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Rush

AoPS online school

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Due to living in Europe we cannot attend the live classes. Does it worth to follow offline? 

They say that lots of international students did that way. Is there anyone here who takes them this way?

At the moment we are interested in Intro to Algebra & MathCounts/AMC 8 Basic.

Many thanks

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My daughter is in the last week of Algebra A. She did not find the classes themselves particularly helpful/useful. They want students to have already read the section and worked at least some problems before class, and yet the class time was spent going over the same basic information that they were expected to have already read and worked with. So, while she did usually attend the classes, she was no worse off during the weeks she skipped class due to schedule conflicts. The full class transcripts are posted, so if there are questions, it’s easy enough to see what was discussed.

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It depends on your child’s personality.

For DS13, he is not driven to reading the class transcripts so he needed the online class or a local tutor for the “pressure” to meet deadlines. DS14 helped him too.

For DS14, he would read transcripts for even the classes he attended to see what he miss out during the class, kind of like a review/recap. However DS14 also participated in study groups set up by his AoPS online classes’ classmates. So the AoPS online classes were more beneficial to him than for DS13. 

DS13 took the MathCounts/AMC 8 Basic weekend seminar (https://artofproblemsolving.com/school/course/maa-amc8-special) a few years back for fun. I think it was 3hrs on 2 days (Saturday and Sunday) so 6hrs total. If your child don’t mind two near midnight classes, that might work. 

 

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If the ages of your kids is up to date, I would think that would make a difference -- my son at age 10-11 would have a much harder time synthesizing the learning from reading a transcript vs being in class and working the examples real time.  Now at 13 he struggles less with it -- he has missed a few classes, but even so it feels more like a slog to work through the transcript than to participate.   Working through the problems before being given the answer vs knowing the answer is right there a few lines down cuts down on the temptation to skip the grunt work!

As a previous poster mentioned, they were asked to read the section and work some problems beforehand. My son never did - at most in Intermediate Alg he skimmed the sections beforehand. 

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I've definitely had kids in my classes that were following offline: the transcripts are still available, and the message board is helpful. 

On the other hand, I do think the live nature of the class is helpful to a good number of kids, since misconceptions can be cleared up as the class goes on. So yeah... depends on how motivated your student will be to read over the transcripts and post questions on the message board if they have any. 

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The class is a live event where the students needs to be thinking about maths and responding in real time. I watch DS taking the classes, so I can see how he is doing. I would only pay for books and not courses if he were not going to do the live classes in real time.

 

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Thank you guys. I see your points and I agree with you, but now I am completely lost if we should take these classes or not. The book is quiet easy and it explains everything very well.

Is there any other reason why everyone enrols for classes yet?

On 4/5/2019 at 6:20 AM, Jackie said:

My daughter is in the last week of Algebra A. She did not find the classes themselves particularly helpful/useful. They want students to have already read the section and worked at least some problems before class, and yet the class time was spent going over the same basic information that they were expected to have already read and worked with. So, while she did usually attend the classes, she was no worse off during the weeks she skipped class due to schedule conflicts. The full class transcripts are posted, so if there are questions, it’s easy enough to see what was discussed.

What are you planning for the next years, a course or independent learning? 

I am not sure what i have to do now. The course is about to start😓

Oh, no. We have missed the class and there are already 15 people in the waiting list !😞

 

 

 

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41 minutes ago, Rush said:

 

What are you planning for the next years, a course or independent learning? 

 

 

We will continue to use the AOPS books independently.

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1 hour ago, Rush said:

Thank you guys. I see your points and I agree with you, but now I am completely lost if we should take these classes or not. The book is quiet easy and it explains everything very well.

Is there any other reason why everyone enrols for classes yet?

What are you planning for the next years, a course or independent learning? 

I am not sure what i have to do now. The course is about to start😓

Oh, no. We have missed the class and there are already 15 people in the waiting list !😞

 

 

 

Are there no other sections? 

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We are in NZ, so the time zone is in our favor and ds could attend the classes real time in the middle of the day.  However, if he did miss a class, trying to read through the transcript was not much fun.  It was the class that was fun, because it was a race to get put on the top 5 responders.  He definitely enjoyed the classes.  But he also did the entire Intro Algebra and Intro Geometry books on his own, and loved them too.

Ruth in NZ

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3 hours ago, Jackie said:

 

We will continue to use the AOPS books independently.

 

49 minutes ago, lewelma said:

We are in NZ, so the time zone is in our favor and ds could attend the classes real time in the middle of the day.  However, if he did miss a class, trying to read through the transcript was not much fun.  It was the class that was fun, because it was a race to get put on the top 5 responders.  He definitely enjoyed the classes.  But he also did the entire Intro Algebra and Intro Geometry books on his own, and loved them too.

Ruth in NZ

Thank you to both of you!

I think we will do the same and continue working independently too.

3 hours ago, square_25 said:

Are there no other sections? 

My apology, but I did not understand your question. What did you mean?

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41 minutes ago, Rush said:

 

Thank you to both of you!

I think we will do the same and continue working independently too.

My apology, but I did not understand your question. What did you mean?

 

I meant, is the class offered at any other time? 

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1 hour ago, lewelma said:

We are in NZ, so the time zone is in our favor and ds could attend the classes real time in the middle of the day.  However, if he did miss a class, trying to read through the transcript was not much fun.  It was the class that was fun, because it was a race to get put on the top 5 responders.  He definitely enjoyed the classes.  But he also did the entire Intro Algebra and Intro Geometry books on his own, and loved them too.

Ruth in NZ


Hah, I guess some people limit how many answers get passed, don't they? I'd try to pass pretty much anyone who got it right, personally. Which maybe makes it too slow for the strongest kids? I like running things that way, though. 

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7 hours ago, lewelma said:

We are in NZ, so the time zone is in our favor and ds could attend the classes real time in the middle of the day.  However, if he did miss a class, trying to read through the transcript was not much fun.  It was the class that was fun, because it was a race to get put on the top 5 responders.  He definitely enjoyed the classes.  But he also did the entire Intro Algebra and Intro Geometry books on his own, and loved them too.

Ruth in NZ

 

Top 5? Like a race to the answers? This might have made it more interesting for my kid. She would answer a question, then wait for the answers to get pushed through, get distracted, and completely lose the thread of the class in her distraction. And which answers were pushed through for her class seemed random. I watched at times, and she would have immediately gotten an answer and typed it in, 10 answers would be pushed through that were identical to hers but hers wasn’t pushed through, and she would get discouraged. Other times, she took the time to carefully format with LaTeX, and 1-2 answers would be pushed through without formatting before she could finish. I never could discern a pattern to what was pushed through and what wasn’t, or to the length of time given to respond.

Edited by Jackie
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4 minutes ago, Jackie said:

 

Top 5? Like a race to the answers? This might have made it more interesting for my kid. She would answer a question, then wait for the answers to get pushed through, get distracted, and completely lose the thread of the class in her distraction. And which answers were pushed through for her class seemed random. I watched at times, and she would have immediately gotten an answer and typed it in, 10 answers would be pushed through that were identical to hers but hers wasn’t pushed through, and she would get discouraged. Other times, she took the time to carefully format with LaTeX, and 1-2 answers would be pushed through without formatting before she could finish. I never could discern a pattern to what was pushed through and what wasn’t, or to the length of time given to respond.

 

Hmmm, that's too bad. I never did the race, though... it lost too many kids. I always wait until the kids who are going to get it get the answer, then push through almost everyone who got it (well, unless I'm completely swamped and everyone's getting the answer and I can't click that fast.)  

As usual, people vary in teaching styles, though. I err on the side of passing as many as possible :-). 

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I just wish they'd just get rid of that G-d-forsaken text-based format altogether. I mean, this isn't 1997. How hard is it to implement Canvas or Moodle or GoToMeeting? What about the kids that need a little audio/visual stimulation? I know the classes sell out each time, but Square, have their been any discussions about changing the format to something more appropriate for a wider variety of learning styles? That would be at the top of my AoPS wishlist, along with financial aid.

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1 minute ago, SeaConquest said:

I just wish they'd just get rid of that G-d-forsaken text-based format altogether. I mean, this isn't 1997. How hard is it to implement Canvas or Moodle or GoToMeeting? What about the kids that need a little audio/visual stimulation? I know the classes sell out each time, but Square, have their been any discussions about changing the format to something more appropriate for a wider variety of learning styles? That would be at the top of my AoPS wishlist, along with financial aid.

 

Well, it took some getting used to for me, but I don't think I'd want it changed. I have responses from the whole class at my fingertips. If you have no audio or video, you can really gauge every kid's engagement level quite quickly. I've never been able to do that in a real life classroom. And we can also handle questions from any student basically immediately, which again, we wouldn't be able to do with more audio or visual input. 

I'm sure they've thought about this and decided to keep it. Here's their page about the classroom: 

https://artofproblemsolving.com/school/about-classroom

I have to admit, though, I listen to music during class ;-). Otherwise, I get too distracted. I recommend that as a way to increase focus a bit. 

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Square:  are the long wait times between posting due to waiting for TAs to help struggling students?  It seems like there can be a lot of down time between teacher posts.  

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2 minutes ago, daijobu said:

Square:  are the long wait times between posting due to waiting for TAs to help struggling students?  It seems like there can be a lot of down time between teacher posts.  

 

Well, if a question was asked, it can be to wait for people to reply. And if not, sometimes it's just to allow the kids who read slower to take everything in. I know that when I leave less time, I always have at least a few kids asking me to slow down. 

The TAs help out on their own time, so we generally don't wait for that. 

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21 hours ago, square_25 said:

 

I meant, is the class offered at any other time? 

 

16 hours ago, mathnerd said:

They offer another session in May for Intro to Algebra.

DS asked me to enrol for Clover Creek Physics next year and by the rules he has to finish Algebra 1 before the beginning of the course. Plus we wanted to go for a short break between those two courses.

 

oh, well. I feel a bit sad as I think this online class is brilliant and it could fit my kid perfectly, and i really hope that one day they offer better suitable time for Europeans 😥

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On 4/6/2019 at 2:58 PM, HomeForNow said:

The class is a live event where the students needs to be thinking about maths and responding in real time. I watch DS taking the classes, so I can see how he is doing. I would only pay for books and not courses if he were not going to do the live classes in real time.

 

 

AOPS online classes are good if you are in a hurry to finish a course/level. For e.g. Intro to Algebra book can be completed online in a timeframe of 32 weeks (both Alg A and Alg B together). AOPS compresses the content in the online classes. Even my very motivated learner could not complete that book in 32 weeks. That is alright in our case because we use multiple sources and are not in a hurry to apply to any special programs, but, at some point, it would help us to have transcripts and a faster pace running through the curricula, which is when I would switch to their online class format. 

Using just the textbooks and self-studying at home, your son can work through all the problems in the review and challenge sections and spend more time on each chapter if he wants. I believe that the online classes offer a selection of problems from the book and some others from math contests etc.

Edited by mathnerd
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1 minute ago, mathnerd said:

 

AOPS online classes are good if you are in a hurry to finish a course/level. For e.g. Intro to Algebra book can be completed online in a timeframe of 32 weeks (both Alg A and Alg B together). AOPS compresses the content in the online classes. Even my very motivated learner could not complete that book in 32 weeks. That is alright in our case because we use multiple sources and are not in a hurry to apply to any special programs, but, at some point, it would help us to have transcripts and a faster pace running through the curricula, which is when I would switch to their online class format. 

Using just the textbooks and self-studying at home, your son can work through all the problems in the review and challenge sections and spend more time on each chapter if he wants. I believe that the online classes offer a selection of problems from the book and some others from other sources like math contests etc.

 

Last I checked, the problems in the online classes were pretty disjoint from the textbook (since the textbook gives solutions, and we don't want to encourage cheating.) 

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1 minute ago, square_25 said:

 

Last I checked, the problems in the online classes were pretty disjoint from the textbook (since the textbook gives solutions, and we don't want to encourage cheating.) 

So you mean it is more wider than just a book program? 

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12 minutes ago, square_25 said:

 

Last I checked, the problems in the online classes were pretty disjoint from the textbook (since the textbook gives solutions, and we don't want to encourage cheating.) 

That is good to know. Are the online homework problems harder than the textbook review/challenge sections, in your opinion?

(I am wondering if there are advantages to repeating a course online after having gone through the textbook and worked out the problems at home.)

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11 minutes ago, Rush said:

So you mean it is more wider than just a book program? 

Well, different, anyway? Most of the kids in these classes do the challenge problems and don't have time for a ton of the book problems. Of course, the book problems are still there if they need them or for later. 

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The problem with the compression of the class, is that some of kids don't learn all the content.  My ds said that he knew certain students who could only do the work with hints, and once the hints were given, the course became like a standard course rather than a discovery course.  In his experience, a discovery course makes you work longer on problems so that fewer are required to master the content; whereas a standard course requires less thinking and more drill to master the content.  He said that when he was taking AoPS, that he knew a number of kids that were going to retake multiple courses because they knew that they had not mastered the content with the first pass through because they had converted a discovery based course to a standard course by needing multiple hints on all problems.  And because a discovery course does not offer a standard amount of drill, they did not master the content. He got the impression that some of these kids were very young, and it was a status symbol to be doing high level AoPS courses. Basically, he felt like kids needed to put in the time to keep a discovery course a discovery course. DS spent 10 hours per week at least in each class, and he is pretty high level. 

As for the text based format, my ds loved it.  He had no interest in staring at a teacher, or listening to kids talk.  He just absolutely loved the courses and took intermediate algebra, number theory, and combinatorics; olympiad geometry, precalc, and calc. He never ever felt that the text format was old fashioned. Rather, it allowed him to work at his own pace.  If he got things way faster than everyone else, he could either do another problem, go to the bathroom, chat with me, or whatever.  He didn't have to sit there listening to a teacher go at too slow a speed.  It is a brilliant format for what they are teaching for the range of students they are teaching.

Edited by lewelma
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AOPS didn’t work for us, so take with a grain of salt, but the online classes REALLY didn’t work worst of all 🙂 I think DS would get discouraged with the “shouting” of the answer before he’d had a chance, and in any event he didn’t retain anything, class or book wise. The online chat format is another thing to hate. Anyway if you’re comfortable with the books, and keeping your student on schedule, I don’t see what a class would add to the experience. I guess that’s the one positive of the class...it’s organized to keep the student on track. 

Edited by madteaparty

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6 hours ago, lewelma said:

The problem with the compression of the class, is that some of kids don't learn all the content.  My ds said that he knew certain students who could only do the work with hints, and once the hints were given, the course became like a standard course rather than a discovery course.  In his experience, a discovery course makes you work longer on problems so that fewer are required to master the content; whereas a standard course requires less thinking and more drill to master the content.  He said that when he was taking AoPS, that he knew a number of kids that were going to retake multiple courses because they knew that they had not mastered the content with the first pass through because they had converted a discovery based course to a standard course by needing multiple hints on all problems.  And because a discovery course does not offer a standard amount of drill, they did not master the content. He got the impression that some of these kids were very young, and it was a status symbol to be doing high level AoPS courses. Basically, he felt like kids needed to put in the time to keep a discovery course a discovery course. DS spent 10 hours per week at least in each class, and he is pretty high level. 

As for the text based format, my ds loved it.  He had no interest in staring at a teacher, or listening to kids talk.  He just absolutely loved the courses and took intermediate algebra, number theory, and combinatorics; olympiad geometry, precalc, and calc. He never ever felt that the text format was old fashioned. Rather, it allowed him to work at his own pace.  If he got things way faster than everyone else, he could either do another problem, go to the bathroom, chat with me, or whatever.  He didn't have to sit there listening to a teacher go at too slow a speed.  It is a brilliant format for what they are teaching for the range of students they are teaching.

 

Yeah, that's fair. It's very compressed. 

I'd agree with your about the AoPS discovery method, but I don't think "a small number of hard problems" is necessarily what I think about when I think "discovery method." And in my experience, it wasn't exactly not putting in the hours for some of the kids: it's more that kids like your son know what it means to understand math and to make it their own, and some kids don't. And what they need isn't just more drill, but more explicit focus on what it MEANS to fully understand math. As I've mentioned before, precalc is the one I've been experimenting with, and there's definitely a range of what one can do within the format. 

I'm glad your son liked the format! In my experience, a good fraction of the kids do thrive with it. Not everyone, of course, and not everyone does well with the fast pace. But it does keep kids on track, and the message board is great for support from both the instructors and other peers. 

Did you see my message in the other thread about PMs, by the way? 

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21 hours ago, Rush said:

 

DS asked me to enrol for Clover Creek Physics next year and by the rules he has to finish Algebra 1 before the beginning of the course. Plus we wanted to go for a short break between those two courses.

 

oh, well. I feel a bit sad as I think this online class is brilliant and it could fit my kid perfectly, and i really hope that one day they offer better suitable time for Europeans 😥

 

Rush, Sacha is taking Clover Creek Physics next year and he's only had AoPS PA. We just supplemented his Algebra skills with the first part of the CTY/Thinkwell Honors Algebra course (before we dropped it -- waaaaay too many problems) and selected problem sets from Dolciani and Jacobs Algebra. I really don't think you need to have completed AoPS Algebra in order to take the course (mine will also be taking AoPS Algebra at the Academy concurrently, which is 36 weeks, and includes C&P) -- just any Algebra course. I think the point is just to be able to solve physics equations using algebra. You might email Jetta to see what specific algebra skills are required to be successful in the course, but AoPS Algebra skills are overkill IMHO. 

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10 hours ago, lewelma said:

The problem with the compression of the class, is that some of kids don't learn all the content.  My ds said that he knew certain students who could only do the work with hints, and once the hints were given, the course became like a standard course rather than a discovery course.  In his experience, a discovery course makes you work longer on problems so that fewer are required to master the content; whereas a standard course requires less thinking and more drill to master the content.  He said that when he was taking AoPS, that he knew a number of kids that were going to retake multiple courses because they knew that they had not mastered the content with the first pass through because they had converted a discovery based course to a standard course by needing multiple hints on all problems.  And because a discovery course does not offer a standard amount of drill, they did not master the content. He got the impression that some of these kids were very young, and it was a status symbol to be doing high level AoPS courses. Basically, he felt like kids needed to put in the time to keep a discovery course a discovery course. DS spent 10 hours per week at least in each class, and he is pretty high level. 

As for the text based format, my ds loved it.  He had no interest in staring at a teacher, or listening to kids talk.  He just absolutely loved the courses and took intermediate algebra, number theory, and combinatorics; olympiad geometry, precalc, and calc. He never ever felt that the text format was old fashioned. Rather, it allowed him to work at his own pace.  If he got things way faster than everyone else, he could either do another problem, go to the bathroom, chat with me, or whatever.  He didn't have to sit there listening to a teacher go at too slow a speed.  It is a brilliant format for what they are teaching for the range of students they are teaching.

 

As I recall, your son was a bit "older" when took those courses. From my perspective, working with a relatively young kid, I don't think he really gets the whole "discovery method" thing yet. I'm not sure that he really understand that that's what happening. I see it, you see it, your son saw it, but I think it's a math/overall maturity thing. I am not sure that my son really has the mathematical maturity yet to really get it. At this point in his math career with AoPS, he has only really done (that he remembers), BA online and now the AoPS Academy online format, so he's never done any of the problems in the textbooks, and I don't think he really "gets" how to use the textbook yet. He goes to his academy lectures, and if he cant figure out how to do a problem, he will struggle through it for awhile and then call me. He may remember to look at the videos, but he will never look at the message boards (which are not really used in his class) and he will never look to the textbook (which is always the first thing I will grab). As he gets older, I assume that he will learn how to learn from a textbook, but (at 10) he is just not there yet.

Edited by SeaConquest

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23 minutes ago, SeaConquest said:

 

As I recall, your son was a bit "older" when took those courses. From my perspective, working with a relatively young kid, I don't think he really gets the whole "discovery method" thing yet. I'm not sure that he really understand that that's what happening. I see it, you see it, your son saw it, but I think it's a math/overall maturity thing. I am not sure that my son really has the mathematical maturity yet to really get it. At this point in his math career with AoPS, he has only really done (that he remembers), BA online and now the AoPS Academy online format, so he's never done any of the problems in the textbooks, and I don't think he really "gets" how to use the textbook yet. He goes to his academy lectures, and if he cant figure out how to do a problem, he will struggle through it for awhile and then call me. He may remember to look at the videos, but he will never look at the message boards (which are not really used in his class) and he will never look to the textbook (which is always the first thing I will grab). As he gets older, I assume that he will learn how to learn from a textbook, but (at 10) he is just not there yet.

 

I do "discovery method" with my (accelerated) 6.5 year old. I think it requires one-on-one helping at this age, since they aren't great at using the resources. For me, it just means she figures out the patterns and rules herself (with hints and help along the way), as opposed to me giving them to her. But I'm not sure if people use the words "discovery method" for something different than what I tend to mean. 

Edited by square_25

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50 minutes ago, square_25 said:

 

I do "discovery method" with my (accelerated) 6.5 year old. I think it requires one-on-one helping at this age, since they aren't great at using the resources. For me, it just means she figures out the patterns and rules herself (with hints and help along the way), as opposed to me giving them to her. But I'm not sure if people use the words "discovery method" for something different than what I tend to mean. 

 

I think that was true when I was more hands on with him, in the early days of BA, but before he was at the Academy and BA online came out. I guess, once I started shelling out the $$$$ for the live instruction, I became a lot more hands off. He also became a lot more independent just naturally. I mean, he's basically doing the entire Python class himself now. I can't help him with that stuff at all. So, yes, when it was him and I reading the BA books together, I could guide him, but now that he's more independent, he's still not yet at the point that he's getting it from the textbook. Hopefully, he's getting it from the lectures. I hope!

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24 minutes ago, SeaConquest said:

 

I think that was true when I was more hands on with him, in the early days of BA, but before he was at the Academy and BA online came out. I guess, once I started shelling out the $$$$ for the live instruction, I became a lot more hands off. He also became a lot more independent just naturally. I mean, he's basically doing the entire Python class himself now. I can't help him with that stuff at all. So, yes, when it was him and I reading the BA books together, I could guide him, but now that he's more independent, he's still not yet at the point that he's getting it from the textbook. Hopefully, he's getting it from the lectures. I hope!

 

Maybe some lessons on HOW to use the textbook and what to do when stuck would be a good idea. I know I've taught lots of college kids who really had no idea how to use a math textbook. For example, following examples from class is a really good idea (and working them without checking the answers if you're stuck is, too.) Looking up formulas is not really a great first step. Trying some small numbers (for certain kinds of questions) is an excellent tool. 

What class is he taking, and what kinds of questions is he getting stuck on? 

Edited by square_25

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6 hours ago, SeaConquest said:

 

As I recall, your son was a bit "older" when took those courses. From my perspective, working with a relatively young kid, I don't think he really gets the whole "discovery method" thing yet. I'm not sure that he really understand that that's what happening. I see it, you see it, your son saw it, but I think it's a math/overall maturity thing. I am not sure that my son really has the mathematical maturity yet to really get it. At this point in his math career with AoPS, he has only really done (that he remembers), BA online and now the AoPS Academy online format, so he's never done any of the problems in the textbooks, and I don't think he really "gets" how to use the textbook yet. He goes to his academy lectures, and if he cant figure out how to do a problem, he will struggle through it for awhile and then call me. He may remember to look at the videos, but he will never look at the message boards (which are not really used in his class) and he will never look to the textbook (which is always the first thing I will grab). As he gets older, I assume that he will learn how to learn from a textbook, but (at 10) he is just not there yet.

It does take time to learn how to learn math in a discovery style.  I think this is why my ds took 3 years to get through the Intro A book.  During this time, he was learning so much more than algebra, he was learning problem solving, technical reading skills, requirements for mathematical proof, metacognition, effectively learning from solutions, etc. This plus time management, attention, persistence, etc. Once he learned all that, he was ready to move very quickly.  You asked about his ages, and this is what I remember

9-12 Intro A - self teaching with textbook

12-13.5 Intro Geomentry, Number Theory, Combinatorics - self teaching with textbooks

13.5 - 15.5 Intermediate combinatorics, intermediate number theory, intermediate algebra, Olympiad geometry, and precalculus - done through classes. 

His impression at the time was that there a number of younger kids who were quite braggy about their young ages who really couldn't do the work. There was more than one kid who stated on the board that he was going to loop back around and do all the classes again. It just made me think about the pressure to move quickly through math as a goal.  The race to calculus and all that.  But here it was the race through AoPS, like that was somehow the goal, rather than actually learning the content.  Get an 'A' because you had a ton of help, move on to the next class. But this only works for so long, when it catches up with you.

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11 hours ago, square_25 said:

 

Yeah, that's fair. It's very compressed. 

I'd agree with your about the AoPS discovery method, but I don't think "a small number of hard problems" is necessarily what I think about when I think "discovery method." And in my experience, it wasn't exactly not putting in the hours for some of the kids: it's more that kids like your son know what it means to understand math and to make it their own, and some kids don't. And what they need isn't just more drill, but more explicit focus on what it MEANS to fully understand math. As I've mentioned before, precalc is the one I've been experimenting with, and there's definitely a range of what one can do within the format. 

Well, this goes back to a conversation we had a few weeks ago.  In my experience, there are 2 types of learners. My ds is concepts first, algorithms second learner.  I'm an algorithm first, concepts second learner.  When my ds uses the discovery approach to learn math, it takes him way longer to get through even just a few problems.  He has to try this, and that, loop back around for a different tactic, wait a day, try something new, ruminate, and finally solve it.  With that much work, all from the ground up, he really *knows* the concepts, and rarely needs to do more than just one related problem just to make sure.  In contrast, I can't learn anything that way.  It is like wandering blind in a dark room and bumping into things.  Instead, I get direct teaching of the concept. I then do problem after problem after problem (drill) and over time start to notice patterns, The patterns I can then confirm when I do even more problems, and eventually I get to the point my ds has gotten to and understand the concepts deeply.  And it often takes about the same amount of time.

Both of these approaches can fail.  With the discovery approach, if you are told how to do the problem at first and don't fight to figure it out on your own, you don't internalize the concepts because you didn't discover them and thus deeply understand it conceptually.  Then with very few extra problems, nothing sinks in.  This is what my ds noticed with some kids who were trying to do AoPS with way too many hints.

My direct teaching approach can fail if the student only drills and never looks for patterns to confirm so that she can develop a deep understanding.  This is where metacognition comes in.  Do I actually deeply understand this algorithm? or am I only able to manipulate numbers and equations?  This is what teachers often worry about with direct teaching programs, and what people were discussing in your thread a couple of weeks ago. 

 

And apparently my inbox is full, so I'll go clean it out!

Edited by lewelma
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5 hours ago, square_25 said:

 

Maybe some lessons on HOW to use the textbook and what to do when stuck would be a good idea. I know I've taught lots of college kids who really had no idea how to use a math textbook. For example, following examples from class is a really good idea (and working them without checking the answers if you're stuck is, too.) Looking up formulas is not really a great first step. Trying some small numbers (for certain kinds of questions) is an excellent tool. 

What class is he taking, and what kinds of questions is he getting stuck on? 

 

Oh, I show him how to use the textbook, and I model that that is the first thing that I turn to -- especially since the problems say explicitly look at problem X in the textbook (and it has been FOREVER since I have done any math). He is currently in PA, but finishing up the geometry section and heading into statistics and some basic counting. It's not that there is a particular kind of problem that trips him up, it's just that when he gets tripped up, he has an aversion to the textbook. It is dense and wordy and no fun for a 10 year old like BA was. I don't think he feels like he knows how to learn from it yet either. But, I do show him how I use it and model it for him. It's just going to take time.

The difference is that Lewelma's son only had the textbook for those first 3 years of algebra. He had to struggle through with it and learn how to learn from it. And all those skills he learned paid off in spades for him. Sacha hasn't really had to learn to do that yet. He has gone from doing BA mostly orally in my lap to BA online to now Academy classes with a live lecturer, separate in-class "extension" activities, and the online homework system. Like I said, when he gets stuck, he struggles with it for awhile, and then will turn on an RR video to see if it helps refresh before he calls me for help. So, the textbook is used very little, and that's a shame, but it's also a function of the fact that we've been outsourcing.  

Edited by SeaConquest
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2 hours ago, SeaConquest said:

 

Oh, I show him how to use the textbook, and I model that that is the first thing that I turn to -- especially since the problems say explicitly look at problem X in the textbook (and it has been FOREVER since I have done any math). He is currently in PA, but finishing up the geometry section and heading into statistics and some basic counting. It's not that there is a particular kind of problem that trips him up, it's just that when he gets tripped up, he has an aversion to the textbook. It is dense and wordy and no fun for a 10 year old like BA was. I don't think he feels like he knows how to learn from it yet either. But, I do show him how I use it and model it for him. It's just going to take time.

The difference is that Lewelma's son only had the textbook for those first 3 years of algebra. He had to struggle through with it and learn how to learn from it. And all those skills he learned paid off in spades for him. Sacha hasn't really had to learn to do that yet. He has gone from doing BA mostly orally in my lap to BA online to now Academy classes with a live lecturer, separate in-class "extension" activities, and the online homework system. Like I said, when he gets stuck, he struggles with it for awhile, and then will turn on an RR video to see if it helps refresh before he calls me for help. So, the textbook is used very little, and that's a shame, but it's also a function of the fact that we've been outsourcing.  

When PreA first came out, I was quite critical of its very wordy approach.  It took many many more pages to cover the same content as the first 5 chapters of IntroA.  However, I backed off of my negative critique given how many people here love the book, but your comments make me think of my original impressions.  My son took a full year to get through 4.5 chapters of IntroA, basically the same content that PreA covers in the algebra strand. But it was much more compact.  This allowed him to spend more time on discovering the math and less time on the reading, and it meant that he really did not have to read much each day. I don't have the book in front of me, but he did about 2 pages a week I think. We school year round so he would have spent 45 weeks, 2 hours per day, and I think the first chapters are about 90 pages.  This felt very doable to ds as little kid, whereas the same content presented in PreA would not have been. That book is LONG and most kids cover it in just over a year. If they are reading it independently, they are reading way more than my son did every day.  My impression from reading here is that most parents do the book *with* their kids, so will often read the text to them. 

The skill of reading math is definitely a skill that must be developed slowly over time.  DS taught himself (which I think is unusual especially given he was 9), and I think most kids need guidance and encouragement and clear goals to master it.  I am still working with ds15 to help him be able to read a math text. Out of all the students I have tutored, there has really only been 1 who could do this. The rest relied on explanations by me, their teacher, or a video. I think that the availability of videos now really undermines learning to read mathematical text. 

Edited by lewelma

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My very young kid adores the discovery method, and will cite the fact that the book gives problems before teaching how to do them as one of the reasons she most loves AOPS. Really, even though working straight from the book isn’t the best fit for her, either, she now starts each topic with the opening questions from the book section so that she gets the “leading discovery questions” from the book before she breaks off to Alcumus or directly to challenging problems.

The online class was a bust for her for multiple reasons. It really seems to me that the kids who would do best with the all-text format of the classes would be the kids who would also do the best with the all-text format of the book. Maybe this is great for matching classes to the kids who are already thriving with the books, but it seems a wasted opportunity to me. The classes could be used to pull in the kids who don’t thrive with just the books. It wouldn’t even take something especially more interactive. At the most minimal end, one tone when answers were pushed through, and a different tone when a new question was asked, would at least be a prompt for my kid to tune back in after she spaced out waiting for answers to be posted. Much better for her would be audio/video from the instructor; responses or questions from students could still be text-based.

I agree from what I saw in her class that the kids who were treating it like a standard class, instead of doing the discovery questions first, were missing out. It seems as though it took away the AOPS flavor. On the other hand, my kid usually “got” the full concept from the discovery questions in the book and Alcumus, so all the weekly homework problems beyond that just felt like busywork to her. And when the instructor did lead through in a discovery-based manner, the class was only repeating what she had already done independently with the book, so a complete waste of time.

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Sometimes, you might be surprised at whether or not a student rises to the challenge. I was prepared for PA to take 18 months for my DS. I was pretty hands off with it as he demonstrated that he was comfortable with self-teaching with the book. He only asked for help on a few of the challenge problems and was able to work it through when I asked him to think about x or y as a hint. He worked at his own pace and finished the book in 10 months. He did every single problem in that monster. He was 9/10 when he did it. We are on a bit of a break doing Jacobs MHE right now which he is also self-teaching. I think he's grown a lot through the process and learning to read a dense text and really thrived with the discovery approach. I'm not certain if we will continue with AOPS beyond Algebra because I'm not sure how much time he really wants to vest into math. These discussions make me wonder if he is the type of student that should continue with AOPS because of how PA went. The amount of time though is a big deterrant unless somehow PA is a predicator of how much time latter courses take. I already know that we won't be doing AOPS geometry. He's just not fond of geometry, so we will be detouring to Jacobs for that. 

Edited by calbear
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10 hours ago, lewelma said:

Well, this goes back to a conversation we had a few weeks ago.  In my experience, there are 2 types of learners. My ds is concepts first, algorithms second learner.  I'm an algorithm first, concepts second learner.  When my ds uses the discovery approach to learn math, it takes him way longer to get through even just a few problems.  He has to try this, and that, loop back around for a different tactic, wait a day, try something new, ruminate, and finally solve it.  With that much work, all from the ground up, he really *knows* the concepts, and rarely needs to do more than just one related problem just to make sure.  In contrast, I can't learn anything that way.  It is like wandering blind in a dark room and bumping into things.  Instead, I get direct teaching of the concept. I then do problem after problem after problem (drill) and over time start to notice patterns, The patterns I can then confirm when I do even more problems, and eventually I get to the point my ds has gotten to and understand the concepts deeply.  And it often takes about the same amount of time.

Both of these approaches can fail.  With the discovery approach, if you are told how to do the problem at first and don't fight to figure it out on your own, you don't internalize the concepts because you didn't discover them and thus deeply understand it conceptually.  Then with very few extra problems, nothing sinks in.  This is what my ds noticed with some kids who were trying to do AoPS with way too many hints.

My direct teaching approach can fail if the student only drills and never looks for patterns to confirm so that she can develop a deep understanding.  This is where metacognition comes in.  Do I actually deeply understand this algorithm? or am I only able to manipulate numbers and equations?  This is what teachers often worry about with direct teaching programs, and what people were discussing in your thread a couple of weeks ago. 

 

And apparently my inbox is full, so I'll go clean it out!

 

Well, I know, but I don’t exactly agree with you ;-). I think some people do require more examples than others to operate with (although I think kids who do hard problems in some sense create enough examples themselves out of a single problem), but I prefer those examples not to be algorithmic drill. But yes, I think most kids do benefit from some direct teaching. And the classes are aimed at kids who do prefer being taught.

I also haven’t taught classes aimed at the younger kids. I do think the format is way better suited for age 12-13 and up than for younger kids.

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2 hours ago, square_25 said:

 

Well, I know, but I don’t exactly agree with you ;-). I think some people do require more examples than others to operate with (although I think kids who do hard problems in some sense create enough examples themselves out of a single problem), but I prefer those examples not to be algorithmic drill. But yes, I think most kids do benefit from some direct teaching. And the classes are aimed at kids who do prefer being taught.

I also haven’t taught classes aimed at the younger kids. I do think the format is way better suited for age 12-13 and up than for younger kids.

I think this is an important point. By the time the kids get to you in pre-calc, they've self-selected quite a bit to the format of those classes. So, even among our mathiest kids, you're only seeing that segment who have been able to keep up with the pace of the online classes and can deal with the all-text format. You're also seeing kids who have grown a huge amount in their mathematical maturity from when they first started AoPS with PA. 

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2 minutes ago, SeaConquest said:

I think this is an important point. By the time the kids get to you in pre-calc, they've self-selected quite a bit to the format of those classes. So, even among our mathiest kids, you're only seeing that segment who have been able to keep up with the pace of the online classes and can deal with the all-text format. You're also seeing kids who have grown a huge amount in their mathematical maturity from when they first started AoPS with PA. 

 

Actually, a lot of kids are jumping into it at the precalc or higher levels without having done earlier classes. It’s really a fine format for older kids. I had the same experience with my sister: she lives in a different city, a lot of our teaching is by text, and this was impossible in elementary school but just fine by high school,

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@square_25  Do you get the sense that some % of your students have already taken a class at the B&M school, and are taking it again at AoPS for extra challenge?  

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6 hours ago, square_25 said:

 

Well, I know, but I don’t exactly agree with you ;-). I think some people do require more examples than others to operate with (although I think kids who do hard problems in some sense create enough examples themselves out of a single problem), but I prefer those examples not to be algorithmic drill. But yes, I think most kids do benefit from some direct teaching. And the classes are aimed at kids who do prefer being taught.

I also haven’t taught classes aimed at the younger kids. I do think the format is way better suited for age 12-13 and up than for younger kids.

 

Lol, I’m well above that age range and found the all-text format at least as miserable as my kid did. She and I have pretty different learning styles, and it wouldn’t work for either one of us.

Edited by Jackie
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33 minutes ago, Jackie said:

 

Lol, I’m well above that age range and found the all-text format at least as miserable as my kid did. She and I have pretty different learning styles, and it wouldn’t work for either one of us.

 

I'm with you. If I had to endure it, I suppose that I could. But, it certainly would not be my preferred method of instruction, and I say this as someone who has a lot of experience with distance learning modalities. I've never encountered any other all text-based program like AoPS. Can some extremely bright students manage it? Sure. But, IMHO, it is not the best way to teach the vast majority of students (regardless of age). 

Edited by SeaConquest

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42 minutes ago, daijobu said:

@square_25  Do you get the sense that some % of your students have already taken a class at the B&M school, and are taking it again at AoPS for extra challenge?  

 

I can say that, at the SD Academy location, and I would imagine the other locations as well, the demographic is almost entirely public and private afterschoolers taking these classes for extra challenge or (more likely, I think) accelerating so that they can compete in math competitions and, by the time they take the classes in their regular schools, get a very high grade with relatively little effort.

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What did you dislike about the text format? The idea is to give you space to think about the ideas. I know I’ve never been able to follow a math lecture in real life and this would have worked better for me, since I’d have time to think without distractions.

Edited by square_25
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23 minutes ago, square_25 said:

What did you dislike about the text format? 

 

When DS13 was much younger, he learned better through audio than text because his listening speed was much higher than reading speed, and he didn’t have the maturity to be patient when reading. Then reading speed caught up and he likes text only or audio only, video format to him is a nice distraction. Kind of like choosing between watching a TEDtalk or reading the transcript, he would rather read the transcript. 

There was also the issue that since DS13 was a slower worker, the answers/solutions were given in the online class before he had finish working through the questions. (ETA: maturity issue)

Edited by Arcadia
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