Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Understanding Algebra I {a review}

I loved math in high school, and never really worried about teaching it to my kids.

Maybe I should have.

But then again, worrying about it wouldn't have helped anything.

It turns out my children all seem to learn in a completely different way from me, and from each other too.  So when I do figure out this high school math thing with one kid, it doesn't help me with the next one.  At all.

When I had the opportunity to review Understanding Algebra I from The Critical Thinking Co., I had to go for it.  I've loved every product of theirs that I've ever tried, and I have used others in the Mathematical Reasoning series.

This book can be used as a complete Algebra I course, which I really appreciate.  Like other Critical Thinking products, it is reproducible for use within your home, which is something I really love.  The book is set up so that all of the teaching is within the student book, so you don't need a separate teacher's guide.

One of the things that truly appealed to me is this description of most Algebra texts:
Many textbooks are written by a committee of authors, and many of those authors have little experience teaching beginning algebra students in middle school or high school. These authors divide their work by chapters and often do not consider how concepts in each chapter are connected to later chapters. This leads to textbooks that teach concepts without providing the necessary prerequisite knowledge and skills students need to understand the concept being taught.
This is something I've definitely noticed.

The upper math materials that tend to work for my children are ones that are written by one person.  A person who understands the math, and who knows what he is trying to teach throughout the entire course, so connections are made and steps aren't skipped.

This book consists of just over 300 pages of actual text, plus the answer key and some other information.  There are twelve chapters, which are each divided into a few sections.  The sections contain teaching material:

Now, I did have to do some additional explaining, especially right at the beginning.  My current 7th-9th graders (both of them) tend to be really good with the actual manipulation of numbers parts of things, but get a little stressed with details that don't seem to matter, in their opinions.  Like the difference between integers, natural numbers, whole numbers, rational numbers and irrational numbers.

Each section also includes some problems to be worked:

This includes all of the problems for this particular section.

These may not have been the best examples to show, but what my son has liked is that there are enough problems to get some practice, but you aren't stuck working them forever.  The text is also written to the student and "she treats you like a somewhat intelligent person who can grasp this."

Some of my kids thrive with lectures, which we can provide with DVD-based instruction.  Some, however, really thrive with this basic, cohesive textbook format.  There isn't a lot of extraneous stuff here, as it covers what you need to know to be successful.

This is a hit here.

If you are wanting to purchase this, or any other Critical Thinking product, you can get 15% off your order by using the code:  BLOGR315

Details: Offer expires 5/31/2015 at Midnight PST. Use Coupon Code BLOGR315. Online prepaid orders only. Valid one per customer. Offer does not apply to iOS or Android apps, or manipulatives such as Attribute Blocks, Interlocking Cubes or Pattern Blocks. Offer may not be combined with other discounts or offers, and is not retroactive. Not valid on wholesale orders.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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