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Newsletters
I continue to see comments on familiar blogs about correcting – or grading – the daily work of Saxon math students. That is a process contrary to what John Saxon intended when he developed his math books. Unlike any other math book on the market today, John's math books were designed to test the student's knowledge every week. Why would you want to have students suffer the pains of getting 100 on their daily work when the weekly test will easily tell you if they are doing well? There are even programs out there that will assist you in grading the daily work – but do you really need that? I always tell homeschool educators that grading the daily work, when there is a test every Friday, amounts to a form of academic harassment to the student. Like everything else in life, we tend to apply our best when it is absolutely necessary. With few exceptions, most students will accept minor mistakes and errors when performing their daily "practice" of math problems. They know when they make a mistake and rather than redo the entire problem, they recognize the correction necessary to fix the error and move on without correcting it. They have a sense when they know or do not know how to do a certain math problem; however, when they encounter that all important test every Friday, – as I like to describe it – they put on their "Test Hat" to do their very best to make sure they do not repeat the same error! In sports, daily practice ensures the individual will perform well at the weekly game, for without the practice, the game would end in disaster. The same concept applies to daily piano practice. While the young concert pianist does not set out to make mistakes during the daily practice for the upcoming piano recital, he quickly learns from his mistakes. Built into John Saxon's methodology are weekly tests (every four lessons from Algebra ½ through Calculus) to ensure that classroom as well as homeschool educators can quickly identify and correct these mistakes before too much time has elapsed. In other words, the homeschool educator as well as the classroom teacher is only four days away from finding out what the student has or has not mastered during the past week's daily work. I know of no other math textbook that allows the homeschool educator or the classroom teacher this repetitive check and balance to enable swift and certain correction of the mistakes to ensure they do not continue. Yes, you can check daily work to see if your students are still having trouble with a particular concept, particularly one they missed on their last weekly test, which can be correlated to their latest daily assignment. However, as one home school educator stated recently on one of the blogs John Saxon realized that not all students would master every new math concept on the day it is introduced, which accounts for the delay allowing more than a full week's practice of the new concepts before being tested on them. He also realized that some students might need still another week of practice for some concepts which accounts for his using a test score of eighty percent as reflecting mastery. Generally, when a student receives a score of eighty on a weekly test, it results from the student not yet having mastered one or two of the new concepts as well as perhaps having skipped a review of an old concept that appeared in the assignment several days before the test. When the students see the old concept in the daily work, they think they can skip that "golden oldie" because they already know how to do it! The reason they get it wrong on the test is that the test problem had the same unusual twist to it that the problem had that the student skipped while doing the daily assignment. In all the years I taught John Saxon's math at the high school, I never graded a single homework paper. I did monitor the daily work to ensure it was done and I would speak with students whose test grades were falling below the acceptable minimum of eighty percent. I can assure you that having the student do every problem over that he failed to do on his daily assignments does not have anywhere near the benefit of going over the problems missed on the weekly tests because the weekly tests reveal mastery – or lack thereof – while the daily homework only reveals their daily memory!
and gives them a weekend free of math!
By the time the first several months of the new school year have passed, most Saxon math students are at least a fourth of the way through their respective math books and are quickly finding out that the easy review of the previous textbook's material has come to a sudden halt. They are now entering the part of the textbook that determines whether or not they have mastered sufficient material from the previous textbook to be prepared for their current course of instruction. For students who start school in August - using the Saxon middle or high school math series from Math 76 through Algebra 2 - this generally occurs sometime in mid-to late October around lesson 35 or so. Or it can occur sometime in late November, if they started the course in September. Or, depending upon the student's schedule it may not occur until after the Christmas Holidays in January. This past school year I received a number of email and telephone calls from home school parents who had students who were experiencing difficulty after completing about forty or so lessons of the course. They were mostly upper middle school or high school students using John Saxon's Algebra ½, Algebra 1, or Algebra 2 textbooks. The symptoms described by the home school parents were similar. The daily assignments seem to take much longer than before and the test grades appear to be erratic or on a general downward trend. The student becomes easily frustrated and starts making comments like, About that time, many homeschool educators do the same thing that parents of public or private school students do. They question the curriculum. They immediately look for another - easier - math curriculum so that their children can be successful. Since the students apparently did fine in the previous level book, the parents believe there must be something wrong with this textbook since their sons or daughters are no longer doing well. Looking for an "easier" math course is like a high school football coach who has just lost his first ten high school football games. However, he assures the principal that they will definitely be successful in their next football game. I do not believe the answer is to find an easier math curriculum. I believe the answer is to find out why the students are encountering difficulty in the math curriculum they are currently using, and then find a viable solution to that situation. As John Saxon often said, algebra is not difficult; it is different! Because every child is also different, I cannot offer a single solution that will apply to every child's situation, but before I present a general solution to Saxon users, please be aware that if you call my office and leave your telephone number or if you email me, I will discuss the specifics of your children's situation and hopefully be able to assist you. My office number is 580-234-0064 (CST) and my email address is art.reed@usingsaxon.com. When Saxon students encounter difficulty in their current level math book before they reach lesson 30-40 or so, it is generally because one or more of the following conditions contributed to their current dilemma:
There are other conditions that contribute to the students encountering difficulty early in their Saxon math book. Basically, they all point to the fact that, by taking shortcuts, the students did not master the necessary math concepts to be successful in their current level textbook. This weakness shows up around lesson 30 - 40 in every one of John's math books. The good news is that this condition - if caught early - can be isolated and the weaknesses corrected without re-taking the entirety of the previous level math book. There is a procedure to "Find and Fill in the Existing Math Holes" that allows students to progress successfully. This procedure involves using the tests from the previous level math book to look for the "holes in the student's math" or for those concepts that they did not master. This technique can easily tell the parent whether the student needs to repeat the last third of the previous book or if they can escape that situation by just filling in the missing concepts - or holes. If you have my book, then you already know the specifics of the solution. If you do not have my book, then you can call me or email your situation to me and I will assist you and your child. Regardless of what math book is being used, students who do not enjoy their level of mathematics are generally at a level above their capabilities.
I am often asked by home school educators whether or not I will create my teaching DVD “videos” for the new fourth editions of Algebra 1 and Algebra 2, and the resulting new first edition of Geometry now being sold on the Saxon Homeschool website by the new owners of Saxon Publishers. The answer is no, I will not do so. My creation of the current DVD video series for John’s math books, based upon rock solid editions created by John Saxon, was not to make money. Using my Saxon classroom teaching experiences, I wanted to create a classroom environment for home school students who wanted to master high school mathematics using John’s unique math books. However, publishing math textbooks redesigned to be like all the other math textbooks on the market are not what John intended when he created his unique style of math books. John Saxon would not have sanctioned gutting his Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 textbooks of their geometry to create a separate geometry textbook. He believed that using a separate geometry textbook was not conducive to mastering high school mathematics. More importantly, each of John’s math books had an author - an experienced classroom mathematician - behind them. These three new editions, created under his Saxon title, do not. When Harcourt-Achieve bought John Saxon’s dream - Saxon Publishers - from his children, I made the comment that the new owners were certainly intelligent enough to recognize the uniqueness of John’s books. I predicted that they would not change the content of John’s books. Certainly, I commented. Well the new owners of Saxon Publishers appear to have done just that, and the time has come for me to apologize because they are now selling the hamburger on the Homeschool website. I have previously cautioned home school Saxon users not to use the new fourth editions of Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 then offered only on the school website because the company had gutted all geometry from them to enable them to publish a separate geometry textbook desired by the public school system. But they are now selling them on the Homeschool site as well. Having been affiliated with one of the larger publishing companies - after Saxon Publishers was sold - I observed that the driving force in the company was not so much the education of the children, but the quarterly profit statement. And that is okay, but being around their VP’s and upper level executives showed me that to them “a book - is a book - is a book.” I still believe they have not the foggiest idea of just how unique and powerful John’s math books are when used correctly. However, I may be wrong, because they may have already observed that it is this “uniqueness” that requires special handling - and that requires special training - and that costs money – reducing quarterly profits. I do not believe the publishing company will long suffer the expense of publishing both the third and fourth editions of Algebra 1 and Algebra 2. It is my opinion they may well stop printing and selling the third editions of Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 when current stocks run out. This will then require that home school educators using Saxon math books buy the separate geometry book also. After all, Maybe the new owners of John Saxon's math books Listed below are excerpts from my book about each edition of John’s books from Math 54 through Calculus.
If after reading this, you feel your particular situation has not been addressed, please feel free to email me at art.reed@usingsaxon.com or call me at *****************************************************************************
Calculators are recommended for use at this level after lesson 30. While lesson 114 of the book contains information about using a graphing calculator, one is not necessary at this level. That lesson was inserted because some state textbook adoption committees wanted math books to reflect the most advanced technology. The only calculator students need from algebra through calculus is an inexpensive scientific calculator that costs about ten dollars at one of the local discount stores. I use a Casio fx260 solar which costs about $9.95 at any Target, K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Radio Shack, etc. If the 3rd edition of Saxon Algebra 1 is used, a separate geometry textbook should not be used between Saxon Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 because the required two semesters of high school geometry concepts will be covered in Saxon Algebra 2 (1st semester) and in the first sixty lessons of the Advanced Mathematics book (2nd semester).
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The concept of "block scheduling or "flex scheduling" (looked at by homeschool educators as a way to speed-up the process by going through the books at a faster pace) while not advocated by John Saxon or the author, can be successfully utilized for these Saxon textbooks, if the procedures discussed in this information booklet are followed. John Saxon believed that children learn more efficiently and effectively when they are exposed to mathematical concepts in small, easily understandable concepts. This is what John referred to as "incremental learning" or "incremental development." We also believe, and research supports this view, that new concepts and skills should be reviewed continually. However, if you must use block scheduling – while teaching from any one of the three textbooks mentioned above, we recommend you follow these guidelines. The author of this article is a retired high school math teacher who has taught the Saxon textbooks from Algebra Â˝ through Calculus for more than a decade. The concepts reflected here were implemented at a local university over thirty years ago when incoming freshman with low ACT scores were required to take a non-credit introductory algebra course to prepare them for college algebra. The author (as an adjunct professor) used the Saxon Algebra 2, (3 Successful implementation of these procedures will allow a student who – for whatever reason -needs to complete one of the three courses listed above in a single semester, rather than a full nine month school year. As with any new procedures, there are always variations that may or may not work; however, it is recommended these procedures not be altered until you have followed them for at least one full academic semester. There are 123 lessons in the Algebra Â˝ textbook, 120 lessons in the Algebra 1 textbook, and 129 lessons in the Algebra 2 textbook. So, basically, you need to commit a minimal time span of at least six months to acquire a minimum of 130 useable days. Using three days per week to accomplish six lessons and one test per week, you could easily cover the 129 lessons in the Algebra 2 textbook. What we have not covered is what to do with the student who, after going through the six months' Block Scheduling course ends up with a " If questions regarding these instructions or situations arise that create conflict with these procedures, or if additional information is needed, please feel free to call the author at
Remember your math teacher's 50/50 grading method that allowed 50% of 100 = 50 for homework and 50% of 50 = 25 for the test grade giving the lazy guy or gal in the class a final grade of "75." Earning for them a nice "C" because they had utilized the "
(A recommended way to get done what is needed)
**APPENDIX A:**DAILY ASSIGNMENT COVER SHEET**APPENDIX B:**ASSIGNMENT REVIEW SHEET
I will get out the May Newsletter in a couple of days as soon as I resolve the following dilemma. Hopefully you have not been involved in sending us an email only to not receive either a reply or a telephone call. We have switched internet carriers and no longer can send or receive email from suddenlinkmail.com or suddenlink.com. Without warning they just stopped our email several days after the transfer. Any of the following email addresses will get to me or to AJ Publishers. For email directed for Art Reed, use one of the following: For email directed to the company AJ Publishers LLC, use one of the following: I do apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused any of you. Please give me a call if you need a reply to an errant email you have sent in the last several days and have not yet received an answer Art Reed (1-580-234-0064)
Because of the cumulative nature of the Saxon mathematics textbook, a student entering a Saxon classroom from a non-Saxon environment will encounter difficulty regardless of his academic ability. It is this very cumulativeness, coupled with the incremental development of the Saxon textbook that will assist the student in regaining their academic level of performance. While it is an initial shock to the student and their parent(s), regardless of their academic ability, it is possible to overcome this initial shock if incoming students and their parents will sit down and agree to several policies and procedures based upon the following conditions as they apply to each student. 1. It will take three to four weeks or more for any student to reach his academic expectations regardless of his academic abilities. Students who arrive new to the Saxon methodology generally fall into one of three categories: A valid "A" or "B" math student who has mastered the prerequisites for the course will take about three to four weeks to assimilate to the weekly tests and the cumulative nature of the Saxon textbook. Inform the student that initial test scores may be a bit lower than expected. However later test scores that will undoubtedly be higher, will replace these lower test scores. This will resolve the problem before the end of the nine-week grading period. This will not solve the problem if the student is not really an "A" or "B" math student (e.g. his grades were based on applying a fifty percent notebook or fifty percent homework grades, etc.)__Exceptional Students:__Students who arrive with a low "A" or a low "B" average will experience a great deal more difficulty and will take almost an entire nine week period to assimilate to the Saxon methodology. Again, an initial conference with the student is essential.__Average Students:__Students who arrive with a "C" grade should be placed in the last part of the previous textbook (e.g. if the students came from the algebra 2 course, they should be placed in the last part of the Saxon algebra 1 class). To enable them to receive credit for this semester, enter algebra 1 (w/geometry) or Intro to algebra 2 on their transcripts to differentiate from the algebra 1 course they completed in the previous non-Saxon textbook. The Saxon algebra 1 textbook, unlike other algebra 1 textbooks, contains geometry and the later part of the textbook prepares the students for algebra 2, so either entry would be an accurate description. Without exception, students who received a low "C" or "D" grade in their previous math textbook should repeat whatever the course was, only now using the Saxon textbook.__Below Average Students:__ Upon successful completion, their transcript could either reflect the same "introductory algebra 1" or "introductory algebra 2" course or use "algebra 1 (w/geometry)" or algebra 2 (w/geometry), etc.
Setting them back with this review process gives them the opportunity to absorb the algebra and geometry at an easier level. Use the entries "introduction" and "w/geometry" on the transcripts so they can honestly receive credit for something they have not previously encountered.
And you and he both feel it would be beneficial to switch to the Saxon Algebra 2, 3rd Ed textbook. After three tests of 45 and 50, and 45, it is apparent that the student is not able to handle the material. You recommend the student be assigned to the Saxon algebra 1, 3rd Ed textbook and complete the Algebra 1 course. Depending on the student's latter test scores, his transcript would either reflect the Algebra 1 w/Geometry or the Introduction to Algebra 2. Assume the student's final five or so test scores are low "C"s" (70-75) the students transcript could reflect a "C" for an Intro to Algebra 2 course and they would repeat the algebra course the next year and their transcript would be annotated to reflect Algebra 2 (w/geometry). Recall that 3rd Ed textbook qualifies as an Honors Course.
It has been more than thirty years since I retired from teaching high school math at a rural high school in North Enid, Oklahoma. I can still remember the talk I gave my students their first day of class. I explained to them that the course was relatively easy if they did all of their daily practice work "known as homework" every day. It was easy to bring sports into the equation as I then told them that if they did not want to practice their putting on a daily basis â€“ don't expect to compete in any golf tournaments. If you don't want to take daily batting practice don't gripe about your low batting average. And if you do not do all of the problems in the daily assignment don't gripe when you start failing the weekly tests. I went on to explain to them that I had probably heard every excuse used by a student to explain why they were starting to fail - or were already failing â€“ a Saxon Math course. In this case my math class. Then I told them to not take any notes as I would provide each of them with a copy of these excuses known as Magic Homework. I went on to explain that I would also give them an extra copy to give their parents so when their grade began falling to a "C" or lower they could simply tell their parents it was because of reason 1, 2 or 3.
Think back to your days in high school and your algebra classes. Do you recall having your math teacher hand out a review sheet a few days before the big test? So what did you do with this review sheet? Right! You memorized it knowing that most of the questions would appear on the test in some form or other. We are the only industrialized nation in the world that I know of where parents proudly announce
I still see students in the local public school receiving a passing math grade using the "review sheet" technique, even though their test grades never get above a sixty. How can this happen? Easy! The student's grades are based upon a grading system that ensures success even though the student cannot pass a single test (unless you consider a sixty a passing grade). Many students' overall average grades are computed based upon fifty percent of their grade coming from the homework (easily copied by them) and another fifty percent determined from their test scores (following the review sheet). So the student who receives hundreds on the daily homework grades and fifties or sixties on the tests is cruising along with an overall grade average of a high "C" or a low "B." Yet, that student cannot explain half of the material in the book. I have often explained to parents of students who were struggling in my math classes that their struggle was akin to the honey bee struggling its way through the wax seal of the comb. It is that struggle that strengthens the bee's wings and enables it to immediately fly upon its exit from the hive. Cut the wax away for the young bee and it will die because its wings are too weak to allow it to fly. Yes, there is a difference between struggling and frustration! The home educator as well as the classroom teacher must be ever vigilant to recognize the difference. While we all would like the student to master the new concept on the day it is introduced, that does not always happen. Not every math student completely understands every math concept on the day it is introduced. It is because of this that John Saxon developed his incremental approach to mathematics. When John's incremental development is coupled with a constant review of these concepts, "mastery" occurs.
Mastery occurs through a process referred to by Dr. Benjamin Bloom as "automaticity." The term was coined by Dr. Bloom, of "Bloom's Taxonomy," while at the University of Chicago in the mid 1950's. He described this phenomenon as the ability of the human mind to accomplish two things simultaneously so long as one of them was over-learned (or mastered). The two critical components for mastery are . timeAutomaticity is another way to describe the placing of information or data into long term memory. The process requires that its two componentsâ€”repetition over timeâ€”be used simultaneously. It is this process in John Saxon's math books that creates the proper atmosphere for mastery of the math concepts. Violating either one of the two components negates the process. In other words, you cannot speed up the process by taking two lessons a day or doing just the odd or even numbered problems in each lesson. Trying to take shortcuts with mathematics would be like trying to save meal preparation time every day. Why not just eat all the meals on weekends and save the valuable time spent preparing meals Monday through Friday. Just as your body will not permit this "short-cut," your mind will not allow mastery of material squeezed into a short time frame for the sake of speeding up the process by reducing the amount of time spent on the individual math concepts. In a single school year of nine months, the student using John Saxon's math books will have taken more than twenty-five weekly tests. Since all the tests are cumulative in content, passing these tests with a minimum grade of "80" reflects "mastery" of the required concepts - not just memory!
While a student may periodically struggle with an individual test or two throughout the entire range of the tests, it is not their test "average" that tells how prepared they are for the next level math course, nor is it the individual test scores (good or bad) they received on the early tests that matter. Students who receive individual test scores of 80 or higherâ€”first time testedâ€”on their last five tests in any of John Saxon's math books are well prepared for success in the next level math course. I strongly recommend that you not tell the students of this until they reach the fifth test of the last five tests. Believe me, even the best of students will never really apply themselves to the first 25 or so tests thinking that they do not really count. By the time they reach the last five tests - if they even do - it will be too late as mastery has not taken hold. They will be lucky to even reach test 25 having not really applied themselves on the first 10 or so tests.
Homeschool educators are constantly faced with the dilemma of deciding whether or not their son or daughter needs to take a separate high school geometry course because some academic institution wants to see geometry on the high school transcript. Or, because the publishers offer it as a separate math textbook in their curriculum — implying it is to be taken as a separate course. Remembering, of course, that selling three different math textbooks books brings in more revenue than selling just two different math textbooks will. John Saxon's unique methodology of combining algebra in the geometric plane and geometry in the algebraic plane all in the same math textbook had solved that dilemma facing home school educators for these past twenty-five years. However, unknown to John, this same problem had been addressed over a hundred years earlier at the University of Chicago. Knowledge of this information came to me by way of a gift from my wife and her two sisters. Since 2003, after their mom and dad had passed away, my wife and her sisters had been going through some fifty years of papers and books accumulated by their parents and stored in the attic and basement of the house they all grew up in. When asked by friends why it was taking them so long, one of the daughters replied Among some of the treasures they found in the basement were letters to their great-grandfather written by a fellow soldier while both were on active duty in the Union Army. One of these letters was written to their great-grandfather while his friend was assigned to "Picket Duty" on the "Picket Line." His fellow Union Soldier and friend was describing to his friend (their great-grandfather) the dreary rainy day he was experiencing. He wrote that he thought it was much more dangerous being on "Picket Duty" than being on the front lines, as the "Rebels" were always sneaking up and shooting at them from out of nowhere. The treasure they found for me was an old math book that their father had used while a sophomore in high school in 1917. The book is titled The authors of the book were professors of mathematics and astronomy at the University of Chicago, and they addressed the problem facing high school students in their era. Students who had just barely grasped the concepts of the algebra 1 text, only to be thrown into a non-algebraic geometry textbook and then, a year or more later being asked to grasp the more complicated concepts of an algebra 2 textbook. The book they had written contained algebraic concepts combined with geometry. It was designed as a supplement to a geometry textbook so the students would continue to use algebraic concepts and not forget them. John never mentioned these authors â€” or the book â€” so I can only assume he never knew it existed. For if he had, I feel certain that it would have been one more shining light for him to shine in the faces of the high-minded academicians that he â€” as did these authors â€” thought were wreaking havoc with mathematics in the secondary schools. In the preface of their textbook, the professors had written:
So, should you blame the publishers for publishing a separate geometry textbook? Or is it the fault of misguided high-minded academicians who — after more than a hundred years — still demand a separate geometry text from the publishers? I am not sure, but thankfully, this decision need not yet face the homeschool educators using John Saxon's math books for the original Homeschool third editions of John Saxon's Algebra one half, Algebra one and Algebra two textbooks still contain geometry as well as algebra — as does the advanced mathematics textbook. In fact, John introduces some basic algebraic and geometric concepts as early as the sixth grade in the second and third editions of his sixth grade Math 76 book. Any home school student — using John Saxon's Homeschool math textbooks — who successfully completes Algebra one, (2 When home school educators tell me they are confused because the school website offers different materials than what is offered to them on the Homeschool website, I remind them that - unless they want to purchase a hardback version of their soft back textbook - they do not need anything being offered on the Saxon school website. In fact, they are getting a better curriculum by staying on the Homeschool website. You can still purchase the original versions of John Saxon's math textbooks that he intended be used to develop "mastery" as recommended by the University of Chicago mathematics professors over a hundred years ago. Because many of you do not have a copy of my book, I have reproduced that list from page 15 of the book so you can see what editions of John Saxon's original math books are still good whether acquired used or new. These editions will easily remain excellent math textbooks for several more decades.
Over the past forty-some years, I have noticed that parents, students, and educators I have spoken to, either strongly like or - just as strongly - dislike John Saxon's math books. During my workshops at home school conventions, I was often asked the question about why this paradigm exists. Or, as one home school educator put it, "Why is there this Love - Hate relationship with Saxon math books?" It is easy to understand why educators like John's math books. They offer continuous review while presenting challenging concepts in increments rather than overwhelming the student with the entire process in a single lesson. They allow for mastery of the fundamentals of mathematics. More than forty years ago, in an interview with William F. Buckley on the FIRING LINE in 1983, John Saxon responded to educators who were labeling his books as "blind, mindless drill." He accused them of misusing the word "drill." John reminded the listeners that:
John went on to explain that
As John would often say,
It is my belief that, Just what is it that creates this strong dislike of John Saxon's math books? During these past forty-some years I have observed there are several general reasons that explain most of this strong dislike. Any one of these - or a combination of several - will create a situation that discourages or frustrates the student and eventually turns both the parent and the student against the Saxon math books. Here are several of those reasons:
Every time I have encountered this situation, I have students take the on-line Saxon Algebra 1 placement test - and without exception, these students have failed that test. That failure tends to confuse the parents when I tell them the test the student just failed was the last test in the Saxon Pre-Algebra textbook. Does this tell you something? This same entry level problem can occur when switching to Saxon at any level in the Saxon math series from Math 54 through the upper level algebra courses; however, the curriculum shock is less dynamic and discouraging when the switch is made after moving from a fifth grade math curriculum into the Saxon sixth grade Math 76 book.
But when you start with a first edition of the Math 54 book in the fourth grade and then move to a second or third edition of Math 65 for the fifth grade; or you move from a first or second edition of the sixth grade Math 76 book to a second or third edition of the seventh grade Math 87 book, you are subjecting the students to a frustrating challenge which in some cases does not allow them to make up the gap they encounter when they move from an academically weaker text to an academically stronger one. The new second or third editions of the fifth grade Saxon Math 65 are stronger in academic content then the older first edition of the sixth grade Math 76 book. Moving from the former to the latter is like skipping a book and going from a fifth grade to a seventh grade textbook. Again, using the entire selection of John's original first edition math books is okay so long as you do not attempt to go from one of the old editions to a newer edition. If you must do this, please email or call me for assistance before you make the change.
"But the lesson was easy and I wanted to finish the book early, so I skipped the easy lesson. That shouldn't make any difference." Or, "There are two of each type of problem, so why do all thirty problems? Just doing the odd numbered ones is okay because the answers for them are in the back of the book." Well, let's apply that logic to your music lessons.
We will just play every other musical note when there are two of the same notes in a row. After all, when we practice, we already know the notes we're skipping. Besides, it makes the piano practice go faster. Or an even better idea. When you have to play a piece of music, why not skip the middle two sheets of music because you already know how they sound and the audience has heard them before anyway.
My standard reply to these questions is
Doing daily work is like taking an open book test with unlimited time. The daily assignment grades reflect short term memory. However, answering twenty test questions - which came from among the 120 - 150 daily problems the students worked on in the past four or five days - reflects what students have mastered and placed in long term memory. John Saxon's math books are the only curriculum on the market today that I am aware of that require a test every four or five lessons. Grading the homework and skipping the tests negates the system of mastery, for the student is then no longer held accountable for mastering the concepts.
In March of 1993, in the preface to his first edition Physics textbook, John wrote about
If you use the books as John Saxon intended them to be used, you will join the multitude of other successful Saxon users who value his math books. I realize that every child is different. And while the above situations apply to about 99% of all students, there are always exceptions that justify the rule. If your particular situation does not fit neatly into the above descriptions, please feel free to email me at art.reed@thesaxonteacher.com or call me at
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