The big brown truck pulled up in front of our house the other day with our first shipment of 2008-2009 school materials. Teaching Textbooks for 7th grade and Algebra I arrived!
This is a major change for us. We had been using A Beka since the beginning. Grades K-3 math pages were cute and colorful and fun. That's important for enduring the tediousness of math. Grades 4-6 lost the color on the tests and quizzes. That was heartbreaking to dd and I. Then Grade 7 was a shocker. I was so confused. The entire layout changed. It was difficult to determine where one lesson began and another ended. Also I had to buy yet a separate book for the in depth answers to word problems. They used to be at the back of the 1-3 level books. Then I noticed I had no in depth answers to the tests. We were fine with the mere answers in the separately purchased teacher's key, but if we were stuck, there was no explanation to how to get the answer. Grade 8 was no better. I could see the writing on the wall. I started listening in to all the high school math banter at one of my yahoo groups. I had learned about the wonder of Math U See but my dc were never fans of using manipulatives. I did order a free sample of Math U See about 2 years ago and have yet to recieve it and in my search forgot all about it.
Next year dd starts Algebra I and I was deeply concerned. I felt this was a matter of prayer to consider all the options. DH is good at math, but does not enjoy teaching. I took honors math classes in high school but am no math whiz.
I've heard of Video Text, the mother of all high school math programs. Well, the dc do not enjoy math nor do they plan to major in it in college. It didn't seem to be a good fit for us. I went through each curriculum and only one seemed to offer hope: Teaching Textbooks.
Teaching Textbooks has a reputation for the reluctant math learner, engaging them in a simplified way so that they grasp the math concept. The huge selling point for me was that through all the CDs, I'd have a math tutor whenever he was needed. The student pops a CD into the computer to learn the lesson. One of the Sabouri brothers explains the lesson while a cartoon pencil is seen moving across the cartoon page. Fun! I chose a lesson I had vague memories from in Alegebra I. (There are samples on their site.) Wow! By the time it was done, I felt as if I understood it better now than I did before. The student does the work in the book, then she checks her work against the answer key. Any she gets wrong she needs to correct. If she can't figure it out, she can pop a solutions CD in the computer and select the problem she missed. Then one of the Sabouri brothers explains how that is to be correctly done.
Then we went to our homeschool bookfair, we went to the Teaching Textbooks booth and got to interact with everything as well as talk to some of the moms. One mom said they used to use Math U See and loved it! Then they got to Algebra I and she was going nuts trying to figure out the concepts. That's when they discovered Teaching Textbooks. Her oldest has whizzed through math and has not needed to use all the CDs. He did well on the SAT and his friend, who used TT, maxed the SAT. The younger dds of this lady have not enjoyed math until they got TT. It's been a wonderful fit for the family.
Although my primary concern was dd entering Algebra I, in the back of my mind I was concerned about ds entering Math 7. He does an excellent job with math but detests it so much that he will spend hours day dreaming and has a negative attitude about it. But if we are playing board games and he's keeping score he can beat any of us. I have minimized his math work in A Beka but it doesn't matter how little I give him, he tediously labors over it. So I had thoughts of getting TT for him too.
TT has a different approach to Math 7 and below. All the work is done on the computer. The student pops in the CD, listens to the lesson and is then given sample problems to practice. The student then does these on a sheet of paper and enters the answer. After 3 errors it will explain the concept. There are also selectable characters to interact with the student. One was a robot and another was an animal. DS played with this while I talked to the ladies. I watched him at one point. He was given two numbers to subtract, both 6 digits long. There were several numbers to carry. I watched ds compute everything in his head and get the correct answer! Why can't he do this on a sheet of A Beka paper???? Boys and their toys! There was also a record keeper built in for the teacher to keep check with the student's progress. This might be what we need to get over the hump.
That night I told dh all about it. He liked what he heard. He asked how much it would cost. gulp I told him and he said, is that all? Whew! Because he excels in math, he understands the expense of hiring a math tutor. They are pricey. In college, I was a reading tutor and was upset to learn that my friend earned more money that I did because she was a math tutor. That's discrimination! But that's the way it is. Math tutors are expensive. Teaching Textbooks is cheaper.