Monday, September 2, 2013

Finding The Right Math Curriculum Middle School On

Yes, this is how I looked just a few weeks ago as I started researching what I wanted to do for my daughter's MATH curriculum 8 th grade on.


When I took her out of traditional school she would've been taking Algebra 1 this year in 7th Grade. However, I did a merging of Pre-Algebra and Math 7th grade for her after seeing some areas of weakness in her abilities.

So, I set goals for Middle School 8th grade on.

1) Is kid going to 4 yr college?
2) Is kid going to Community College initially then transferring to 4 yr college?
3) What is their areas of strength?
4) What fields have they considered?

Math Program Goals

1) Independent Study needed?
2) Prep for SAT needed?
3) Highly planned out curriculum needed?
4) Lots of practice through Spiral approach needed?
5) Prep for transition to Community College Math?



This was an easy consideration since both my daughter and I are used to this program, we are getting the complete package for the grade and this is part of it. The Pros also include that it's heavily detailed, comes with DVDs, teachers manual and is completely laid out for us. Unfortunately this program loses some of it's momentum in Algebra 2. However, I really loved the way the Algebra 1 book presented topics in an ordered fashion and the DVDs are a great help also.

Teaching Textbooks

We use this now as a Supplement to Abeka and the kids don't actually appear to mind the extra 30 min they spend on Math a day using this. With this and Abeka I've gotten the best of both worlds, but this will not meet our needs for a complete High School Math program as there are areas that are not covered for advanced SAT testing into Algebra 2.


Oh, I really loved the concept of this program. Also, I could get it used for about $200-$300 and it would include Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, 2 and Geometry. But, I don't know if I truly want to use or learn a new program without testing it out. New this is $550 in price and that's a big chunk to toss out to try a new program. Also, this is a large commitment, if we don't like the program we've wasted a lot of time.

Saxon Math with DIVE DVDs

This option seemed viable. Only problem is my daughter needs the Spiral approach - badly. This is incremental. But it's one of the few Calculus programs that would allow her to skip pre-calc because it has precalc contained within it. Also, it's slowly build. So, I may consider it for Calculus.

Paul Foerster's Algebra  and Geometry Books with Math Without Borders Companion CD

Now, this was something I could sink my teeth into. It collectively had all the areas covered in the SAT with a decent book and explanation videos. BUT, it didn't come with detailed lesson plans or test I could use. I'd also have to purchase this separately. It wasn't that expensive new. The CD was only $69 but the books for both teacher and student would be about $200. However, I found some used sets online that included the CD, Teachers Manual, Student Text - but still NO TEST. I'd have to create them myself. O_o . The Geometry book is EXCELLENT though, and I love the DVD/CD's that come with the program! So this is a great choice for a Geometry supplement and Algebra 2 / Trig course.

Ask Dr. Calhoun

This program is MUCH easier to find in a complete set than the Foerster's program. It's reasonable compared to the others with Ask Dr. Callahan (using Jacob's Algebra) costing $222 new. It includes DVD, Text, Solutions set and Teacher's manual. This is the easier choice over Foerster's.


Love this program for it's fun approach to a difficult subject. I want to prepare her with the core facts in Pre-Calculus and Calculus but we don't mind if she tests into PreCalc in college. Only problem with this is that it doesn't have a textbook. I personally prefer programs with a textbook. But it's a good well rounded program and I don't want to change programs from Pre-Calc to Calculus. So this would be for an introduction to Calculus.

This program is similar to Thinkwell's with 1 very important exception that works for us - it maps to about 20 different textbook choices. But you don't need a textbook to fully utilize the online chapters, test, quizzes or lectures. My daughter just prefers learning with a textbook. But this program only goes to Pre-Calc, so I'm hesistant to get her used to it when we desire to use a Calculus curriculum. (High School is new)

I really enjoyed the offerings of Time4learning for elem and middle school. But the kids wanted a bit more order to their lessons. However, after reviewing their Pre-Calc program, I'm rather excited about making it a supplement to one of the above choices. My kids were really impressed and we tried it out for 14 days and my daughter really liked the Pre-Calc. So we are feeling this one out.


So, I guess you are wondering what the heck I selected. After reviewing these options with my oldest daughter who is a Math Tutor and A math student upwards to Calc 2 we came up with the following concoction.

Order of Courses:

Algebra 1 - 7th Grade Abeka Algebra 1 and Teaching Textbooks Alg 1 for drill
(Remedial Review - with Math 7 Abeka)
Algebra 2 - 8th Grade Foerster's Algebra Books - (Algebra 2 & Trig) and Teaching Textbooks.

Geometry - 9th Grade Foerster's Geometry and Teaching Textbooks Geometry for drill

Pre-Calc - 10th Grade for Pre-Calc (Summer Intro to Calculus) - Thinkwell Online and Time4Learning

Calculus - 11th Grade Full Course  Thinkwell and (hope to be able to test into Pre-Calc 1 & 2 Honors at Community College12th grade)

Reinforcement and Topic Supplements

Algebrator or Mathway- (Algebra 1) Software that breaks down every single Algebra problem you throw at it. and
Teaching Textbooks -Although my daughter prefers lots of practice, she really wants to keep her Teaching Textbooks as part of her 'Math Lab'. Now she does it everyday, as her last subject of the day. Her Abeka DVD Algebra 1 class is her 2nd class of the day. She said doing Teaching Textbooks is fun and gives her more practice on what she learned earlier. The only disconnect I've noticed with Teaching Textbooks is with my younger son, he does the problems well using TT in his head mostly, but when he has to write out the problems he struggles more. So now I have them both write out the problems on scratch paper.



  1. My 8th grade girl is currently using Teaching Textbooks for Pre Algebra. We love this curriculum. It came recommended by friends and we look forward to doing math each day.

  2. My kids really enjoy Teaching Textbooks also. I went ahead and decided to purchase Algebra 2 but unless they change the pre-calc to be self-grading I may not touch that, lol!

  3. My 6th grader is doing Thinkwell this year and really likes it. I do wish there was more textbook and paper with it, but she seems to enjoy it. Glad to see it's good with the upper levels as well!

  4. Maria Miller (Mammoth Math) has an excellent article on this: