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Bob Jones Alg. 2 and Foerster's Alg. 2 (and a few others)

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I've said a few times this year that I've been disappointed in Foerster's Algebra 2 and that it's been a big struggle. So I've been looking at some other programs. I was all set to buy one of the video programs when I remembered one of my friends (whose son majored in some kind of engineering in college) suggested I look at Bob Jones, because it is rigorous.


So I was able to see Bob Jones Alg. 2 in person today and I bought it. I spent a few hours with it this afternoon, working random problems and mapping out the rest of our year. Here are my impressions about some differences between the two books:


Bob Jones is more certain than Foerster. I mean, there are a doable number of chapters in the book, and a certain beginning and end, unlike Foerster, where the beginning and end of the Alg. 2 program is what you make of it. This seems like a minor thing, but as far as parental comfort, it's major. The teacher's manual gives a small-medium-large amount of problems to do, sort of like Jacobs does. That's really helpful to know. There is a review for each chapter. There is a test for each chapter. There is a whole lot less guesswork.


Bob Jones seems to cover a similar scope as the "advanced algebra" course recommended in the Foerster book (chapters 1-12), and BJU covers a little extra. Linear equations, graphing, functions, inequalities, quadratic formula, determinants, radicals, exponents, complex numbers, rational expressions and equations, two chapters on trigonometry, inverse functions and logarithms, probability and statistics, and analytic geometry, including conic sections. Matrices are handled really nicely, I thought. They are spread out all over the book so that the student can either tackle them all together or in smaller bite-sized pieces.


I think Bob Jones probably does a better job integrating the different topics to enhance understanding. Foerster has more proofs at first, but Bob Jones incorporates proofs later in the book.


Both are similarly laid out. One of the things I liked best about Foerster Algebra 1 is the way the chapters are arranged. The student is first reminded of something he already knows, then each section in the chapter builds a little more on that basic concept. The last section in the chapter is word problems to apply the concepts learned. There are probably an equal number of examples in the Bob Jones and Foerster books. Both give a commentary alongside the problem being worked, explaining what is happening in each step. I think Bob Jones is a laid out a little bit better. The examples are set apart from the text in a clearer way, even though the definitions in Foerster are set apart from the text in (arguably) a clearer way.


The clear advantage of the Foerster book is the teacher's edition. A small version of the page is visible in the teacher's guide, and expanded solutions are in the wide margins, sort of like A Beka and Rod & Staff (and SRA Explorations and Applications, if you used that one). The answers are given stepwise. For example, if a student is supposed to do cancellations in a problem, they appear in the teacher's guide. Meanwhile, the simple answers are written in such a way that it's easy to grade. This is a help that a mathematician mom might not appreciate as much as the rest of us, but it will be a tremendous help to me.


Another clear advantage of the Bob Jones text, to me, is the tests.


So these programs are extremely similar. The Bob Jones seemed more in line with Foerster than the video programs that I was looking at. Bob Jones does have a video program to go along with their math texts, which I might look into next year for pre-cal. They're not as flashy as Thinkwell or Chalkdust, but the sample I saw moved slowly enough that a struggling student could actually follow. Thinkwell lectures were very entertaining, I thought, and helpful as long as a student already knew the material, but the professor moved too quickly, I thought, for a student learning material for the first time (and the textbook was vastly inferior to either Foerster or Bob Jones).


Lastly, there's the religion issue of Bob Jones. As a Catholic I was hesitant to put any money into any Bob Jones materials at all because of their views, but I decided to look past that. There are scripture references in the text, but they don't frequently make it to the problem sets. I don't think this is as much of an issue as it was in earlier grades using A Beka math (especially 4th grade A Beka math). The section introductions are where the religion references are, and it would be fairly simple to look past them. I don't know how the video lectures would be in that regard.

Edited by Laura K (NC)
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(That other post was long enough... this is an addendum)


I'm going to start at the beginning of Bob Jones, skimming over the duplicate material and picking out what is new or needs reinforcing.


I'll probably have to give another report at the end of the year to verify that this actually worked as well as I hope it will. :)

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I mainly wanted to say that even if someone wasn't a Christian, they could probably use the program with just a few adjustments.


I know Catholics who avoid BJU completely, and I respect that. I'm willing to use A Beka and Bob Jones selectively, though. Science and math are usually safe subjects, but I've been surprised to see some anti-Catholic stuff in those texts, too. I didn't notice any in this Alg. 2 book, just glancing through it.

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