Topic | Algebra for the very unmathy?

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  • Crystal
    Participant

    I could really use some Algebra help. My ds is in 10th grade and in Algebra 1. We have always (mostly) used Math U See and I have felt confident in teaching it. This year it is going so, so badly. We are halfway through our year and only 7 weeks into Algebra. It is sooo difficult for us. I must admit I am totally not getting Mr. Demme’s instruction, and my son doesn’t get it, so we are both just eeking along. I have considered a tutor or class, but I really want to go half pace and this child truly learns best with less. He needs time to ruminate. Most classes will not be a good fit, and I really cannot afford a tutor. I have considered free online videos, but it feels so spotty to just look up various videos concept by concept. We did try Kahn, but I felt like I couldn’t find the right videos to line up with our MUS lesson. I have no problem learning with him and tutoring as I go, but I need something other than MUS I think. Right now I just get out the solutions out every day and we walk through each problem essentially cheating. I frequently hear myself saying “huh, is that allowed, you cant do that, why did he do it that way.” Any suggestions? Teaching Textbooks? I own Saxon with the Dive Cds, maybe just only do 1/4 of the daily problems. Out coop class uses Bob Jones. Any ideas would be appreciated.  Thanks.

    ErinD
    Participant

    You can get a free trial at Teaching Textbooks. I might try that if they offer some very beginning algebra lessons and see how you and he do with that. Then at least you aren’t committed. TT really helped us when we had algebra problems. We found MUS Algebra 2 very difficult and confusing, but my son did VERY well with TT. But that is also the Algebra 2, not 1, so not exactly the same situation. Might be worth a try though, to check out the free lessons.

    retrofam
    Participant

    My son finished up algebra with purplemath.com They go over the most common mistakes in algebra.

    Hands on Equations is a good starting point. It’s a game with lessons.

    My other teens use Videotext Algebra and Geometry. The methods and explanations make sense to them.

     

    jeaninpa
    Participant

    We used MUS, but we hit a wall at Algebra I as well.  We switched to TT and like it much better.  We prefer using the book and only using the videos when we’re stuck, but the explanations are much easier to comprehend in my opinion.

    Tristan
    Participant

    I’m teaching my 2nd and 3rd Algebra 1 with MUS this year. It is easier the more you practice. Here are my troubleshooting questions for you:

    1. Do you watch the DVD together(you and your student)? This matters if you are not comfortable with teaching Algebra.

    2. Do you have paper and pencil and pause the disc to do each problem Mr. Demme shows along with him? Do this. After the first explanation, pause for the rest of the problems and take the time to do them, then watch the dvd and see if YOU did the same as Mr. Demme does the problem. Step by step.

    3. Read the lesson in the teacher’s manual after watching the dvd together. Do THOSE practice problems together (the work is shown in the manual).

    4. Then work together on the entire A worksheet. Don’t send your student off to try it. Work through it all together. By this point, you should be more comfortable with the process of whatever the new concept is. At the end of this you will have done 15-20 problems together between dvd, teacher’s manual, and A worksheet. Done for the day.

    5. Every day after this, you do 1-2 problems together from that day’s worksheet. And if you need it, start every day watching that lesson on the dvd again. Until you both get it.

    6. Look for patterns/routines/steps you can list out to guide you through problems. For example you might make a list that says the order of operations: (Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication/Division, Addition/Subtraction). For graphing problems your list may start with “Get Y alone – put it in slope, intercept form.” Then go on to “Put a dot on the graph where the Y-intercept is.” Followed by “Go up/down, then left/right from that dot, using the slope number.”

     

    I’ll be honest, curriculum hopping won’t help if you don’t start over at the beginning, and if you are going to do that, why not do it with Math U See because it is a little familiar and repeated exposure makes it easier to understand?

    Math U See is also great at customer service, answering math questions. Call them. Start over with lesson 1 in Algebra 1, and when you have a question, call. Let them explain it. (They also take emails).

    Wings2fly
    Participant

    My son has always struggled with math.  We are using Jacob’s Algebra, which is what Richele Baburina recommends.  I still have to help him, but I am surprised by how much he does understand.

    http://www.adelectableeducation.com/2018/08/episode-136-algebra-immersion/

    Txcountrygal
    Participant

    We used MUS Pre Algebra last year and started this year (DD 10th) with MUS Algebra 1. She did well in Pre Algebra, but was totally lost when we started Algebra 1 this year. I was lost too. We sat through DVD, read Manual (Which is basically what was done on DVD), did problems together. When we got it wrong, I had no idea how to give her an explanation of why. I would look at solutions and wonder why it seemed to be different than explanation on video.

    We decided to supplement using Kahn Academy. Both my DD and I signed up for accounts. (If you try Kahn again, I would highly suggest signing up and taking a course for a few weeks to help with understanding of how Kahn Academy works.)  Instead of trying to pick through to match up with MUS, we started at the beginning of Pre Algebra. Having immediate feed back and an explanation of why changed everything for us. After a few weeks we dropped MUS and went straight Kahn Academy. It took her 9 weeks to complete mastery in Pre Algebra. She then began Algebra 1 on Kahn and is doing so well. She gets so excited every time she masters another step. (She has enjoyed Kahn so much that she even decided to start the computer programming and coding courses.) We plan to have her go up to Geometry on Kahn and then we will do a Personal finance/business math course her senior year.

    Most importantly, Math is no longer a source of stress in our HS. She no longer has to wonder if I am frustrated at her for not understanding, when truly, I was frustrated at my lack of ability to understand and my inability to help her. (My relationship with her is to important to cause damage over a school subject.) She excels in History, English, Writing, Literature, Theatre, and much more (Thanks to CM)! If she needs a tutor in college for math then we are at peace with it.

    Just know you aren’t alone in the struggle! Hope this Helps!

    Wendy

    Crystal
    Participant

    Thank you for all your help. I finally decided to switch to Jacobs Algebra. I looked at some of lessons and had a few aha moments myself. It seems like something I can teach.

    Tristan- thanks for the tips. I have been watching the videos with him and reading the teacher guide and using the solutions to try to work it out. But I am dragging him along through all my mistakes trying to get the correct answer and I am afraid it is messing him up. I think to keep using MUS I would have to do the lessons ahead of him myself and then do them with him. Not sure I have time for that, although it does sound like fun! Maybe if we hadnt skipped pre-algebra we would have been in better shape. Live and learn. I heard so many people say pre algebra wasn’t necessary.

     

    Thanks all.

    sarah2106
    Participant

    Hope you found what will be a good fit.

    We use MUS and my oldest is in Algebra 1 (after pre algebra last year) and second child in Pre Algebra. I can’t imagine stepping right into Algebra 1, that would be tough! I do similar to Tristan. I watch the video with my student and then do the first lesson with them, and sometimes the first few. I am relearning Algebra and it is challenging that is for sure but also interesting. I tell my oldest I have to wake my brain up and give it time to grasp the new concept too. 🙂

    I also wanted to add that sometimes our students go through periods of “brain fog” do to hormones and other things. I have noticed it more with my oldest and talking to friends and even teachers with kids of similar ages. How their brains can go through periods of times that are just really tough as they grow and develop and hormone changes… and it can feel like “wasted” school but it isn’t, keep going 🙂 Not saying that is the case for your student, but I have to remind myself of that often as my oldest goes through days where it is like she can’t focus or remember anything from the day before, and then other days she is doing well. I think it is “normal” but it is exhausting too.

    Tristan
    Participant

    I have never heard the advice to skip PreAlgebra. If that is what you did, go back and do it now. There is no rush through math, no skipping steps, or you end up where you are – struggling and frustrated, missing some basic, core knowledge that would make the next level easier. I don’t care if your child is a senior – I would go back and do the PreAlgebra you skipped. A solid math base to build from matters.

    Crystal
    Participant

    Sarah – yes we definitely have hormone brain over here, I try to have grace for that, some days there is no focus and other says we are plugging through our work with gusto.

    Tristan – I think the idea behind pre algebra being unnecessary is that it is often just a review of math with a little algebra sprinkled in. That algebra 1 will cover the same  algebra topics anyway, so if your child is mature enough and doesn’t need basic math review it is not necessary. I heard this from many people I trust, including a few math teachers. Clearly my son probably would have been better off with the  additional work. I wont make the same mistake with the next two.

    Thanks again for all your help.

    sarah2106
    Participant

    I think it can depend on the curriculium if it is mecessary. Growing up we did Saxon and if we did a certain level of Saxon then we skipped pre algebra. With MUS pre Algebra is all new concepts not presented in other levels, then Algebra is all new concepts built on what was learned in pre algebra.

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