kitchen table math, the sequel: Saxon Geometry

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Saxon Geometry

R. Johnston says:
For years a succession of Saxon publishers has honored the view of series creator John Saxon that (1) Geometry should not be a separate course, but instead, middle and high school students should be exposed to Geometry in bits and pieces across several years of their math studies, and (2) that the traditional core of classical Geometry, Euclidian logic and specifically "two column proofs," are unimportant. (Yes, there is a lesson on proofs in the Saxon Algebra 2 text, but if you blinked, you missed it.)

For just as many years, teachers have bought a Geometry text from another source (Jacobs in our case), depriving the Saxon publisher of a business opportunity and interrupting the instructional flow of students raised on Saxon. At last, the Saxon publisher du jour, Harcourt, has introduced this new text. It is excellent. It presents all of the traditional content, and presents it well, preserving the Saxon method of presentation, nightly problem sets, and continuous cumulative review.

John Saxon is turning over in his grave, but the students he has indoctrinated in a 13-year sequence of consistent instruction and practice no longer have to take a year off.
What do you know about Saxon Geometry?

point of information: I'm pretty sure the Saxon books have had only one publisher apart from Saxon himself.


concernedCTparent said...

The best place to purchase Saxon and lots of other curricula is You really can't beat their pricing. The customer service is good and if you keep an eye out for their free shipping offers, they're hard to beat.

Jean said...

I'm really interested in this; my kids do Saxon and my husband and I were recently discussing the hypothetical high school years and looking at the scope/sequence for Algebra II and so on. We were wondering whether Saxon covered proofs enough.

So I'm curious to hear if anyone knows about it. Is it an entire year-long course? Would it come in between Algebra courses, as in the usual high school sequence? How good is it?

concernedCTparent said...

Don't know with it being so new and all, but I did find this content strand breakdown:

I'm curious too.

Art Reed said...

There is no author reflected for the new HMHCO (Saxon) Geometry book because it was crafted by marketing people and written by a "committee."

The new HMHCO (Saxon) algebra one and algebra 2 (4th Ed) books have had the geometry concepts "gutted."
from them.

Rationale for this move? Why any marketing expert will tell you that three books make more money than two will. John Saxon was the only publishing company that I knew who was personally and professionally concerned about education. My twenty-some years of professional experiences with the others is that "profit margin" is their bible!

Homeschool families using John Saxon's math books should not cave in and buy a geometry book - it is not necessary.

Please take a look at the monthly newsletters at for more information on how to save money using older editions and why not to use the new geometry textbook. The September issue has the list of the current editions that you should use.

These editions of John's original math books will be good for several more decades.

Good Luck!

Art Reed

Jean said...

So they're coming out with new editions of the algebra books too? Will all the high school books be revamped, from Algebra 1/2 up through Physics, or what?

Hm. I do think it's valuable to have the geometry folded into the algebra--I just wanted more proofwork as well. Dang, I hope I don't have to start collecting textbooks.

Catherine Johnson said...

I'm with you, Jean.

I don't care one way or the other whether geometry is folded into algebra (mostly because Wayne Wickelgren says either way will do).

I wanted more proofs.

Catherine Johnson said...

Does it look as if the new geometry book has significantly more instruction in proofs?

I'm not sure....

bky said...

Let me chime in just to dump on Saxon Math, not that I have seen the geometry book. Saxon comes in two formats. K-3 is one format that has a "morning meeting" in which kids run through a series of questions and problems that change slightly every day; some coin problems appropriate to the grade, skip counting, s simple word problem, some calendar/time questions, and so on; then fact sheets; then a lesson that often had an interesting project. Basically enjoyable, and kids learn math (at a steady but slow pace).

Then the book after #3, called 5/4 or something like that, comes in with a slowly incrementing spiral so that the lesson on any given day is a teeny, tiny incremental advance over the last time you saw the given topic. Then comes a fact sheet, which is good. Then a slew of many, many problems, none of which are interesting. The claim to fame of these problem sets is that it involves continual review of previous stuff. That is good in theory. The way they implement this idea is, however, mind-numbing. My kids hated it.

Plus they are very slow about getting fractions up and running. They introduce the very important concept of equivalence of fractions way late in book 5/4, (why not very early?), and they use the world's second-worst explanation.

The world's worst explanation would be "take it on faith". What Saxon does is say that, for example,

2/3 = 2/3 x 1 = 2/3 x 5/5 = 10/15

so 2/3 and 10/15 are the same number. One problem: there has been no discussion of fraction multiplication yet, so this is voodoo math.

Jean said...

Hm. I just looked at that lesson--my 8yo is finishing 5/4 right now and will be doing that lesson in a couple of days. It seems clear enough to me. The lesson today introduced the concept of multiplying or dividing fractions--she did fine with it.

I can see where it could be a little clearer, but I don't think it's so horrible that I need a new program.

Saxon is definitely not for everyone--most kids who are fast at absorbing math seem to hate it. It fits my daughter's brain perfectly, though; she needs all that repetition in order to get it in there. She is still fairly slow on math-fact recall. The tiny increments keep her moving forward with concepts--which she gets just fine--and let her practice over and over.

So what I pretty much get out of that is that different programs work for different kids. I don't think my kid would do as well with Singapore, but I recommend it to friends often.

Catherine Johnson said...

We did great with Saxon.

C. went through the entire 6/5 book; I did every lesson in 6/5, 8/7, and Algebra 1 & 100 of the lessons in Algebra 2.

I'll finish the Algebra 2 lessons this summer (I switched to Dolciani's book because C. was using it at Hogwarts).

My only frustration was the relative lack of word problems.

Of course, be careful what you wish for: the Dolciani word problems are killing me.

Catherine Johnson said...

If I were starting out now, I'd choose Singapore Math, mostly because at this point I could do a reasonable job teaching Singapore Math.

When I realized I would have to re-teach fractions to C., back when he had just finished 4th grade, I ordered a copy of Singapore Math but was too intimidated to try it.

concernedCTparent said...

My only frustration was the relative lack of word problems.We address that with Singapore Challenging Word Problems. Of course, the core/spine we use is Singapore Primary Math and we also do Intensive Practice; Singapore material has fabulous word problems. Oh yes, and the older two also do ALEKS. They really do a lot of math!

We definitely don't use Saxon in the prescribed manner; I've learned flexibility works best for us. We cover about two lessons a day (only one page of fact review) focusing only on the new concepts. My kids only do extra problems from the problem sets (or Dolciani for my 11 yo) if they don't seem to have grasped the lesson completely or seem to need more practice, which is extremely rare.

I do use the Saxon tests for diagnostic purposes every 3 days or so as they provide information as to whether my kids have learned and are retaining the concepts over time. If they miss anything we can review the concept and pull out a few more practice problems if it seems necessary. Moving through at an accelerated pace keeps Saxon from being too repetitive or slow, and I do like keeping it in the mix of the Singapore material because it seems to balance things out and give me the opportunity for formative assessment every few days so that I can adjust what we're doing if we need to.

My kids haven't yet rebelled about all the math yet and still consider it their favorite subject so I guess it's working for us.

bky said...

Does Saxon 5/4 teach multiplication of fractions, as Jean wrote? My recollection was that it did not. I do not have the books on hand anymore, but I looked at the scope and sequence document

and it shows, under multiplication, that multiplication of decimals and of fractions and mixed numbers is not in 5/4 but is in 6/5 and up.

Jean, did the lesson you refer to deal with multiplying fractions against integers or fractions against fractions?

Jean said...

It was just division or multiplication straight across, with integers expressed as fractions. Not proper mult. or div. with fractions, just a sort of preliminary.

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