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View Full Version : So, what's the best way to go back and relearn algebra?

Zsofia
01-23-2011, 08:14 PM
The kind people in the thread about my parents taking in my niece and nephews know that we have a bit of a math problem. Some of it is that good old turning-it-in thing, and I think more than they're willing to tell me (or than they maybe understand themselves) is a comprehension issue. The way math is taught, you know if you don't have complete grasp of a concept you're never going to get the next thing, you know?

So my dad says he'll work with them, but I know my dad. Oh yeah, I know my dad. He sucks balls at teaching anything (except driving - he did a bang-up job at teaching me how to drive.) He just doesn't get why you don't get it. A few days ago he was telling them about the bank accounts they're starting and that they'll be required to save ten percent at least, and they're starting out at ten dollars a week. The kids didn't know what ten percent of ten bucks is (which, wow) and Dad's response was to explain all about multiplying percents and all. So I tried the whole "So if ten percent of ten bucks is a dollar, and ten percent of twenty bucks is two dollars...." thing to get them to understand intuitively grocery store math, and my dad didn't get why the hell I was doing that.

So, I think the most math-averse person in our family is about to become a math teacher.

And look, I took AP Calculus in high school and made a 5 on the exam, and I didn't know until I was reading a lot of history of science stuff as a full grown adult what calculus is FOR. The only thing I can tell you about that class now is that if you take the derivative the graders give you a point. I am NOT a math person. I can figure out how long a ladder needs to be given the height of a loft bed. I can tell you how much 30% off a shirt is, in an estimated sort of way. But I haven't done "school math" since I was that age, and I did it damned halfheartedly at the time.

So, what's a good book? I'll be taking a look at their textbooks, but I need a whole ground-up review. Algebra is the problem at hand, but please don't think I remember how to do shit with fractions, okay? I need "algebra for educated dummies". Suggestions?

Nametag
01-23-2011, 08:51 PM
Would you prefer the book (http://www.amazon.com/Algebra-Dummies-Mary-Jane-Sterling/dp/0764553259) or the website (http://www.dummies.com/how-to/education-languages/math/algebra.html)?

OK, I can't actually say anything about those. But if you check out the website and like it, you might consider buying the book.

dangermom
01-23-2011, 09:01 PM
Two suggestions off the top of my head: head down to your local teacher store and see if they have the "Key to..." series. They're newsprint pamphlets that go over the subject, and there are 10 pamphlets in the algebra series. They're supposed to be pretty good but I can't vouch for them personally.

Take a look at the zillion youtube tutorials out there. Salman Khan is well-regarded.

You could also go down to the public library and see what they have in the way of math books for adults, but my library, at least, is not that wonderful in that area.

FuzzyOgre
01-23-2011, 09:09 PM
I'm reading the dummies guide to calculus, and its making good sense for me - and I never took trig or much algebra). I would think that sort of book aimed at algebra would do the trick.

The other thing I have seen are these laminated sheets with rules and examples. I think I saw them last at a Staples outlet. They had all sorts of catagories such as finance, MS office, and yes, algebra. They are called cheat sheets.

They look sort of like this:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/3735901/regular-expressions-cheat-sheet-v2.png

Mongo Ponton
01-23-2011, 09:14 PM
A pretty good site for revision (http://www.wtamu.edu/academic/anns/mps/math/mathlab/)

Zsofia
01-23-2011, 09:28 PM
That may very well be an awesome site but it just used the term "math atheists". I sincerely doubt that there's anybody out there who does not believe in math. Well, not algebra, at any rate.

flatlined
01-24-2011, 12:01 AM
i LOVE math. I LOVE being able to do averages in my head in the time it takes my coworker to find her handheld calculator.

I know that numbers are hard for some people. I don't understand why, because numbers are so easy. they always work the same. People, on the other hand are really hard.

IMO, you need to speak to the school and find out how they could graduate without suffering through classes they won't use or want.

Nametag
01-24-2011, 12:36 AM
That may very well be an awesome site but it just used the term "math atheists". I sincerely doubt that there's anybody out there who does not believe in math. Well, not algebra, at any rate.

Well, they really mean "math heretics," but they didn't want to scare people off.

friedo
01-24-2011, 12:51 AM

aceplace57
01-24-2011, 02:20 AM
Try to find a used high school algebra book on Amazon or bookfinders. Work your way through the chapters. Work the problems. most texts have "even or odd" answers in the back.

I've done this myself a couple times. It comes back pretty fast. I've also reviewed my old college Trig book. I needed trig when I was lying out some building lines on my property.

I only reviewed basic trig. I didn't need the trig functions we used in Calculus II. My Calculus is very,very rusty.

Nava
01-24-2011, 03:27 AM
Given that it's specifically for your nephews, are they studying algebra now? In that case, use their books most of all. That way you know that you're not using stuff they aren't supposed to know (yet).

The only time I asked my parents for help with homework (it having previously been established that I was supposed to be able to do it myself, and never ask for help), it was because I was totally flumoxxed. Mom transferred me to Dad, Dad scolded me because it was merely a double quadratic equation and at the age I was he had already been taught how to solve those. He realized something was very, very wrong when the results came out as imaginary numbers and apologized for the scolding. If he'd known that I hadn't been taught quadratic equations yet (we got to those two years later), he would have seen there was something wrong much faster.

(A double quadratic is one which you solve by saying "we'll call x2=z, substitute, solve z... ok, now take the square root of z to get x")

Zsofia
01-24-2011, 08:15 AM
IMO, you need to speak to the school and find out how they could graduate without suffering through classes they won't use or want.

I'm pretty sure that algebra will be required. If it isn't, I want my damned property taxes back.

They're both in some sort of algebra class, although I haven't yet seen the textbook. I wanted to brush up on the concepts in general and then sit down and go through the chapters each kid has already done and have them teach me the concepts to make sure they're really getting them and there isn't some important thing they missed back in November.

Maastricht
01-24-2011, 08:58 AM
Don't underestimate how educational it can be for the kids to teach their grandparents. "See one, do one, teach one" is the best way to learn anything. They might learn more teaching grampa and correcting his errors and helping him out, (to a chrus of "oh your're so clever!" then they would if grampa blundered his way into a long, tedious and incomprehensible attempt to teach them.

Also, isn't there some student in their own class who will give extra lessons to clasmates for a few bucks?

Crowbar of Irony +3
01-24-2011, 09:08 AM
When I was first gotten into university for Computer Science, the department recommends this Virtual Math Lab series (http://www.wtamu.edu/academic/anns/mps/math/mathlab/col_algebra/index.htm) as a bridging course. It covers college-level algebra.

flatlined
01-25-2011, 12:04 AM
I'm pretty sure that algebra will be required. If it isn't, I want my damned property taxes back.

Good luck with that :)

I have a friend in his first year of college. His field isn't math related at all, but he still has to suffer through it. Its been over 10 years since I graduated, and because I have never once used more than basic math since then, I'm pretty rusty. When he asks for help (he can't add 2 3-digit numbers in his head), I'll read his chapter and then explain how it works. He's just doing the class because he has to, so I don't see any reason to do more than teach the book.

01-25-2011, 12:14 AM
I was in Costco yesterday and I found this. (http://www.amazon.com/Painless-Algebra-Barrons-Lynette-Ph-D/dp/0764134345/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1295935854&sr=8-1) I have no clue how good (or otherwise) it might be, but it might be worth a look.

Ruken
01-25-2011, 09:12 AM
If you just need a quick brush up, previous links may be what you want. If you need something more, the Saxon math books are excellent for self-teaching and are very popular among homeschoolers. I like them because each lesson contains tons of examples and also reviews previous lessons.

I don't think you say in this thread what grade the kids are in, but if they're in or getting close to algebra and are struggling (which it sounds like, given your example about percents), they probably need some serious work on the basics. For this, Saxon again is good, as is Kumon, although I found that to be painful. I'm not so hot at math, but by using both these programs at various points in my youth I was able to take calculus in 10th grade.

Hello Again
01-25-2011, 11:18 AM
The Oswego, NY School district has an online program for preparing for the NY State Algebra "Regents Exam" (state topical exams required for advanced diploma and some scholarships).
http://www.regentsprep.org/regents/math/algebra/math-algebra.htm

I like that they have theory, practice, and games.

Note that the "Algebra" exam, (formerly known as "Integrated Math I" - get off my lawn!!!)actually includes some concepts in geometry and statistics.

Back in the day we ALWAYS used the review books and found them helpful. Like this:
http://www.amazon.com/Integrated-Algebra-Lawrence-Leff-M-S/dp/0764138707/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1295975699&sr=1-1-fkmr0#_
Includes test-taking tips, which if you have ahem, a touch of the ol' math anxiety, can be as important as the actual material.

Snowcarpet
01-25-2011, 11:57 AM
Check and see if your local public library has access to LearningExpress Library - you may have free access to a bunch of practice tests and info through them.
Looks like some of the info may be available free to all, see if this link works for you:
http://www.learnatest.com/lx_images/_ebook_files/1576855942.pdf

aceplace57
01-25-2011, 09:08 PM
I wonder if they still require high school geometry? That kicked my butt big time. I never did understand proofs and theorems. It's the only math class I ever got a "C" in.

Ask me to work a math problem and I can do it. Prove a theorem? I freeze up. Thank goodness geometry wasn't required in my college.

breezman
01-25-2011, 09:29 PM
You might want to look at http://interactmath.com. It's done by Pearson Publishing and is meant to go along with the textbooks, but it's usable on its own. Just log onto it, click enter, and pick an algebra book. Find what you want in the table of contents and then go work some problems. It has features that will work out examples for you and that will guide you through working a problem.

Used on its own, it's not ideal, but it is a very good resource.