Algebra 1 - How we did it
- We are just finishing Algebra 1 and thought it might be helpful to post a recipe on "how we did it." I have a degree in mathematics and my wife taught high school math - so we are math-people - which means we probably go overboard when it comes to teaching homeschool math.
I was delighted to find David Chandler's work to use as an aid to teach Algebra 1. I knew I wanted to use Foerster and although we could teach it ourselves I though I would also supplement with David's lecture series - which, in retrospect, was a GREAT decision - I will review the Algebra 1 course in a separate post.
We wanted new course materials so I contacted Pearson publishing and set up an account on their OASIS system. We bought the textbooks, solutions manual, and test bank. Kinda pricey but well worth it. You can get used text books cheaper but I could not find the solutions or tests elsewhere so the whole order went to Pearson.
I assign ALL the even problems of EVERY section with 2-3 tests per chapter. This approach makes for a very long Algebra course - it might not fit into a typical 180 day school year. I would consider it more of an "Honors" approach. Some students react poorly to a high volume approach but my students actually do better with more problems.
My students read the text, "attend class" which is watching David's lesson, do the problem assignment. I set a deadline for each assignment - some assignments get 2 days for completion. If the student gets less than 90% correct then they must go back and correct their errors. If the student gets less than 70% correct then I re-teach the material and the student does ALL the problems - kinda tough on those long assignments! Less than 70% on a test requires repeating the all assignments for that test and a re-test.
This approach is very intensive and requires the solutions manual and test bank. Mr. Foerster, when he taught Algebra 1, gave 25-28 timed tests per school year and I do the same or more. The advantage here is that I know very quickly when a student has not mastered the material and by the end of the course my students are pretty good math test takers - which will help them in standardized testing (PSAT, SAT, ACT) and beyond.
I believe mastering Algebra 1 is absolutely fundamental to success in higher mathematics - so, with David's invaluable help, I made the course very challenging and am pleased with the results.
I hope this post is helpful.