Home Study Companion Foerster's Precalculus Digital Download
If you are wondering whether to skip from Algebra 2 directly to Calculus or whether to take Precalculus first, the answer (almost always) is to take Precalculus first. Gaining depth is more important than racing ahead, and the depth offered through this course is tremendous. Recording this course has been a remarkable experience for me, personally. I have grown in my appreciation for Foerster's work in the process. In my career I have taught out of several other Precalculus textbooks, but none of them is in the same league with Foerster when it comes to teaching problem solving and real-world applications.
I am using the 3rd edition of Foerster’s Precalculus with Trigonometry.There are major chapter-level rearrangements, but except for a few modified sections and the addition of Chapter 16 in the 3rd edition, most of the content is the same as the 2nd edition.
The course is now being distributed as a direct digital download. It makes heavy use of computational tools, primarily a scientific calculator, spreadsheet programming, GeoGebra, and Sage. In this course I use GeoGebra in lieu of “graphing calculators.”
One further step I am taking in this course is to introduce RPN calculators, the system developed for scientific calculators by Hewlett-Packard. Students are free to use any calculator they have in any mode they like, but in this course I will be doing the on-screen calculations in RPN. A pocket calculator should be optimized to be able to evaluate expressions fluently and reliably. RPN notation takes a little getting used to at first, but it is wonderful for its fluency and reliability. I describe my HP calculator as an “extension of my brain.” RPN is a parenthesis-free notation system. Even quite complicated expressions can be computed without having to keep track of nested parentheses.
Pair a well-loved high school math series (Foersters) with video instruction and you have a winning combination. Math Without Borders Home Study Companions provide an element of confidence; the conviction that a challenging high school math course is completely manageable. Why? You have a teacher in your corner. One who calmly and clarifyingly teaches math. Initially programs were on thumb drives, but all have transitioned over to digital downloads. The videos provide electronic whiteboard presentations to accompany the textbook lessons plus worked solutions to selected assigned problems.
The Paul Foerster math courses are considered an excellent choice for college prep math, but were not as readily available. Sometimes, it was even hard to get an answer key. David Chandler and Math Without Borders changes all that. These excellent courses (the geometry uses "Geometry: A Guided Inquiry") provide a quality, college-prep, high school scope and sequence and they are do-able in a homeschool setting even if mom is a mathophobe.
The idea is to read the day's lesson, then watch the video. Use half of the lesson problems as a daily assignment; use the remainder if additional practice is needed. The Math Without Borders videos include explanatory videos plus worked problem solutions for either select problems or the even problems. These solutions can be used to get over a roadblock. Many of the courses include a Resources File which provides spreadsheets and material referred to in the lessons.
Each course includes material on how to set up the course, what texts to use and how to use them, as well as links for obtaining suggested free software downloads. Some courses include printable pdf material.
Although a mentoring approach to assessment is encouraged, Mr. Chandler does provide suggestions for material that can be used as self-tests or assessments. ~ Janice
Algebra I text is Algebra I: Expressions, Equations, and Applications by Paul Foerster (Prentice Hall Classics edition). The odd-numbered problems have answers given at the back of the book (use these for homework). Lessons are useful with older editions of the text.
Geometry text is Geometry: A Guided Inquiry by Chakerian, Crabill, and Stein. (several publishers and different printings but all with identical content). Demonstration files from the lessons require a free program Geogebra - (available as download).
Algebra 2 with Trigonometry text is Algebra and Trigonometry: Functions and Applications by Paul Foerster (Prentice Hall Classics edition). Mr. Chandler notes that trigonometry is rarely taught as a separate course anymore but rather paired with either Algebra 2 or Precalculus. Paul Foerster includes it in both courses. Math Without Borders strongly suggests that taking both courses (don't skip the Precalculus course) is recommended because work leading up to calculus is foundational for later math courses and mathematically based professions. Lessons are useful with older editions of the text.
Precalculus text is Precalculus with Trigonometry: Concepts and Applications, 3rd ed. by Paul Foerster (copyright 2012). Lessons are useful with older editions of the text.
Calculus text is Calculus: Concepts and Applications, 2nd ed. by Paul Foerster (copyright 2005). Lessons are useful with older editions of the text.
Paul Foerster is a name synonymous with math. He has not only taught math, he has a degree in chemical engineering and a Masters in mathematics along with the honor of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching. He has written the successful Algebra 2 and Trigonometry course that is to be used following Harold Jacobs Elementary Algebra and Geometry: Seeing, Doing, Understanding. Paul Foerster has also written his own Algebra 1, which is the same great quality as his other math courses.