San Diego Area Math Living Math Class Overview

High School Courses:                                                        Middle School Courses:
Algebra 1                                                                           Pre-Algebra - 1 year track
Geometry integrated with Algebra Applications 
          Pre-Algebra - 2 year track

Honors Algebra 2/Pre-Calculus  

Algebra 1, Geometry and Honors Algebra 2/Precalculus are designed as a 3-year high school math sequence for homeschool students in the San Diego area. These courses are taught bi-weekly and structured like a college course, but at a slower pace.  Pre-Algebra is offered weekly. Classes are held in the Allied Gardens / Grantville area of San Diego, off I-15 and I-8. For specific days and times and other details, go to the class page you are interested in.

Classes focus on mastering concept areas deeply, and applying math in context. Most students succeed even if they aren’t “mathy,” if they attend classes regularly and complete independent study work in between classes.

A critical feature of these classes is a positive attitude toward learning and hard work. Students make a commitment to the whole class by regularly attending, being prepared and participating, and learning through mistakes and mutual support of each other. Classes are active, with less emphasis on lecture and more on student interaction with problem solving and exploration.

Students who fully master this coursework are typically prepared for college Calculus, Precalculus, college science courses and/or Statistics by the end of the third year.  

Class format:  Classes open with a Q&A session based on questions students had from home study days. Warm ups and activities are often done in pairs or teams to facilitate students being willing to openly discuss questions and observations. While some time is spent in direct teaching / lecturing, independent study day assignments are designed to prepare students for more active class time, allowing for activities that deepen understanding of concepts and enjoyment of learning math.

Independent Study Days: In between classes, independent study (IS) work is scheduled out each home study day, with assignments posted on a class website similar to a college bulletin board system. See sample weekly homework assignment sheet. For Prealgebra Track 1 and high school courses, at least 75% consistent homework completion is, historically, essential for success in these classes. Virtually without exception, students who believe they can learn math at this level without substantial time spent practicing learned concepts at home will struggle in these classes, and may not be prepared for the next level course, even if they manage a passing grade. Students who complete 85% or better of homework always earn at least a B average on tests, and are prepared for the next course. 

Testing and Grades: For high school students in most home school programs, grades are required, so each semester, a progress report and final semester grade report is issued to provide a basis for the transcript grade. Testing is approached as a separate skill to be learned, not as the goal of learning itself. As testing will be a feature of college success, time is allotted to practicing test taking skills, gradually increasing in rigor as students mature and move up levels. The majority of class time, however,  is reserved for productive learning activities. Additional factors such as weekly homework completion, projects, participation in non-standard evaluation activities such as games are recorded through the semester are included in the grade feedback provided to parents and, if requested, school facilitators.

Tuition:  See class pages for rates which depend on class size and hours. Tuition is due per semester, but may be paid monthly, or quarterly by arrangement. Sibling and clergy discounts apply. Tuition credit may apply for in-class parent-helper positions if available. See Payment page for more details. 

Instructor:  Julie Brennan and her husband Don just completed their 21st year of homeschooling their four children, graduating their last in June of 2018. A CPA with over 30 years of experience in the accounting and finance fields, Julie brings a unique applied perspective to math that goes beyond the curriculum.  Since 2004 Julie has hosted the Living Math Forum, a 5,000 member online forum devoted to the discussion of a wide range of math learning resources and methods for all kinds of learners, and is the creator of the Living Math website, www.livingmath.netContact Julie Brennan at julie@livingmath.net.

Why I teach:

Before I had children, I never considered teaching as a vocation. I had a successful CPA career even as our family grew, and we began homeschooling in 1997. In 2002 my husband and I decided to take a leap of faith and I left my CPA position to stay home with our four children. Sixteen years later, we've graduated three, and our "baby" is graduating in June.

Through teaching co-op classes for our kids over the years we homeschooled, it became apparent that there was a particular need for "living" math classes at all levels. In the elementary years, I learned how to mentor my kids in math through reading math stories, learning about math history, acting out math discoveries, playing games and exploring patterns in mathematics. This was shared with our local community as well as the larger homeschool community through the Living Math Forum and Living Math lesson plans.

As our children grew and moved into middle and high school grades, however, their needs and the needs of our friends changed. The kids began to need an understandable pathway or bridge to college level math, and to feel that this was attainable for them, that math could be understood and mastered. This is where I've found my passion and energy to be more recently poured into: helping homeschool kids understand high school algebra and higher level math concepts that are critical to success in STEM careers. 

So over the last decade, I've slowly been developing a pathway to guide students from the arithmetic of elementary math curriculums through the concepts of algebra, connecting the abstract ideas with the geometry of graphs ("pictures" that represent the abstract ideas of algebra), to advanced Algebra and Trigonometry, disciplines necessary to move up to calculus or college statistics. No text or curriculum is perfect,so mentoring and working alongside students to gain that understanding has been incredibly rewarding. Seeing kids who never thought they were good at math succeed and go on to college calculus continues to motivate me to do what I'm doing. 

Not every student will go into a STEM career, but this can be a conscious choice, rather than a path they avoid due to lack of understanding or confidence in math. Further, some level of proficiency in advanced algebra and geometry is, for better or worse, a gateway to college acceptance. Performance on SAT or ACT scores are often key factors in attaining financial resources and scholarships that are not available to students who cannot demonstrate adequate proficiency.

I am teaching now because I've seen how much this means to families and students who have not been able to find this in their curricula or other resources. And it is so good to see kids spread their wings and move on to college math courses with confidence and deep belief in their ability to learn. I never intended to be a teacher, but it seems that my life path has brought students into my life, and I couldn't feel more at home with teaching as a second career after raising our family. 

Julie Brennan

March, 2018