In a nutshell, I recommend for most homeschooling parents to use a textbook along with some video instruction.
Why a textbook? Because it is good for students to learn to use a regular algebra textbook at this stage of their studies. It helps prepare them for any further studies (whether college or vocational) where they need to learn on their own, reading a textbook.
Also, good textbooks include not only basic exercises but also challenging ones. If you decide to go with some online algebra curriculum or video instruction, a regular textbook can act as a reference and as an additional problem "bank" for those challenging problems. You can also use it to check that your student is really getting instruction in all the typical algebra 1 topics.
Why videos? Because those replace the component that is present in regular classroom: the teacher explaining concepts and ideas. Learning algebra from a textbook alone might be too difficult for some students. If the parent cannot explain the math, videos will help bridge the gap. In today's world, there exist MANY free websites with algebra videos that can be used. And, some companies provide videos tailored to a specific textbook.
In this article, I first explain some basic options for algebra 1 in a homeschool setting. Then, some textbooks are described in more detail. The article also lists free algebra video websites, algebra online curricula, and gives a link to algebra tutorial website list.
We loved this curriculum until we looked at the Prentice Hall Algebra I book that the local high school was using. Then we realized that Teaching Textbooks Algebra I is way behind grade level! My son completed TT Algebra I and now is going through the Prentice Hall Algebra I book, to fill in the gaps, which are huge. This is taking him another 4-5 months! I had trusted Cathy Duffy's reviews of TT, and found I was wrong not to check it out more.
However, the method of Teaching Textbook is great -- the kids enjoyed doing it on their own, with access to the CD's and textbook.
If your student is college bound and plans to take the SAT and/or enter public high school, I would not recommend this curriculum.
Cindy
If you go with the option #2 or #3 listed above, the textbooks that I recommend are:
The choice between the top three might not be easy. In a nutshell, Jacob's book is lively, concentrates on concepts, well-admired by a lot of people for its entertaining style, and has very good and interesting exercise sets. However, it is also a bit "lite" in content.
Foerster's book is considered one of the best, if not the best, by some. It goes much deeper, perhaps too deep for some students. It has superior, detailed explanations, lots of basic exercises, and challenging word problems.
Prentice Hall book is a regular, colorful schoolbook that is comprehensive in the content covered, and has a free online video & other resources to go with it.
The boxes below describe these books in more detail.
In inequalities involving absolute value, Jacobs only teaches inequalities that have "x" without a coefficient, for example | x + 4 | < −5. He does not include inequalities of the type | 2x + 4 | < −5. Also, he does not cover inequalities with two variables at all (for example, y > x + 4). In radical equations, the problems are limited to such as have x under the radical sign, for example √x + 2 = 5. Problems that include both √x and x are not included (for example √x + 2 = 5 + x). Also, Pythagorean Theorem is not covered. Scientific notation is not covered. These lacks are not necessarily a problem, since any algebra 2 book will review all of algebra 1, and should cover those topics.
The book also seems to teach the math on an easier level than Foerster or the Prentice Hall book, often practicing visual models in detail, and using exercises that build student's conceptual understanding step by step. This can actually be of great benefit for students who are not ready for more "algebraic" or analytic reasoning. It also means Jacobs' book could easily be used with younger audiences—some proficient, "mathy" kids could even study it in 7th grade.
To purchase this book at Amazon, see:
Elementary Algebra by Harold JacobsYou can use these FREE video websites to accompany any algebra textbook you might have. To use them, first check the topic of the lesson in your textbook. Then find matching videos on these sites. You can definitely also leave this task to your student: he/she can read the textbook text, find videos, and then watch one or several videos on the same topic, before attempting to do any of the exercises in the textbook.
MathTV.com
Over 6,000 free, online video lessons for basic math, algebra, trigonometry, and calculus. Videos also available in Spanish. Also includes online textbooks. I've written a review of MathTV lessons when they used to be offered on CDs.
www.mathtv.com
BrightStorm Math
Over 2,000 free videos covering all high school math topics from algebra to calculus. Registration required (free).
www.brightstorm.com/math
Algebra Within Reach
Free algebra videos presented by Dana Mosely, worked-out solutions for selected exercises, and other companion helps for Ron Larson's algebra textbooks.
HSTutorials.net
Free animated and narrated math tutorials - pre-algebra, algebra 1, geometry.
www.hstutorials.net
HippoCampus
Free online interactive lessons for high school algebra, calculus, and AP calculus. Also for other subjects.
www.hippocampus.org
There exist several commercial online curricula offering algebra courses to homeschoolers. I cannot really say which ones would be the best since it's not possible for me to review and evaluate all of them, so that will be left to you.
These curricula are always based on either videos or animated tutorials. The exercise sets may be less comprehensive than those found in regular algebra textbooks, and often focus on the most basic types of exercises. You usually get access to simple online quizzes and a system that tracks student progress. You may even get one-on-one support from a tutor or teacher.
These resources may be good for a computer-oriented student. Personally I would augment the online curricula with more challenging problems from some algebra textbook.
Free algebra flexbook from CK-12
A complete algebra textbook (free) by CK-12 Foundation. You can also find lots of algebra videos, texts to read, exercises and more. The website has other subjects also.
YourTeacher
A self-teaching online math system with over 1,000 comprehensive lessons consisting of audio/video clips, problems to solve, full solutions, worksheet, quiz, and more. Includes pre-algebra, algebra 1 & 2, geometry, and college algebra. Lessons can be easily matched to common textbooks. Pricing: $49.50 a month, $199.50 a year, with access to all lessons.
See also my review.
www.mathhelp.com
I Can Learn Online
Interactive, animated courses for fundamentals of math, prealgebra, and algebra. Subscription fee of $30/month gives you access to all three courses. A free trial available.
www.icanlearnonline.com
ThinkWell
Multimedia video lectures that take the place of a traditional textbook, plus automatically graded exercises & homework. Titles offered are from grade 6 through calculus. The teacher on the videos is Edward Burger, who has a unique and intuitive approach to learning math. Online access to any one course $125 a year.
www.thinkwell.com
WinPossible
Online courses for algebra 1, algebra 2, geometry, and trigonometry. Includes lessons, practice questions, sefl-tests, a question bank, and a forum. Prices about $10/month per course.
www.winpossible.com
Educator
A collection of lectures by college professors, including algebra, trigonometry, calculus, and statistics courses (for high school/college). Subscriptions $45 first month, $35 monthly thereafter, $240 a year; they give you access to all courses.
www.educator.com
Tablet Class
An online curriculum and math learning system. Includes videos lessons, course materials, review notes, practice worksheets, tests and answer keys. Courses offered are prealgebra, algebra 1 & 2, intermediate and college algebra, and GED math. $49.95/month or $99.95/year. Free trial available.
www.tabletclass.com
Alcumus
Art of Problem Solving's online learning system for gifted students. Offers a customized learning experience, adjusting to student performance. It is specifically designed to provide high-performing students with a challenging curriculum. To sign up you need to join a class; there's an online class set up at Let's Play Math! open to all interested homeschoolers and self-directed learners. Currently Alcumus is free.
www.ArtOfProblemsolving.com/Alcumus/Introduction.php
Conquermaths
An online maths tutoring system with 480 full audio/visual lessons presented by a real teacher, synchronised with animated graphics and backed up by tests and progress reports. For UK key stages 3 and 4 (11-16 year olds). 16 free trial lessons. Subscriptions £15.95 a month, £69for six months; £99 a year.
www.conquermaths.com
Maths Power
Online math learning system with animated lessons, worksheets, and access to teacher support for K-12. Created from the Australian syllabus. Software version 275 AUD/year; online version 214 AUD/year.
www.mathspower.com.au
Mathematics.com.au
Animated maths lessons, worksheets, topic tests and worked solutions for years 7-12 in the Australian curriculum. 32 free lessons available to
trial online. Online membership $26.95 AUD month or $127 for six months; or $197 AUD year; family plans available. Also available on CDs.
www.mathematics.com.au
There exist dozens of algebra websites, which usually have short tutorials on algebra topics. Some of them have short quizzes also. They wouldn't replace a textbook because of lack of exercises, but sometimes it's helpful to read several explanations for the same concept.
Please see a LONG list of these algebra websites here. The list also includes algebra worksheet sites, online calculators, and a few algebra games.
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