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What Algebra for an adult seeking to teach herself from a text?


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A friend wants to work on her Algebra as she feels she never quite got it in school. She is in her 60s I think.  

I think you could self-teach from Dolciani, but I think the texts can be expensive to come by lately, and the solution manuals are worse cost-wise.

Do you think Lial's would work?  What would you recommend?

 

ETA: I think she is looking for a print book versus online.

Edited by cintinative
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I used Jacobs with my 8th grader. You can get the textbook used (older version with lizards on the front is fine and only $20 at thriftbook) and it has the answers to set 2 in the back. I loved Algebra in school, but I was learning some new things, or at least new ways to look at things going through Jacobs with my student. 

I highly recommend it for a step by step approach that is probably needed for someone who never understood from their school days.

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Is she opposed to online things?  SchoolYourself.org would probably be a good choice.  It has interactive videos with instant feedback on answers.  Completely free as well.  No-Nonsense Algebra might also be a good choice.  It has free videos online she could access and it has the answers in the back with no need for a teacher's edition.

 

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1 hour ago, smfmommy said:

Is she opposed to online things?  SchoolYourself.org would probably be a good choice.  It has interactive videos with instant feedback on answers.  Completely free as well.  No-Nonsense Algebra might also be a good choice.  It has free videos online she could access and it has the answers in the back with no need for a teacher's edition.

 

I can ask her. She did ask for a book, so I am trying to provide print options. I don't know that she has a laptop and she likes to sit on her porch and read so something that is unplugged might be better.

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I bought Dolciani and many other texts for under $20 on abebooks.com and amazon's used books listings. 

If she is willing to try online options, archive.org has many older textbooks that are no longer under copyright protection available for free.

Edited by mathnerd
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I actually did this. I had a truly horrible math education. Khan (along with Singapore just ahead of my kid) was great up to algebra, but I didn’t like any of the online options for algebra + (thinkwell, aleks, schoolyorself, etc).

After that I worked through Foerster. I did have the Math Without Borders videos for dd. I had them on my kindle fire on a micro sd. I most just used them to review in the morning when I was on the treadmill, though, in case dd needed help that day, but I mostly just worked ahead of her.

ETA- I really liked Foerester for self-study.

Edited by MamaSprout
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2 hours ago, cintinative said:

I don't know that she has a laptop and she likes to sit on her porch and read so something that is unplugged might be better.

I should mention that the magic of Jacobs is in the problem sets.  The reading is sometimes inspiring, but is mostly incomplete.

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

I don't think one can read one's way to algebra competence, anyway... 

Yes, I didn't mean to imply that. Only that she would probably be working on her porch and does not own a laptop that I know of. I would hate trying to do math on a phone. That sounds horrible. 

I keep saying she wants a print book, but people keep suggesting online options. I am just trying to course correct the suggestions.

Edited by cintinative
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16 hours ago, cintinative said:

I can ask her. She did ask for a book, so I am trying to provide print options. I don't know that she has a laptop and she likes to sit on her porch and read so something that is unplugged might be better.

If she wants some porch reading that leads to a better understanding of Algebra, I would suggest Realm of Algebra by Isaac Asimov or Algebra Unplugged by Amdhal.  Jacob's Mathematics a Human Endeavor might also be a good choice besides his Algebra book mentioned before.

If a large textbook is too daunting the No Nonsense Algebra I mentioned before is workbook sized.  The videos aren't necessary but a nice addition if she needs them.

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I actually used AoPS for this for myself. I didn't end up completing it. But a few years before my kids got to algebra I, I got concerned about my ability to teach it. Being able to mostly speed through a lot of AoPS gave me a lot of confidence that actually I'd be fine. One of the nice things is that the solutions are so detailed that when I did encounter an issue, I could easily see the issue.

But as a teacher and just in general, Jacobs is the textbook that I love and still keep on the shelves. I have loved two math programs as a teacher - Jacobs and Miquon and they are both perfection in my mind.

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I used both Lial and AOPS when preparing myself for teaching Algebra 1.  I loved the solutions manual for AOPS.  Lial was fine, but I got the most out of AOPS because I could see step by step exactly how the problem was solved.  The text also did a great job of talking you through the examples.  The online videos for each chapter were also very helpful.

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17 hours ago, Lucy the Valiant said:

I used Dolciani to do this myself - for algebra 1, geometry, and algebra 2. I enjoyed the journey, and now work part time as a tutor and have shared the old-fashioned books with many a teen. 😉

off topic but what did they use for pre-calc, if they took it?

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Lial's paperback Introductory Algebra would be great for this.  It teaches directly to the student. Be sure to get the student solutions manual to see how the problem is solved.

Edited by klmama
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I think Lial's would be a good choice for self teaching, and so would Tobey and Slater (another CC text for Pre-Algebra, Beginning Algebra, and Intermediate Algebra).  Get the Student Solutions Manual for either series. 

I also love Jacobs, but not everyone thinks like Harold Jacobs.  Unfortunately. 😉 One of my kids crashed and burned using Jacobs, and did much better with the straight-forwardness of Lial's and then Tobey and Slater.  

Key to Algebra also breaks it down into smaller steps that are great for a self-learner to not get overwhelmed.

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12 hours ago, Zoo Keeper said:

I think Lial's would be a good choice for self teaching, and so would Tobey and Slater (another CC text for Pre-Algebra, Beginning Algebra, and Intermediate Algebra).  Get the Student Solutions Manual for either series. 

I also love Jacobs, but not everyone thinks like Harold Jacobs.  Unfortunately. 😉 One of my kids crashed and burned using Jacobs, and did much better with the straight-forwardness of Lial's and then Tobey and Slater.  

Key to Algebra also breaks it down into smaller steps that are great for a self-learner to not get overwhelmed.

I agree with all this. Even, sadly, that Jacobs is not for everyone. Alas.

But also, just to be absolutely blunt, if the adult doing the teaching and guidance needs the simplicity of Key to Algebra to get through the subject, they probably should not be the one to teach algebra and should find the resources to enroll the kid in an outside class - no shame. I love the Key to books - they're great for breaking things down - either for a seriously math challenged student to be their algebra credit or as a resource to dip into from another program when a kid gets stuck. But not for the teacher.

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On 6/29/2021 at 8:44 AM, Farrar said:

I agree with all this. Even, sadly, that Jacobs is not for everyone. Alas.

But also, just to be absolutely blunt, if the adult doing the teaching and guidance needs the simplicity of Key to Algebra to get through the subject, they probably should not be the one to teach algebra and should find the resources to enroll the kid in an outside class - no shame. I love the Key to books - they're great for breaking things down - either for a seriously math challenged student to be their algebra credit or as a resource to dip into from another program when a kid gets stuck. But not for the teacher.

I’ll agree with that. I think a teacher needs to have a robust conceptual understanding to be able to explain concepts to the student.

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I don't have a good book or anything to suggest. However, I've found when I've had to tutor high schoolers or college age people in math their aha moments came when I put away the textbook and all it's fancy words and went back to the elementary school manipulatives. They are always bummed out about it because "I'm not a little kid" but I think sometimes that's what was missed in the first time around is the connection between the words and numbers on the page and physical connection.

With Algebra especially, typically there is an arithmetic skill that they can "do" but they don't actually understand what is going on.

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1 hour ago, Clarita said:

I don't have a good book or anything to suggest. However, I've found when I've had to tutor high schoolers or college age people in math their aha moments came when I put away the textbook and all it's fancy words and went back to the elementary school manipulatives. They are always bummed out about it because "I'm not a little kid" but I think sometimes that's what was missed in the first time around is the connection between the words and numbers on the page and physical connection.

With Algebra especially, typically there is an arithmetic skill that they can "do" but they don't actually understand what is going on.

Absolutely. Most algebra issues are arithmetic issues. 

Algebra is generalized arithmetic. If you never understood the arithmetic, you will not be able to generalize it. So the arithmetic is often the thing to tackle. 

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For self-teaching, quite honestly any college beginning algebra would be fine.

I think Martin-Gay would be a good fit (developmental math, algebra foundations, beginning algebra would all work).

Lial is fine too, I like beginning algebra slightly more than introductory algebra.

Sullivan's developmental math text is a little more rigorous but may be more so than needed. We use it for our STEM prep courses but not for our people who just need to take college algebra.

If possible I'd try to get one with a matching student solutions manual so that she can have the detailed answers to the odd/even questions.

I'd also recommend a Schaum's outline for a large collection of worked examples in a very affordable text.

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On 6/26/2021 at 5:10 AM, cintinative said:

I keep saying she wants a print book, but people keep suggesting online options. I am just trying to course correct the suggestions.

I suggest that she buys 2 used textbooks: Dolciani's Prealgebra and Algebra 1. They have the answer keys to alternate problems at the back of the textbooks. That should be sufficient practice for her. She could do a quick survey and review of the prealgebra book before delving into Algebra 1. If she needs answer keys, they are also available used on the internet.

If she is looking for extra practice problems, an used copy of Schaum's Series Elementary Algebra book will give her enough problems to work through:

https://www.amazon.com/Schaums-Outline-Elementary-Algebra-3ed/dp/0071611630

 

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