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Chalkdust vs. Math Relief

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I was wondering if anyone had used either or both of these math curriculums. I am looking into Algebra 2 for my son. He is bright and makes good grades but struggles in math. I need a DVD program that will explain everything clearly and I need a solution manual that outlines the answers step-by-step.


Both Chalkdust and Math Relief advertise these things on their websites. Can anyone recommend one over the other. Math Relief is MUCH cheaper, even though it is not all that cheap either. Chalkdust Co. is asking $429 for their program (gulp) but I'd be willing to shell that out to them if they can deliver. I desperately need a program that my son can understand!


We've been doing System Mathematics with Paul Zeigler and that worked for a while but now my son is struggling again.


Thanks, in advance, to anyone who might have helpul advice.



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My son did their Pre-Algebra program last year and we are doing Chalkdust Algebra 1 this year. I have no plans to change. Ever. Yes, it is expensive but well worth it IMO. Prof. Mosely's teaching is very clear and easy to understand. If you buy new he provides teaching support via e-mail (and I understand if by phone if that is necessary if e-mailing doesn't clear it up) if you need it. I haven't needed to contact him very often with questions, but when I have he has responded on the same day. I am not familiar with the other program you mentioned, but I cannot say enough good things about Chalkdust! We love it!

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I have Math Relief 1 for Algebra 1 and it is my alg. program of choice (will be getting Math Relief Alg. 2 for the upcoming school year).


I have Chalkdust's PreCalc set which my 12th grade daughter used last year. We live overseas and due to a shipping mixup, she was only able to use it for 6 months of the school year (rather than all nine) and while not a math whiz (just competent), she was able to test into taking the *regular* Calc I course this year at a rigorous college.


My thoughts about the two programs:


First, BOTH are very good programs with *very good teachers* and will give your son solid math skills.


The DIFFERENCES of approach should be the determining factor:


1. Math Relief is *designed* for high schoolers, Chalkdust uses college-level (remedial but appealing to that audience) texts.


2. Math Relief is more *user* friendly: you know to do one lesson a day and each lesson is clearly marked. Mr. Firebaugh (with Alg. 1 at least) has noted those lessons that might take more than a day. I don't know if he explicitly does that with the Alg. 2 program--those lessons are longer because the material is more complex and the general recommendation might be to spend two days per lesson.


Chalkdust requires you (or your student) to figure out how much to do each day and how many/which exercises. My daughter had no problem with doing this on her own--my son, when he gets there, will probably need my input to know how to schedule it all out.


3. Math Relief uses a worksheet approach--all the exercises are in a consumable packet--all very black and white, nothing but the problems.


Chalkdust uses a modern, colorful textbook. A few students might find the layout "busy", most would find it attractive.


4. Math Relief (at least at the Alg. 1 level, I don't know about the Alg. 2 level) is focused on the skills of manipulating equations--all kinds of equations, including messy-looking equations. It does cover "word problems" but in a concentrated manner. The general (underlying) approach is that Alg. will give you many necessary tools for solving all kinds of real life problems, but first you have to learn how to use the tools. FWIW, my son who used MR Alg. I last year (and is doing Geometry this year) has been able to correctly answer all the alg-based "word" problems included in the "Official SAT Question of the Day" email sent out by the College Board site.


Chalkdust, geared for the college crowd, includes more "real life" problems right along with learning about how to solve them algebraically. These problems are truly drawn from "real life" and cover topics that may or may not interest a high schooler (economics, population statistics, safety, science, etc).


5. Math Relief's answer key includes step-by-step solutions, often with a written note about *why* he did a particular step at the time or things to watch out for.


Chalkdust solutions book is the one done by the textbook company and has no written commentary, just the steps.


For us, I prefer Math Relief Alg. because I like the fact that it is geared toward high schoolers. I like to think of my brood as mature and bright (and they are), but they are still just 12, 14, and 16 years old.... I am very happy with using Chalkdust's PreCalc book in 12th grade because I want my students to be familiar with college-type classes. (We don't have the option of dual enrollment).



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Thank you, thank you, thank you to you kind people who responded to my question! You've no idea how helpful this has been for me.


I just joined this forum ----- this is my first foray onto the board ---- and I am already glad I found it.


Blessings to all of you.





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I used it with my oldest dd and she did really well with it. I feel like it covered a LOT of material and very thoroughly.


I think the teacher really does a great job explaining the material. I think the price is fair in comparison to the other programs, and it's nice that you can buy it in chunks instead of all at once (that really helped us).


I just ordered the program on DVD for my other 3 kids. I wasn't going to use it with dd#2 because I have felt like it might be too tough for her, but oldest dd told me to let her try it because he explains it so well. (DD#2 is just NOT a math person at ALL). DD#3 and DS will start it as well because they are both ready.


I think this is a really great program and would highly recommend it.

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We started Alg 2 Math Relief 2 weeks ago. Dtr did Videotext last year (got thru Mods ABC) for Alg 1 and we did the first 8 chapt of Teaching Textbook Alg 2 this year. I like it just fine but I really liked VideoText and only switched because my dtr *hated* it. (I am using VT with my next oldest dtr this year and she will get thru Mods ABCD in the time it took sis to get thru ABC so, in theory, I intend to use VT all the way for dtr #2.)


Btw, I left TT Alg 2 because I found it no better (nor worse) then VText in the time it was taking my dtr to use it - and the amt. of help I was having to give her. IOW, I bought TT to save me some tutoring time and it wasn't doing that - I was holding dtr's hand as much as ever.


First of all I am happy so far with Math Relief - I do have a "bit" of a problem with the fact that Math Relief has no "text' just the videos and then the worksheets - which don't have much vocab on them or explanations - just worksheet problems to solve after watching the videos. Personally, I would prefer a "textbook" going over the same concepts (on PAPER) that Mr F goes over in the lesson - like a mini-review on "PAPER" for myself. Instead the problems on the worksheet lessons (that student does daily) build in difficulty and go over the lesson in the book. Did I mention I like things in writing on a piece of paper I can re-read if need be :). This has not yet seemed to bother my dtr.


My dtr likes Mr Firebaugh but does complain that the lessons are too long (I would guess 25min average?) but when I watch with her, Firebaugh's explanations are so thorough and he goes thru plenty of examples so I think the extra time (comp to 15min on Teaching Text Alg 2 approx) is very, very worthwhile. OTOH, I told dtr - it is better to spend extra time up front with Mr Firebaugh explaining it all then to spend extra time redoing the lesson because you weren't sure about something at the end of a shorter lesson (with VText or TT Alg 2).


I just posted because I know Math Relief (while highly praised by every user I have seen so far) is not as well known - so I felt I could give a little feedback.


Btw, if dtr (who is a struggling math student) does not do well with Math Relief then we will probably just have her finish the necessary VideoText mods to finish Alg 2. So far, so good!


Lisaj, mom to 5

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Thank you, LisaJ and Stacey in LA, for your feedback on the Math Relief. Boy, MR sure is looking better and better to me. I'm leaning towards it, but am holding off making a final decision until I go to a homeschool conference in April.





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  • 3 months later...

I'll put in another thumbs up for Math Relief. We are completing MR Algebra II next week and I have been very pleased with my dd's grasp of concepts and most of all she really enjoys math now. When she started 9th grade, I was dreading Algebra I with her as she really disliked math and just didn't seem to grasp it very well. However, with MR Algebra I she seemed to finally get math. I used Chalkdust Geometry for my ds, but I have decided to sell it and use something else for my dd. Unfortunately, Mr. Firebaugh didn't make a geometry program!


Hope that helps,



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