Math 7: A Teaching Textbook

Teaching Textbooks 7
Author(s): 
Greg Sabouri
Shawn Sabouri
Copyright: 
2006
Publisher: 
Teaching Textbooks
Binding: 
Spiralbound
Number of pages: 
588 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

My son began this school year with Saxon's Math 76. It was his third year of using Saxon, and while the first year had helped a lot with his accuracy and consistency, he was starting to burn out on it. Math 76 wasn't working so well for him (perhaps just his learning style) so I began looking around for something else. Then I heard that Teaching Textbooks had just come out with Math 7. After some investigation, we got the CDs (the book wasn't yet available, but TT offered free PDF downloads to customers) and my son started on it.

From the Product Description on the Teaching Textbooks website:

The Math 7 Teaching Textbook™ . . . features automated grading, step-by-step audiovisual solutions, and lectures that contain lively animation and sound effects. Math 7 covers all of basic arithmetic, including fractions, decimals, and percents. The program also teaches a fair amount of geometry (e.g. how to find the area of a circle). Other topics include statistics and probability, simple graphing concepts, equations, and inequalities. There are even several chapters dedicated to math in the real world.

The CDs are available for Windows or Mac, but not Linux. Each chapter presents a topic, broken into several lessons and with a unit test at the end. Each lesson begins with a lecture, which is presented in audio with accompanying text displays. The student may be invited to fill in the answer to a sample problem after being shown an example. After the lecture, there are usually five practice problems on the new topic and twenty mixed practice problems covering both old and new topics. The problems are often amusing and the presentation is clear and easy for the student to follow. I've also been pleased to see "real life" topics such as taxes and stock listings included in the lessons.

The program automatically checks the answers and offers a second chance for arithmetic (not multiple choice or true / false) problems. It then computes a percentage correct for the lesson as a whole, not including the 5 practice problems. Solutions are included for all the problems, so if the student misses it, he can see how it should be done. The automatic grading aspect is a big help, with one caveat, below.

Teaching Textbooks recommends using the following procedure:

  • view CD lecture
  • review lecture info in workbook
  • work out problems in book
  • enter answers into computer for checking / grading

However, for the most part, we have just used the CDs and my son has worked the problems on scratch paper. He has liked this program much better than the equivalent Saxon 76.

Occasionally, when reviewing with my son, I have found that he can use their method to do something, such as finding the lowest common denominator, but does not understand why the method works. So he became confused, for example, when he went on to multiplying fractions. (In one case, you cancel the excess matching factors, while in the other, you cancel both matching factors. Understanding why you cancel avoids this kind of confusion.) It isn't clear to me whether this is a student issue or a program issue.

One other item I should mention is that the workbook lacks an index, making it tedious to find a particular concept quickly.

TT advertises their product as not needing any parental assistance, e.g. from their FAQ page:

Q7. Can students work through the program completely on their own with no help from Mom or Dad?

A. Of course! That’s the whole idea behind the Teaching Textbook™.

However, the definition of the associative property as given for both addition and multiplication is wrong. The property described in the book / CD 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.

I find this sort of error to be troubling as I imagine many students and parents would not catch it, especially as the product is billed as self-teaching. TT's response to this concern was less than satisfactory. They wrote:

As for the properties, we have rigorous definitions of the commutative and associative properties in Pre-Alg. and other books. At the Math 7 stage, we feel it is more important for the student to acquire a general understanding of the underlying concepts rather than overwhelm them with technical definitions. That's why we didn't draw a precise distinction between these properties.

I find this surprising as many state standards consider the associative property to be an elementary-school level concept (for example second grade in California). Further, when I checked the Algebra 1 book, I found that the same error is repeated, and in fact expanded on, there. I quote from Lesson 26, page 126:

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. Please see here for more on the commutative and associative properties.

Though these problems have been disappointing, overall, I would still recommend this program.

Additional notes: 

Also includes answer key and 4 CD Set

Purchasers of the original CD edition, which contained several errors in the solutions, can exchange them for corrected CDs. Please contact Teaching Textbooks (customerservice@teachingtextbooks.com).

Review Date: 
3-13-2007
Reviewed by: