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Struggling with Foerster Algebra 2


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I know this has been asked before and have read all the previous threads.  My dd is in Ch 6 (logarithms) and has done okay with the text so far.  We're using the Math Without Borders videos and doing the problems he assigns.  The word problems are becoming more and more difficult and even with me putting in an hour or so of personal study each night, I'm not understanding the material to the extent that I can help her (and she needs me to be able to help her).  I was good at this in school and enjoy math, but these word problems are killing me!

What are our options?  We have covered a significant amount of material and invested lots of time into this curriculum.  Is it fair to continue from this point without doing the word problems?  I'm thinking that would really limit the benefits of the book and even cut out some of the learning since some properties are "discovered" through solving the problems.  Can we just get through, say chapter 8 or 9 and call it good and move on to something easier for Precalculus?  I guess I'm asking what is the bare minimum we can do of Foerster in order to say she's completed Algebra 2 and can move on?  Some lessons really seem like they could be "extras" intended for very mathy students who want to take concepts further. 

I'm so tempted to just throw in the towel and find something easy that makes us feel successful and gets the job done, but I also want her to get a solid Algebra foundation, which is why I chose this book.

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Logarithms are chapter 7 in my copy, but let me ask a clarifying question. Are you talking about the story problems at the very end of each chapter  (several pages that is the last section before the review & test) or the ones at the end of each section (higher number problems)?

Kolbe calls Chapter 1-10 Algebra 2. I can't remember who else uses this text over two years & calls the first half Alg 2 & the second half Pre-Calc, but there is someone.

Edited by RootAnn
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I'm specifically talking about the higher number problems in each lesson.  She and I both understand and can easily do all the basic "math" problems, and then we can sometimes do the first word problem or so with no issue.  Then they get tricky.  Often even with watching the video solutions we're not 100% sure what they were asking or how he arrived at the solutions.  This is super frustrating for both of us, who are perfectionists and are accustomed to learning to mastery and thoroughly "getting" everything before moving on.  We haven't had great success using the MWB graphing program, Geogebra, either.

The word problems at the end of each chapter don't seem as hard for some reason. 

I know ultimately it's up to me and I don't need permission to skip anything.  But, it would be helpful to hear from anyone else who has used this book and culled certain material (word problems or whole chapters, specifically).  Could that still set her up for precalculus (NOT with Foerster, probably Mr.D or DE).

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You might want to look at DOs.  You could simply use his videos/assignments for topics you haven't yet covered.  And if your dd likes his teaching, you could use him for precal.  2 of my kids have used his precal course and have thought it was taught clearly and thoroughly.  (His courses have the benefit of being simply month by month, so if you don't like it, you just stop.  Self-grading is $29/mo.  He will send you full solutions.)

Edited by 8filltheheart
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Gotcha. Well, I have the TE and the instructions often don't assign those problems at all. I look at them as introductory stuff for the next section so sometimes I use them to start teaching the next section. I don't use the computer program ones at all.

My oldest used an online class that used Foerster with very few questions assigned (often not enough for her to solidify the concepts) and which only assigned some sections of certain chapters. Pre-Calc with another online provider was tough but do-able. That DD is a math major in her second year of college now.

I'mI know some kids can use the book to teach themselves, but I'm teaching it myself. Dd#3 & I are on Chapter 6 of Foesters Alg 2 right now. We're going pretty slow, I guess, but covering just about everything. I skipped some of the 3-variable matrices.

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On 4/16/2021 at 1:22 PM, 8filltheheart said:

You might want to look at DOs.  You could simply use his videos/assignments for topics you haven't yet covered.  And if your dd likes his teaching, you could use him for precal.  2 of my kids have used his precal course and have thought it was taught clearly and thoroughly.  (His courses have the benefit of being simply month by month, so if you don't like it, you just stop.  Self-grading is $29/mo.  He will send you full solutions.)

I don't see anything on his site about self-grading.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Our math online tutor Mrs. Flynn uses chapters 1-8 for her Algebra 2 course, and chapters 9-15 for her Pre-Calc course, each course taking a year, and I think she calls them both honors. If you want to see which problem she assigns, check out her tab for homework calendar under the tab called student resources. That may be helpful to see what someone who teaches an honors-level, vigorous math course expects for those difficult problems.

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7 hours ago, Amy M said:

Our math online tutor Mrs. Flynn uses chapters 1-8 for her Algebra 2 course, and chapters 9-15 for her Pre-Calc course, each course taking a year, and I think she calls them both honors. If you want to see which problem she assigns, check out her tab for homework calendar under the tab called student resources. That may be helpful to see what someone who teaches an honors-level, vigorous math course expects for those difficult problems.

As an alternative perspective, I cannot imagine taking 2 yrs to get through that book and calling the courses honors. I have taken 6 kids through that book in 1 yr and they have gone on to take an additional precal course which goes much further than Foersters alg2/trig bk. No comparison.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 5/1/2021 at 3:30 PM, 8filltheheart said:

As an alternative perspective, I cannot imagine taking 2 yrs to get through that book and calling the courses honors. I have taken 6 kids through that book in 1 yr and they have gone on to take an additional precal course which goes much further than Foersters alg2/trig bk. No comparison.

When taking your kids through the book, did you do all the problems? I'm amazed you got through it in one year! Also, after they finished Foersters, what did you use for Precalc? Looking at his precalc book with trig, it seems to be a lot of repetition which would be great if we did something else between the alg/trig book and the precalc/trig, but seems silly if we do them back-to-back.

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47 minutes ago, db6 said:

When taking your kids through the book, did you do all the problems? I'm amazed you got through it in one year! Also, after they finished Foersters, what did you use for Precalc? Looking at his precalc book with trig, it seems to be a lot of repetition which would be great if we did something else between the alg/trig book and the precalc/trig, but seems silly if we do them back-to-back.

We do odds or evens except for word problems and do all of the word problems in alg 1.  In alg 2, same except we do chpt 9 afte chpt 5. Skip chpt 10.  chpt 11 and 12 we do after chpt 8.  

Only 1 of my kids used his precal text. My other kids have done DE, Derek Owens, or AoPS.  Derek Owens's precal has been a really good option for 2 of my kids.  My current high schooler will be taking it in 11th.

Edited by 8filltheheart
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On 5/14/2021 at 12:04 PM, 8filltheheart said:

We do odds or evens except for word problems and do all of the word problems in alg 1.  In alg 2, same except we do chpt 9 afte chpt 5. Skip chpt 10.  chpt 11 and 12 we do after chpt 8.  

Only 1 of my kids used his precal text. My other kids have done DE, Derek Owens, or AoPS.  Derek Owens's precal has been a really good option for 2 of my kids.  My current high schooler will be taking it in 11th.

My oldest is just about to start Foerster Alg 2, so I am curious about your rationale for doing the chapters out of order.

Thanks.

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59 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

What's Chapter 9? 

1. Intro
2. Functions and Relations
3. Linear Functions
4. Systems of linear equations and inequalities
5. Quadradic functions and complex numbers
6. Exponential and logarithmic functions
7. Rational algebraic functions
8. Irrational algebraic functions
9. Quadratic relations and systems
10. Higher Degree Functions and complex numbers
11. Sequences and series
12. Probability , data analysis and funtions of a random variable
13. Trigonometric and circular functions
14. Properties of trig and circular functions
15. Triangle problems

8filltheheart seems to be suggesting going in the order: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12 (and then 13, 14, 15? or skip those? not sure)

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2 hours ago, wendyroo said:

1. Intro
2. Functions and Relations
3. Linear Functions
4. Systems of linear equations and inequalities
5. Quadradic functions and complex numbers
6. Exponential and logarithmic functions
7. Rational algebraic functions
8. Irrational algebraic functions
9. Quadratic relations and systems
10. Higher Degree Functions and complex numbers
11. Sequences and series
12. Probability , data analysis and funtions of a random variable
13. Trigonometric and circular functions
14. Properties of trig and circular functions
15. Triangle problems

8filltheheart seems to be suggesting going in the order: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12 (and then 13, 14, 15? or skip those? not sure)

Sounds like she just groups the quadratic stuff? 

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6 hours ago, wendyroo said:

1. Intro
2. Functions and Relations
3. Linear Functions
4. Systems of linear equations and inequalities
5. Quadradic functions and complex numbers
6. Exponential and logarithmic functions
7. Rational algebraic functions
8. Irrational algebraic functions
9. Quadratic relations and systems
10. Higher Degree Functions and complex numbers
11. Sequences and series
12. Probability , data analysis and funtions of a random variable
13. Trigonometric and circular functions
14. Properties of trig and circular functions
15. Triangle problems

8filltheheart seems to be suggesting going in the order: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12 (and then 13, 14, 15? or skip those? not sure)

Yrs ago Kathy in Richmond sat with me and went through  the textbook to create a doable 9 mo plan. It has worked well for my kids.

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Another vote for DO. We are doing pre-calc in grade 11, self grading. My daughter understands everything without a problem thanks to his videos, practice problems, homework. It's probably too easy for her as she never gets anything wrong but she's a strong math student who doesn't actually like math so that's always been a tricky place for us.

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Sorry so late with this reply. I haven't been active on this board. I chanced upon your question weeks ago and am just now getting to respond. You are probably finished with Chapter 6!

I teach math using the Foerster's Algebra II Book. For word problems, do you mean, for example, the problems about pH and log tables in Chapter 6-10? I do some of those in my class, in particular, I love the log table problem. I just polled the other teachers and one said she did only did those in her honors course. 

I could go on. And on and on. If you have another student you need to use the book for or if you just want peace of mind for last year I would be happy to go through it and let you know what we cover in my class.

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On 4/16/2021 at 1:22 PM, 8filltheheart said:

You might want to look at DOs.  You could simply use his videos/assignments for topics you haven't yet covered.  And if your dd likes his teaching, you could use him for precal.  2 of my kids have used his precal course and have thought it was taught clearly and thoroughly.  (His courses have the benefit of being simply month by month, so if you don't like it, you just stop.  Self-grading is $29/mo.  He will send you full solutions.)

How does self-grading work and differ from the full-priced option? The student can still ask questions, but the parent is referring to a solutions manual and doing the grading? 

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2 hours ago, Kathryn said:

How does self-grading work and differ from the full-priced option? The student can still ask questions, but the parent is referring to a solutions manual and doing the grading? 

My kids have never had to contact him for help, so I dont know the answer to that question. We usually youtube search first or call an older sibling if that doesn't work. I grade with the solutions provided.  

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