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Insights Resources for High School Math at Home - Comments

  1. Apr 22, 2016 #1
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 22, 2016 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Great article!
  4. Apr 23, 2016 #3
    I have found the book Math on Call to be a great, inexpensive reference for helping with high school math homework.
  5. Apr 24, 2016 #4


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    You left out Art of Problem Solving, an incomparable resource used by pretty much all the top math contest kids nowadays. Admitted useful mostly to kids who love math and are good at it, but if you're in that cohort it's the best.

    My experience with ALEKS was years ago, but at that time it was useless for anything other than determining what you knew, at a fairly cursory level. There was little in the way of teaching, and certainly nothing that would enable you to understand the material. Basically just automated worksheets. Has it gotten better in some important ways? If so, how?
  6. Apr 24, 2016 #5


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    Oh, I should also mention that Life of Fred seems to be very popular on the secular homeschool lists I frequent, despite having some lightweight (as I understand it) religious content. I don't know why. I've never looked at it.
  7. Apr 24, 2016 #6
    Thanks for the tip.
  8. Apr 24, 2016 #7
    Good point. I focused my article on the college prep sequence, but this book is a valuable resource for a lot of the material in the contest situations that isn't given much attention in the normal college prep material. The kind of thinking emphasized in the book is very valuable.

    There is an "Explain" button which will bring up a detailed explanation of problems a student does not already know how to do. It is along the lines of the "step by step" solution button available in Wolfram Alpha Pro, but the ALEKS "Explain" feature is (in most cases) a bit better in that it takes some time to categorize the problem and give a bit of the necessary more general background rather than just jumping into the "step by step" part of it.

    I guess I could have also mentioned Wolfram Alpha Pro, but I prefer not to, since it's not really intended for that role and is commonly used (in my experience) as much or more in cheating as in learning. Even if students are authorized to use it, they often present the Wolfram Alpha (with or without Pro) solution as their own without proper attribution. It can be very valuable though for students who get the hang of asking Wolfram Alpha to work a close analog to the given problem and then work the assigned problem on their own. But Wolfram Alpha Pro is certainly a great tool to supplement just about any book if it can be used for learning instead of cheating.

    ALEKS doesn't give a solution for the exact problem the student needs to work. Depending on the context, it demonstrates either a close analog, or after it demonstrates a solution for the exact problem, it changes the problem the student needs to work to a close analog.
  9. Apr 24, 2016 #8
    Thanks for mentioning Life of Fred. It does come up a lot in the home school groups I hang out in. But I have no experience with it or with students who used it for high school math, at least that I know of. There are probably at least a dozen book-based high school curricula I could have mentioned but refrained from due to a lack of info. Most on line reviews and the marketing materials really don't tell, they just try to sell.

    In my view, the big weakness in most book based programs when administered by adults who don't actually understand the material (and are not willing or able to learn it), is that it is difficult for these adults to provide the needed assessment and accountability. Making use of answers in the back is very limited for those who can't understand for certain whether those answers are right and who cannot explain to a student where they may have gone wrong when they obtain different answers.

    Students are pretty adept at fooling parents when the best parents can do is ask "did you do the practice work?" and "Can you show it to me?" Many purported efforts at completing math assignments are little more than copied answers from the back with (when required) medicore attempts at a snow job showing the work to justify the answer. Real assessment and accountability requires the human teacher grading written work to be able to distinguish the snow job from legitimate work.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2016
  10. Apr 24, 2016 #9
    Let me add that Art of Problem solving now has a fairly complete (relating to high school math) accredited online school.

    See: http://www.artofproblemsolving.com/school

    This looks to be a fabulous resource for parents unable to provide expert instruction or qualified accountability themselves.
  11. Apr 24, 2016 #10
    Very interesting article
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