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Æthelthryth the Texan

Algebra- help me decide between programs

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As mentioned in some earlier posts, I've decided we are going to revisit Algebra I once we wrap up CLE Alg I for the year (we go through summer so shouldn't slow us too much overall). I'm going back and forth between two programs for dd. Math U See and VideoText Algebra. I need help deciding. 

 

Both look great in their own way for dd, and I'm having trouble figuring out which would be the better choice. Or perhaps they're both great and it doesn't matter and I can flip a coin or decide by price? If that's the case I would like to be told that by outside parties, so here I am Hive. Advise me. :)

 

Main issues are that Dd lacks confidence. She needs more repetition overall and mastery over word problems before we go forward with Algebra II. She has a high B average in Algebra I, but using the bar "could she teach this to someone else?" the answer is a definite no. I worry that the house will come tumbling down in Algebra II or PreCal because I can tell it just hasn't clicked yet. She knows the steps, but she doesn't get it and it doesn't take much to throw her. I think moving to Geometry instead of Alg II for 10th grade would not help matters, as it will simply make her rustier when we go back to it in 11th. I want her to be rock solid even if she never takes more than college algebra (she's a humanities kid at heart), and she needs time and practice more than anything to get there.  Homeschooling gives us that time so I'm taking advantage of it.

 

I've bought some resources recommended here to help strengthen the word problem issues (which we started this weekend), but I'm going to a conference next week and hoping to have made a decision by then on our next math program so that I can take advantage of any conference pricing (if there is such a thing for these courses). Both Thomas Clark for VideoText and a rep for Math-U-See will be at the convention- I'm hoping to go to workshops for each and that may answer questions for me, but I'm stressing ahead of time and wanted to think this through here. 

 

Both are appealing with the video aspect. With CLE we have been very dependent on Khan Academy videos to supplement lately. I think she needs more visual aids to help her master all of this, so we definitely want video based which both programs fit. I've read that with MUS, the videos are more for the parent, but I wasn't sure if that held true for the high school levels?  I'm prepared to watch daily with her as needed no matter which way we go.  MUS has the addition of manipulatives, but as this is my oldest kid, I have no idea how helpful this is for a high schooler. These are unchartered waters for me. I thought I had decided on VT, but after seeing MUS now I'm torn. Videos and manipulatives seem a good fit and then there's the whole 1990's VT vibe (I know that shouldn't matter but I feel like I'm in high school every time I watch the samples!) But then I read the feedback that MUS is a light program and I continue to go back and forth......Honestly, I DON'T see this kid being a STEM major at this point so I doubt that matters, but then she's only 14 so you never know and I don't want to close a door. Also, she's going to either CC first or one of the local Houston 4 years, so it's not like we're aiming for a competitive college entry, and from what I've been told here we don't need to worry about Cal in high school, which also takes some pressure off. Yet here I am mulling over this for weeks now.....argh! 

 

Can y'all help me think through this? Whatever we pick we are sticking with through Algebra and Geometry because I know sequencing varies between programs, so I want to make sure I choose as wisely as possible. If it makes any difference she tried with Saxon back in jr. high and cried everyday,  and did okay with TT, but wasn't the biggest fan after a year of it. What would you select if this were your daughter? 

Edited by texasmom33

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I think you should not worry about MUS being light. You have used another program. You are looking for the lightbulb. I don't care how light a program is, if the understanding can be a springboard. Rigorous all you want, but if your kid is looking at you like you have four heads, it doesn't do much good.

 

Manipulatives are a major windfall for many people. My mother always thought she was terrible at math, until grtting her teaching degree in her 40's. Math for Elementary School Teachers made all the lights synchronize. It was the manipulatives. If my kid is routinely getting something wrong, I ask him to touch the numbers on the whiteboard as he works. He rolls his eyes but it works! We are definitely going to be bringing out the base ten blocks for Algebra II. Something about moving and seeing pieces. It is expensive, but they resell well. You will know pretty quickly if she is going to look at you like you have four heads. I would give it a try.

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I loved the idea of VT. Get pre algebra, algebra 1 and 2 done in 2 years? Yes! Sign me up! I loved the use of everyday language to learn math. We used the first part of Videotext starting in 8th grade. We got through Module A and most of B. There was the video then the workbook exercises. For each lesson there are 2 "quizzes" (A&B) and so we did them the following week along with the new lessons. My son was understanding it as he went. After awhile my son was saying he couldn't remember how to do certain problems and steps b/c it was taught many lessons ago. That's when I realized that I forgot that he needs built in review all along the way. I guess I could have saved the quizzes until later but I felt he needed them to cement the new learning. I read that there are review worksheets on the Videotext website but I did not try them. I tried to piece together review for another math we used in elementary school and it was too difficult. My son prefers the daily integrated review of earlier chapters and that is why Saxon ended up being what we are using for the rest of high school. Now I may have used Videotext the wrong way and so maybe someone else here has a better idea so you can get constant review with VT.

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I think using VT as a review/consolidation of Algebra rather than as a first pass probably feels different. Since we're in the second situation, as is the OP, I can say that it is working fantastically as a second pass over Algebra 1 material and a first pass on Algebra 2. We're wrapping up Module 6 and it's going really, really well for dd. The explanations are clear, the method for tackling word problems has really worked (and is transferable to all types of problems) and the systematic, conceptual explanations are great. I'm very pleased that we chose VT and will use it for Geometry next year, too.

 

That said, we had been through Algebra 1 once already and so dd hasn't needed any extra review, in fact we haven't used all of the options that there are with VT - she only does the form A quizzes and tests, and she does the odd homework problems. And for the earlier stuff that was clearly review, I let her use the quizzes to "test out" of the modules after watching the lesson, I didn't require that she do all the homework problems.  So for our situation there has been ample practice and review, but I can see how that might not be the case if this is a student's first pass with the material.

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VT has worked tremendously well for both my DSs, one who is extremely mathy and the other who is not.

Oldest DS flew through both programs in 2 years and us now happily doing AOPS pre-calculus with no problems. He rarely needed any reviews or extra quizzes and only did the odd problems of the exercises.

2nd DS has to go much more slowly, often has to do the odd exercises and then do the evens, and take both versions of quizzes. But he *is* progressing and is really internalizing the concepts.

We are a really big fan of VT! But it is a big investment if you're not sure. Talking with Tom Clark personally at a convention and listening to one of his sessions there is what sold me.

 

Sent from my Z988 using Tapatalk

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I should also add that 2nd DS (like your DD) also cried with Saxon in middle school... And with MM 😉

He enjoyed LoF but didn't learn anything, so I threw up my hands and started him on VT because I had it and oldest DS was doing well with it and I didn't know what else to do with him. And he's succeeding with it so far.

 

Sent from my Z988 using Tapatalk

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By Pre-Algebra DS no longer used the MUS manipulates and I didn't think they were necessary. He had used the program all the way through to Pre-A. After Pre-A we moved on to other programs as it just wasn't challenging enough for him even with the extra problems. Its definitely on light side. That is why some use the Algebra course as a Pre-Algebra. The scope is also limited and sequence different from other standard programs. When we moved him to TabletClass it was a huge improvement in many ways for him. I know some enjoy it like most programs. But we chose to not use it beyond the elementary years for our kids. They actually liked CLE more which we migrated toward. I've read good reviews of CLE Algebra. Though we're outsourcing from Pre-A on now (WHA, Derek Owens and Mr. D).

Edited by dereksurfs
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By Pre-Algebra DS no longer used the MUS manipulates and I didn't think they were necessary. He had used the program all the way through to Pre-A. After Pre-A we moved on to other programs as it just wasn't challenging enough for him even with the extra problems. Its definitely on light side. That is why some use the Algebra course as a Pre-Algebra. The scope is also limited and sequence different from other standard programs. When we moved him to TabletClass it was a huge improvement in many ways for him. I know some enjoy it like most programs. But we chose to not use it beyond the elementary years for our kids. They actually liked CLE more which we migrated toward. I've read good reviews of CLE Algebra. Though we're outsourcing from Pre-A on now (WHA, Derek Owens and Mr. D).

I LOVE CLE, and think their Algebra is wonderful. I really wish they had completed the rest of the Light Units and we would've trudged to the next course knowing the review would come naturally. But it's not to be, with this child at least.

 

I compared the S&S of CLE with Math-U-See which definitely is far more limited as far as scope within Algebra 1. It looks like the other topics are covered in Algebra II. But after watching and reading every sample we can find for MUS and VT, she is asking for MUS. She's in teenage girl hormone emotion fog at the moment though, so perhaps less rigorous is better over the summer for a review course.........she is wanting to spend all of her time reading or writing so maybe I'm just over thinking this and we need to shift to get 'er done mode for math for now.

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I'm not trying to influence you decision, truly! But I just wanted to comment that my dd sounds a lot like yours, in the sense that she's struggling with brain fog (chronic migraines) and she wants to spend all her time reading and writing, so math is definitely in the git 'er done camp for us. And VT has been perfect for that - it's a short daily video lesson, ~ 10 min, and a short set of exercises, and every few lessons there is a quiz. She's spending 2-3 hours a week on math, and moving along at a good clip with solid understanding. So it's worked very well for a kid that is good at math, but doesn't want to spend more time than necessary on it so she can spend her mental energy on other things.

 

ETA: I will also share that I wasn't that impressed with the sample video lessons. What tipped me over into buying the program was a (long) phone conversation with Tom, the program's creator, in which he addressed my concerns and answered my questions. If you are at  all on the fence about VT, I recommend having a conversation with him.

Edited by Chrysalis Academy
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I'm not trying to influence you decision, truly! But I just wanted to comment that my dd sounds a lot like yours, in the sense that she's struggling with brain fog (chronic migraines) and she wants to spend all her time reading and writing, so math is definitely in the git 'er done camp for us. And VT has been perfect for that - it's a short daily video lesson, ~ 10 min, and a short set of exercises, and every few lessons there is a quiz. She's spending 2-3 hours a week on math, and moving along at a good clip with solid understanding. So it's worked very well for a kid that is good at math, but doesn't want to spend more time than necessary on it so she can spend her mental energy on other things.

 

ETA: I will also share that I wasn't that impressed with the sample video lessons. What tipped me over into buying the program was a (long) phone conversation with Tom, the program's creator, in which he addressed my concerns and answered my questions. If you are at  all on the fence about VT, I recommend having a conversation with him.

 

Thanks- extra input is appreciated! A large part of why we're going to the conference next week is so that I can talk to him because you and a few other people mentioned specifically that talking to him made it a no brainer. I'm glad to know too that it's direct and to the point- with all of the books (notes, worktext, answer key) I was worried it might be confusing and a lot of flipping between books, so that's definitely a plus to hear it's straight forward. Sometimes I wish I hadn't shown her the options and simply picked myself.  :glare: My husband told me to just stop stressing and buy both, then sell whichever I don't want later. Gotta love him for that, but I can't bring myself to part with the $$$, especially this time of year with registration. 

 

Now, if you have any additional tips on managing brain fog....... :bigear:

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