This article lists some recommendations for an algebra 1 curriculum for home schooling – in particular for those of you who have used Math Mammoth during middle school years, and want to know where to continue after that.
(Please note: Math Mammoth users can go to an algebra 1 program directly after finishing Math Mammoth grade 7. If your student would benefit from a slower pace, I recommend Math Mammoth grade 8 first.)
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: a 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.
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What follows are my recommendations and thoughts for high school math, and algebra 1 curriculum in particular, depending on your student's "comfort" level and your needs.
With Foerster, you can definitely "hear" a teacher speaking to you through the text. The book is written to the student, with excellent, sometimes even pedantic, explanations. The text often includes little tips like what a classroom teacher might say, such as "the vinculum is supposed to extend over here" or illustrations why something cannot be done.
Foerster's algebra goes fairly deep into the usual topics of algebra 1. The book includes both basic and challenging exercises, including lots of word problems. It is an excellent textbook when it comes to explaining mathematics. Foerster's approach is very analytical and logical, relying on mathematical thinking—which can be very good for students who are going into sciences.
Answers to oddnumbered exercises are given in the back of the book.
David Chandler from Math Without Borders has created a Home Study Companion for Foerster's book, which can be incredibly helpful for homeschoolers. Please see my review on Foerster's algebra 1 and of the Home Study Companion for more information and example pages.
To purchase this book on Amazon:
Over the years, people have asked me my opinion about this or that algebra curriculum. These notes are based on what I answered those people.
From what I've found, a lot of the online curricula don't have enough word problems, and many of the problems are too easy. Another typical lack is in challenging problems and applications. If you use one of those types of programs, consider supplementing with the word problem lessons from Foerster's Algebra 1 textbook. His word problems are excellent!
Harold Jacobs Elementary Algebra book is a classic. The instruction for a new topic always starts out with an interesting example from history, a cartoon, or such like, which makes the text livelier to read. The exercise sets also include interesting problems that tie in with history or are otherwise amusing or amazing, helping to build students' mathematical intuition and the love for mathematics.
This book is a bit difficult for me to classify. MM users who have finished MM7 may find the first five chapters of the book to be too easy. Those who finish MM8 could pick up this book exactly in the middle, and use the latter half to catch up with the rest of algebra 1 topics — but see some drawbacks below. It is still a wonderful book and worth considering. There exist videos for it produced by AskDrCallahan company.
Someone mentioned to me they have been really happy with transitioning to Clark Brown at Homeschoolalgebra.com. I understand that his courses have a physical textbook, videos explaining each lesson, lots of practice problems, a live individual meeting every week to go over concepts (and additional if you need it) rigorous testing and fairly high expectations.
From what I can see on his website, the program looks fine. I like that there is some emphasis and mentoring on learning good study habits and time management. I didn't find reviews elsewhere.
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 45 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
This list includes some entire algebra courses that are free, plus free textbooks and videos. You can use the free video websites to accompany any algebra textbook you might have.
Khan Academy algebra
Learn algebra 1 — linear equations, functions, polynomials, factoring, and more. Full curriculum of exercises and videos.
MathTV.com
Free online video lessons for basic math, algebra, trigonometry, and calculus. Videos also available in Spanish. Also includes online textbooks. See also my review.
Elementary Algebra 2e
A free, comprehensive algebra textbook with some interactivity. You can view it online, download a PDF, or order a print copy. Includes lots of exercises and answers to odd exercises.
ONE MATHEMATICAL CAT, PLEASE! A First Course in Algebra
While not supported by videos, this is a very good resource, since it provides a full online text for algebra 1 with interactive exercises. The full text is provided as PDF files (one for each section), and those include solutions to the exercises in the text.
free.
Free algebra flexbook from CK12
A complete algebra textbook (free) by CK12 Foundation. You can also find lots of algebra videos, tutorials, animations, and exercises.
Mathematics Enhancement Programme (MEP)
A free GCSElevel course (for British years 10 and 11) available as PDF files. The topics don't perfectly align with the typical U.S. course of study — you will find materials that in the U.S. are covered in grades 711 (up through algebra 2) but not everything.
The MEP group (Math) on Facebook has helpful files to correlate the MEP materials with the U.S. system.
HippoCampus
Free videos for high school algebra, geometry, calculus, and statistics. Also videos for other subjects.
MathIsPower4U algebra videos
A very large collection of short videos covering all of algebra 1.
BrightStorm Math
Hundreds of free videos covering all high school math topics from algebra to calculus.
By Maria Miller
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