Algebra 1 Choices for 9th Grade

Dear Carrie,

Question:  What are the differences among the Algebra 1 choices for 9th grade math?

Dear Carrie,

We’ve enjoyed using Heart of Dakota for many years, and we are getting ready to start 9th grade high school!  I’m hoping you can help me weigh the pros and cons of the Algebra 1 choices for math. My son will be in 9th grade and in the World Geography guide this year. He finished all of the Singapore Math through 7th grade. In 8th grade, he did Principles of Mathematics Book 2. I’m trying to decide which program to go with next. Could you tell me from your experiences what you saw as pros and cons of each for 9th grade? Thanks so much!

Sincerely,

“Ms. Help Me Choose the Best Algebra 1 for My 9th Grade Son”

Dear “Ms. Help Me Choose the Best Algebra 1 for My 9th Grade Son,”

For 9th grade, I did VideoText Algebra for our oldest son, Foerster’s Algebra for our second son, and mathhelp.com (yourteacher.com) for Algebra with our third son. Our oldest son also did No-Nonsense Algebra prior to beginning VideoText Algebra, just because I wasn’t sure where to go next with him in the 8th grade. So, we’ve actually done all the programs we recommend.

Each Algtebra 1 math program has its positives.

Each Algebra 1 math program is different from the others, and each program has its positives. No-Nonsense is definitely a shorter, no-frills Algebra program. It is for the 9th grade math student who struggles with math. VideoText Algebra is either for a motivated, independent student or for a student whose parent has time to be involved in the program daily. Foerster’s is a more challenging program especially in the area of word problems.

There are a few differences in each of the math Algebra 1 programs.

Foerster’s Algebra 1 requires a strong, independent math student. I did not help my 9th grade oldest son with VideoText Algebra. He got through it, but it took longer than anticipated. This was due to the fact that he is a perfectionist and wouldn’t move on until he had mastered the material. I helped my second son with Foerster’s Algebra I. We did not use the videos and just went over the lesson in the book together. Then, my son worked the problems with some oversight from me. When he later moved into Foerster’s Algebra II with the videos, he was able to do his math on his own. I helped my third son in 9th grade this past year with http://www.mathhelp.com. We went over the videos and examples together.

I determined I needed to be more involved in helping with Algebra 1 as needed.

After losing track of my oldest son’s math, I determined that I needed to be involved in helping the rest of the boys with their math. I will say that my oldest son did fine doing math on his own, but I wasn’t able to help him if he needed help. This left me feeling out-of-touch. So, I became more involved with my later boys.

Each of the math programs prepared our sons well for their future math needs.

Each of the programs do a good job of helping kiddos get through math. My sons have varying abilities when it comes to math, and they have all done fine with the programs they have used. Our oldest son was able to test out of most of his algebra quickly for ACE credit which his college accepted. Our second son was able to CLEP out of College Mathematics after doing a quick refresher course. So, we feel good about the math choices we recommend. They do a great job of preparing kiddos for their future math needs.   I hope this helps!

Blessings,
Carrie

P.S. If you are new to Heart of Dakota, check out our Top 10 Questions!

Summer is a great time to work on math fact practice

Teaching Tip 

Summer is a great time to work on math fact practice.

Summer is a good time to work on firming up needed skills. Math fact practice is an easy skill to work into your summer. It is important for kiddos to memorize their addition facts and their multiplication facts. Once children know their addition and multiplication facts, they often automatically know their subtraction and division facts.

When should children learn their math facts?

Public schools often have little ones learning their addition facts as early as first grade. They typically have students learning their multiplication facts as early as third grade. I tend to be on the later side for working on memorization of facts. I usually wait until the end of second grade or third grade to make sure kiddos have their addition facts down. I’ll wait until the end of fourth or even fifth grade for drill of multiplication facts.

Why wait to drill the math facts?

I tend to wait for several reasons. First, I want to give the child every chance to learn these facts on his/her own through the math curriculum. Second, I want the child to see the need for learning the facts to solve math problems more quickly. Third, I want the child to understand the “why” behind the “how,” or the meaning of what he/she is memorizing. Whenever your child learns his/her facts, summer is a great time to work on this important area.

How can you make easy flashcards for drilling your child?

One easy way to do this is to cut index cards in half. Use the cut cards to make a set of addition cards for the 0’s. Make separate cards for 0+1, 0+2, 0+3, 0+4, 0+5, 0+6… all the way up to 0+12. Use a black marker on a white card to write the facts. Then, use a pencil to very lightly write the answer on the back of the card. To conceal the answer better, you can put a small piece of masking tape on the back of the card. Then, write the answer lightly in pencil on top of the tape. After your child has learned the 0’s set, make a set of cards like this for the 1’s. Continue making sets of cards for the 2’s, 3’s, and so on…up through the 12’s.

What simple process can you use to help your child learn the facts?

Set a time limit that your child must meet to “pass” the set of cards. 15-20 seconds is a good range, depending on the child. Time your child in passing the 0’s. Give an appropriate small reward once the child passes the 0’s. Then, move on to the 1’s. This same process works well for memorizing multiplication facts. Have the child practice only one set of cards each day and come to you when ready to test.

How can you motivate your child to learn the facts?

We paid our kiddos a quarter each time they passed a set of cards. We gave them a dollar upon completion of all 12 sets of cards. You can structure this any way that works for you.

What are the benefits of this method of fact memorization?

This method of memorization has several benefits. Memorizing a small set of cards at a time that follow a pattern is so helpful. Plus, the black writing on the white card really impresses the fact’s image in the child’s memory bank. Once the cards are made, you can save them for future kiddos! Try it and see what you think!

Blessings,
Carrie

Have you ever considered skip counting as a math help?

Teaching Tip

Have you ever considered skip counting as a math help?

As soon as our kiddos start learning about multiplication, we teach them to skip count.  They learn to skip count by singing along with skip counting songs. Our boys learned songs for the 2’s on up through the 12’s. For example, for the 2’s they learned to count 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18.

Why is skip counting a helpful math tool?

Skip counting makes doing multiplication much easier.  It is also very helpful once kiddos get to least common multiple and greatest common factor.  A myriad of other math-related tasks such as dividing are also easier if kids know how to skip count!

Skip counting doesn’t replace the need to memorize math facts.

It’s important to note that skip counting should not replace the need for a child to eventually know his facts. However, it is a great intermediary step.  It is much more fun than straight fact memorization when just learning about multiplication and division.

What can you use for skip counting help?

We’ve enjoyed the Skip Count Kids Bible Heroes CD, but you could use any skip count method you like.  The CD we used is now available in Mp3 and digital versions by clicking here. 

This is the only thing we’ve ever added to Singapore math, and we’ve found it pays big dividends for years to come! A side benefit is that even our little ones know the songs from an early age.

Blessings,
Carrie

Summer is coming! Are you allowing distractions into your day?

How much time are you spending on language arts and math?

Take Away His Slate and Let Him Read History

A Charlotte Mason Moment

Take away his slate and let him read history.

“The brain, or some portion of the brain, becomes exhausted when any given function has been exercised too long. The child has been doing sums for some time, and is getting unaccountably stupid: take away his slate and let him read history, and you find his wits fresh again. Imagination, which has had no part in sums, is called into play by the history lesson, and the child brings a lively unexhausted power to his new work. School time-tables are usually drawn up with a view to give the brain of the child variety of work; but the secret of weariness in children often show in the home schoolroom is, that no such judicious change of lessons is contrived.” (Home Education by Charlotte M. Mason Vol. 1, p. 24)

How much time are you spending on language arts and math?

Teaching Tip

This is the next post in our series of things to check if your school day seems too long. I know this can happen to any of us, and hopefully these tips may help!

Are you using Heart of Dakota’s choices for language arts and math?

If so, this will help keep your day balanced time-wise and skill-wise with the rest of the guide. The Heart of Dakota guide schedules a careful mix of subjects and skills each day. This schedule takes into account how much reading, writing, and math students are doing each day. So, by using HOD’s choices, your day is planned to be balanced.

Are you using some of your own selections for language arts and math?

If you are using your own selections, check how much time you spend on language arts and math daily. Be sure the time you spend on these areas aligns with time spent on these same areas in our guide. Otherwise, you will find your day going longer than planned simply due to differing language arts and math choices.

How much time should language arts and math take each day?

Language arts and math are the biggest time stealers in the day. They can easily take over the day, leaving little time for other subjects. So, strive to note how often we schedule writing, dictation, Drawn into the Heart of Reading, and grammar. Also, note how long these subjects are likely to take as scheduled in the guide. If you are not sure how long these subjects take, ask on the Heart of Dakota Message Board or on our Facebook page. Then, stick to a similar schedule. Take care that math does not overtake your day either. Balance in language arts and math is key to finishing your school day on time! So, strive for balance in these important areas and see if your day goes better!

Here are a few other past teaching tip posts that may also help you if your day is running a little longer than you would like:

Are you encouraging your children to do the independent boxes of plans on their own?

Are you having your child work toward the suggested level of independence in Heart of Dakota?

Have a Written Routine and Provide it to Your Child

Blessings,
Carrie

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Thanks!
Heart of Dakota