Math High School

Algebra I: A Teaching Textbook

Book cover: 'Algebra I: A Teaching Textbook'
Author(s): 
Greg Sabouri
Shawn Sabouri
Copyright: 
2004
Publisher: 
Teaching Textbooks
Binding: 
Spiralbound
Number of pages: 
654 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

Over the years I have used several different Algebra programs with my children. With Peter, this is the fourth Algebra program we have tried. For various reasons, they have never met our expectations. At long last with Teaching Textbooks Algebra I, we have found one that works.

Before writing a review, I wanted to wait until Peter had completed most of the textbook, so that I would avoid any unpleasant surprises. Right now, he has completed about 2/3rds of the text and my opinion has not changed. This program is a homeschool mom's dream come true.

Designed for homeschool students, there are many reasons to like this program. The material is written in a friendly, conversational tone. The text is laid out in an easy to understand fashion without dumbing down the problems. The pace is not rushed. The story problems often use silly examples, which keep the student's interest as he learns important concepts. The best part of the program are the Solutions CDs. They are like having your own personal Algebra tutor.

Algebra I covers 18 Chapters with 129 lessons for a total of 654 pages. This book is long because the authors take the time to thoroughly explain each new lesson. A sampling of chapter topics includes simple equations, negative numbers, longer equations, powers, and roots. Much more is covered. Lesson 85, for example, is "Completing the Square."

Each "lesson" includes the lesson, practice, and problem set. Each lesson portion presents a new topic written in a conversational tone. Important points are highlighted (literally slightly darkened). The lesson material also covers sample problems of the topic introduced in the lesson. In other words, he does not just talk about the topic; he walks the student through the problems step by step. Similar to any other good Algebra text, the lessons build on previously learned knowledge. The lesson may also include a humorous story problem.

For Peter, he just reads the lesson. There is a lecture CD available for the student to watch and listen to the teacher go over the lesson material. This would be helpful for the student who learns best by hearing or incorporating as many senses as possible. This is the same material as in the lesson.

The next section is the "practice," which includes problems that review the material just covered in the lesson. The last section is the "problem set." This includes previously covered material from other lessons. Just like Saxon Algebra, the problem set covers a variety of topics. The last problem in the "problem set" is a silly story problem. For example, here is the story problem in problem set 7. "The husband and wife toy makers named their son Ken and their daughter Barbie. If 19,125 people in the couple's hometown--exactly 75% of the population--think the couple is crazy, what is the total population of the town?"

What makes this Algebra program a homeschool mom's dream come true are the Solutions CDs. These allow the student, for the most part, to work independently, freeing me to work with my other children. Now there are times when my son does ask me questions. He may want to know if he is doing a problem correctly or why a problem is coming out wrong. He could ask me or he could go to the Solutions CD, which explains the problem. The times he asks me, however, are few and far between. And if he asks me a question that I can't answer (I'm terrible with story problems) or if I am busy working with another child, he can always pull out the Solutions CD.

There are Solutions CDs for all the problems: the practice problems, the problem set problems, and the chapter test problems. If a student doesn't know how to work out a problem, or after correcting his lesson or the chapter test, the answer is wrong and he doesn't know why, he pulls out the CD he needs and pops it into the computer. There is a menu and he chooses the exact lesson and problem. He doesn't waste time looking for the answer. The answer begins with the problem displayed. The teacher then builds the answer from there, explaining the answer line by line. It is as if the teacher is standing at the head of the classroom, working through the problem. You hear the teacher's voice as he writes out the problem step by step on the "board" (screen). His voice is pleasant and very relaxed, which helps when you are dealing with a frustrated student.

Since the answer key only includes the final answers, the Solutions CDs are essential. There is no solutions manual. The answer key book includes practice set answers, problems set answers, and chapter tests with answers.

I won't say Peter doesn't get frustrated at times. Algebra and math are not his favorite subjects. But I will say his frustration level is far less than if he had used some of the programs we had used in the past. Also, I will add that this program won't work, just like any other math program, if the child does not correct and redo his work daily, since new material is based on previously learned concepts. If foundational concepts are learned incorrectly, the student will dig himself into a deeper and deeper hole. Sometimes, all that is necessary is for a parent to ask the student to show her his daily corrected work to see that he is on task.

This Algebra program has made my job as a homeschool mom so much easier. It is like having an Algebra tutor whenever I need him. Teaching Textbooks now has available Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II. You can preview sample lessons, sample lectures, sample solutions, the table of contents, and more at www.teachingtextbooks.com. The complete package includes spiral bound student textbook, answer key & test bank, lecture and practice CDs, Solutions CDs, and Test Solutions CD.

A comment from another reviewer (Suchi Myjak):

The book's explanation of the associative property as given for both addition and multiplication is wrong. The property described in the book as the "associative property" is actually a combintation of the associative and the commutative properties. Please see my post on Unity of Truth for more details and the correct definitions of the properties.

In Lesson 26, page 126, the book explains the associative property of addition in these words:

You already know the rule that two numbers can be added in any order (the commutative property of addition). Well, it turns out that this rule can actually be extended to longer strings of numbers. ... So our new rule is that a string of numbers (however many) can be added in any order. The technical name for this rule is the associative property of addition.

This, unfortunately, is wrong. The associative property is not the commutative property "extended to longer strings of numbers." It is a completely separate and independent property. Nor is it the rule "that a string of numbers (however many) can be added in any order," although it is one of the properties that makes that rule possible.

After the above quote, the book correctly lists the equation defining the associative property, but then goes on to say things like:

That means the expression 3 + x + 4 + 1 can be rearranged any way you want and its value won't change. So 3 + x + 4 + 1 and x + 3 + 4 + 1 and 1 + 4 + 3 + x are all equivalent.

This example concretely shows the confusion on this topic by moving the operands around. This is possible only with the commutative property. The associative property does not allow rearranging of operands.

Later, page 131 (Lesson 27), says the following about the associative property of multiplication:

In fact, no matter how many numbers are in a string, they can be multiplied in any order without changing the answer. This rule is called the associative property of multiplication.

This is also wrong, and for the same reasons.

Please see an explanation on the commutative and associative properties here. You may wish to print it out to share with your student.

Additional notes: 

Answer Key & Test Bank, 111 pages, softcover

8 CDs total - divided into Lecture and Practice CDs and Solutions CDs (over 120 hours total)

Review Date: 
5-5-06
Reviewed by: 

Jacobs' Geometry

Book cover: 'Jacobs' Geometry'
Author(s): 
Harold R Jacobs
Publisher: 
W.H. Freedman and Company
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

Saxon is a tried and true mathematics choice for many homeschoolers, but one complaint about the high school level texts Algebra I and Algebra II is that geometry is included piecemeal in the algebra courses rather than being taught separately in a systematic fashion. Jacobs' Geometry is one alternative for those who find this to be a problem. It is a friendly, thorough approach to high school geometry that starts with an introduction to deductive reasoning and takes the student through to non-Euclidean and coordinate geometry.

The format is very appealing, at least to my high-school age son and myself. The book is divided into chapters covering broad topics like Rays and Angles, Congruent Triangles, and Quadrilaterals. These are subdivided into lessons. Each lesson opens with a cartoon or thought puzzle which draws the student into the topic being discussed. There are three sets of problems in each lesson: the first one usually checks comprehension of concepts and knowledge of theorems, the second set is an application of the lesson to proofs, and the third set, usually a single question, presents a brain-teaser which allows the student to think and ponder creatively.

A Letter to the Student at the beginning tells the story of Pythagoras, the Greek geometer, who taught a reluctant student by paying him for each theorem he learned. By the end of the course, the student was paying Pythagoras. The anecdote sets the tone for the whole book, the assumption being that geometry is a noble, worthwhile endeavor and that a student will realize this and be willing to apply himself to mastery.

Though I haven't used the Jacobs' Algebra, the format looks similar to Geometry. My high-schooler is using it now in short sections as a review. With my next high schooler, I am planning to go from Saxon Algebra ½ to Jacobs' Algebra. There is no book in the Jacobs' series after Geometry; the author Harold Jacobs recommends Algebra II and Trigonometry by Paul A Foerster as the next step before Calculus.

Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

Math Talk

mathematical ideas in poems for two voices
Book cover: 'Math Talk: mathematical ideas in poems for two voices'
Author(s): 
Theoni Pappas
ISBN: 
933 174 748
Copyright: 
1999
Publisher: 
Wide World Publishing/Tetra
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
71 pages
Subject(s): 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

I have long been a fan of the poems for two voices books by Paul Fleischman. This book puts a twist on the idea by covering math topics in poems. It's a really unique and engaging way to memorize a math concept, reciting it as a poem. A poem for two voices is a poem recited by two people where sometimes the same words are said in tandem, sometimes alternately, and sometimes, the speakers speak at the same time saying different things.

Here is a sample of part of a poem from the book: (The first column is the first speaker and the second column, the second - shown smaller than actual size)

Some of the math concepts in the poems are fairly simple ideas that would pertain to a grammar school student, however most of the ideas are for middle schoolers or high schoolers. There were a few math concepts I had never heard of, such as fractals, (the geometry of nature), Fibonacci numbers (adding the last two numbers in a series to give the next number), and Mobius strips (circular strip with a twist in it).

While you don't learn everything you need to know about the math concepts in the poems, you get an introduction to the idea and the basic or interesting facts. For tessellations, the reader learns that not all figures tessellate; for triangles, the reader learns that the angles in the figure must equal 180 degrees. Some of the accompanying illustrations are also instructive. I could not have visualized the Mobius strip without the drawing of it.

This is a fun way to talk about these concepts. Trying to say the poems as a team takes a lot of concentration and brings a lot of laughs along the way. The book would make a great addition to a living math program or be a nice break from a formal textbook program.

Recommended for grades 4-12

Review Date: 
6-21-05
Reviewed by: