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Home Study Companion: Algebra 1 (USB Flashdrive) Review by Lisa McClanahan

David Chandler
Math Without Borders
14805 SE Arista Dr
Milwaukie, OR 97267

One thing I have noticed out of all my years of homeschooling, is that a lot moms are very comfortable teaching elementary math, but they are a little nervous when it comes to Algebra and higher levels of mathematics. The Home Study Companion, from Math Without Borders, can help make teaching these subjects easier.

The Home Study Companion (HSC) are video lessons that replace the classroom experience and accompanies the Prentice Hall Classics version of Paul A. Foerster's, Algebra 1: Expressions, Equations, and Applications. The lessons are available on an 8 GB reusable flash drive for $79.00 and are suitable for Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. You must purchase a new or used copy of Foerster's Algebra text printed from 1999 onward to complete the program. The textbook is divided into 14 chapters with multiple lessons per chapter. There are exercise problems for each lesson as well as a chapter review and a chapter test.  The HSC contains a video segment for each lesson from all 14 chapters as well as video segments of select problems being solved. There isn't a video segment for the chapter review nor are there solutions to the test problems. The USB also includes the table of contents, instructions for downloading the content, how to use the curriculum, a list of recommended problems to be completed which are the ones that are worked in the problem solutions videos, and an encouraging article from David Chandler on Assessment for Homeschoolers.

David Chandler is a retired math teacher and has taught every math grade level in public schools, private schools, international schools, community colleges, and learning centers. He has been teaching since 1970 and created Math Without Borders when he saw a need to replace the classroom setting in home schools. He recommends reading the text in the algebra book and then watching the video lesson before completing the recommended problems. The video segments are David giving algebraic instruction exactly as he would in a classroom. They vary in length depending on what is covered in the lesson. You hear him speaking, and see a sheet of graph paper along with a pencil that writes the problem or points to what is being discussed. He recommends only assigning half of the problems and then using the remaining problems if the student needs extra practice. In the video segment containing the problem, solutions are primarily the even numbered problems with a few others added in. The exact problems are listed in the HSC Algebra Problem Assignments.  The answers to the odd problems are in the back of the student text book or you may purchase a complete solutions guide from Pearson.

My daughter starts her algebra lesson by first reading the lesson in the text book and then watching the video segment from David. I have been assigning her the problems that he has recommended and that are included in the solutions videos. Once she has completed her work, we have been correcting her paper together by watching each problem in the solutions video. So far she has only missed a few problems, but her mistakes were very easily corrected, and I haven't felt the need to have her complete any extra problems. I do not use a lot of testing in our homeschool because I usually know if my kids are understanding what they are learning or if they need more help. It would be nice if the solutions to the test problems were also included in case there are homeschool families that utilize tests in their home.

This are very straight forward algebra lessons with no time wasting involved. My daughter said she likes that this program gets straight to the point of the lesson. She is my kid that is very hands-on and wants the instructions in anything she does to be straight to the point so she can get started. Watching and hearing each problem being solved while checking her work is a great addition because she can see exactly where she messed up and knows how to correct that. For future editions, I recommend that he add solutions to all of the problems in case a student comes to a point where she needs extra practice. Although my daughter said she still doesn't like math, at least she isn't complaining that she feels lost using the Home Study Companion!

-Product review by Lisa McClanahan, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October, 2016