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4KookieKids

Aim for green or blue in Alcumus?

Alcumus: green or blue  

13 members have voted

  1. 1. Do you require green or blue bars in Alcumus?

    • Green
      2
    • Blue
      11


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Hey, ds10 is working through the PreA book more or less independently right now. Because of dysgraphia and organizational/EF challenges, I don't require him to write anything out when he works on things on his own. I wish that weren't the case, but this is how it is right now (just moved, other kids having bigger issues, etc.). So my main source of feedback is just the Alcumus reports I get on a weekly basis. It just made me wonder what others require of their kids. I feel like green would be fine if he were actually doing some book problems, but maybe I should set it at blue since that's his only practice?

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I required blue, except for during the time period she was in the online class. Because the number of problems required for the class was about double, I let her stop at green.

Same basic situation here: due to handwriting struggles/possible dysgraphia, we used Alcumus in place of all the regular book problems. I did add some of the challenge problems from the book as well.

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2 hours ago, 4KookieKids said:

So my main source of feedback is just the Alcumus reports I get on a weekly basis

How can I set it up to get those?

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21 hours ago, Noreen Claire said:

How can I set it up to get those?

Oh, I didn't mean "get emailed" to me. I just meant that I go on weekly, and just click the student name and it pulls up reports for every class he's worked on, so I can check how it's all going. Sorry!

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I just had my kids show me their bars every week when they were using Alcumus.

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Blue (with the insanely hard option) is what I choose for my child- some of the alcumus problems are harder than the challenge section problems according to my son. He does not have time to prepare for math competitions like amc, Math kangaroo etc anymore because he attends math circles and other math related enrichment activities, so, the practice he gets with alcumus doubles as competition prep for now. There are plenty of hard competition math problems in alcumus and the solutions are clearly written, so in my case, it is worthwhile to spend time turning each topic blue. Sometimes, if the chapter takes too much time to complete, we might get around to alcumus a week or two later.

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I've always required blue. Just this semester I started letting my oldest (11, 6th grade) choose to stop at green because he dislikes Alcumus in general, and I figure he's old enough to have more say in his level effort and resulting grades. They both do the online classes now but we had a while there when DS#1 worked from the pre-a book before switching.

I'll also add that switching to the online classes was a good move for my ADHD, dysgraphic, ASD DS#1. The writing problems force him to organize his thoughts enough to explain his work for ONE problem each week, and he's okay with that because it's all typed. Online classes have also helped with time management because the the accountability.

Edited by Cake and Pi

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Related question, but what do folks think about using Alcumus without any book? My 10 year old never even opened his Beast Academy guides, and just did problems, mostly the starred ones. So since he finished that, I set him up with Alcumus pre algebra a few days ago, and he's happily worked through several sections. If a kid prefers to do math without being taught it in any way by a book or human, will he have problems with that later?

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5 hours ago, mckittre said:

Related question, but what do folks think about using Alcumus without any book? My 10 year old never even opened his Beast Academy guides, and just did problems, mostly the starred ones. So since he finished that, I set him up with Alcumus pre algebra a few days ago, and he's happily worked through several sections. If a kid prefers to do math without being taught it in any way by a book or human, will he have problems with that later?

 

It probably depends on the particular kid and what level of mastery you are expecting them to achieve.

Keep in mind that the Beast Academy practice books DO contain teaching in the form of short examples at the tops of most pages, so for a kid who grasps concepts easily, it is completely possible to get by without the guides. They are essentially self-teaching with mini-lessons dispersed throughout their problem sets. 

AoPS Prealgebra is pretty straightforward, and almost all the concepts have been covered at least informally/conceptually through Beast Academy. I would bet that such a kid could get through Alcumus Prealgebra on the normal setting without reading the textbook, especially if they carefully read the solutions to problems that they miss and utilize the free online videos.

That said, I don't believe Alcumus alone is enough for the vast majority of kids to master the content to AoPS-level standards. I would insist on the child doing at least the challenge problems from the end of each chapter in the book in addition to Alcumus. My DS 7 did all  but the last two Alcumus topics for Intro to Number Theory before beginning the online class, but he still has to work so solve at least a couple of the assigned online challenge problems each week.

I also suspect that, except in extremely rare cases, most kids who can at first get through Alcumus without prefacing their studies with instruction of some sort will eventually hit a point where they won't be able to intuitively work out solutions in a timely fashion. Like, my DS 7 is a smart kid. Math is his passion. But the process for tackling systems of linear congruences was not happening intuitively. He read the crap out of that chapter in the book, lol. Also the binomial theorem. He loved it and loved seeing the connection with Pascal's Triangle in the textbook, but I think it highly unlikely that he would have made that connection on his own without any guidance... except perhaps by complete chance if he were working on a binomial expansion and happened to have Pascal's triangle fresh in his mind or laying around nearby, lol. Instruction (from the book) was necessary for him to comfortably and quickly solve the Alcumus problems using the binomial theorem.

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18 hours ago, mckittre said:

Related question, but what do folks think about using Alcumus without any book? My 10 year old never even opened his Beast Academy guides, and just did problems, mostly the starred ones. So since he finished that, I set him up with Alcumus pre algebra a few days ago, and he's happily worked through several sections. If a kid prefers to do math without being taught it in any way by a book or human, will he have problems with that later?

 

We’ve done a bit with the book, and a bit without, so far. We found the Beast Academy guides more useful for the soft skills taught than for the actual math most the time - the examples of the beasts working together and making mistakes as they tried out new problems was far more valuable to my kid than the math for all but a couple sections. Keep in mind that the vast majority of topics in AOPS Prealgebra are review for kids who completed the BA program, so you may be seeing the effects of that.

When my daughter was doing the first half of the AOPS Algebra book, she found that she didn’t love the format of the book. She did her work by watching the free AOPS videos and doing Alcumus, with me adding in a smattering of the challenge problems. We pulled the book off the shelf again only when she got stuck in the graphing section. About 1/4 of the way through the book, she decided to take one of the online classes because having an official grade in the class was helpful for her for other purposes. She found both the class and the extra assigned problems to be primarily busy work (the exception being the writing problem, which she did have to work at); the video/Alcumus option was enough for her. She is taking a break from the Algebra book for a good while, but she is out of videos, so will likely have to figure out how to get along better with the book soon.

I was super interested to hear something Richard Rusczyk had to say at a presentation of his that I attended last summer. A parent asked him if their student was missing out by not taking the classes and only using the book. I assumed his answer would be yes, that there were specific benefits to the classes. Not so. His answer was that all the components - book, videos, Alcumus, online classes, in person classes - were made specifically so each student could choose the parts that worked for them. No part was considered indispensable. There were parts that never would have interested him personally, and he didn’t really understand why anyone wanted those parts, but since people obviously did and they wanted people to be able to access good math regardless of their preferred learning methods, they offered many methods to choose from.

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