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Chalk Dust Math Courses (sixth grade through college)

Publisher: Chalk Dust
Review last updated: 2012

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Chalk Dust Math Courses


Courses like these are critical for many families who are deciding whether or not they can handle homeschooling through high school. The courses really do allow students to work independently, which means parents who never went beyond Algebra 1 can still provide their children with a solid math education.

Professor Dana Mosely is your video instructor in this outstanding series of math courses for sixth grade through early college levels. High production quality and skillful presentation combine to make these top-notch video courses. Mosely's many years of teaching experience are obvious as he clarifies commonly confusing issues. He keeps the presentation moving at just the right pace, although students can always rewind and review if they don't catch it first time around.
Parents with weak math backgrounds should love these courses since they really do the teaching for you. Even better, purchase of a course entitles students to free technical assistance from Professor Mosely. (Those who purchase complete used courses can pay a $50 fee for consultation service per student, per course, per year.)

Courses start with Basic Math (6th grade level) and continue through Calculus I. (Chalk Dust also produces SAT Math Review which is not included in this review.) Each course has a number of DVDs which reflects both the size of textbooks and complexity of concepts taught.
All courses include a textbook and solutions guide. Mosely follows the textbook lessons in order of presentation, with the exception of the geometry course. In that course, Mosely provides different approaches to some topics. In all the courses, he usually expands upon the textbook presentation, sometimes adding his own learning strategies to the lessons. He covers the main concepts then works out sample problems on a chalkboard with an occasional computer graphic or graphing calculator illustration.

Students should watch a section on the video, then go to the text and work about 30 exercise problems in that particular section in the book. Each section requires about 2 days to complete. In most of the texts there are far more problems than most students will ever need to complete, so use discretion in assigning exercises. Chalk Dust includes a missive with each course explaining how to assign problems.

The textbooks are from Houghton Mifflin, and the lead author on most of them is Ron Larson, one of the most respected and prolific math authors in the United States. The Basic Math text is authored by Aufmann, Barker, and Lockwood, and these authors are also responsible for the Prealgebra text. Some texts are identical to those used in schools, while some have been published as special editions for Chalk Dust. Algebra 1 and 2 texts are softbound standard with a hardbound option for an extra $20.

The textbooks are designed for classroom teachers, so they do not function well on their own for home schooling students. However, the combination of video presentations and solutions guides with the texts results in excellent courses that work well for independent study.

This series of texts is strong on real-life applications and word problems that enhance conceptual understanding. They include calculator use at all levels. In addition to lessons, examples and practice problems, textbooks also have reviews and tests.

The softbound Solutions Guides for all courses include complete solutions to all problems with the exception of Guides for Trigonometry and College Algebra. Their Guides are student editions that have worked out solutions to only odd problems from student exercises, although they have all solutions for test questions. Solutions Guides are a valuable component in these courses. You can purchase components separately, but you really need all three components—text, DVDs, and solutions guide.
Chalk Dust's website has short demos of programs available for free viewing so you can check it out before purchasing. Free demos are available at the publisher's website. Full-set orders include a 30-day money back guarantee. Also available on the Chalk Dust website ( is information about creating tests (if you need to re-test from time to time), grading tests, and assigning test and course grades

Basic Math (2003)

2 DVDs, Text and Solutions Guide - $225

The text for this course is Houghton Mifflin's Basic Math, Second Edition, by Aufmann, Barker, and Lockwood, but it is a special edition published for Chalk Dust. The course functions well for remediation or reteaching of basic concepts students might not have mastered at earlier levels.

While Chalk Dust lists it as a sixth grade course, it is not a complete course by some standards because topics such as geometry, area, volume, and integers are not included. The Chalk Dust course covers basic concepts and operations, including exponents and order of operations with whole numbers, fractions, and decimals. It also covers ratio and proportion, percents, and graphs. Also, new to this edition are the topics of statistics, probability, U.S. customary units of measurement, and the metric system of measurement.

Many practical applications appear in examples and word problems, and an entire chapter is devoted to business and consumer math skills such as percent calculations in making purchases, computing interest, calculating the cost of buying a home or car, calculating wages, and balancing a checkbook.

Although the course is not typical of 6 th grade math due to the omission of several topics mentioned above, those topics are covered in the next Chalk Dust course, Prealgebra, so Basic Math may be regarded as a foundation in the basics necessary for upper level work.

I would use it with an average student at seventh grade or higher who needs remediation before going on to a grade level course. A four-function calculator might be used along with this course, but it's not absolutely essential. If you are looking ahead, you might want to go ahead and purchase a TI-83 Plus graphing calculator since it can be used with all courses.

Prealgebra (2002)

Traditional set - 10 DVDs, Text, Solutions Guide - $394
Value set - $210

This prealgebra course is fairly similar in content to Saxon's Algebra 1/2. The text is Prealgebra, Second Edition by Aufmann, Barker, and Lockwood, published especially for Chalk Dust Company by Houghton Mifflin Company.

This approximately 650-page, hardcover textbook includes instruction, examples, exercises, tests, and answers to odd-numbered problems in the exercises. It comes with a softcover Complete Student Solutions Manual that contains step-by-step solutions to both even and odd numbered problems.

The text first reviews basic math skills and concepts, including exponents, and radicals, before moving on to topics such as polynomials, first-degree equations, the rectangular coordinate system, measurement, proportion, percent, geometry, statistics, and probability. Even though this level of math covers many algorithms with no immediate applications, this text still includes many word problems and practical applications.

Periodically, lessons include mention of how to use a scientific calculator, with a few questions directing students to perform calculator operations. Calculator use is introduced at this level, and students should use a scientific or graphing calculator with the course.

Courses such as this used to be considered eighth grade level, but the new math standards have advanced the math agenda so this is now considered seventh grade level in most states.

For Prealgebra there is a second option called the Value Set. It substitutes three black-and-white books for the full-color text and omits the solutions manual. Lessons are taught on six DVDs rather than ten, but the full content is there. Students still get exercises and review problems, chapter tests, chapter solutions, an exercises and review Solutions CD, and technical support.

Algebra 1 (2001)

10 DVDs, Text, and Solutions Guide - $394

The text for this course is Algebra 1 by Larson and Hostetler in a special edition published for Chalk Dust. This is a traditional course targeted toward the average student. Mosely's thorough presentations plus the combination of video instruction with textbook reinforcement should make it easy for most students to master algebra while working independently through the course. In addition the Complete Solutions Guide will help when both students and parents are stumped.

While this text does not incorporate geometry instruction (as does Saxon) it does include algebraic applications in geometry. (Chalk Dust offers a separate Geometry course as do most publishers.) The Algebra 1 course has lessons and exercises for using a graphing calculator. In addition, the book's appendix adds sections on graphing calculators, geometry, and statistics, but the appendix sections are not included on video.

Algebra 2 (2001)

13 DVDs, Textbook, and Solutions Guide - $429

The textbook for this course is Algebra 2 by Larson and Hostetler in a special second edition published for Chalk Dust Company. Mosely closely follows the lessons as presented in the textbook. Many first-year algebra concepts are reviewed at length, a boon for students who have taken geometry after one year of algebra and need a refresher. The Complete Solutions Guide covers all the problems.

The scope and sequence is a bit different from some other Algebra 2 courses. While it covers functions at length along with radicals, inequalities, conic sections, systems of equations, matrices, and logarithms, it does not even introduce trigonometry. The inclusion of elementary trigonometry techniques is a relatively recent trend in Algebra 2 courses and Chalk Dust follows the more traditional approach in offering trigonometry as a separate and much more comprehensive course.

Instructions for using a TI-83 graphing calculator are part of the video instruction and also appear in a separate section in the appendix. Additional calculator information appears as "technology tips" in sidebars throughout the book. Occasionally, video lessons actually show the calculator and its screen so that students can use their own calculators and follow along performing operations.

In my opinion, this is the most practical solution for covering Algebra 2 unless parents are great at math and have time to teach it themselves. Even though the cost seems high, keep in mind that everything can be used with other children then resold when you are finished, or you could share a set of tapes with another family.

College Algebra (2001)

13 DVDs, Textbook, and Solutions Guide - $409
The College Algebra textbook is by Larson and Hostetler. The text follows the same format as do Larson's other algebra books. As you might have guessed from the course title, College Algebra is really a college course rather than high school. However, you might use it after Algebra 2 or, in exceptional cases, instead of Algebra 2.
The course reviews much of the material covered in Algebra 2 but takes it to a deeper level in most instances and at a more rapid pace. For example, in the section on graphing equations, we encounter new types of equations and graphs. In the study of functions, we encounter more complex functions than previously.

It might be possible for outstanding Algebra 1 students to skip Algebra 2 and move directly into this text, but for most students it should follow an Algebra 2 course. Some students will be able to skip the first section of the course that reviews fundamental concepts of algebra.

The solutions guide for this course is actually a student edition, so complete solutions are shown for only odd problems from student exercises—this is typical of college math textbooks. All test solutions are shown.

Although the course is titled College Algebra, it is only a little more challenging than Algebra 2. In comparison to Saxon's math series, the content of College Algebra is somewhat equivalent to algebra coverage in Saxon's Advanced Math. However, Saxon also covers geometry and trigonometry, which this course does not. Chalk Dust offers separate Geometry and Trigonometry courses and also covers trigonometry within its Precalculus course. On the other hand, this course covers statistics and probability, which receive little attention in Saxon, and it also has more coverage on conic sections. The use of a graphing calculator is highly recommended, but the course can be completed without one.
College-bound students who do not need calculus and trigonometry will have a very solid math background if they continue algebra studies through this course. Students completing the Chalk Dust College Algebra course should be able to test out of college algebra at the college of their choice.

College-bound students interested in an engineering or science degree are advised to take the Chalk Dust Precalculus course that covers topics in both the Trigonometry and College Algebra courses plus other material. An additional benefit of taking Precalculus rather than Trigonometry and College Algebra separately is the cost: $534 for Precalculus versus $828 for the other two courses.


9 DVDs, Textbook, and Solutions Guide - $354 with softbound text or $394 with hard cover text

This course has been totally revised to support an entirely new text, Geometry, by Daniel Alexander and Geralyn Koeberlein (Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007). I have not yet reviewed it.

Trigonometry (2001)

9 DVDs, Textbook, and Solutions Guide - $419

The text for this course is Trigonometry, Fifth Edition, by Larson and Hostetler. This is a traditional course covering both trigonometry and some analytic geometry. Graphing calculators are referenced throughout the text and demonstrated throughout the video as well. Although these calculators can be somewhat expensive, they can be critical in demonstrating equations and the relationship between the algebraic form (the equation) and the geometric form (the graph). The TI-83 Plus is recommended.

If students are not already familiar with the calculator, they should go through the user-friendly instructions that come with it and learn the calculator techniques on a need-to-know basis as they are encountered during the course. Keep in mind that Chalk Dust provides technical support by phone or email so calculator issues are not a big deal.

The solutions guide is a student edition so complete solutions are shown for only odd problems from student exercises. All test solutions are shown. (Note: Precalculus covers the content of Trigonometry and College Algebra so students need not do either of those courses in addition to Precalculus.)

Precalculus (2001)

18 DVDs, Textbook, and Solutions Guide - $534

There are more tapes or DVDs for this course than for other Chalk Dust courses because this course is really two courses in one, College Algebra and Trigonometry, with the addition of even more material not contained in either of the other two. There are over 40 hours of video presentation associated with this course.

Dana Mosely follows lessons in the text, expanding explanations and working out sample problems. With this course, students really should stop the video occasionally and try to solve example problems so they can fully grasp the concepts.

This would be a one-semester course at the college level, but high school students should definitely take a full school year or more to complete it. The text used in the 2004 version of this course is Precalculus With Limits, A Graphing Approach, Third Edition by Larson, Hostetler, and Edwards. Both content and presentation in the textbook help make the course more appealing. There are a number of fully-explained examples for each topic in the book. In addition, the text has some full-color illustrations; historical/biographical sidebars; and real life, business, and science applications within the chapter problems.

With the combination of videos, textbook, and the complete solutions guide (with solutions to all problems), students really should be able to learn independently. After completing this course, students should be ready for college-level calculus so they should be able to test out of College Algebra and Trigonometry or out of Precalculus.

A graphing calculator is standard equipment for this course. The TI-83 Plus is recommended. (See the review of Trigonometry for comments on the calculator.) Calculus I (2001)

12 Videos or 8 DVDs, Text and Solutions Guide - $409
The text for this course is Calculus of a Single Variable, Sixth Edition, by Larson, Roland, Hostetler, and Edwards. The text actually covers two courses--Calculus 1 and Calculus 2--but the videos and the solutions guide cover only Calculus 1.

This is a true college level course. I suspect that most students tackling such a course will want to earn college credit if possible, so students should check with the college of their choice beforehand to make sure they will have the opportunity to test out of Calculus I once the course is completed. I would not be surprised if the college uses the same text since it is one of the most popular calculus texts in the country.

Chalk Dust for the Elementary Grades

CD-ROM plus Binder - $69 per course.

I have to add a note about Chalk Dust’s new CD-ROM math courses for the elementary grades, marketed under the trade name Math Matters. These courses for grade levels 3, 4, and 5 were developed under the direction of Dana Mosely of Chalk Dust. The courses include colorful illustrations and animations as well as voice instruction for a key topic in each lesson.

The CD-ROM for each course comes with a three-ring binder that includes tests, answers, and other material.

Each course has approximately 180 lessons and covers an entire year’s math curriculum. All lessons include cumulative review. Some of the lessons allow the student to type answers in blanks provided while others call for written work from the student. Written mid-chapter and chapter tests are provided in the binder.

Unlike other math courses offered by Chalk Dust, students are not expected to work independently. Parents will still have to monitor and control the learning experience due to the grade levels involved.

Sample lessons and more course information are available at the math matters website, or by phone at 407-851-0444 .


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Instant Key

  • Suitable for: mostly independent work
    grades 6-12
    Need for parent/teacher instruction:
    none other than checking answers
    Prep time needed:
    Need for Teacher's Manual: solution manuals come with most courses
    Educational Philosophy: traditional Religious perspective: secular

Publisher's Info

  • Chalk Dust Company

    PMB 256
    16107 Kensington Dr
    Sugar Land, TX 77479-4401

    (800) 588-7564