Math quote for this weekend:
"Sometimes, the simple way to say something isn't perfectly accurate in all situations. Rather than be perfectly clear, books tend to be perfectly accurate, which is great, if you can just figure out what in the world their author is trying to say."--Algebra Unplugged, by Kenn Amdahl & Jim Loats, Ph.D.
Quick recommendation: buy this and read it BEFORE you start working through a big fat algebra I text. Mama Squirrel wishes this book had been around when she started high school math; it would have saved many hours of puzzlement. Amdahl and Loats give explanations like "In arithmetic, usually we started out with ingredients and tried to make cookies. In algebra, sometimes we start with the cookie and try to deduce the recipe. When we begin with the "product" and try to figure out the multiplication problem that led to it, we are engaging in "factoring."" Oh, so that's what it was about!
Buy or borrow this book. Trust Mama Squirrel, it will make life much easier for your math students--and their homesquirreling parents.