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Algebra 2/ trig trouble


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Son is on chapter 13 of Foersters algebra 2/trig book. Then, on the cumulative review, he suddenly couldn't do it, the one that reviews chapters 9-12. In trying to go over the problems with him, we need to reference back to chapter 5. This is when I find out that he doesn't get chapter 5. He got it back when he did it. But he apparently either didn't REALLY get it so he can't remember it.

 

Would you push forward and finish the trig sections (chapters 13-15) and then go back and start reviewing earlier chapters? Or would you not bother to review earlier chapters thinking it will all be covered again in precalculus, or would you stop the trig now and go back and start reviewing earlier chapters? Or would you just find a different route altogether?

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My answer would depend on several things:

How exactly are you teaching math? Is he left alone with the book to figure it out, do you work together, do you present material, or does he have a tutor?

 

First I would want to pinpoint why he has the gap and why it was not detected until now  that he does not understand the material of an earlier chapter, but was allowed to move on.

 

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Chapter 5 is quadratics & solving groups of equations, isn't it? (Something like that?)

 

There are plenty of problems. I'd go back & review. Some programs don't get to the Trig chapters of the Alg 2 Foerster book at all. It is more important that he have a solid understanding of the earlier chapters so PreCalc/Trig isn't a fail.

 

I know my eldest, who is currently doing Ch 13 in that same book, has to have constant review. She's found enough review, in general, is built in at this stage. However, sometimes she needs to work through a problem for awhile to figure out the easier way to do it vs. brute-forcing it by hand - if she didn't do enough problems originally for her to really understand & internalize. (She might be able to immediately grasp that an equation is a hyperbola, but might not remember the shortcuts that allow her to graph it quickly. )

 

I would definitely go back & review. Whether you should still move forward would depend on how much review he needs & how much time you have.

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My answer would depend on several things:

How exactly are you teaching math? Is he left alone with the book to figure it out, do you work together, do you present material, or does he have a tutor?

 

First I would want to pinpoint why he has the gap and why it was not detected until now  that he does not understand the material of an earlier chapter, but was allowed to move on.

I usually teach the math myself, but this particular son has Aspergers. He does not want to be taught. He wants to figure out everything himself. I have taught algebra and geometry in a classroom in the past, but not algebra 2. I am currently teaching algebra 1 to his younger brother. And I have tutored algebra and geometry. IF I had been teaching him the algebra 2 since chapter 1, I would have it down better and be able to assist him better. But he insisted on doing it by himself. 

 

I am thinking maybe I should go back and start having him do the chapter reviews from chapter 1 and then 2 and so on, until I find the first chapter he really struggles with. Then go back and reteach that one. I have also wondered if I should switch to something like Derek Owens or Math Without Borders (which is what I was planning to do with precalculus anyway).

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I usually teach the math myself, but this particular son has Aspergers. He does not want to be taught. He wants to figure out everything himself. .... But he insisted on doing it by himself. 

 

OK, so if he learns independently (mine did, too), how have you been verifying his mastery? Does he have to demonstrate his understanding to you through regular tests, or through working problems in front of you? Are you giving chapter tests? Or checking his homework?

Even with an independent learner, it is very important that he receives prompt and constructive feedback on his work. 

Please understand that I am asking because I am trying to see what the best strategy is going forward, not because I want to scrutinize your math education - there are different ways of handling things.

 

 

 

I am thinking maybe I should go back and start having him do the chapter reviews from chapter 1 and then 2 and so on, until I find the first chapter he really struggles with. Then go back and reteach that one. 

I am thinking maybe I should go back and start having him do the chapter reviews from chapter 1 and then 2 and so on, until I find the first chapter he really struggles with. Then go back and reteach that one.

 

That sounds like a good idea. Have him review, but then give him a test (no books/notes) to see that he really knows it.

Edited by regentrude
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I agree with RootAnn. We are using this book as well. It's a long book with a lot of material to cover in one year. We have had to add in review as well.

 

Most of the first five chapters relate to concepts learned in algebra 1, so perhaps that is why he had trouble from chapter 5 on.

Earlier in the year, I felt the book was structured in such a way that my student could understand by following only the book with some clarification from me, but somewhere along the way I found that was not the case anymore. For us, the last half of the book is generally not self-teaching in the least. You will find posts on this forum of kids who did use it that way, and others expressing frustration with the lack of teaching in the text and inadequate examples. Of course, it was written to be used with a teacher, so one can't fault it too much for that.

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I usually teach the math myself, but this particular son has Aspergers. He does not want to be taught. He wants to figure out everything himself. I have taught algebra and geometry in a classroom in the past, but not algebra 2. I am currently teaching algebra 1 to his younger brother. And I have tutored algebra and geometry. IF I had been teaching him the algebra 2 since chapter 1, I would have it down better and be able to assist him better. But he insisted on doing it by himself. 

 

I am thinking maybe I should go back and start having him do the chapter reviews from chapter 1 and then 2 and so on, until I find the first chapter he really struggles with. Then go back and reteach that one. I have also wondered if I should switch to something like Derek Owens or Math Without Borders (which is what I was planning to do with precalculus anyway).

This is a total Long-Shot, but do you have a Mathnasium near you?  

 

They fix exactly this issue.  They give your student a test and then target only gap areas.  Meanwhile, you get tutoring with whatever you are currently working on.  It's SUPER expensive and you have to sign up for a mimum of three months but we have found it's an excellent program, worth every penny.

 

A typical day my son will get a little help on his actual homework for about 10 minutes, and then he will work for 50 minutes on the Mathnasium work.  He worked on factoring quadratics for en entire month.  3 weeks on simplifying.  He has two more Algebra one topics before they'll move him on to Geometry.  

 

Just a long-shot, I thought I would throw out there.

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OK, so if he learns independently (mine did, too), how have you been verifying his mastery? Does he have to demonstrate his understanding to you through regular tests, or through working problems in front of you? Are you giving chapter tests? Or checking his homework?

Even with an independent learner, it is very important that he receives prompt and constructive feedback on his work. 

Please understand that I am asking because I am trying to see what the best strategy is going forward, not because I want to scrutinize your math education - there are different ways of handling things.

 

 

 

That sounds like a good idea. Have him review, but then give him a test (no books/notes) to see that he really knows it.

I have been checking his homework. But not giving additional tests. 

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I have been checking his homework. But not giving additional tests. 

 

Then I would suspect that he did the homework via pattern matching but without understanding - or the problems are too easy and can be worked by rote memorization of procedure. Have you had him explain select problems to you?

 

Unless he works the problems in front of you, checking homework does not give you an accurate picture. Especially not for long term retention.

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If you sit with him with the solutions guide on hand and prompt him when he gets stuck on the cumulative review, do you think he could get through it? I've found that if it's been awhile since we've covered something, I might have to help my ds through the steps to bring it back to the front of his memory and then he knows it again and can do it. He hasn't completely forgotten. He just needs a little help remembering. Honestly, because of this, I take the cumulative review sections and work on them with him for 10 minutes a day rather than all at once at the end of the chapter. That saves us all kinds of anguish.:)

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