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Placement question: maybe switching from Singapore Math US Edition to Beast Academy


Cookemom
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My incoming 5th grader (turning 11) has been Singapore math (using the Singapore math live syllabus) since 2a in second grade. He completed the workbooks, IP and CWP for all 3 years - just completed 4b in May. I have never taught him one lesson. When he would get stuck, he would refer to the textbook (otherwise never even opened it) and/or watch the Singapore Live video (maybe once every month). 

We were  planning to switch to Saxon 7/6 using My Math Assistant videos. However, his  brother (incoming 3rd grader and turning 9) completed 2b SM (workbook, IP & CWP) using SM Live in May but needed more help and enjoyed it less. We are planning to switch to BA for him (going to try starting in 3a) and I’m wondering if the 5th grader should consider it too. Any advice on placement for these guys? And/or opinions about BA vs. Saxon vs. Singapore Math (US edition)?

Finally, we work well when I assign pages for the week (4 days), and I’m concerned about using a “time limit” to pace ourselves since my boys will just space out and we might never complete a chapter that way. Any experiences to share - successes? 

I’m particularly interested in utilizing a program that includes online grading/progress reporting. 

TIA - I know there are a lot of other posts that may have addressed some or all of these questions….

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Hi, and welcome to the WTM board!  

If you are unsure about the placement level in BA, you can check out their placement tests here.  

Problem sets on BA will be more "puzzley" than what you probably saw in SM.  (I used the U.S. edition of SM, textbook and workbooks only; I have no experience with SM Live or My Math Assistant.)  

If your goal is to continue with AoPS, I and others have successfully transitioned from SM at level 5-6 to AoPS Prealgebra without a problem.  

I suspect you can assign a certain number of BA workbook pages per day just as you did with SM.  I also did not use time limits with my students.  

BA offers an online experience if your students prefer that.  I'm fairly certain they offer progress reports.  Here is a link to their demo.

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We used Singapore for a little while, and then switched to Beast in 3rd or 4th. I think a kid who enjoys Singapore might hate Saxon, but every kid differs.

Anyway, they loved Beast! They wept when they outgrew it. I wouldn't hesitate to back up a tad if the placement test indicates that. Just mention that Beast covers things other curriculum doesn't so they won't be hung up on the grade label. 

We used the books only, and both kids  transitioned to AOPS Pre-Algebra without trouble. 

I have used timers sometimes and required pages at others. I think with Beast I assigned two or three pages a day. 

My 6th grader still re-reads the Beast Guides for fun, if that tells you anything. 🙂

 

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Why can't I spell?
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Wait a minute... the older kid might be a good candidate for Beast Academy, but a really wonder about the younger one.  You have to really like puzzling out tricky problems for Beast.  If he needs lots of help with Singapore, I'd slow down and give him the help. 

Also, I would never make a dramatic switch in math programs without doing a placement test first.  The sequences can be different enough that even quite "mathy" students may need to back up a level.  They may then be able to speed through parts of the first level or two, though.

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I was actually thinking the same the more I looked into BA. I had thought I knew what to do for the 5th grader and was really exploring options for my 3rd grader. He loves stories and characters and so this jumped out at me for that reason. The more I read, the more I thought my older, more puzzle-minded, son would enjoy the challenge.

I will say that, though my second son doesn’t LOVE math as much as his brother - he isn’t quite as mathematically minded, he is very gifted and learns quickly. To be fair, since I never had to “teach” my first, we were sort of in that rhythm of skipping the lessons and the textbook and just doing the workbook, CWP and IP. The sweet second boy kept up, though, and held his own. I just know I’m doing him a disservice, and he deserves a real teacher.

I feel confident that he will succeed with the guide book, video lesson and added practice, if needed. I am not as certain that he will love it. Of the two, he is much more enthusiastic about it. My oldest one cares not at all about characters and stories.

I so appreciate experienced homeschooler’s opinions - so thank you so much for processing with me!! Honestly, if SM had more video support, I’d just stay with it since neither were begging to switch, and have thus far succeeded in learning the concepts with very little instruction. The only real glaring hole is that my 8 year old is struggling to understand time associations - like “a quarter until 3 is 2:45” - but I haven’t taken the necessary time (ha pun) to reinforce and practice. We don’t love the SML videos, and would have to switch to another version for other third party support. These others don’t include help for the CWP and IP (which I agree with SML, who advises that is the only way to actually get the results for which SM is known). Everything I’ve read says it is not advisable to switch to dimensions this late in the game from other versions, and that is the only “SM” program that provides video support. I’m thinking through using only the workbooks (dropping IP and CWP) for 3 with my 3rd grader along with BA 2  - and SM 5 workbooks with BA 4 for my 5th grader. It might be too much but perhaps not, and at least I’ll be getting progress reports and testing which we weren’t doing with SM. At the risk of completely losing you, at this point, I should also say that neither ever had trouble with the workbook problems with SM - only with the CWP and IP occasionally. Neither like doing the work, mind you, but the workbooks were easy for them both - with minimal textbook assistance. 

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20 minutes ago, Nm. said:

Can you clarify- Singapore told you that you needed to do CWP and IP to have similar results?

Sorry - too many abbreviations maybe - Singapore Math Live is the 3rd party “endorsed” service that provides a syllabus and recorded lessons and helps for each level of Singapore Math US Edition - workbooks, Challenging Word Problems and Intensive Practice. The lady who does it - I forget her name and am too lazy to look it up - told me over the phone (and I believe it’s somewhere on her website) that in order to get the results for which the original SM has a reputation, you have to complete all three books and not just the textbooks and workbooks. 

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I've never used BA online but from what you are talking about I think you are talking about BA online. I've heard through some BA Facebook groups that online is easier than the BA books. 

FYI BA has books which you can use (they don't come with videos or anything). Additionally they have an online option which is also a complete thing, your kids would complete problems online. Some people do both online and books.

Maybe you should try joining a BA Facebook group to ask about what BA is really like.

Both my kids are strong in math but younger than yours. My youngest having been exposed to both SM and BA (BA didn't have Kindergarten level and just came out with level 1 so my eldest did SM for a year or so) picked SM because she likes explicit instructions on how to do something then get some practice problems to practice. She also likes hands-on learning. My eldest picked BA coming from SM because he didn't like always getting explicit instructions. He likes to get the problems see if he can do them. If he can't then, he can ask for help. He was also not into the math manipulatives. Often in SM he would tell me to stop a lesson and just tell him how he could prove to me he has mastered the material.

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7 hours ago, Clarita said:

I've never used BA online but from what you are talking about I think you are talking about BA online. I've heard through some BA Facebook groups that online is easier than the BA books. 

FYI BA has books which you can use (they don't come with videos or anything). Additionally they have an online option which is also a complete thing, your kids would complete problems online. Some people do both online and books.

Maybe you should try joining a BA Facebook group to ask about what BA is really like.

Both my kids are strong in math but younger than yours. My youngest having been exposed to both SM and BA (BA didn't have Kindergarten level and just came out with level 1 so my eldest did SM for a year or so) picked SM because she likes explicit instructions on how to do something then get some practice problems to practice. She also likes hands-on learning. My eldest picked BA coming from SM because he didn't like always getting explicit instructions. He likes to get the problems see if he can do them. If he can't then, he can ask for help. He was also not into the math manipulatives. Often in SM he would tell me to stop a lesson and just tell him how he could prove to me he has mastered the material.

Thanks for the insight! Unfortunately, I try to avoid FB at all costs and have resigned myself to ignorance in situations like these. I still believe I’m better for it. In this case, ignorance may not be bliss, but I can’t afford the curiosity. 

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2 hours ago, Cookemom said:

Thanks for the insight! Unfortunately, I try to avoid FB at all costs and have resigned myself to ignorance in situations like these. I still believe I’m better for it. In this case, ignorance may not be bliss, but I can’t afford the curiosity. 

Same 😂 

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3 hours ago, Cookemom said:

Thanks for the insight! Unfortunately, I try to avoid FB at all costs and have resigned myself to ignorance in situations like these. I still believe I’m better for it. In this case, ignorance may not be bliss, but I can’t afford the curiosity. 

No problem.

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I use Beast Academy for my kids. I have one 11 year old finishing up the last couple of chapters of 5 , one 9 year old halfway through 4, and a 6 year old near the beginning of 2. The 6 year old is the only one who has level 1 available. We mostly use the online version, though we have all the books. I like that it gives instant feedback. During math time, I can listen to the chimes and know who is struggling and go to them, while the others continue on. Between the comics, the videos, and the step-by-step demonstration of his to do sample (and missed) problems, I feel it teaches more than thoroughly. My oldest struggles the most with it, but she's great at real-life math when it comes up, so she sees it has been worth while.

The website has some helpful documents for planning and understanding Beast Academy. Look under "parent resources." One includes an explanation for each chapter with a flow chart showing which previous chapters this especially builds on and which it leads to, as well as information about why AOPS presents information in a particular way. This may be especially helpful if you find one chapter especially difficult as it will show you which previous chapters you can return to to fill in gaps. 

If you go with online, you get access to everything, so you can unlock previous chapters, either for fun or review. 

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9 hours ago, Xahm said:

I use Beast Academy for my kids. I have one 11 year old finishing up the last couple of chapters of 5 , one 9 year old halfway through 4, and a 6 year old near the beginning of 2. The 6 year old is the only one who has level 1 available. We mostly use the online version, though we have all the books. I like that it gives instant feedback. During math time, I can listen to the chimes and know who is struggling and go to them, while the others continue on. Between the comics, the videos, and the step-by-step demonstration of his to do sample (and missed) problems, I feel it teaches more than thoroughly. My oldest struggles the most with it, but she's great at real-life math when it comes up, so she sees it has been worth while.

The website has some helpful documents for planning and understanding Beast Academy. Look under "parent resources." One includes an explanation for each chapter with a flow chart showing which previous chapters this especially builds on and which it leads to, as well as information about why AOPS presents information in a particular way. This may be especially helpful if you find one chapter especially difficult as it will show you which previous chapters you can return to to fill in gaps. 

If you go with online, you get access to everything, so you can unlock previous chapters, either for fun or review. 

This is super helpful - thank you!! I had found the resources but didn’t realize the added benefits beyond planning purposes.

What curriculum did your 2 olders switch from, and at what ages - into what levels of BA?

Can you tell me about how long it takes you to get through a chapter? Do you work 4or 5 days a week? 

Now - can anyone tell me how to get my kids to do a placement test in summer! 

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15 minutes ago, Cookemom said:

This is super helpful - thank you!! I had found the resources but didn’t realize the added benefits beyond planning purposes.

What curriculum did your 2 olders switch from, and at what ages - into what levels of BA?

Can you tell me about how long it takes you to get through a chapter? Do you work 4or 5 days a week? 

Now - can anyone tell me how to get my kids to do a placement test in summer! 

My older 2 did some MEP through level 2 or 3. The oldest started playing around with BA 2 as it came out when she was 5 or 6, but it didn't become her main thing until she was about 8. She has done some Math Mammoth when she needs time to practice/marinate on a topic. When she's focused on BA it takes under 3 weeks a chapter, but she's had to take some extra time with division and fractions so it's taken her about 14 months to get through level 5 (after finishing level 4 in about 7 months). The next started with level 2 in second grade, so he would have been 7.5. He works pretty steadily but doesn't tend to do more than I ask. He works on it 4 days a week, doing 2-3 lessons a day in the online version. On test days that's the only thing he does. It takes about 2.5 weeks per chapter, probably. The 6 year old (almost 7) flew through level 1 lessons last year. He did lessons about 3 times a week, most weeks of the school year, and finished all of level one and some of two. Most chapters took him 4 or 5 days of doing stuff. He could have gotten through more if I'd pushed, but I don't think I need to push "getting ahead."

Good luck on the placement tests! I sometimes have luck making something "earnable." Like, we'll go to this extra fun place if you earn it by cleaning up/doing extra work.

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