As we continue on in our quest to learn the various math concepts, anything that presents in a new or different way is a potential treasure. When Math Essentials was up for review, the No-Nonsense Algebra looked like a very good possibility to assist us with some pre-algebra concept review.
No-Nonsense Algebra is a book that begins at the pre-algebra concepts necessary to be able to learn algebra. From there, it goes all the way through quadratic equations. That is a huge span of material but it is a compact, straight-forward presentation. Each lesson is a page or two long and consists of a written instruction, examples, exercises, and review of previous concepts. There is also an online video lesson to assist in the teaching.
This is more of a text book than a workbook, as there is not a lot of space between each equation or question. Additionally, the student is encouraged to copy down and work each step of the example, as well as showing all work for each exercise and review. The pages are definitely not spacious enough for that and using notebook paper or graph paper allows the student to keep their work lined up nicely and neatly.
The video lessons are accessed with a code that is found inside the book. With that code, you just head over to the No Nonsense Algebra website where you will be able to create an account. With your code, you will have access to the videos for each of the lessons. The videos seem to run around 10 minutes in length, some a little more, some a little less. It is a video of a smart board with a voice walking you through the steps as they are shown on the board. It is a no frills video and the voice is straight-forward. The videos are not just a repeat of the written examples; they are an instruction in the concept.
HOW WE USED THIS BOOK
Since Miss E is working in pre-algebra, we asked to use this book as a concept review of the materials and concepts she has covered so far. We knew we would probably only get through the first chapter and a little into the second during the review period since those are the concepts she has worked with. We especially knew we would need additional work with negative integers.
What we found is that the videos confused Miss E a lot. For some reason, the instruction confused an already weak concept when it came to negative integers. With this being the very first lesson, it made the book a difficult one for us, as it brought tensions and tears. We pushed through the lesson over a few days, walking her through every example, exercise, and review.
I then took a look at the table of contents a bit more closely than I had and decided that we needed to work through the first chapter out of order. I found that the number line review was not first even though the first lesson of adding integers teaches and refers to the number line. Some other concepts such as the properties of numbers, greatest common factors, and least common multiples were pretty far down in the chapter yet those concepts were needed to do lessons that came before that in the chapter. This is a definite weakness of the book, in my opinion.
Noticing that allowed me to reorder the materials in a way that made sense by concept and we tackled the book again. This time, we worked up through the materials, reviewing items that were the stepping stones to the next concept and it all made much more sense to Miss E. Her confidence grew and when we came again to the integers and dealing with negative numbers, while it still wasn’t easy for her, she didn’t have such a bad time of it.
WHY THIS BOOK?
If your student is ready for Algebra I or higher, this book is right up your alley. There are no frills. It is straight-forward. The videos are designed to help with instructions. No-Nonsense Algebra covers
- Necessary Tools for Algebra
- Solving Equations
- Graphing and Analyzing Linear Equations
- Solving and Graphing Inequalities
- Systems of Linear Equations and Inequalities
- Rational Expressions (Algebraic Fractions)
- Radical Expressions and Geometry
- Quadratic Equations
- Algebra Word Problems
Included in the back of the book are the solutions (but no explanation of how to get the correct solution if you make a mistake), a final review, glossary, tables of important formulas and symbols, multiplication table, and squares and square roots.
With all that this book covers, I can imagine that it is a good review for a student who has completed algebra courses and is taking, or preparing to take, college entrance exams. It would definitely provide a thorough review.
All in all, this is a good book that just didn’t fit my girls’ needs. But, I am going to keep it around as I can see it being a lot of help in a few years as college exams approach.
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