Tuesday, August 8, 2017

No-Nonsense Algebra - A TOS Homeschool Crew Review

Review Crew

In early July select members of the Homeschool Review Crew learned they would be receiving No-Nonsense Algebra to review.

No-Nonsense Algebra is one of many products available from Math Essentials.

The reason I requested to be on this review initially was so my son and I could review Algebra to help him on his upcoming SAT. In late spring he took the ACT and came home upset because of how much Math he did not remember. He took Algebra 1 in 9th Grade, Algebra 2 in 10th Grade, and we had planned Geometry in 11th, but it didn't get done. Then he took the ACT. As the summer began he expressed enthusiasm and commitment to do his Math and Science over the summer to improve college entrance exam scores and finish up some coursework loose ends.

Next year my student will be a senior. He will be taking Geometry in an out-of-the-home class that we are paying for. We need to do this to get it done. This Geometry class is using a Geometry textbook that incorporates a log of Algebra into the coursework, and my student has been told to review his Algebra for this reason as well.

When our copy of No-Nonsense Algebra arrived in the mail, I was already seeing signs that our initial Math plans were crumbling. I knew my son had a ten-day trip planned during the 30-day review period, but somehow two more five-day trips were now also in the works. My son was barely available.

I've had this happen previously as a product reviewer, and I knew what I had to do. The Teacher became the Student.

Opening No-Nonsense Algebra, the student immediately finds the Introduction. The first section of the Introduction explains how the book is set up. The book is broken into ten chapters, and each chapter is divided up into a number of lessons and a chapter review. Each lesson is divided into five sections:

  1. An introduction with an explanation of the new topic;
  2. Helpful Hints and shortcuts;
  3. Examples with step-by-step solutions;
  4. Exercises for the student (answers are at the back of the book);
  5. A section of Review.
The second section of the Introduction explains how to use the book: 
  1. Carefully read the Introduction;
  2. Carefully read the Helpful Hints section;
  3. Read through the examples;
  4. Copy the exercises onto a separate sheet of paper and work through them;
  5. Complete the review problems;
  6. Check and correct the work from the back of the book.
The end of the Introduction tells how to access the free online video lessons. Initially I did a couple of lessons where I watched the video and then worked my way through the lesson. Then I changed up two things. I decided I really didn't need to watch the videos unless I needed more help than the written instructions. The second thing I did was switch from individual sheets of loose leaf paper to an inexpensive spiral one-subject notebook. This was so much better for me! No more loose sheets!

So I started the book at Chapter 1, Lesson 1 and worked my way through lesson by lesson. Chapter 1 is basically a pre-Algebra section, and I could already see subjects I believed my son needed to review. I truly found this Algebra review helpful myself and want to suggest that any mom consider going through No-Nonsense Algebra as a preparation for teaching your student Algebra!

When my oldest student started Algebra (1998), I could already tell there were holes in my Algebra education from public school. One of the gaps was negative exponents. I think I learned the rule that a fraction made of an exponent over an exponent could be simplified by subtracting the bottom exponent from the top exponent. I never learned, though, that a number with a negative exponent is simplified by making the number the denominator under a "1".
I also totally needed to learn about Scientific notation. I really didn't learn that. They may have covered it one day, and for me that was like 45 years ago (8th Grade).

So my world traveler finally came home ready to do some math. It was fabulous that I had blasted through all of Chapter 1 and had a notebook showing all my work. I used the white board, and we went through the instructions, hints and examples of every lesson until we got to one where he really needed practice. On that lesson we did the instructions, hints and examples together, and I assigned the Exercises and Review (and to check the work). After that we worked at his pace, going faster when he knew the material and slower when he needed the review. 

So far this method is really working for us and we are not using the video lessons. It is wonderful knowing they are there if we decide to use them.

I love this program! It is clear, concise, and effective. I also love that it is so flexible! One family might want to do their review by having the student watch the videos only and no exercises. Another might do videos and assign even numbers or odd numbers for review. Or they might do it the way we did, just working in the book and not watching the videos.

When the student is into new material, I strongly recommend the student do ALL the Exercises and Review problems. It really is not onerous. Every lesson I did fit on one page, although it sometimes really filled the page!

I highly recommend No-Nonsense Algebra, particularly for SAT preparation (college entrance exams). It covers everything and covers it quickly, clearly and well. The video lessons are also clear and understandable. It is affordable. Give it a try.

Other members of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew also reviewed No-Nonsense Algebra. To read their reviews please click the below button to go to the review page and check out more reviews! 

No-Nonsense Algebra {Math Essentials Reviews}

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