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Math-U-See Algebra 2: DVD, Teachers Manual, Student Text, & Test Booklet

By Steve Demme
888-854-MATH (6284)

The Math-U-See curriculum is a comprehensive program that can be used for grades K-12. I originally looked into the Math-U-See program because of its underlying premises. [The] "underlying assumption or premise of Math-U-See is to apply math in everyday situations. Our goal is to help produce confident problem solvers who enjoy the study of math. These are the students who learn their math facts, rules and formulas and are able to use this knowledge in solving word problems and real life applications." Since these goals align with my ideals about math, I was thrilled to see the reality of the goals present in the schooling of my children.

One of the complaints students have about learning higher math is that it isn't applicable to real life. My high school teacher provided me with an answer to the "not applicable" challenge: higher math causes us to think and function with order and apply rules to appropriate situations. In the Math-U-See curriculum, the word problems prove that point again and again.

Later, as a teacher myself, I observed that even when my students knew how to do an operation, most would fail at knowing when to apply the operation. Math-U-See prepares students so they know what to do and when to do it. This is helpful when facing cumulative knowledge tests, such as the SAT or other college or career placement exams.

Another attribute of the Math-U-See program is acquiring mastery of a skill before proceeding to the next unit. One of the benefits of homeschooling our children is that we can go at their pace, so this program helps maximize that benefit. Mr. Demme, a homeschool dad, designed this program for his own child. Thus, it is different from many math programs that have been adapted from the classroom to the homeschool environment. Moreover, each new chapter is mingled with problems from the previous chapters so that the concepts stay fresh and students continue to practice learned skills.

The entire Math-U-See program is built on the concept "build it, write it, and say it." This hands-on approach and use of manipulatives throughout the years makes learning abstract concepts more concrete in the mind of the learner. At the Algebra 2 level, the student will not be building, but "the concepts are grounded in the principles taught at earlier levels using the manipulatives."

The parts of the program are wonderfully designed and time tested. The DVD is used for the parent and student to learn the new concept. The Teacher's Manual then expands on these ideas further. It also has the answer keys for lessons and tests. The Student Text is the workbook for your child's daily lessons, and the test book is used to assess whether the student is ready to move on to the next concept. Both of these items are consumable, and each child needs his or her own copy.

This review would be incomplete if I didn't include some comments from my children since they are the real consumers of the math program.

"Everything is organized, easy to manage and put into your schedule."

"Mr. Steve's lessons have us repeat each problem until I not only know how to do it, but I know how it works."

As you can tell, we are sold on the entire Math-U-See program, and the Algebra 2 program furthers my belief that I've selected the best math curriculum available. Since it has been a number of years since I've taken Algebra 2, you might expect me to be a little apprehensive about approaching this subject, but I'm not. In fact, I'm thinking that this time I may actually "get it" when it comes to some of the more challenging topics. I'm even convinced that a parent who didn't take Algebra 2 in high school could teach it via the DVD and teacher's manual. Math-U-See, true to its name, it is the math you will see and understand--maybe for the first time, or for the first time in a long time.

Product review by Stephanie D. Scarborough, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, March 2010

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