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Algebra Survival Guide and Workbook Review by Jacquelin Caffey

Josh Rappaport
Singing Turtle
942 Vuelta del Sur
Santa Fe, NM 87507

Do you know the seven-letter word that has been known to strike fear into children and grown adults alike? Yep, you guessed it. Algebra! With its own language of exponents, variables, and the Pythagorean theorem you may feel as if you’ve been thrown into a foreign world. Let me tell you how the newly updated Algebra Survival Guide can rescue you from the sweaty palms and anxiety of doing Algebra.

The Algebra Survival Guide is your rescue ladder in the world of upper level math. It is the helping hand that you need to conquer your fears and dig deep into the world of Algebra without trepidation. The newly updated second edition is jam packed with even more ways to help your student tackle Algebra and to learn the language of Algebra to help you succeed.

This handy Guide is organized into 13 content sections that provided thorough instruction on Properties, Sets of Numbers, Positive & Negative Numbers, Absolute Value, Order of Operations & Like Terms, Exponents, Factoring, Equations, Canceling, Radicals, Basic Word Problems, the Coordinate Plane, and Advanced Word Problems. Set up in a question-and-answer format this Guide will take you step-by-step through five different kinds of pages including:

Mind Munchies ~ “food for thought” to give you a sense of the ideas presented.

Bare Bones ~ these pages present the basic information that you will want to memorize.

Step-by-step ~ these pages show the “how” of performing algebraic steps. Each problem is broken down for you with plenty of examples.

Pitfall ~ these pages help you identify common mistakes that are made and how to avoid them.

Target practice ~ test out your understanding of concepts by working out similar practice problems.

QuikChek ~ these problems give you a chance to see if you truly understand the concept that was just taught.

This Guide can be used in one of four ways. As a quick reference guide when you are stumped by a major topic, as a memorization tool to help you remember the “rules” of Algebra, as a self-teaching program, or as a helpful survival buddy to help you avoid common mistakes and misunderstandings.

You’re probably thinking you just hit the math jackpot, and you have because the Algebra Survival Guide also includes a Glossary with definitions and examples of algebraic terms and an Index to help you locate concepts quickly. And if that isn’t enough to lure you in, this Guide includes a three-panel page Emergency Fact Sheet that is worth the price of the book alone! It is perforated for easy removal at the back of the book and includes all the Algebraic rules and formulas on it. I have copied ours onto electric blue and pink colored paper, one for each of my daughters currently studying Algebra. I also laminated the pages so they can keep it in their math folders for easy reference.

If all of this sounds fabulous then let me tell you about the corresponding Workbook. It is a soft cover book that included blackline masters of thousands of practice problems AND the answers too! And not just the odd numbered problems every single problem presented is given an answer.

The Workbook breaks down each specific skill taught within the Algebra Survival Guide book. Practice problems range from 10-30 practice problems for each section. A square percentage box is included on the right-hand margin for you to record the percentage correct for each section so you can keep track of how you are doing. Typically, I told my daughters to score at least 85% before moving on to the next section. Sometimes the problem sets use symbols and funny words instead for numbers and/or variables. This is not just for fun though; it is a way to teach the student to grasp the formula in the most basic sense and to teach the student to avoid the common pitfalls of algebraic procedures.

My two oldest daughters at home are currently working through Pre-Algebra and Algebra 2 in a popular spiral program which we love. Since we are sharing the Guide a typical week for them has the girls working through all the sections on one Algebra Survival Workbook page. When we first received the book, I started my older daughter who is in Algebra 2 a week earlier because we are sharing a Guide book. I assign the work to be completed Sunday night and we would plan who would have the book on what days to do the assignment. Typically, my younger daughter in Pre-Algebra would have the Guide on Mondays and Fridays when she has double days of gymnastics and stays at the gym for school session. The amount of practice problems was just enough for her to complete during school hours and the review of concepts just what she needs to have a firm foundation. My older daughter would then do her lessons on Tuesday and Thursdays. Using this Guide has improved both of their skills in Algebra. At one point in our school year my older daughter was struggling with a few concepts. The review provided in this Guide has been a huge blessing and help getting her back on track.

The flexibility of the program makes this program a huge success in our homeschool! I love the question-answer format along with the clear concise instruction. This book will be utilized for many years to come in our household as I have three students yet to hit Algebra. I have even recommended it to another mom who was at her wits end and ready to throw the towel in with a certain curriculum. Algebra has a lot of rules to follow but the Algebra Survival Guide breaks them down into easy to learn concepts so you can be sure your student will be on the road to success.

-Product review by Jacquelin Caffey, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May, 2017