Monday, July 23, 2012

Review - Math Essentials Problem Solving and Algebra

Age:          Middle/High School
                 No-Nonsense Algebra - $27.95

Math Essentials generously sent us both Mastering Essential Math Skills – Problem Solving and No-Nonsense Algebra.

Since we are in the midst of summer, we decided to start with Mastering Essential Math Skills to hone my youngest son’s skills prior to tackling Algebra.  He found the problems to be fairly straight forward.  He struggles with math.  I could tell he needed reinforcement first. 

Each lesson is only supposed to take about twenty minutes.  According to the web site:

"This book will ensure that students master the “much-feared” math word problem. Learn to apply the math operations to real-life situations. Included is a short review for whole number, fraction, and decimal operations. The book begins with simple one-step problems and progresses slowly to multi-step problems, with plenty of built-in reviews to ensure mastery and success."

What I really liked about the Essential Math Skills pages was that they required him to understand different charts or graphs in addition to basic math problems.  He likes to rush, and rushing rarely leads to success in math.
As the book progresses, the problems get more complex.  One focus of this particular book is word problems.  As we all know, word problems require us to stop and think about what the question is really asking based on the information provided and write that as a mathematical problem.  Again, for him, that’s not easy because it can’t be done quickly.  Making him take the time each day to stop and really work through math has been very helpful for him.

To see example pages of Mastering Math Skills – Problem Solving, click here; to see the Table of Contents click here.

The other text we were sent is No-Nonsense Algebra.  If you just look at the text, there doesn’t seem to be enough information to really help the student learn the material.  HOWEVER, one real advantage of this text is that it includes a code to access online instructional videos for each lesson in the book. 

As a homeschooling parent whose strength isn’t math, having videos to walk my student through each lesson is wonderful!  Not only does it help my student learn, but I can watch along with him to understand the concept he is being taught and how the instructor approaches it. 
I’ve used several math programs during our homeschool journey.  One program, though very rigorous, was completely text based.  Read the lesson, do the problems.  That was fine for my older son who catches on quickly, but, for my easily distracted younger son, it was a real struggle.  The alternative has been a high priced math program that provides video lessons.  This program meets the needs of homeschooling families who cannot afford the high priced programs but benefit from the visual instruction.

We didn’t get to use the video instruction much.  I just want to be honest.  My focus for now was using the Math Essentials book to strengthen his skill set.  However, the lessons we did go through were good.  Richard Fisher, the author and instructor, does a good job of walking the student through the lessons and providing demonstration problems to show the concept.  The author uses a fairly engaging tone so that the student stays on task.  I highly recommend having your student work the problems with the video!

Each lesson in the book comes with written explanation of the concept being taught, example problems to show the concept in action, exercises to allow the student to practice the concept and a short review to make sure they are incorporating the new concepts into the ones already covered.  I found the number of exercises to be good – around twenty or so per lesson.  Enough to really practice the new concept without so many that the student is burned out by the end of each lesson.  The review section typically contains four problems.
At the end of each chapter is a review.  The chapter review covers all the concepts learned.  The back of the book contains all of the answers so a parent can go through the review and determine if the student has learned the concepts before allowing him/her to continue.

For what you are receiving – a year’s worth of Algebra including video instruction, the $27.95 price tag is excellent!  As we all know – math can be expensive!  I’m really impressed with how much is offered for this price. 
In addition, the Math Essentials books come with an unconditional guarantee.

“Use Rick Fisher's Mastering Essential Math Skills for 20 minutes a day as directed. If you don't see what you feel are dramatically improved math test scores, send us a note saying so. You'll receive a prompt, complete refund - no questions asked!”
You can’t beat that!

To see reviews by other Schoolhouse Review Crew team members – click here.

Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review.

1 comment:

  1. Nice blog and this is really knowledgeable and most helpful for those who's interested in maths specially in algebra.


Thank you for commenting - I love to hear your thoughts!