Because sometimes in life you just need an easy button, I was happy to review No-Nonsense Algebra by Math Essentials this summer. My daughter has been using it as a "keep your mind going" resource while we were on our official school break, prompting my son to get his copy out as a refresher while he prepares for college entrance. No-Nonsense Algebra is part of the Mastering Essential Math Skills Series designed by Richard W. Foster (a master teacher and former high school math teacher) and it is what it claims to be -- a no fluff, no-nonsense curriculum that explains math topics in an easy-to-understand, no-frills language.
Divided into 10 Chapters that begin with the very basics and work through equations, graphing, polynomials, and word problems, No-Nonsense Algebra is a solid curriculum. The 275-page softcover book used alongside the online video lessons truly are designed so that your students can "master Algebra the easy way!". And did I mention that students can typically complete a lesson in about 20 minutes a day? I don't know about you, but we find that to be the absolute perfect amount of time at Long Leaf Academy. It's enough time to really get the meat of the lesson without my students become antsy.
The textbook is written directly to the student and provides a clear explanation for each topic presented. This makes it easy for the student to understand what is being taught and what they are required to do to complete the lesson successfully. Chapters are broken down into lessons (there are 4 - 22 lessons per chapter with the first chapter being the longest as it covers the necessary tools for algebra and prepares your child for what is to come) and each lesson contains an introductory explanation, worked problems as examples, and 12 - 18 exercises to be completed by the student for mastery of the lesson. After the very first lesson, there is a short review section that finishes the daily lesson. The review section of each lesson is compiled of 2 - 4 questions that offer a reminder of what has already been taught. The Final Review is comprehensive (157 questions) and makes for a great final exam. Solutions to all problems are found in the very back of the textbook.
Here's the really cool part and I want to make sure that you catch this tidbit: For each lesson in the textbook, there is a corresponding video lesson online. Students are given an access code in their textbook that gives them instant access to the video lessons and they are encouraged to actively work through all problems as the instructor (America's Math Teacher Rick Fisher) teaches. 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. What I like is that the basic algebraic concepts are taught, reinforced and mastered. Students are not required to work countless math problems over and over. Do you remember those days and nights of math problems that never ended? Surely it wasn't just my teachers? Once they have mastered a topic, my kids are free to move on with a brief review in the days and weeks ahead.
When we first came across this curriculum a few years ago, my MainMost said that he found No-Nonsense Algebra to be very clear, concise teaching. As a former high school math teacher himself, he stated that "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." I considered that high praise then and still do today. It is our opinion that No-Nonsense Algebra is quality math instruction and the fact that they offer quite a few other resources to help your students succeed in math is just icing on the cake. You can find out more information about the different Math Essentials offerings by visiting their website and checking out the following Social Media site:
From basic integers to algebraic word problems, No-Nonsense Algebra makes it easy to succeed. I like that. Working through math problems to keep refreshed during the summer is a win at my house and will make it so much easier to go "back to school" in the coming weeks.
I was given the opportunity to review No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials as a member of the Homeschool Review Crew. You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought of this math curriculum (or just click on the banner below.)