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skimomma

Algebra II curriculum switch help needed

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I have made the decision to switch 15yo dd out of AoPS Intermediate Algebra.  She has completed AoPS PreA, Intro to A, and Intro to Geometry.  She is bright and motivated but math is not her strongest subject.  Halfway through Intro to A and on through Intro to Geometry, she was unable to do most challenge problems.  Dd has chosen AoPS as she really likes the discovery approach but Intermediate Algebra has been a fail.  Her success rate at the end of chapter review questions has been very low.  She has only covered 4 chapters thus far.  There are some extenuating circumstances outside of her school work that has made this year especially difficult and those factors are likely to get worse as the year continues.  I am looking for fast advice in three parts:

1.  I need curriculum suggestions.  Dd is considering several STEM paths in college so it has to be rigorous but given our stress level, having only 3/4 of an academic year left to complete the subject, and the fact that dd is feeling a little dejected over her math experience thus far this year, I am hoping to find a happy medium between rigor and success.  I am quite competent in math so I can help but dd would like a program that teaches to the student.  She prefers no video component but I am still considering Derek Owens and am willing to consider other options that include video.  I think this is a given, but any curriculum we use needs a solid solutions manual. And it would be lovely to have actual tests included.  And more than anything, I think a full-on swing to kill-and-drill or get-it-done would not be a good choice for dd.  Online classes are off the table unless they are not live and have flexibility like DO.

2.  I need transition suggestions.  While dd has struggled this year, I feel she is conceptually strong.  She almost always has the correct approach to even the toughest problems but tends to lose it in the computation.  She is prone to simple mistakes that usually snowball.  I know that some of the topics she already covered in the AoPS intro series show up in normal Algebra II. There are likely topics that we will be able to cover quickly or maybe even skip if I have a solid assessment tool to make that determination.  For those familiar with AoPS, can you give me an idea of typical Algebra II topics that might fall under this category?  We will need to make up time.  Dd will need to finish this subject by the end of the academic year for reasons I won't bore you with.  We can devote more time daily to the subject as needed so I am not terribly concerned but it would be good going in to have an idea of what subjects will be review and what will be brand new.  Any other tips on how to make a smooth transition would be helpful.

3.  There is a very good chance that dd will only do math for half of a year in 11th grade.  It is a long story that again, I won't bother you with.  But one thing I am considering is revisiting AoPS Intermediate Algebra during that half year to delve more into topics or to cover topics that were not covered in whatever program we end up using.  If I were to do this, can anyone suggest what that might look like on a transcript?  It would be a half credit but I struggle with what to call it or if it is even appropriate to give additional credit for something like this.  

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We switched my son from AOPS back to Saxon, and it went great.  Granted, he had used Saxon all his life so he was used to the grueling level of challenge as well as review.    He went straight into college math at the highly ranked community college, including Calc 1, 2, and Calc Based Physics.  I highly recommend Saxon, because although it can be tedious and boring, it is extremely user friendly, clear, easy to be consistent and there are multiple instructional DVD programs if your dd needs it.

in contrast to the reviews of Saxon hurting conceptual learning, My son's conceptual learning did not suffer at all.  He spend the first year and a half helping to teach math at the CC before classes as well as tutoring.   

I am super glad he had that two years with AOPS as I do feel that it helped him to look at the big picture, solve problems creatively, try multiple approaches and not panic when the steps and answer aren't immediately clear.  Maybe if he had never used AOPS he wouldn't be as good as he is at math.

But, since your dd has an AOPS background, I am pretty sure that finishing out high school with something more orderly and sequential will not hurt her.  Additionally, the higher you go in Saxon, the more conceptual learning there is.  Many times the concepts are not full applied until later lessons, or even until the test, when all the learning comes together, locks in place and sink in.  So even though the lower levels almost completely lack conceptual teaching, I believe this is because John Saxon understood that kids were often not ready for all of that until the Logic and Rhetoric stages. ?

If your dd can handle doing math for a full hour each day (and sometimes a little more), I think Saxon will work for her.

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Foerster's Algebra & Trig book might be a candidate. It does have a solutions manual (Rainbow Resources sells it) but Slader has many of the solutions online for free.

If your daughter knows how to work through a math book, I think it teaches to the student. If she needs videos, Math Without Borders sells ones that go with that book, I think. 

MWB might have separate tests. (I don't remember what the book tests are like.)

The first chapter would be complete review and the final chapters are trig, so theoretically you could cover the topics in Trig/PreCalc  (although I'd recommend at least doing some of them if you have time).

The story problems are meaty.

Just one idea.

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Thanks to those that have chimed in thus far.  After combing the resources here and taking into account input so far, I am considering the following:

ALEKS

Algebra II:  A Fresh Approach

Derek Owens

Foerster

Lial

Saxon

We have used nothing but Singapore Math 1-6 and AoPS so all of this is brand new to me.  Dd has played around with other programs that we checked out of the library in the past but I did not get a good look at them.  I have been looking at the tables of contents for each and I am realizing that dd has already covered much of the content in each of these programs during AoPS Intro to Algebra.  Because DO is an actual class, dd would have to complete each homework assignment even on topics she has already mastered.  OTOH, she could go the honor's route with DO which might make it less tedious?  I don't know what to think about ALEKS but put it on the list because it appears it might be the easiest to tailor on the fly based on mastery.  

I wish I had all the time in the world to get my hands on books and do a thorough review but I am feeling the clock ticking here.

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8 minutes ago, lmrich said:

You have the option with Derek Owens to grade it yourself. Then you can pick the chapters she needs. 

 

Is that still true?  Dd took Physical Science through DO and that was the case then but I don't see that option on the website anymore.

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I know people get tired of hearing abt my engineering daughter but I'll toss it out there anyway because I think it's useful to consider her experience: she used Teaching Textbooks through Alg 2, Derek Owens for precalc and Calc AB, and then went on to rock all her university math classes and get an 800 on the math portion of the SAT. Currently in the top 1/8 pf her junior engineering class at Princeton (electrical engineering with robotics being one of her minors/certificates, which is what they call minors at her school.) You don't necessarily need to use what some consider the more rigorous programs. She did not do math competitions or similar extracurriculars either.

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5 hours ago, skimomma said:

Is that still true?  Dd took Physical Science through DO and that was the case then but I don't see that option on the website anymore.

You just have to email and ask for it. I think they only give it to the people who know it is available.

ALEKS is good for finding gaps, but not so great at teaching, IMO. 

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I have Dolciani Algebra 2 on my shelf, and it is definitely conceptually strong. We are using Smith (with MPs tests and lesson plans). It has some challenge problems and is almost self teaching. A lot of it has been review after Foerster Algebra 1, but she's thriving with it. We have the videos, but I usually am the one to watch them so I know what's coming if she has questions. You could test through until you hit something she doesn't know.

Foerster Algebra 2 might work, but we opted against it because I know we won't use his Precalc. DO doesn't have a book for Algebra 2, so all the teaching is in the videos and notes. I agree with RootAnn about ALEKS. I had and sold A Fresh Approach Geometry. I didn't care for it at all, but the Algebra 2 might be different.

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13 hours ago, RootAnn said:

You just have to email and ask for it. I think they only give it to the people who know it is available.

ALEKS is good for finding gaps, but not so great at teaching, IMO. 

 

Ah.  Sneaky.  Good to know.

I wondered about ALEKS.  I have read that some people have used it stand-alone but even if that were the case, I think the all-online is a no-go for dd anyway.

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13 hours ago, Syllieann said:

Kolbe sells course plans for Foerster.  It includes tests and can be purchased individually without enrolling.

 

I wish they had some descriptive info on their website.  Anyone use this?  

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2 hours ago, MamaSprout said:

I have Dolciani Algebra 2 on my shelf, and it is definitely conceptually strong. We are using Smith (with MPs tests and lesson plans). It has some challenge problems and is almost self teaching. A lot of it has been review after Foerster Algebra 1, but she's thriving with it. We have the videos, but I usually am the one to watch them so I know what's coming if she has questions. You could test through until you hit something she doesn't know.

Foerster Algebra 2 might work, but we opted against it because I know we won't use his Precalc. DO doesn't have a book for Algebra 2, so all the teaching is in the videos and notes. I agree with RootAnn about ALEKS. I had and sold A Fresh Approach Geometry. I didn't care for it at all, but the Algebra 2 might be different.

 

I have heard that the A Fresh Approach geometry is different than the others.  There is just not enough information out there for me to be willing to risk it.  If this were a brand new year and I had wiggle room to change direction, I might be more inclined to give it a go but am feeling like I need to pick something rock solid at this point.

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I think I have it narrowed down to Foerster and DO.  This is the point now where I will present those options to dd and see which direction she wants to go.  Any advice on either of these programs or transition advice would be welcome.  Dd is very unhappy about putting AoPS aside for now so anything I can do to make this smooth and drama-free will only help.....I hope.

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22 minutes ago, skimomma said:

I think I have it narrowed down to Foerster and DO.  This is the point now where I will present those options to dd and see which direction she wants to go.  Any advice on either of these programs or transition advice would be welcome.  Dd is very unhappy about putting AoPS aside for now so anything I can do to make this smooth and drama-free will only help.....I hope.

If you don't want videos, go with Foersters. It is completely doable with just the textbook (it is all we have ever done and I am not that great at alg 2.) DO does have the assign/grade yourself option. I am doing that this yr with my Dd who is in precal. It is $29/mo. We don't even use his materials but the Sullivan textbook.

I don't follow the comment above about not using Foerster's bc of not using his pre-cal text. Most of my kids have not gone on to his precal but switched to either Larson, Sullivan, or AoPS. Foersters will solidly cover alg 2 and trig. (My Dd has not encountered anything new in the precal text yet.) Fwiw, our experience is that they have finished all of the alg 2 topics by the beginning of March and the remainder of the yr they spend on trig, so I don't think you have anything to stress about in terms of being able to finish.

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3 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

If you don't want videos, go with Foersters. It is completely doable with just the textbook (it is all we have ever done and I am not that great at alg 2.) DO does have the assign/grade yourself option. I am doing that this yr with my Dd who is in precal. It is $29/mo. We don't even use his materials but the Sullivan textbook.

I don't follow the comment above about not using Foerster's bc of not using his pre-cal text. Most of my kids have not gone on to his precal but switched to either Larson, Sullivan, or AoPS. Foersters will solidly cover alg 2 and trig. (My Dd has not encountered anything new in the precal text yet.) Fwiw, our experience is that they have finished all of the alg 2 topics by the beginning of March and the remainder of the yr they spend on trig, so I don't think you have anything to stress about in terms of being able to finish.

 

That is comforting.  

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I switched to Foersters with my dd when we just needed to get it done.  She was a bright student and didn't have trouble with concepts.  It was just a difficult time, and tedious (boring) work only brought out careless mistakes.  Everything was explained in a way that really clicked with her.  I'd pick out a (quite minimal) variety of problems that represented everything she was learning in each lesson, and she'd do them.  If she got them all correct, we'd move on.  If not, we'd go back and do more.  We only had the text book and she pretty much did it on her own.  I'd step in once in a while but she didn't need a lot of help.

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I'm really appreciating the input here.  Thanks everyone!

This is probably a reach, but did anyone have a kid that completed all of the AoPS Intro to A book then move to Foerster?  I am mid-discussion with dd at this very moment as she is arguing to keep going with AoPS.  She enjoys the approach even though she is also recognizing that she is in over her head with this book.  But another contributing factor to her resistance is feeling like she is starting all over again.  And she wants to be able to get to the trig topics.  I don't want to mis-speak as we discuss but I think, just by looking at the table of contents for Foerster that some topics were already covered in AoPS Intro to A.  Dd completed the entire book and was pretty solid conceptually.  I think some topics will be review and might go faster than she thinks.  She may very well get to the trig sections.  I don't want to say that if that is way off base.  Anyone know?

In the end, it really doesn't matter.  It all needs to be covered and done so thoroughly, even if it takes more than this year.  Dd knows this.  And she also knows it is simply not happening with AoPS anymore.  It is what it is.  At this point, I am just try to frame the transition as accurately as possible.

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3 hours ago, MamaSprout said:

I have Dolciani Algebra 2 on my shelf, and it is definitely conceptually strong. We are using Smith (with MPs tests and lesson plans). It has some challenge problems and is almost self teaching. A lot of it has been review after Foerster Algebra 1, but she's thriving with it. We have the videos, but I usually am the one to watch them so I know what's coming if she has questions. You could test through until you hit something she doesn't know.

Foerster Algebra 2 might work, but we opted against it because I know we won't use his Precalc. 

I didn't like the looks of his precalc, but I don't see why we shouldn't use his Alg 2. Dd#1 went from Foerster Alg 2 to Larson PreCalc with no issues.

55 minutes ago, skimomma said:

I wish they had some descriptive info on their website.  Anyone use this?  

I've seen the first few pages of the syllabus. It is just a list of problems. I think the Honors version  (printed side by side with the regular pacing) goes through more - but not a ton more - material in the book. Neither pacing schedule gets you through everything. I personally wouldn't buy it unless you really wanted their tests. (If you just want a list of problems, MWoutB has one on their website for free.)

I think DO would be a good option if he had a book for this level like he does for PreCalc. I should mention that DO will send you a USB drive of the videos if you'd rather not go on the internet for the videos. (My DD did that for Physics from a non- internet connected computer.)

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1 minute ago, skimomma said:

I'm really appreciating the input here.  Thanks everyone!

This is probably a reach, but did anyone have a kid that completed all of the AoPS Intro to A book then move to Foerster?  I am mid-discussion with dd at this very moment as she is arguing to keep going with AoPS.  She enjoys the approach even though she is also recognizing that she is in over her head with this book.  But another contributing factor to her resistance is feeling like she is starting all over again.  And she wants to be able to get to the trig topics.  I don't want to mis-speak as we discuss but I think, just by looking at the table of contents for Foerster that some topics were already covered in AoPS Intro to A.  Dd completed the entire book and was pretty solid conceptually.  I think some topics will be review and might go faster than she thinks.  She may very well get to the trig sections.  I don't want to say that if that is way off base.  Anyone know?

In the end, it really doesn't matter.  It all needs to be covered and done so thoroughly, even if it takes more than this year.  Dd knows this.  And she also knows it is simply not happening with AoPS anymore.  It is what it is.  At this point, I am just try to frame the transition as accurately as possible.

The last few charts of the intro book are alg 2 topics, but not a complete alg 2 course. I have had kids go both ways. My ds went from the alg 2 before the trig section into the intermediate text. He loved it and didn't miss a step (and is no a physics grad student after doubling in math and physics). My Dd did Foerster's alg one, then the intro book. She felt like she didn't learn anything new and didn't want that sort of approach and went back to Foerster's.

Fwiw, my kids are very strong math students. My Dd that preferred Foerster's was as every bit as strong of a math student  at that pt, she just didn't want to put that amt of time into math.  She definitely thrived with Foerster's and made an almost perfect score on the cal CLEP exam with ease. My ds who is a chemE used Foerster's. It is a solid choice even for kids pursuing STEM fields.  It is less theory/proof and more applied. My ds who ate it up is pursuing theoretical cosmology. Theory is his thing. 

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I can't speak to the transition because DD came from a weak Alg 1 program and the first chapter seemed to have new material immediately. However, it was supposed to be review. Having taught Dd#2 with Jacobs Alg, I recognize quite a bit of the material from Foersters, but I know my kid will need the refresher when we get to that.

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I think going through Foerster's in a diagnostic-prescriptive manner would be a good fit.

Roughly, pre-test each chapter where she feels she knows all of it(chapter test is fine for this), look for anything NOT understood and work relevant problems , continue through. If she knows she's missing a section already, work that before you take the test. That way both you and she could be certain that she wouldn't be spending a lot of time drilling problems that she already knows how to do instead of moving onwards through the curriculum. 

It's a good solid curriculum that includes great word problems and will prepare them for any career pathway that they want. 

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57 minutes ago, skimomma said:

I'm really appreciating the input here.  Thanks everyone!

This is probably a reach, but did anyone have a kid that completed all of the AoPS Intro to A book then move to Foerster?  I am mid-discussion with dd at this very moment as she is arguing to keep going with AoPS.  She enjoys the approach even though she is also recognizing that she is in over her head with this book.  But another contributing factor to her resistance is feeling like she is starting all over again.  And she wants to be able to get to the trig topics.  I don't want to mis-speak as we discuss but I think, just by looking at the table of contents for Foerster that some topics were already covered in AoPS Intro to A.  Dd completed the entire book and was pretty solid conceptually.  I think some topics will be review and might go faster than she thinks.  She may very well get to the trig sections.  I don't want to say that if that is way off base.  Anyone know?

In the end, it really doesn't matter.  It all needs to be covered and done so thoroughly, even if it takes more than this year.  Dd knows this.  And she also knows it is simply not happening with AoPS anymore.  It is what it is.  At this point, I am just try to frame the transition as accurately as possible.

 

Did you know that you really don't have to do the Challenge Problems?  I have heard here, as well as in IRL that AOPS is a complete program without the CHallenge Problems. 

Would that work for you?

Edited to add, sorry I hadn't read your last post about really feeling like it's not happening with AOPS no matter what.    

Edited by Calming Tea

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1 minute ago, Calming Tea said:

 

Did you know that you really don't have to do the Challenge Problems?  I have heard here, as well as in IRL that AOPS is a complete program without the CHallenge Problems. 

Would that work for you?

 

Dd stopped doing the challenge problems mid-way through Intro to A.  They were eating up way too much time.  So, no, it is definitely time to move away from AoPS for now.

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50 minutes ago, RootAnn said:

 

I've seen the first few pages of the syllabus. It is just a list of problems. I think the Honors version  (printed side by side with the regular pacing) goes through more - but not a ton more - material in the book. Neither pacing schedule gets you through everything. I personally wouldn't buy it unless you really wanted their tests. (If you just want a list of problems, MWoutB has one on their website for free.)

 

 

I have ordered the book so we can at least get started ASAP.  But meanwhile, I am trying to decide about the Kolbe option.  And/or also the solutions manual.  The textbook is supposed to include tests?  Is this true?  That would be the only real reason for me to consider the Kolbe plan, to have tests (with solutions, I hope....but cannot verify this).  If the book does indeed have tests, then I see no reason to deal with the Kolbe plan.  

Also, is the Foerster solution manual something I should consider?  I gather that the book has the answers but not the solutions?  

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1 minute ago, skimomma said:

 

I have ordered the book so we can at least get started ASAP.  But meanwhile, I am trying to decide about the Kolbe option.  And/or also the solutions manual.  The textbook is supposed to include tests?  Is this true?  That would be the only real reason for me to consider the Kolbe plan, to have tests (with solutions, I hope....but cannot verify this).  If the book does indeed have tests, then I see no reason to deal with the Kolbe plan.  

Also, is the Foerster solution manual something I should consider?  I gather that the book has the answers but not the solutions?  

I have the Kolbe plans and tests and have never even looked at them.  They are just a break down of problems. The end of the chapters have tests in the book. That is all we do.

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6 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

I have the Kolbe plans and tests and have never even looked at them.  They are just a break down of problems. The end of the chapters have tests in the book. That is all we do.

 

Did you use the separate solutions manual for the book?

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21 minutes ago, skimomma said:

 

Did you use the separate solutions manual for the book?

I do, but I am not that strong at alg 2. The sm for alg 2 is not complete like the one for alg 1, so sometimes it isn't always as helpful. I kept my ds's math notebook from alg and I use it when the SM isn't enough help for me. I mamke my kids write out every step and work all incorrect problems, so his notebook is like it's own SM. ? 

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3 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

I don't follow the comment above about not using Foerster's bc of not using his pre-cal text. Most of my kids have not gone on to his precal but switched to either Larson, Sullivan, or AoPS. Foersters will solidly cover alg 2 and trig. (My Dd has not encountered anything new in the precal text yet.) Fwiw, our experience is that they have finished all of the alg 2 topics by the beginning of March and the remainder of the yr they spend on trig, so I don't think you have anything to stress about in terms of being able to finish.

 

I had read some posts about people getting bogged down in Foerster's Algebra 2, and I knew we liked the Smith books because it have been our "second explanation book" for Algebra 1. I own Foerster, but loaned it to someone and can't seem to get it back. Memoria Press' school Highlands Latin, uses both the Smith Algebra 2 and Larson Precalc, so I don't have to second guess what to teach in Algebra 2. I have limited brain space this year.

I thought that was a bit too much explanation for the original post.

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2 hours ago, skimomma said:

I have ordered the book so we can at least get started ASAP.  But meanwhile, I am trying to decide about the Kolbe option.  And/or also the solutions manual.  The textbook is supposed to include tests?  Is this true?  That would be the only real reason for me to consider the Kolbe plan, to have tests (with solutions, I hope....but cannot verify this).  If the book does indeed have tests, then I see no reason to deal with the Kolbe plan.  

Also, is the Foerster solution manual something I should consider?  I gather that the book has the answers but not the solutions?  

Okay, I dug out my book & solutions manual. Each chapter in Foerster's has a "chapter review" (which you could use as a pre-test like kiana suggested) and a "chapter test." The answers to the chapter review are in the back of the book. There are not answers to the chapter test in the back of the book. Some chapters also have a cumulative review (like chapter 5 has one of these). The answers to the cumulative review are in the back of the book.

The Kolbe syllabus should have a different set of tests and does include the solutions to them. (I don't think you need the Kolbe stuff.)

The solution manual has some solutions, but sometimes it doesn't work things out to the extent that you'd like. I haven't had an issue figuring out where my kid went wrong with what was in the SM. I'm assuming your kid wouldn't have an issue figuring it out either. I found the SM to be helpful to have on hand, so I would recommend getting that. (See if you can get one used for cheaper than the new one on Rainbow Resources.)

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We are liking Mr D for algebra 2 this year. We're using the self-paced and it can be started at any time. There is a video lesson, but then you print out the problems, work them, check them (complete answers are included), and then try to correct them. Quizzes and tests are included. They are online and the student is only told which ones are wrong and they are given chances to correct the work for a better grade. Twice weekly live sessions are included, but optional, if the student is still having trouble with something. My son does not like math at all and he takes a long time to do it, but he has been able to explain his errors to me and correct the problems he gets wrong.

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19 minutes ago, RootAnn said:

Okay, I dug out my book & solutions manual. Each chapter in Foerster's has a "chapter review" (which you could use as a pre-test like kiana suggested) and a "chapter test." The answers to the chapter review are in the back of the book. There are not answers to the chapter test in the back of the book. Some chapters also have a cumulative review (like chapter 5 has one of these). The answers to the cumulative review are in the back of the book.

The Kolbe syllabus should have a different set of tests and does include the solutions to them. (I don't think you need the Kolbe stuff.)

The solution manual has some solutions, but sometimes it doesn't work things out to the extent that you'd like. I haven't had an issue figuring out where my kid went wrong with what was in the SM. I'm assuming your kid wouldn't have an issue figuring it out either. I found the SM to be helpful to have on hand, so I would recommend getting that. (See if you can get one used for cheaper than the new one on Rainbow Resources.)

 

Thanks!  That is very helpful.  I am going to skip Kolbe for the time being.  And I will pick up a SM as well.  I'm not worried about it being super thorough as I could solve most of the AoPS problems without referencing the SM.  But it will be helpful to have if I get stumped or when dh is on homeschool duty.

 

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On 10/25/2018 at 11:57 AM, RootAnn said:

Foerster's Algebra & Trig book might be a candidate. It does have a solutions manual (Rainbow Resources sells it) but Slader has many of the solutions online for free.

If your daughter knows how to work through a math book, I think it teaches to the student. If she needs videos, Math Without Borders sells ones that go with that book, I think. 

MWB might have separate tests. (I don't remember what the book tests are like.)

The first chapter would be complete review and the final chapters are trig, so theoretically you could cover the topics in Trig/PreCalc  (although I'd recommend at least doing some of them if you have time).

The story problems are meaty.

Just one idea.

Dd did the Foerster's Algebra and Trig with the Math Without Borders videos last year and continued to Pre-Calc this year.

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