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Have I completely messed up? HS math question


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I need help/feedback.  A little background:  We used Singapore for K-6, loved it, went great. Then I would switch them (my three kids) to Saxon in middle school using the placement test.  All tested into pre-Algebra and on we went.  My son struggled with the last half of Algebra 1 (8th) and by the end of 8th grade was ready to never do math again.  So, we put it on the back burner until now (spring semester of 9th grade) to finish the last few lessons and tests of Algebra 1 as a review for entering Algebra 2, and to finish it.  In the meantime, I let him do Teaching Textbooks Geometry this year for math since he has a couple tutorial classes this year that have involved a lot of writing (and he has loved it and done great!).  He's aced the Teaching Textbooks and it has been easy for him.  I feel like this was a bad decsision, in retrospect though, because although we have had a delightful year this year with him not having to deal with Saxon, we have to go back to it.  My plan for him going forward was to finish the Algebra 1 (this has to be done, regardless), and try and put him in a tutorial class next year for Saxon Algebra 2 for tenth grade, which he has to test into.  Either way, it feels like he's behind. I'm a big believer in the full year of Geometry because it's so prevalent on the ACT, but I know that's not what is popular now or what Saxon does anymore. 

Also, my oldest daughter, who scored a 33 on the ACT is now struggling a little with Saxon Advanced Math.  She's been using Khan Academy to tutor herself, but it's been a rough go. But that's another story.

 

Can anyone give me some feeback about my son's high school math path?  I would so, so, so appreciate it!  Are there other classical-ish homeschoolers that have a problem with Saxon, or is it just me and my progeny? 

Thanks in advance!

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I do not understand why you have to go back to Saxon which did not work for your son  when you have found a program that does work for him.

 

My math loving kids would be ready never to do math again had I made them do Saxon.

Why can he not continue with the program he enjoys?

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I haven't found than any particular math curriculum is more classical than any other.  

 

We left Saxon after Algebra 1/2, having used it since Saxon K.  But once the topics got more detailed, the spiral incremental approach, which had been great in earlier grades, served them less well.  I felt that they needed to have several days to dig into a topic and let it gel in their heads, before moving on.  

 

We switched to AoPS, which requires a lot of work on the student's side, since the text is written directly to them.  Rather than teaching a concept, then practicing it, the sample problems make the student work through the why behind the concept, then the exercises make them put the new concept into practice, in ever more difficult settings.  It may not be a good fit either.  

 

I've also used Dolciani textbooks, which do have direct instruction, then practice and are broken down into chapters by topic.  I've seen Lial and Forster and Jacobs recommended here.  One of my friends really likes ALEKS, because it tailors right to where the student is in math.  

 

One think you'll need to decide is if you need a solution manual (that shows the steps to the problem) or just answers.  Sometimes it is easier to find the teacher edition, then match the student edition, especially if it's a widely used book with frequent updates and different versions.

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I do not understand why you have to go back to Saxon which did not work for your son  when you have found a program that does work for him.

 

My math loving kids would be ready never to do math again had I made them do Saxon.

Why can he not continue with the program he enjoys?

 

:iagree:

 

Why do you think you have to go back to Saxon?  It's not like that is a hallmark of successful homeschoolers everywhere.  There are some who use it (some to great results, others gritting their teeth). But there are many, many homeschoolers who use something completely different.

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Saxon seems to be one of those love-it-or-hate-it programs. It would definitely not work with either of my kids. If it's not working for your son, I would find something else, maybe even just continuing with TT since that seemed to work well for him — plus it would be very easy to double up on TT lessons and catch up quickly. You could supplement with word problems from another book. Or you could try Foerster or Larson with DVDs (Math Without Borders for Foerster; Chalkdust or the generic Houghton Mifflin disks for Larson).

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Saxon was a nightmare for us at the high school level and we happily kicked it to the curb.  Jacob's Algebra, Ask Dr. Callahan, and Teaching Textbooks worked much better for my students.  

Some people love Saxon and it works.  For us, I as the teacher, couldn't work through it well enough to help them.  It also did not approach lessons in a way that my oldest could understand.  

 

There are many, many classical homeschoolers that do not use Saxon.  

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FWIW, my son used Teaching Textbooks for Geometry, Alg 2, and Pre-Calc/Trig and scored in the 98th percentile for math on the PSAT and SAT. He's the type of kid to wonder about math and seek out other resources, puzzle stuff out, etc. so I am not claiming he was a struggling or disinterested math student, but his primary curriculum was TT and he did very well.

 

Saxon was wrong for him because it was entirely too incremental. He got confused by the unnecessary breaking down of already simple steps (that's how his mind saw it -- the approach is perfect for others).

 

Know your student. Know success when you see it.

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I do not understand why you have to go back to Saxon which did not work for your son  when you have found a program that does work for him.

 

My math loving kids would be ready never to do math again had I made them do Saxon.

Why can he not continue with the program he enjoys?

 

 

 

:iagree:   We looked at Saxon Algebra when ds started homeschooling and dropped it almost immediately.  Enjoying the math program is far more important than which program you use.  It's far better for him to believe that he can do math but just didn't like Saxon, than for him to believe he just can't understand math.

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I agree with the posts above. Let him stay with TT, since it is working for him, which Saxon didn't seem to be.

 

My dd11 uses Saxon right now, but when we hit Algebra, she'll probably switch to Jacobs, which her brother (13) is currently working through. Saxon isn't the be all and end all of math programs.

 

I would let him do the placement tests for Algebra I and II for TT, and just go forward from there. If he tests into Algebra I, fine. Have him skim through the lessons until he hits below 80 or 85 percent (your choice for a cut off), and then start there.

 

And, for what it's worth, you have not completely messed up. Instead, you found a math program your son can understand and work through, a program that he is not frustrated by, and that appears to work for him.

 

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Thank you, thank you, thank you so much, ladies.  I feel like singing the Halleluiah chorus.  And I completely agree with all that was said here.  He has done so well with TT, but in the homeschool community I am in, especially the classical ones (whom I love, but in this instance, just have a student that does not seem to do well with Saxon), really have a narrow mindset when it comes to HS math (ie: that Saxon is the only thing that will prepare them well enough).  It's almost as if Saxon sucks the life out of him, mentally.  He becomes so downcast and discouraged about math, that then he can't learn anything from it.  Thanks for giving me the confidence to punt. 

 

So, besides TT, what are your top picks for Algebra 2?

 

Thanks, again!!

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Also, does TT start with review the first few lessons like Saxon does?  For instance, since he's had the Geometry between Algebra 1 and Algebra 2, I think he would still be ready for TT Algebra 2, but is there review at the start or should we do some of that this semester?  Thanks!

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T and I like Saxon. It just clicks with us (for now at least). If we started to dread it, I'd switch to something else without looking back. There are lots of good options for math. OTOH, it is normal to hit rough patches occasionally and have to back up and reteach concepts. That's a major advantage of homeschooling math versus doing an outside class. The class moves on whether everyone grasped the concept or not. Homeschoolers can revisit it or look for other resources that present it differently.

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No, there is no financial issue or anything.  It was just that we had only known classical homeschoolers to use Saxon, and that TT was just "too easy" and wouldn't do the job. Not trying to offend anyone, but that's the vibe and comments I've always heard.  I am happy (and happy for him) to punt it and stay with TT and/or try something else.  Just want him to learn it and not want to jump off a bridge because he's so frustrated with Saxon.  In retrospect, I probably should have evaluated this sooner with Saxon Algebra 1, but we plugged through almost to the end, so that's that.  Just happy we can move on and I'll be watching my third, feeling much more open to other options with her. 

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With respect to "too easy" -- a curriculum that covers the basics well and that a child can learn from is MUCH, MUCH better than a "superior" curriculum that a child cannot learn from. For someone who has already struggled in math and found something that he liked, I would not change. He is apparently experiencing success and happiness after a miserable year and frankly I think the similar format will help him carry this attitude over to algebra. I would complete TT through precalculus and then take a placement test to see where to go next.

 

And if any Negative Nancy wants to criticize your decision pass the bean dip and say "We've made our decision based on what's best for Junior at this time." and then change the subject.

 

fwiw, I have a PhD in math and I would have absolutely hated it if it had been taught with Saxon. Too incremental. Just totally wrong for me.

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Ha!  Pass the bean dip...:).  I think I could hug a Phd. in math for that. :)  I feel the same way about Saxon (and math was not natural for me, but if I worked hard at it, I could get Bs).  My oldest did fine with Saxon until Adv. Math, but she may just be in a rough patch.  We will see.  My son is like you, I just know it.  When he was a kid in Singapore, he absolutely NEVER struggled in math.  We thought he was headed for engineering for sure (he definitely has the spatial/mechanical end of it), but then he hit that Saxon Algebra 1, and now he thinks he could never be an engineer because he can't do the math! ugh Hoping by the end of high school, his attitude about math will have improved by restoring some of his confidence.

 

Ok, and just because I haven't done my own research yet, but how does Chalkdust compare on the scale with Saxon to TT?  I've seen it mentioned more and more, just don't know anything about it from someone who has actually used it.

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I consider Chalkdust a little more rigorous -- but -- I consider rebuilding your son's positive attitude about math that he used to have when doing Singapore more important than anything else at this point.

 

A motivated and enthusiastic student who enjoys what he is doing will learn more. I would be really hesitant to pick another curriculum at this point until he has a few more years of positivity under his belt. JMO.

 

Engineering is *absolutely* still a possibility at this point if he is interested.

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Glad to hear that you are considering letting him stay with a program that he enjoys.  My daughter switched to Saxon Algebra 1 this year and is absolutely loving it!!  She needs the incremental spiral, so it really works for her.  However, if it wasn't working, we would definitely switch.  There is no reason to stay with a math program that you hate!

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On the advanced math, your dd may need to look for the line between a curriculum that isn't a good fit and math that is challenging to work through.

 

My son did pre-calc at the cc and spent 300+ hours on homework in one semester. Sometimes the upper level work just requires a lot.

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Here's a link to the Dana Mosely videos. I'm not sure if they're exactly the same as Chalk Dust (I suspect they are, but I haven't been through them to compare). You can check them out and see what you think of them:

 

http://www.algebrawithinreach.com/ea6e/content/instructional-videos/chapter-1-2/section-1/introduction-to-real-numbers/

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With respect to "too easy" -- a curriculum that covers the basics well and that a child can learn from is MUCH, MUCH better than a "superior" curriculum that a child cannot learn from. For someone who has already struggled in math and found something that he liked, I would not change. He is apparently experiencing success and happiness after a miserable year and frankly I think the similar format will help him carry this attitude over to algebra. I would complete TT through precalculus and then take a placement test to see where to go next.

 

And if any Negative Nancy wants to criticize your decision pass the bean dip and say "We've made our decision based on what's best for Junior at this time." and then change the subject.

 

 

I'm with Kiana.  The best math program for any student is the one they can truly learn from.

 

When I started homeschooling high school I looked at Saxon and didn't like it.  I LIKE TT.  It was easy for my kids to learn from.  I supplemented a little from my local high school, but not much.  Both kids who used it all the way did well on the SAT/ACT (Top 3% and Top 1% respectively - though the Top 3% kid had Alg 1 at ps).  Both tested easily into Calc after TT Pre-Calc and neither had issues with it at all.

 

For Calc we used Chalk Dust and Thinkwell respectively.  Of the two, I liked Thinkwell better, but it is probably a little more challenging.  

 

YMMV

 

Choose your math curriculum to fit your student - not the neighbor's student.  ;)

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...When he was a kid in Singapore, he absolutely NEVER struggled in math.  We thought he was headed for engineering for sure (he definitely has the spatial/mechanical end of it), but then he hit that Saxon Algebra 1, and now he thinks he could never be an engineer because he can't do the math! ugh Hoping by the end of high school, his attitude about math will have improved by restoring some of his confidence.

 

Ok, and just because I haven't done my own research yet, but how does Chalkdust compare on the scale with Saxon to TT?  I've seen it mentioned more and more, just don't know anything about it from someone who has actually used it.

 

Chalkdust uses the Larson texts for Algebra, and there is a "combined course" text that includes a quick trip through Algebra 1 before moving into Algebra 2, so that would eliminate the need to finish Saxon. It's more rigorous than TT, but the lectures are longer (and more boring) compared to the bite-size, animated lessons in TT.

 

Another option is Foerster, which has something of an applied/engineering bent to it, with lots and lots of really strong word problems. FWIW, Foerster's seems to be a common Algebra choice for kids who did well with Singapore (or Math Mammoth). I don't own Foerster's Alg 2, though, so I can't say whether it would line up well as a follow-up to Saxon, or if there would be gaps you'd need to fill in.

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Another option is Foerster, which has something of an applied/engineering bent to it, with lots and lots of really strong word problems. FWIW, Foerster's seems to be a common Algebra choice for kids who did well with Singapore (or Math Mammoth). I don't own Foerster's Alg 2, though, so I can't say whether it would line up well as a follow-up to Saxon, or if there would be gaps you'd need to fill in.

IMO, Foerester should be used with a child that enjoys "wrestling" with math. I've not used Saxon for high school, though I've used Free, TT, and Forrester. It should be said the Math Without Borders DVDs are very god and the teacher has an online group for questions, however they don't hold your hand like Foerester's. My son is glad about this and enjoys the struggle.... Which boggles my mind, lol.

 

Oldest daughter was NOT mathy and yet TT got her through Algebra II quite successfully even when I wasn't a fan.

 

What is DS' planned major for college?

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