View Full Version : Pre-Algebra curriculum??

opheliag

04-28-2013, 06:44 PM

My son has used Saxon from Saxon 1 through Saxon 7/6 with no issues. He is good at math and seems to have a good grasp on the what's going on. Then, we started Saxon 8/7, and things hit a wall. I found that the book wasn't explaining things well for him, and it seemed to be spiraling too fast for him. It didn't spend enough time on one concept before moving on to another one that was completely unrelated. After asking around, we switched to Signapore for 7th grade. While it has a lot more review and focuses on one concept before moving on, it doesn't give a lot of explanation. He's becomming increasingly frustrated with this book as am I. We have gone from spending about an hour or so on his math to upwards to three hours a day on it. One day, he spent four hours diligently working on one math lesson. He is burning out and has stopped enjoying math.

Someone else mentioned The Art of Problem Solving as a possible curriculum. I've also been told that Algebra: A Fresh Approach is really good once they have some pre-algebra down.

Does anyone have experience with either of these? What are you using (or have used) for pre-algebra? Pro's; con's.

Thanks!

AddlepatedMonkeyMama

04-29-2013, 12:00 PM

I haven't used it yet, but I'm planning to use Singapore Discovering Mathematics for pre-algebra. I'm curious to know if you use the teaching notes and solutions books in addition to the textbook and workbook.

The AOPS program looks really cool, but I think it could frustrate some kids (like mine) who don't enjoy spending time grappling with math. It's very different from traditional math programs.

Could your son watch Khan Academy videos for more instruction?

hockeymom

04-29-2013, 12:59 PM

I'm watching this too. Right now we are planning on using AoPS either late next year or DS's 6th grade year, either for pre-algebra or algebra (he DOES enjoy spending his time grappling with math!). Hope someone chimes in with IRL experience!

dbmamaz

04-29-2013, 01:18 PM

i used the first LOF book first, but it was review. Then we used the singapore book - i worked with him on it, he never did it alone. So i would read the book to him and have him look through the sample problems until he understood them, i mean, with me talking it out. I would only have him do every other problem in the textbook, and we didnt use the workbook unless he needed extra practice. we never spent more than 30 minutes a day on math.

I'm towards the end of the third year of the singapore program, tho, and feeling less happy with it.

on the 'other' board a lot of ppl talk about some forrester algebra and i forget what else . . . its just a text book. others like using various video programs - teaching textbooks, or the programs at the homeschool buyers coop

PrairiePoppins

05-27-2013, 12:43 PM

I'm currently using the "Key To..." series to address problems with my son's math learning. It is a mastery based series - each set is confined to one theme (eg decimals) and goes from the simplest concepts through to the more complex. There is an algebra set.

They are unintimidating, useful, and cheap.

bcnlvr

05-27-2013, 01:32 PM

DS11 has just completed Math Mammoth 6. I was searching for a PreAlg curriculum and settled on AoPS PreAlgebra. DS had a look at the book and lamented that it was MORE of the same and that he was ready and excited to start Algebra. I balked, but found DOMA Algebra Readiness Test (I bought it from LetsGoLearn at the HSBC for $15). He scored "mastery" in ALL areas of Prealgebra (ds11 has been in MM since end of 3rd grade, so has done MM4-MM6) and we will take the plunge into Algebra in the fall. I have Math Mammoth to thank for that...MM5 and MM6 covered the prealgebra topics well.

Why the long-wind? Well, Math Mammoth is a perfect blend of mastery and spiral, concrete--->abstract for us. I highly recommend their grade level series as well as their topic series (if you only want to hone in on certain areas).

kohlby

05-27-2013, 05:55 PM

I looked into Lials for Alg I and decided against it once I learned about AoPS. I went as far as ordering Lials and then cancelling my order. I didn't do it for Pre-Alg though. My oldest did Math-U-See from Alpha all the way through until the start of Alg I. But MUS Alg I was way too easy and not in enough depth. The extra honors sheets were not enough IMO to make it honors level. (I used to teach high school math, and have taught honors Alg I to 8th graders). So, we jumped into AoPS Intro to Alg. It was a great fit! At first, I did need to sit by his side to help him with the frustration level. But he loved that he was finally challenged - and that it was interesting instead of boring. He completed the first part of the book, what we're counting as Alg I and is 2/3 of the way through Intro to Number Theory now. I am so glad we found AoPS. However, I don't think the approach will be good for my second child due to her learning style. The plan right now is to do Life of Fred for Pre-Alg, but we'll see. She's doing both MUS and LoF right now but is only on about a 4+th grade math level so we have time to figure it out.

If you're considered AoPS, go to the website and sign up for Alcumus. It's free and will give you an idea of the type of questions. My oldest does Alcumus along with the text.

MrsLOLcat

05-27-2013, 10:35 PM

Kohlby, I'm glad to hear you say that. We're using MUS, but I was wondering about how deep the prealgebra book went and have already purchased AoPS to supplement and was wondering about Alcumus. Thanks. (Sorry, Opheliag, didn't mean to hijack!)

kohlby

05-28-2013, 11:42 AM

MUS Pre-Alg was adequate, but of course, nothing like AoPS. There was a little needed to do to get him up to speed. But for an advanced kid, that didn't take much work, just teaching something that AoPS thought he would have already known. For my oldest, I don't think he would have had the maturity for AoPS Pre-Algebra due to age. He did Pre-Algebra in 3rd grade. (And started MUS Alg I that year as well. We abandoned MUS at the end of the school year - starting AoPS at the beginning of 4th grade, so right after he turned 9). AoPS needs both a certain personality and a certain level of maturity. It's great for advanced kids, but being advanced doesn't mean all kids will be mathematically mature enough for it or have the right personality. And some, like my daughter would likely be a crying mess. She is a perfectionist who likes to be taught and then mimic. My oldest is an out-of-the-box thinker who enjoys looking at things from multiple angles.

dbmamaz

05-28-2013, 01:03 PM

i'm still totally struggling to figure out if AoPS pre-algebra will be right for Raven or not. I'll probably end up buying and just selling used if we dont like it - you can NEVER find those used, so it should sell pretty well, right?

kohlby

05-28-2013, 02:43 PM

i'm still totally struggling to figure out if AoPS pre-algebra will be right for Raven or not. I'll probably end up buying and just selling used if we dont like it - you can NEVER find those used, so it should sell pretty well, right?

I know no one IRL who uses it though. It's for a very specific type of student. If you've tried Alcumus and it worked well, then I'd take the gamble. Otherwise, give Alcumus a shot. It's free so nothing hurt. Another thing to consider is if your child doesn't quite have the maturity for the Pre-Alg doesn't mean that your child won't be ready by Intro to Alg in another year. If you're considering selling it by shipping it, then yes, I think you would have no problems selling it.

dbmamaz

05-28-2013, 03:41 PM

i have trouble getting him to look at something on line with me. I read some sample pages and i THINK its a little dry for him - but he didnt mind the Elements of Mathematics being dry. it was on line, but i really think it would have gone better on paper - he just skipped over stuff he didnt understand. He doesnt have the maturity to do hard things without encouragement, but he is a pretty conceptual kid. as long as its not geography - he HATES geography. we've done circumference and area of a circle at least a half dozen times and he still cant remember which is which, tho he has memorized pi*r*r. and pi = 3.14.

we need to take a little detour to work on multi-digit multiplication, though. He does it in his head and makes too many errors (probably half the problems are wrong) so I need to force him to work the algorithm until he's consistently correct. and we have Challenge Math for summer. and i already own LOF pre-algebra/bio . . . sigh. math curriculum is the only one i over-buy, i swear!

kimgoldman

05-28-2013, 08:40 PM

Thinkwell has THE best math program - especially for kids who maybe don't love math - the professor is great, the lectures and examples are clear and I wish I had found it years earlier.

candmforever

09-11-2013, 07:59 PM

I know no one IRL who uses it though. It's for a very specific type of student. If you've tried Alcumus and it worked well, then I'd take the gamble. Otherwise, give Alcumus a shot. It's free so nothing hurt. Another thing to consider is if your child doesn't quite have the maturity for the Pre-Alg doesn't mean that your child won't be ready by Intro to Alg in another year. If you're considering selling it by shipping it, then yes, I think you would have no problems selling it.

We just started my 7th grade DD in AopS and at day 9, she asked for another math program. She's an honors Math student, but is the perfectionist type as well so now I'm scrambling to decide on another pre algebra book for her. I'll have her practicing on the Alcumus in the meantime, thanks for the suggestion.

I honestly have no idea what to turn to next for her. MUS... is that not a really in depth pre A study? I want her to still be challenged yet enjoy it. Aops was just really too full of info all at once. I'm thinking she likes smaller bites at the time. She digests them quickly from one to the next, but pages and pages and pages and PAGES of exponent explanation was just too many words lol Anyway, we are stuck with no math for now..help!

dbmamaz

09-11-2013, 08:03 PM

dont know much but sometimes 'forresters' and 'dolcini' i think come up in conversation. also ck12 flexbooks maybe.

sdvelochick

09-11-2013, 08:19 PM

My son seems to be enjoying AOPS Pre-A so far, but I am also doing it with him. If I left him to try and do it all by himself I don't think he would like it. I do worry that it doesn't have enough problems to complete, but then again I think that is one thing ds really likes. Basically I go through and teach him the lesson and then he does the problems and I check each one as he goes through. I know that this isn't how the author intended, but my son is still young and it seems to be going well. He seems to grasp the concepts which seems to be the most important part. He also do a couple Alcumus problems every day.

On the HSBC there is a set of pre-algebra videos you can purchase for 100 points... I haven't really used them as AOPS doesn't seem to follow normal pre-algebra conventions.

dbmamaz

09-11-2013, 08:25 PM

oh, yeah, thinkwell . . . do they start that early?

sdvelochick

09-11-2013, 08:46 PM

Oh and as far as ck12, I did find a great pre-algebra book that basically took a huge daunting word problem at the start of the chapter and then showed how to do it and then gave problems to practice. I really liked it, but ds wasn't a huge fan.

Heidi M

09-11-2013, 09:28 PM

We used Saxon Algebra 1/2 and Addison Wesley Pre-Algebra and the AW book seems to be a better fit for my non math dude. Algebra sucks and it isn't fun...my math teacher was such a liar. But, we have to show evidence of some level of math skill and since Alex seems OK with this book (short lessons broken down into smaller parts) we'll stick with it. With my oldest son(now 23) we used Key to Algebra and he did fine with it. I don't mind the Key series but it's just one more expense.

crunchynerd

09-12-2013, 06:17 PM

In honor of a member here who first clued me onto the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives (http://nlvm.usu.edu/), I am passing on the favor. I would never have heard of it without her tip, and wow, I wish they had taught Algebra this way, to me, in school! How about scales, where you literally balance equations and solve for X, using objects you can manipulate? I love it, and it makes sense of things in a way that symbols dancing on a page just never did, for me. Hoping it helps you and yours, because it's FREE.

crunchynerd

09-12-2013, 06:20 PM

i'm still totally struggling to figure out if AoPS pre-algebra will be right for Raven or not. I'll probably end up buying and just selling used if we dont like it - you can NEVER find those used, so it should sell pretty well, right?

I always wonder about those curricula you never see for sale used...do the companies that sell them, aggressively buy up any used items out there, so as to prevent the general availability secondhand, and force a new market only? I'm the suspicious type!

dbmamaz

09-12-2013, 08:57 PM

I honestly think its usually stuff that people LOVE so much that they keep in case they might use it again, sell it to their besties, or its snatched up the MOMENT it goes up for sale. AoPS pre-algebra is pretty new, as are all the LOF elementary and middle school books.

atomicgirl

09-13-2013, 12:06 PM

I'm trying to follow, but what is AoPS? I feel like I should know, but my brain just won't call up the correct words to match the letters.

dbmamaz

09-13-2013, 01:58 PM

Art of Problem Solving (http://www.artofproblemsolving.com/), they also make Beast Academy

sdvelochick

09-13-2013, 02:18 PM

Homescholers seem to be the queens of acronyms... even more so than techies LOL. My brain was spinning the first week in here. There was a lot of googling involved. I still haven't figured out what FIAR is, but seems to be mostly preschoolers involved with that so I haven't worried too much.

I'm trying to follow, but what is AoPS? I feel like I should know, but my brain just won't call up the correct words to match the letters.

dbmamaz

09-13-2013, 02:23 PM

Yeah, FIAR is Five in a Row. some sort of curriculum based on reading the same picture book every day for a week and getting something different from it. i've never done any preschool curriculum, either, but my older two could read and write some by kindergarten and my youngest could do some math. we just read books and drew and played with toys and recited nursery rhymes.

ScienceGeek

09-14-2013, 12:45 PM

Art of Problem Solving has free videos online for their books. You don't even need the books or a code to see them. We haven't used them yet. My 13 year old did the pre-algebra book last year and is doing Algebra this year. We both like it. Its challenging but interesting and he gets most of it on his own. He writes the answers in the books so I would have trouble selling it used.

kohlby

09-20-2013, 04:40 PM

I honestly have no idea what to turn to next for her. MUS... is that not a really in depth pre A study? I want her to still be challenged yet enjoy it. Aops was just really too full of info all at once. I'm thinking she likes smaller bites at the time. She digests them quickly from one to the next, but pages and pages and pages and PAGES of exponent explanation was just too many words lol Anyway, we are stuck with no math for now..help I would not use MUS for a gifted child unless the plan is to do MUS Pre-Alg and then another Pre-Alg. My oldest did do MUS Pre-Alg, then started MUS Alg I and then we moved into Alg I AoPS. He did well, but there was definitely a transition period. On another board, I've heard of many kids doing MUS Pre-Alg followed by AoPS Pre-Alg. However, I totally understand it not working for a certain personality. I doubt it's going to work for my advanced perfectionist middle child. She's currently using Life of Fred and that style works wonderfully for her. We'll stick with LoF for as long as it works. If it stops working, I'll look into Lial's or Foerrester's for her. I actually ordered Lial's Alg I for my oldest until I discovered AoPS.

iris0110

09-21-2013, 01:20 AM

I switched my oldest over from Saxon to LOF this year for the earliest of the pre-algebra set. He just finished fractions and is working on decimals. He should get most of the way through Elementary Physics this year. He loves it and is doing remarkably well. His retention has improved significantly. It isn't that math is difficult for him, quite the opposite, but Saxon was not working. He lacks some short term memory and cannot remember things out of context. LOF helps put everything into a working context so fractions which he had learned every way imaginable year after year finally stuck when he learned them this way. I actually really like algebra (but hate geometry) so we will see how it goes when we get that far. Right now he is working through LOF on his own, I only have to check his work. The biggest thing has been that he is happy with it, no fighting or frustration.

dbmamaz

09-21-2013, 11:50 AM

Saxon is big on kill-and-drill and very short on the why. Life of Fred is too non-linear for some kids. My oldest couldnt handle it for new material, only for review. but my younger - LOF is about as close to a math curriculum as he'll tolerate.

hockeymom

12-18-2013, 06:15 PM

Bumping up this thread because it's been heavy on my brain.

Has anyone used Jousting Armadillos or the subsequent books? I'm starting to feel like maybe I should have gone that route this year instead of MM6, which is just feeling repetitive. I'm tempted to add it in, but I'm wondering if that's just overkill and not really needed.

Anyway, I think I have all our plans for next year except for algebra. I'm so on the fence about AoPS. In all likelihood, I won't be the primary overseer of math next year anyway, but I'd like to know where to direct DS and DH for possible programs.

matthewblckwd

11-17-2014, 09:08 PM

One thing to keep in mind with Pre-Algebra is that it should firmly lay the foundation for what lies ahead. My wife has taught high school math for years and one problem that she encountered year after year was students coming into her class who should not have been passed the previous year. She would have to go back and teach them foundational concepts that they should have learned in Pre-Algebra before she could introduce them to what they were to learn in her classes.

That is why we decided to start with Pre-Algebra when designing our own math courses. "UnLock Pre-Algebra" has been designed to firmly lay the foundation that they will need for their future in a way that captures and keeps the attention of the students, breaking the concepts into bite-size chunks that are easy to understand. My wife teaches each lesson in a recorded video, students can practice as little or as much as they like, and all grading and assessment is done online with questions that have been designed to truly test their knowledge many of which are free response, NOT multiple choice, using standard mathematical notation. You can view in detail each question that is asked, the answer given, and feedback and/or full solution for each.

There are many different avenues for homeschool families to choose from ranging from free to quite expensive, all with there own tradeoffs. Having been home educated myself in the '80's I have been amazed at all the choices available now when looking for our own children now. It really is a great time to be homeschooling, the stigma is not the same as it is becoming much more mainstream, there are many more publishers and choices including free resources like Khan Academy, and the homeschool community is larger so it is much easier to find others who have a similar approach.

Free Thinker

12-21-2014, 05:29 PM

I've been reading this thread. This is my first year HSing, and my ODD is in 6th grade. I tried Saxon 7/6, but she knew almost all of it already, so we switched to Saxon 8/7. We've been doing that for a while- in the mid-30s in our lessons, but there were a few concepts that were not taught well. I had to google why some things worked the way they did because Saxon just told them to do XXX number-wise, without really explaining what they were doing concept-wise. She's a big "why" kid- you can't just say "Do XXX" you have to tell her why it always works. I got AoPS Pre-Al to try b/c of all the great reviews. We are working on it together. Some days she loves it, other days she hates it and wants Saxon back. She's done LOF Decimals and Percents and Fractions, and is in the Pre-Al w/ Biology (all for fun!). My opinion, doing the first chapter of AoPS- I hope it gets easier! I'm working alongside her, and it's hard! I know what to do, but explaining it is sometimes hard. She has never done proofs, so that's totally new. I do think it does a really good job of explaining the 'why' behind what we are doing, but it also moves very quickly without enough problems for her to master and remember exactly what operations are allowed or not when moving things around in a proof. Saxon seems to be the opposite, not really explaining the depth, but giving lots of practice. I think a mix is what I am aiming for, so I'm going to make her stick w/ Saxon, maybe lower the number of problems to do, but keep doing AoPS on the side a few days a week. LOF is fun, but not enough IMO either. I'm hoping eventually we figure out what works best- I've got a list for possible Algebra texts and I'm planning to just buy them as I see them cheap, so I can make a more informed decision.

FWIW, DD did not like the sample of AoPS at all! She refused, and wanted the look of Saxon instead. Then she decided Saxon was boring, she's try AoPS. Now she changes her mind daily about which one she likes better. It's ually Saxon- but Saxon is also a lot easier for her to understand. I wish there were a program more like AoPS, but that had more review.

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