

 

Dd began homeschooling in fifth grade, primarily because of math. I was tired of afterschooling to challenge her. She attended a private school that could not differentiate in math instruction.

 

So prior to fifth grade she used regular school textbooks. I supplemented with whatever I could find from the local teacher supply store and whatever was left from her older siblings.

 

In fifth grade we used a mishmash of resources---some Keys To booklets, Patty Paper Geometry, random things, and then a very schooly pre-algebra text. I knew AoPS pre-algebra was being written, so I was basically killing time.

 

She began the PreAlgebra book at the start of sixth grade and finished that book in February or so. Then she did the first four chapters of algebra before the school year ended.

 

She does not follow a 'one book per year' pattern. For example, this school year she'll do most of the precalculus book (started it last school year) and move into calculus.

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Yes, of course. I also like to have dd's solutions on paper.

 

For those of you looking ahead past pre-algebra, not every AoPS book has a corresponding Alcumus topic.

Do you find your DD needs extra practice? I find Alcumus very valuable. I didn't realize not all books have corresponding sections. :(

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Do you find your DD needs extra practice? I find Alcumus very valuable. I didn't realize not all books have corresponding sections. :(

She might be unusual, but she does not need extra practice. Yet. You should see the line-up of calculus books behind me :lol:

 

You'll be safe with Alcumus for a good while :) It covers pre-algebra, the whole algebra book (so including some/most algebra 2 topics), geometry, intro to number theory, and intro to counting and probability.

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I doubt there are many who honestly have no other math input at all other than AoPS book and solutions manual.

I think this needs to be reinforced.  I thought my son's experience was normal at first, but in all the years I have been reading about AoPS, I think only my ds and a couple others have used the books completely independently.  The books are written to the student, but teacher guidance appears essential for most students to have success.

 

Ruth in NZ

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This is good to know. We had considered the classes, but my dd had some unfortunate experiences on the AoPS boards which scared her off. They were much too competitive. It's a program geared toward competition, so that's to be expected, but it was almost bullyish at times. That's just not my daughter's personality. Competition she can handle. Bullying and rudeness? Not so much. She doesn't have time for that. I was rather disappointed in the attitudes. Maybe that's changed...it was a couple years ago...

 

 

 

 

I'm sorry your dd had a bad experience on the boards.  It's a bit male-dominated, which adds a bit of testosterone to the anonymity.  You'll be happy to know that apart from before and after the class, the student comments are moderated and kept mostly on topic with occasional humor thrown in.  My dd has a good long-distance friend from AoPS and they chat (using another online service) with each other during class.  (The class is slow-moving with a lot of downtime and boredom.)  

 

If your dd wants to sign up for a class, you might consider posting on the WTM board for a class buddy.  Who knows?  One of my dd's may want to join her.  

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Erin, have you considered sending this to AoPS? This kind of detailed note-taking is pretty unusual and I'm sure they would appreciate the feedback.

No, I haven't. if I took the time to write a more professional review, perhaps. The post is not impersonal enough and doesn't point out specific sections to improve (other than finding a writing voice more like the Algebra book).

 

I don't have as much of a mathematics background as some of the posters here. My math education stops at time value of money and financial option pricing. It would be difficult to identify the remedies because I would be relying on my perceptions, not my math knowledge.

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Just curious, what did you think of Everyday Math...or is that why you pulled him out of school?

We began homeschooling because we were moving to an area with poor public schools. I think DS would have done fine had he stayed in his school. He was pretty bored when we pulled him, but he had good teachers who gave him extra puzzles and worksheets or allowed him to read quietly while others continued working.

 

I personally did not like Everyday Math, mainly because it made math so difficult. DS would come home with homework that we both would struggle to understand. Our local school had "parenting training" seminars so parents could be taught how to help their students with schoolwork. At the time, I wondered how single-parent or two-income households dealt with the extra commitment. If a public school math curriculum requires the parents to be trained so it can be used effectively, I believe that program is defective.

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I treat the end of chapter Review and Challenge problems as assessment.

 

(Dd's done AoPS prealgebra, algebra, geometry, intro to number theory, intro to counting and probability, intermediate algebra, and is in the midst of precalculus.)

 

I do the same with my ds11 who is doing the Algebra 1 mostly independently this year.

 

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This is good to know. We had considered the classes, but my dd had some unfortunate experiences on the AoPS boards which scared her off. They were much too competitive. It's a program geared toward competition, so that's to be expected, but it was almost bullyish at times. That's just not my daughter's personality. Competition she can handle. Bullying and rudeness? Not so much. She doesn't have time for that. I was rather disappointed in the attitudes. Maybe that's changed...it was a couple years ago...

 

Of course, attitudes are most likely kept under wraps in the classes, but it did color our views...

 

:crying:  My ds has *never* experienced that in the chat room of any of the 4 classes he has taken. I very much hope your dd's experience was a very unfortunate fluke.

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Ds sees math really differently - he enjoys it and really likes when it's a puzzle and loved all the Beast Academy books. He has been doing a little bit of Alcumus "for fun" recently. He's less keen on word problems, but overall likes math. And I myself worked through a good portion of AoPS algebra and liked it... but every time I read a review like this about how wordy and talkative at a different level the pre-algebra is, I think, this can't be right for him at all. Am I wrong? Right now I have planned to do Jousting Armadillos beginning later in the spring and if that goes well, we may stick with the Arbor School books or when ready go right into an algebra i program - maybe even AoPS. But every mention of "wordy" makes me think there's no way this would work for ds. Am I wrong?

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Ds sees math really differently - he enjoys it and really likes when it's a puzzle and loved all the Beast Academy books. He has been doing a little bit of Alcumus "for fun" recently. He's less keen on word problems, but overall likes math. And I myself worked through a good portion of AoPS algebra and liked it... but every time I read a review like this about how wordy and talkative at a different level the pre-algebra is, I think, this can't be right for him at all. Am I wrong? Right now I have planned to do Jousting Armadillos beginning later in the spring and if that goes well, we may stick with the Arbor School books or when ready go right into an algebra i program - maybe even AoPS. But every mention of "wordy" makes me think there's no way this would work for ds. Am I wrong?

For the first few chapters, buddy math helped DS adjust to the different style. Often times, I'd need to reword or simplify the explanation. "When the author says Q, R, and S, he really means X."

 

By the time DS finished chapter 5, he had hit his groove and was working through subsequent chapters independently. Even when I stepped away from working through the problems with him, I encouraged him to ask questions when he didn't understand or got stuck. He wasn't old enough to work completely alone. When he seemed to be staring into space, I would prompt him, "still doing okay?" Half the time he was "thinking" and the other half "got distracted".

 

DS disliked word problems as well and pre-algebra has a lot of them. The first set of section exercises were usually expressions or equations and the remainder were word problems. The chapter review and challenge were nearly all word problems. By the end, DS got over his dislike, but he did enjoy his brief reprieves when he only worked with numbers and didn't need to set-up the problem on his own.

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Let him read excerpt 1 on the link and see what he thinks. You would need to click on the excerpts tab on that page.

http://www.artofproblemsolving.com/Store/viewitem.php?item=prealgebra

I think Excerpt 12 section exercises better showcases what DS enjoyed about AoPS, particularly 12.1.6. I remember he took a look at it and groaned. He set up the equation, began computing, and then realized that there was a relationship between the two numbers that made his work much easier. He finished the problem and essentially said "That was easy."

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Wow, Erin, your review is spot on with my son's experience. He's half done with chapter 10. I've had a few occasions where I needed to pull out Dolciani for some extra practice on the basics of a topic before going deeper with AoPS, but most chapters have been fine just using AoPS. I had to hand hold the first couple chapters, but partway through chapter 3 he started to get more independent, and he's done 4-10 on his own, coming to me if he needs help. If he gets through the exercises of a section and gets a bunch wrong, we go over it together and figure out where the problem is. We did redo one chapter where he was clearly not getting it. The second time through was fine.

 

I do plan to use Jacobs Algebra next instead of going straight into AoPS Intro to Algebra. I think my son would benefit from going through a standard text before going deeper.

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Ds sees math really differently - he enjoys it and really likes when it's a puzzle and loved all the Beast Academy books. He has been doing a little bit of Alcumus "for fun" recently. He's less keen on word problems, but overall likes math. And I myself worked through a good portion of AoPS algebra and liked it... but every time I read a review like this about how wordy and talkative at a different level the pre-algebra is, I think, this can't be right for him at all. Am I wrong? Right now I have planned to do Jousting Armadillos beginning later in the spring and if that goes well, we may stick with the Arbor School books or when ready go right into an algebra i program - maybe even AoPS. But every mention of "wordy" makes me think there's no way this would work for ds. Am I wrong?

 

I agree with Erin. We have worked buddy style through the first 5 chapters. My dd is at a point now where she does the reading herself and it no longer overwhelms her to see All Those Words to explain a concept. We will continue to work buddy style (for me :) ) but we no longer need  to for dd's sake.

 

FWIW, my dd is the poster child for: AoPS should not be a good fit. However, she LOVES it. For the first time, math is her favorite subject. I think it is hard to predict when AoPS will be a good fit.

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Wow, Erin, your review is spot on with my son's experience. He's half done with chapter 10. I've had a few occasions where I needed to pull out Dolciani for some extra practice on the basics of a topic before going deeper with AoPS, but most chapters have been fine just using AoPS. I had to hand hold the first couple chapters, but partway through chapter 3 he started to get more independent, and he's done 4-10 on his own, coming to me if he needs help. If he gets through the exercises of a section and gets a bunch wrong, we go over it together and figure out where the problem is. We did redo one chapter where he was clearly not getting it. The second time through was fine.

 

I do plan to use Jacobs Algebra next instead of going straight into AoPS Intro to Algebra. I think my son would benefit from going through a standard text before going deeper.

 

I completely understand moving on to another author (I already have Forester's). DS and I discussed it; he really wants to continue with AoPS. I'm hoping algebra will be a continuation of the past few months, not a repeat of the pre-algebra beginning.

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I agree with Erin. We have worked buddy style through the first 5 chapters. My dd is at a point now where she does the reading herself and it no longer overwhelms her to see All Those Words to explain a concept. We will continue to work buddy style (for me :) ) but we no longer need  to for dd's sake.

 

FWIW, my dd is the poster child for: AoPS should not be a good fit. However, she LOVES it. For the first time, math is her favorite subject. I think it is hard to predict when AoPS will be a good fit.

 

Yes! I spent ridiculous amounts of time wondering if I was doing the right thing. It wasn't until he made the decision to continue with AoPS that I thought maybe it will work out okay.

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FWIW, my dd is the poster child for: AoPS should not be a good fit. However, she LOVES it. For the first time, math is her favorite subject. I think it is hard to predict when AoPS will be a good fit.

 

:iagree:   It's hard to predict.

 

(I will say that loving a program doesn't always make it a perfect fit, though. Ask me how I know...DD left AoPS kicking and screaming. Quite literally....well, not the kicking part....As frustrated as it made her, part of her loved the program...it made leaving all the harder...)

 

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Competition she can handle. Bullying and rudeness? Not so much. She doesn't have time for that. I was rather disappointed in the attitudes. 

 

I just had another thought this morning with my coffee.  You might consider bringing the offending posts to the attention of Richard Ruczsyk himself.  I think he supports girls in math and would abhor girls being turned off by rude behavior on his boards.  I think it's incumbent upon RR to set a high standard for supportive welcoming behavior on the AoPS boards (see WTM for inspiration!), so more students (and girls in particular) aren't turned off by competition math.  

 

I wouldn't bring it up to the moderators because I suspect they'll just take down the offending posts and the problem will disappear until the next time it happens.  

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 But every mention of "wordy" makes me think there's no way this would work for ds. Am I wrong?

 

IMO with AoPS, the learning is in the doing, not in the reading.  For the most part, I prefer to use AoPS as an ideal socratic lesson.  On a white board, together.  How much I help depends on the particular kid.  After the lesson problems are completed, we would "look through" the lesson problem solutions together to pick out anything of significance that we did not discuss while doing the lesson problems and point out the little boxes labeled "important."  We do not read the solution word-for-word, ever, unless we just couldn't get it.  As in, it's all there just in case we need it, but by then it's often moot.  Usually, if the problem is very tricky, I would have looked at the solution and asked leading questions, hints, etc., so most of the hard stuff we have already discussed by the time we get to the solutions.  (I suppose you might say that the majority of the reading is actually skimming performed by me.)

 

I realize my opinion and way of using AoPS may not agree with everyone else's opinions/ways of using it, but there it is.

 

Eta, just to be clear, if a student were using AoPS all on their own, then reading through the solutions afterward would be more important.  It's almost as if the lesson problem solutions are the TM.  But, I still say that the learning is primarily in the doing...

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