A Review of Elementary Algebra by Harold R. Jacobs
Solutions Manual for Elementary Algebra By Harold R. Jacobs with Cassidy Cash
Elementary Algebra Test Bank By Harold R. Jacobs
Elementary Algebra Teacher’s Guide By Harold R. Jacobs
We have had Elementary Algebra by Harold Jacobs floating around our homeschool since my oldest child was in 7th grade. It has been used as a reference, a supplement to another curriculum, as a review, and is now being used as the main Algebra I curriculum for my 9th graders.
Although this text is out of print, it is widely used and can often be found on websites that sell used books and curriculum. There are also companion books available such as a complete solutions manual, a teacher’s guide, and test banks. We have never used it, but there is also a DVD course that uses this text through “Ask Dr. Callahan.”
For the purpose of this review, I will focus on using Elementary Algebra as our main Algebra I curriculum.
Jacobs presents the lessons in a conversational style, addressing the student directly. Each lesson starts out with a “real world” example and leads the student through several worked problems. The lessons are presented in a discovery method, with the student learning more about the topic as they work through the exercises in a set.
The topics on the book progress and build upon the previous topics, so grasping a concept is necessary before moving on. There are plenty of opportunities to practice new concepts in each problem set, and the Test Bank also offers additional problems and multiple tests for each chapter.
This text is word problem heavy, often building on the topics within the word problems themselves in a discovery style.
My 9th graders prefer to do their work independently, only coming to me when they do not understand a lesson or are struggling with a concept. They have been able to work through most of this text in this manner, but do occasionally run into an issue of needing a teacher to fill in some gaps in order for them to grasp the concept. This text was written for classroom use, and this is very evident in some lessons.
There is a teacher’s guide that gives additional lesson material, but personally it hasn’t been useful to me. I often use other sources to flesh out a lesson if I am having trouble explaining it to my students.
I feel like this curriculum is working very well with my students who do not struggle with math in general. This text couldn’t have been used independently with my older child as it does not mesh with her learning style at all, and she needs more direct instruction. If a parent is very comfortable with teaching Algebra, then this could be a good fit for a student not as strong in math when taught one on one.