One of the young men in my church is struggling with Algebra I. His school uses the curriculum Algebra Nation. He has a small softcover book with a few sample problems to do, which are apparently modeled on a video which also provides the answers. His class teacher gives some type of notes orally which appear to be certain principles of Algebra. (This may or may not be complete because he is struggling and that may be an area of struggle. I don't know.) I am trying to help him. Does anyone know if the videos are full of other examples? I am not seeing that he ever has the opportunity to really practice the concepts beyond a few questions. What am I missing? (In the interim, I took another publisher's Algebra I text book and am using that to provide added practice.) Any help you can give to me would be great. I'd love to be able to know how to help him. (I can't see any of his work that has been completed, so I feel at a disadvantage to identify what he is missing in his curriculum.) Thanks so much!

I don't know about his course or the resources. He could try this online book on any of the topic: https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Algebra I am tutoring a student in algebra I right now and if I can be of any help, feel free to PM me.

Here is another text that doesn't require a password with instruction and problems: http://www.wallace.ccfaculty.org/book/Beginning_and_Intermediate_Algebra.pdf

Khan Academy's math sections offer three- to eight-minute videos each of which walks through a single topic, plus practice questions (and, if one registers, the opportunity to earn a badge for successful completion of a topic). If Khan isn't congenial, Math is Fun, www.mathsisfun.com, has thorough text explanations on relatively non-busy pages. If neither works, try rummaging around Free Tech for Teachers, www.freetech4teachers.com, for resources. If one needs something printed and portable, LearningExpress books tend to be value for money, and most big bookstores carry them so one has a chance to examine before plunking down cash.

You are both AWESOME!! I knew this would be the right place to get resources. You saved me a ton of time. Thanks a million! I will use this!

Mathtv.com is another great resource with multiple teachers to choose from. You won't be disappointed!

Again, I thank you. I had written some practice problems by hand (if you can imagine that!!!! YIKES!!!!) but that can not be a solution. What you have provided for me is a solution. Thanks again!

https://www.nctm.org/mathforum/ There was a site called Dr. Math. http://mathforum.org/dr.math/ No new questions, but archives may be helpful.

One thing I remember about Algebra was following through, and finding where I went wrong. It didn't make sense to me when I saw an 'x' on my paper. The problem was wrong, but why??? If my answer was 6, and it should have been -6, why didn't my teacher say so? I needed her to go back and circle where I got stuck, and tell me why I had the wrong answer. I also had this hang up with the letters. Solving for "x" made me upset because "x" meant something was wrong. I also had the same problem seeing the letter "u" in any problem. You see, when I was in grammar school, our grades were E, G, F and U. That of course was, excellent, good, fair and unsatisfactory. An "U" or "F" on your report card or paper was bad news. So I would get nervous whenever I saw a letter "u" or "f". Besides that, I actually enjoyed Algebra. So I would say, see if you can get copies of some old test papers and go over the wrong answers to see where he is getting stuck.

Yes, I wish the test papers were available. However, the way the class is structured, they are not. I'm not sure how that is possible, but that's the way it is done. I've checked out the sights you all gave to me and they each have some things I"ll be using with him.

In most cases, elementary math experiences negatively effect achievement in secondary math, especially algebra. Often in elementary school, the focus is on the correct "answer" rather than understanding the procedures of the algorithm, the purpose of finding a solution, and the relationship of the numbers. Often, to a student, = means "this is where you put the answer that the teacher expects." Often, to a student (and their parents) "math means "fill in the blanks in a textbook". I've seen it suggested in algebra to literally use a model of a scale to show how what's on one side of the equation needs to balance with the other side. For variables, in elementary school, I've even placed a sheet of paper with a letter on it to hide the representative numeral behind it on the blackboard. Often people think a student understands math when 100% papers are completed, but just supplying answers might only be within the knowledge spectrum of the taxonomy, devoid of upper level understanding and application.

Sorry for double posting, but one additional thought came to my mind. I heard another teacher once comment on how modern students are lacking out-of-school experiences that normally would assist in mathematical development. The example she used was the decline in board games. Your post just now caused me to think of how this inhibits algebraic thinking. In a traditional board game, the object was to move so many spaces to reach a goal. The amount of spaces depended on spinning a spinner or rolling dice. Alongside this, some games required a subtraction of spaces. Looking at this from the perspective of an elementary aged child, the anticipated results from the spinner are building the idea of variables needed to achieve the goal. This, along with many other previously common activities, would build mathematical reasoning areas within the brain, but they've been replaced by zapping Martians in I-pads and Nickelodeon. This of course is not helpful at the stage of your tutored student right now, but I do think for today's youth, previous childhood experiences are a root cause for current difficulties in secondary math.

Using a real scale and real objects can be very helpful. I once used a first-grade teacher's plastic balance scale, a couple of identical small opaque containers - film canisters, for those of you old enough to remember those - and a bag of Skittles to walk some wary sixth graders through solving for x. (Skittles exert an almost magnetic pull on the sixth-grade psyche.) A kid who reliably crashed and burned in math proceeded to ace the pre-algebra posttest, to the sixth grade teacher's shock and joy.

You know, that is now done in 5th grade. Once they get to 9th grade, so much more advanced thinking is required beyond the principal of balance, etc. When I taught algebra I ten or more years ago, we didn't go nearly as far as courses do today. The 14 year old I tutor is simply too developmentally young to be factoring quadratic equations. (She is turning pro in her sport in the next year, and simply doesn't have the time needed to master any of the topics. That's not the fault of the course or the program, I realize. )

I used to teach freshmen using an Algebra 1 textbook from 1997; it included factoring Quadratics. I myself remember Factoring quadratics in eighth grade Algebra 1 (2003-04). I am curious, was Algebra 1 typically taught after the 9th grade in you region ten years ago?

Obadiah, I agree that we need to give students real life examples and utilize many things to show visual relationships. You are correct that the ship has sailed in that regard for the student I am helping. I'm super encouraged today. When we started a few weeks ago, not yet a month, he had an F. Today he told me he has raised it to a C. So, I'm hopeful that with more information, I will be able to help him more effectively than that. My larger concern is that he doesn't understand the meaning of what is being done, but I will be continuing to help him in the summer. For now, his parents would love for him to pass the class. They are committed to having him continue learning algebra, pass or fail, all summer long. Thanks all for your help!

Oh, no, that's not what I meant. I taught Algebra I to 8th graders. And, of course factoring quadratics was included. That was just used as a comparison to the hands-on practice to demonstrate balance.

This is the biggest problem. Everyone thinks they need to take algebra 1 in grade 8 so they can take calculus by grade 12. They take a course they are not ready for, and struggle big time. This is a major issue in my district, and we've been trying to convince students to wait until 9th to take alg 1 instead. We also make anyone who gets below a B- in 8th alg 1 take it again in 9th to solidify their understanding.

I really think that would help tremendously. And, yes, the kids around here who want to get into the math, science and engineering magnet schools are pushed to take algebra early so they can fit in all the prerequisites before applying to a magnet.