Thursday, November 15, 2012

Math curriculum - finally

Well, we've finished our 1st quarter and I am finally happy with our chosen math curriculums for this year.  I love math.  I really do.  Most of my kids don't share my enthusiasm for the subject...but a few do :)

In my 13+ *gasp* years of homeschooling we have used many different math curriculums.
  1. Rightstart
  2. MCP
  3. Saxon
  4. Teaching Textbooks
  5. Math-U-See
  6. Singapore
My favorite is Rightstart!  Hands down....Trouble is it takes a lot of one on one time.   Not necessarily a bad thing...but since I currently have children in grades Pre-K, 2, 3, 5, 8, 9 (plus a baby and a college student) and reading, etc. are also very important...well, I just don't have time for the long lessons.  But, I am so glad that I used it in the past because I use the methods I learned while teaching it to my students even today. 

The only program I can honestly still say I am not thrilled with is MCP.  But, hey....I used to say I hated Math-U-See but I have had a change of heart....so who knows.

So, this year...
  • Algebra I student is using Saxon (because I have him take a class at a home school coop and that is what they use) For those of you who know me well you are probably thinking....if she majored in math....why can't she teach Algebra?  I love Algebra...But, again, I only have so much time and my son and I decided together that this would be a good solution.  And you know what.  It's working great.  I can still help him when needed.  And...the other time I spend with him can be to discuss Religion, U.S. History, etc.   Win -Win.  And...turns out Saxon is a great book for him!
  • Pre-Algebra student is using Math-U-See.  She learns differently.  She does much better learning a concept, practicing only that concept for a few days, then doing cumulative review pages.  She is a smart cookie but doesn't approach math like her older brother or myself.  I've been better able to (with this program) step back and see math from her point of view and teach it to her in a different way.
  • 5th grader is using Teaching Textbooks.  He does it all on his own and is doing really well with it.  We've used it for a few years for various students and will continue to do so.  He doesn't need to wait for help - the program teaches it - and I can answer questions when needed (though he rarely needs it).  I particularly like the auto grading.  I think it's the best part of the program.  Every problem is graded as it is answered.  No more doing an entire page of problems wrong because someone forgot a simple little rule.  If he gets something wrong he gets another chance...he can also view the solution if he chooses so that he can learn where his mistake was made.  Great idea!
  • 3rd grader is just finishing Teaching Textbooks grade 3 and will begin Math-U-See grade Delta (grade 4).  Why the switch?  My 3rd grader seems to have quite the math brain and I intend to help him take advantage of that.   Like I said above, Math-U-See uses a different approach to worksheets.  1 Lesson, 3 practice pages, 3 review pages, 1 test.  For someone who grasps math quickly we can cut out some pages.  If he does well on the first practice page (and I think he really understands the concept) I'll have him do a review page, etc. The reason I am doing this is because I want to make room in his/my schedule for Singapore math's Challenging Word Problems 3*.  We've done a few problems and he loves it!  His 5th grade brother, not wanting to be outdone, has asked to join us :)
  • 2nd grader is working with Math-U-See as well.  I tried Singapore math with her but it didn't go so well.  She could do all the work but it just wasn't working for her.  Hard to explain...we also found out near the end of the school year that she was seriously in need of glasses due to very poor vision in one eye.  Not sure how much this would have affected her math but I do know that her reading struggles ended and she took off after getting those glasses.  And...her math has greatly improved as well.  Since we have a little catch up to do - I have been having her do some lessons with only 1 practice page, some with all the pages, etc.  And, although her personality might scream...give me a book with lots of action and colors....she does MUCH better with the simple layout with a lot of white space found on the worksheets.
  • Pre-K student is using Math-U-See Primer because I had it laying around (and my mathy 3rd grader didn't actually use many pages....he just caught on so quickly).
*Why am I making time for the word problem book instead of whisking him farther ahead in math?  Funny...when I was in school I was in advanced math.  I didn't see why we had to learn harder problems at the same level everyone else was working at.  If we caught on so easily why didn't they just move us up?  In fact, I eventually dropped out of honors math because I was tired of working so hard for a B when I could get an A in the regular math class by doing my assignment during the teachers lesson and rarely have homework.   What a home school moms dream student - eh?  I didn't want to work harder than I had to.  And that was before weighted grades - though I'm not sure that would have changed my attitude much.   But, after having taught math myself for a number of years to my own kids I now understand.  There is so much more to be gained by working outside the box.   Teaching a child to think in a math sort of way (like challenging word problems) will help so much more than just moving ahead to the next grade.   It's sort of like studying ancient history.  It may seem useless to many people.  But, my oldest dd absolutely LOVED ancient history and she has learned to see the underlying themes in other works of lit, etc.   She can wrap her head around the story because she has so much more background than I did.  Math is like that.   Someone can get through math by moving ahead a grade every year...and they can do quite well.  But, if they can learn to wrap their heads around the math...every year will be easier and more fulfilling.  That's my hope anyway. :)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Anna turned 18 years old today!

When someone here has a birthday they get to pick the meal and then we watch an old video of the birthday child when they were younger.  Well, Anna has been a little busy with her college studies so she just let me pick the meal.  

What did we feed our dairy free, tomato free, chocolate, gluten (temp hopefully) free daughter?  Pizza and Ice cream cake

Pizza with a gluten free crust, dairy free spicey white sauce with goat cheese, pepperoni, hamburger, pineapple, and green olives.  Apparently it turned out pretty good.

Ice cream cake with a gluten free cookie crust (that stuck to the pan like concrete after frozen - oh well) and toffuti ice cream.

When it came time to watch the video she couldn't make it to that event.  She had a quiz to study for in the morning and enjoyed parts of the day with her family and friends on the phone - planning to study in the evening - forgetting about the cute video we all got to enjoy :)

She got quite the birthday gift by being able to sleep in an extra hour today - that gift means more to her than anyone else in our house. (OK -yes we got her a gift as well).

And...she turned 18 just in time to vote for one of the most important elections of our lifetime.

Thursday, November 1, 2012