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Algebra Unplugged Review by Kris Price

Kenn Amdahl
Clearwater Publishing
PO Box 778
Broomfield, CO 80038

Algebra Unplugged is unlike any math book you have ever read. It explains why algebra problems have to be solved in a particular way. Most textbooks give just a brief introduction to the next set of problems, and then students are expected to complete the practice sets. But how many times has the student (or parent!) not understood what exactly was being asked of them? Understanding the "why" is essential to some children. 

The author uses funny, and sometimes odd, comparisons to try to help the student understand the concepts and vocabulary of algebra. I know the author is writing to teens, but some of his comparisons were a little "out there" for me. As the parent of a child with Asperger's who struggles with math, I was glad to have a chance to review this item. I was wondering if it would be able to help him understand algebra a bit better when the time comes in another year or two. I'm going to have to let him be the judge of that. Because he sees things very literally, I'm not sure that he'll understand some of the comparisons. 

With more than 250 pages, this book covers any topic you can think of--negative numbers, working with fractions, solving difficult equations, graphing, and much more. If your child needs a little extra help understanding the basic facts of algebra, you may find it helpful to use Algebra Unplugged side-by-side with your chosen textbook. It's often very easy to just "go through the motions" with math and make good grades without understanding what is truly going on, but I don't think that is the best way to learn math. Algebra Unplugged is likely to fill in the gaps for many confused students . . . and probably some parents as well! 

Product review by Kris Price, Assistant to the Publishers, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2007