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Discussion: All Topics in Algebra
Topic: Algebra Textbook Recommendation

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Subject:   RE: Algebra Textbook Recommendation
Author: The Math Guy
Date: Jun 26 2007
As a classroom teacher, both in public & private schools, and a virtual
classroom of home-schoolers, I can't disagree more with the Saxon choice.
What I try to do with my students is to un-cover and un-pack the conceptual
ideas.  While I don't see that in most, I really see that in the Discovering
series out of Key Press.  They aren't fed the ideas as the truths - things that
are already known.  But rather my students have to test and explore conjectures
(ideas) and prove them.  They know not only that vertical angles are congruent
but why - what does it mean, when do you use that, what is its importance? -
unpacking and un-covering.  
The first time I was introduced to the Discovering Geometry, I struggled to see
the math...until I had to teach from the text.  The thinking that was required
of the students is so much more powerful when they have to dig around and work
at it.  
I grew up and started my teaching years ago on Mary Dalciani's series and were
either assigned or I assigned the 25 odd problems (w/ the answers in the back).
I taught the skills and only learned the concepts when I was forced to go back
at teach it myself.  
How often have we heard from teacher "Our is not to reason why, just invert and
multiply" for diving fractions.  Don't get me wrong, our kids need to know how
to but they also need to know why - why are they doing what they are doing.
The Discovering series does that for the kids.  
Now, which is easier to do/use?  That is a different question.  For me as a math
person, I have to work when I have my students use the Discovering.  But as John
Saxon said up front when he introduced his series, he could give it to a
non-math person (he said, his secretary down the hall), and they could 'teach'
his courses.  That insults both his secretary and real teachers.  For his
infantry, they only needed to know what the right answer was.  Understanding was
not necessary - conceptually.  I want more for my students...I want them to know
how to get the right answer but ALSO to know WHY that is the right answer.
Saxon doesn't do that for my students.

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