Mar 20, 2010

Math: the latest tweak

So I said that we were done with math curriculum for a long long time, but apparently, I was wrong. What I should have said was that we were done with worksheet math for ever.

I asked Kaytie to show me how she felt about worksheets...

Then I asked her to tell me how she felt about the way we do math now, with games and journals...

Which is pretty much how all of us feel about it. Worksheet curriculums are a thing of the past for us, but we are back to a regular curriculum. Sort of.
Because I have changed how we do math once again. The kids haven't noticed... these changes are more for me than for them. See, two things happened.

One, I sat down and actually watched Math U See's promotional video. I had heard a lot about Math U See, and I believed that while it was a good program, it wasn't for us. That is because I misunderstood a lot of things. For example: the meaning of the words mastery and spiral. Also, it really does teach things like "telling time" and "measurement". Who knew? Once I fully understood the program I ordered it immediately. We don't do the program as is, naturally. :) When have we ever?
Nate was not engaged AT ALL by the video. Kaytie was mildly amused. They both spent a lot more time discussing the fact that Mr. Demme wore a blue shirt like Daddy, but Daddy doesn't have a tie like that, than they did learning cool math concepts. So I watch the video and read the teacher's guide and then teach them the lesson. They watch the video with me if they so choose, as long as they keep their clothing comparisons quiet so I can hear.
Also, I am so done with other people's worksheets that I only ordered one copy of the student book. I make our own worksheets using their ideas and mixing it with my own ideas and write them out in notebooks that we call our Math Journals. This does several things: it personalizes their word problems; I get to highlight what they actually need to work on without blowing through several pieces of paper; they are not wasting time and energy doing problems on stuff they already know; I can give them different problems so they can't look off each other's paper; we can do some cut-and-paste work right there in our books; I can give whoever needs the work more problems without them knowing the difference; I don't have to worry about which worksheets to keep and which to toss... nor do I have to keep up with a year's worth of worksheets, they are all together in a slim notebook; and we can truly work at our own pace because I am not looking at a book full of worksheets thinking: We have to fill in all of these blanks before we are done!!!
We do, however like the blocks. We are a manipulative kind of family. The kids like that they click together, and they use them like Legos. I wish they color-co-ordinated with my cusinaire rods, but I like that they have raised squares for each unit, so the kids can easily count them if they need to.

The second thing that happened was that I realized that trying to learn everything all at once was fine and dandy for the kids, but it was driving me crazy trying to keep up with it all! Plus I felt that we weren't really going anywhere. They didn't seem to notice, but it was like we were just spinning our wheels, doing the same stuff over and over and over. I'm sure, eventually, we would have gotten somewhere, but it was a toss-up whether they were going to learn their stuff before I lost my mind. So I sat down and wrote out a list of things we need to learn first. A detailed list. Like memorize +2s and +3s so they can say them off the top of their heads. Like telling time and getting a handle on money facts.
So our math now looks something like this. I watch the Math U See dvd and look through the teacher's manual. I write out four pages of problems in their journals. Every day, they do a page in their journal, (and get to stamp it when it is all "perfect") and do three or four math games that focus on the skills we are learning. They don't seem to notice the difference, but it sure makes MY life easier!


Mama Teaching 2 said...

This is a great idea!

Jen said...

Thanks for this post, I am like a little kid, I asked where something was instead of looking for it first!! I should have looked a bit more. This is a great explanation and my 4th grader is so done with worksheets. This sounds similar to Math on the Level with the "5 a day". This just might work for us!


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