Sunday, July 29, 2012

Schoolhouse Review: Math Essentials Algebra & Geometry


You know about our struggles with math at Long Leaf Academy.  I have been looking for just the right combination of curriculum for each of my children.  All four of them have such unique learning styles (and my Graduate HATES math so) that I am feeling a bit of panic over their successful completion of high school math.  We've recently had the opportunity to review a new algebra course at our house and I am pleased to share our thought with you.  Part of the Mastering Essential Math Skills series,  No-Nonsense Algebra  offers short, self-contained lessons explained in a way that is easy for the student to understand.   
When Richard Fisher's No-Nonsense Algebra arrived in the mail, I immediately took it to the MainMost -- our resident math expert.  As a former High School Math teacher, I knew that he would want to thoroughly check it out and I also knew that his impression of it would hold a lot of weight.  Mr. Fisher has devoted his life to teaching math skills to middle school students and has developed a phenomenal program called Math Essentials to insure that students succeed in math.  Following his step-by-step plan, students can achieve maximum benefits in just 20 minutes a day.  Now that is EXACTLY what I needed to hear.  I want more than anything for my children to "master Algebra the easy way!"

The MainMost first sat with me and looked very carefully through the entire textbook.  He paid specific attention to the practice exercises for each topic and the reviews for each chapter (Chapter Tests).  He also spent time reviewing the online video lessons that accompany each lesson (the online lessons are a free benefit when you purchase the curriculum.)  I knew that he would simply be the best judge of Here's what he had to say:
No-Nonsense Algebra is very clear, concise teaching.  The examples used are very good and every topic in the book is reinforced by the Instructor.  The lessons are easy to understand.  I could learn algebra from this if I didn't already know it.  
That's pretty high praise from one Math Man to another, in my opinion.

Here's how we are making best use of No-Nonsense Algebra at Long Leaf Academy.  We decided that the 8th grade Boy Scout was the perfect candidate and he has jumped in whole-heartedly.  For each lesson in the textbook, there is a corresponding lesson online.  These are short videos that range in length from 3 - 10 minutes.  The online videos consist of the instructor speaking as the problem is worked on a digital whiteboard.  You do not see the instructor so there are absolutely no distractions.  Students watch the problems, write them down in their notebook and then read and complete the corresponding lesson from the text.  Because the written lessons are short (mostly 14 - 20 problems in each one), the Boy Scout has had no complaints.    He does not mind sitting still for a 20 or 30 minute lesson.  There is no added fluff and reviews are built into the daily lessons.  Concepts are taught, reinforced and mastered.

We will MOST DEFINITELY be continuing with No-Nonsense Algebra this year.  I think we are finally on to something with the Boy Scout and I KNOW that math will no longer be our biggest struggle.  From basic integers to algebraic word problems, I am excited that we will succeed.  PRAISE!

Photobucket In addition to the No-Nonsense Algebra, we also received a copy of Fisher's Geometry textbook from his Mastering Essential Math Skills series.  The 80-page softcover book is full of exercises (with answers) and tests used to review the major geometry concepts including Points, Lines, Planes, Angles, Circles, Area and Volume.  (You can see the entire Table of Contents here and even look at Sample Pages here.)  Designed to be used for just 20 minutes a day, Geometry serves as a great review for older students or a good all-around for 5th and 6th graders.  I can't wait to get the Princess started with it soon.

You can purchase No-Nonsense Algebra for $27.95 on the Math Essentials website.  This price includes the 280-page book (with answers to all of the exercises) AND unlimited access to the online video lessons.  Geometry is available for $11.95.  There are plenty of other math resources available for students of all ages that you can put to good use in your homeschool including 4th and 5th grade math, decimals, fractions and problem-solving.


~Disclaimer:  I was given the opportunity to review No-Nonsense Algebra and Mastering Essential Math Skills Geometry by Math Essentials as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  The opinions stated are mine and mine alone.  I was not paid to share my thoughts and feelings with you.  I received these books in exchange for my honest review. You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of  Math Essentials  HERE.~

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