High School Math Live began from my desire, as a fellow homeschool mom, to partner with homeschool families on the journey through high school math education. We have grown significantly, and it has been our privilege to partner with many families in a variety of ways. Usually that help is centered around math, but I would like to introduce you Excelsior Classes - which will be helpful to you in the non-math portion of your educational endeavor!
Way back in 2001, at the very first homeschool meeting I ever attended, I met Jodi Guerra. She also had a kindergarten son, a few other little ones, and prior teaching experience. We have been friends and homeschool buds ever since. As our kids got older, Jodi taught a few local classes and a lot of online classes, so my children had the opportunity to be under Jodi's tutelage multiple times.
Finally - I've been waiting a long time for this - Jodi birthed Excelsior Classes, a consortium of high-quality teachers who offer a broad range of courses. Their classes, like HSML, also meet in a live and interactive online format. My children have had the opportunity to take courses under multiple Excelsior Classes teachers, and we are so excited to see some familiar and much-loved names on the instructor list.
I hope you'll join our family in registering for classes with Excelsior Classes this year! (www.excelsiorclasses.com)
Homeschool students who wish to take Calculus I have a few decisions to make about the format that will be best suited to their needs. Three options to consider include taking Calculus I as a one-year high school course, a one year AP course, or a one semester dual credit course. There are many considerations in making this decision and there is not one right answer for all students. Here are some pros and cons about each option:
High School Math Live offers both Calculus I as a regular course and AP Calculus AB. All Calculus classes meet twice a week in a live and online interactive format. The AP students then meet an additional 20 times to focus on the test prep aspect of the material. Both Calculus I and AP Calculus AB are taught by Regina London. Mrs. London, who taught AP Calculus AB in North Carolina schools for 17 years, has a high level of success helping students achieve a high score on the AP exam. High School Math Live would love to be your solution for Calculus I – let us know if you have any questions!
I am asked this question many times - for good reason. Why DO students traditionally take Algebra I, then Geometry, and then Algebra II? Although it is certainly possible to have a successful year in Algebra II before taking Geometry, here are some thoughts to consider as you decide what is right for your student.
First, it is important to know that the material covered in Geometry does build on the concepts taught in Algebra I. It is not a total break from Algebra - it is an extension. For example, Algebra I students are taught to manipulate linear equations and are introduced to graphing. Geometry students go much deeper into the graphing of linear equations. Then, in Algebra II, students combine both skills and go even further into the topic. Geometry really does fit nicely between the Algebra courses.
However, if your student's Algebra skills are not very strong, they are going to struggle in Geometry. Students who have not fully mastered Algebra I skills should register for Algebra I so that they have an appropriate foundation to build on in order to be prepared for the upper level coursework.
Occasionally we have students who completed Algebra I but, for whatever reason, do not feel like they mastered the concepts. These students could choose to take Algebra II as their next course in order to continue working on the Algebra skills. The Algebra II class would be a fairly significant amount of work because some of the material that is presented as a review would be new material for them. However, with diligence and effort, it could be done.
One more thing to consider is the end goal of your student's high school math courses. If your student plans to pursue a STEM degree (science/technology/engineering/math), it will be important for them to have a solid background in mathematics, including Pre-Calculus with Trigonometry course. A student who takes Algebra II, then Geometry, and then Pre-Calculus with Trigonometry will find that there is a significant jump between Geometry and Pre-Calculus with Trig.
It is strongly recommended that students who plan to pursue a STEM degree follow the traditional path of Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus with Trig and, if there is time, either Calculus I or AP Calculus AB. However, a student who is not going to pursue a STEM degree can certainly choose Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and Pre-Calculus for non-STEM majors as an appropriate order of coursework.
What math class should your student take after Algebra II? Most universities recommend that students take at least three and preferably four years of math. After Algebra II, students have completed three years, so that fourth year could be considered optional. But I would almost always recommend that a student continue with at least one more math class.
If your student is going to pursue a course in business or another degree that requires Calculus I for non-majors (aka Business Calculus) then the HSML Pre-Calculus for non-STEM majors, taught by Joy Combs, is the class for them.
If your student is going to pursue a STEM career (science/technology/engineering/math) then the HSML Pre-Calculus with Trigonometry course, taught by Brenda Barnett, is the best option.
Both HSML Pre-Calculus courses use university level textbooks and are an excellent way to encounter the material while still in a high school style setting. After completion of either course, a student could choose to re-take the same class in a university setting so as to "get their feet wet" in that setting without encountering new and difficult coursework right away or they could choose to go right into the Calculus course of their choosing, confident in the fact that they have been adequately prepared for that next course.
Today I got an email from one of our parents. Here is what she asked me to share with you:
I have to provide a ringing endorsement for Brenda Barnett and High School Math Live. I absolutely exhort you to entrust them with your child’s math education.
For years we plodded along with moderate success in math by trying to do it at home and even with some online providers. When my oldest child struggled to place into College Algebra at the local junior college after doing very well in several highly touted math curricula, I knew we had been doing something wrong. I didn’t want my kids to barely get by. I wanted them to really succeed in math and have confidence in it.
Enter Brenda Barnett who tutored that oldest kid. She and her associates have taught my remaining children from Pre-Algebra and up. That oldest kid received some great tutoring from Brenda, went on to complete College Algebra, Precalculus and Trigonometry with high As in a dual credit setting. This kid actually wants to study statistics for the business setting at his university. That is just an extraordinary change for this math reluctant child. The next child really did not feel confident at all in math. She is not a “math kid”; nevertheless, this child persevered and completed Algebra 2 and Precalculus with High School Math Live. She just finished College Algebra as a dual credit student making above 100 on all of the exams. She is a now a confident math student.
Please allow me to say a bit more about High School Math Live because I believe there are some “hidden” benefits. Some homeschool parents may balk at paying for outside instruction, but let me strongly encourage you not to go it alone. Both of my students are receiving scholarships because of their high test scores and their GPAs, a situation which would not have been possible without shoring up those math skills. The first child received $50,000 by waiving out of state tuition plus extra funds for academic excellence. I expect the same from the second child due to those test scores. This would not have been possible without the academic rigor for mathematics and accountability provided by High School Math Live. That investment is accruing benefits, and I believe it is well worth the price.
I do not believe our results to be atypical, but check it out for yourself. You will not be disappointed.
High School Math Live goes – LIVE on the radio!
Brenda Barnett was interviewed by Gwen Gistarb on the "Making Life Easy with Gwen Gistarb" internet radio show. If you missed the show, you can still hear the broadcast by clicking on this link:
At High School Math Live, we have chosen not to use curricula that are being used by many homeschoolers. Instead, our courses use textbooks that you might find in a public or private school near you. The reason is simple: We chose textbooks that we believe will best further develop your child into a mathematically inclined student.
For the most part, math curriculum all has a very similar scope and sequence. That means they cover the same topics in much the same order. That is fairly obvious, as you have to learn one skill in order to apply it to the next level of problems. Where many texts differ is in their word problems. In my opinion, word problems are at the core of any math curriculum.
If a student sees a problem and solves it, that is an excellent example of memorizing and following algorithms - the step by step process by which an answer is found. But if a student can read a word problem and go through the mental process required to solve that problem, they have demonstrated a much deeper kind of math knowledge.
In order to develop the thinking process, word problems must be unique, but many textbooks have problems that are best described as rote. Word problems need to have an interesting topic that students can see has relevance to the world around them. And word problems should at least occasionally have a twist in them - the kind that makes the student stop, process, think, wonder, and then - AHA!! - have that moment when the correct procedure hits them like a ton of bricks. THAT is when we know they have mastered the mathematics involved. I just love watching that happen.
Is your child processing their math in a deep way or are they just going through the algorithms? Can they apply the concepts? Do they notice the beauty that only comes when they see how everything fits together? High School Math Live would like to help your student experience the joy of mathematics. Our curriculum will enable us to do just that!
Standardized tests. You may love them, you may hate them - but they are a fact of life in the college application process. Most colleges accept ACT or SAT test scores, but some have a strong preference for one or the other. Students often find that one test seems to fit their learning style better than the other and thus score higher on that test. Which one is best for your student?
The math portion of the ACT test consists of problems that are very similar to the homework that your student has encountered in his/her math classes. The problems cover topics from Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Algebra II, Coordinate Geometry, Plane Geometry, and Trigonometry. If your student is very accurate in their math work and has good recall of the topics they have learned over the last few years in math classes they should do well on the ACT exam. If they need some review over the material on the test, it is a fairly straightforward process to figure out where the gaps are and what they need to relearn/review. High School Math Live is certainly able to help your student to prepare for the ACT exam.
The SAT, which is generally preferred by universities in my part of the country, is a very different kind of test. The math portion of the SAT test is more of a thinking skills test. For the most part, I can work a section of the test in about half of the time that is given for the test without having to do any written computation on almost any problem. That said, I do NOT recommend that method of working for the testers - showing work absolutely is the best way to check accuracy! The problems have MUCH more to do with UNDERSTANDING and APPLYING math than with computing math. Students who run out of time on the test are, generally speaking, trying to do the problems in the wrong way. They are demonstrating a lack of understanding of the skills being tested.
By working through published tests with students, I am able to "connect the dots" for the students using the knowledge they have and connecting it with an understanding of how that knowledge applies to the problem at hand. I often hear this comment: "The test is so easy when you show me how to do it!" The goal that I strive for is to make it easy even when I am not explaining the problem to them! The biggest part of that is to help the student recognize how to START the problem. To do that, I show them how to recognize clues from the problem, to see the interconnectedness of their math knowledge, and to draw upon past problems that we have done together that make each new problem a little bit more clear.
Whichever test your student signs up for, certainly the slow and steady pace is the right way to go. Attending a seminar every week - or even every other week - would be an excellent pace.
Start early. Practice often. Let us help you to improve those entrance exam scores!
I love mathematics. I love puzzling over a good word problem. I love to work through a really long and complicated abstract math problem only to end up with a beautiful, concise answer. I realize that not every child will truly love mathematics, but I also firmly believe that students are not being taught in a way that encourages them to see the beauty of math. They are not being taught to think mathematically.
Often in math curriculum, students are given a problem and are taught the steps required to solve the problem. When another problem of that type is seen in a later problem set, the student simply has to recall the way to solve that type of problem. Students are not challenged to think in a mathematical way to come up with a solution for a unique problem.
As homeschoolers, we are somewhat limited by the availability of secondary math education options. Some students work well with a self-paced video course, but many students need more interaction with an instructor. Many locations have classes for homeschoolers, but math can not be accomplished in a one-time-a-week class and the drive time can be prohibitive.
Our goals are simple:
**Use a curriculum that challenges students to learn to think
**Teach in a way that is interactive
**Challenge students to verbalize their problem solving process
**Demonstrate a love for mathematics,
And thereby develop mathematical thinkers who, when challenged with unique problems in any aspect of their lives, will be able to apply the problem solving skills learned in math classes to make well thought out decisions.
Yes, I really believe that what you learn in abstract math classes will be a huge benefit to you for the rest of your life - even if you never solve another quadratic equation as long as you live! The thinking skills that you learn will benefit you forever.
As homeschool parents, we teach many subjects to our children. But the difference in being able to DO a problem and being able to pass on a love for the beauty of math are very different things. If you are struggling with your student's math education, please consider this online class option. I believe that we can help your child to gain success in his/her math education. Contact us today!