## Swapping how we do Math

Math has been difficult during the 6th grade.

I shared a lot last year about our difficulties with math.  We tried a lot of different approaches, and still  – ended several days a week in frustration.  Add to that – in our Oregon Testing, Nate’s lowest scores were in Math, which is frustrating because it used to be his highest!

We found out why we were discouraged with our math program.

This summer we were introduced to an interactive online math program for free –  America’s Math Teacher – for our review for This Old Schoolhouse Review Crew.  We were reviewing while the website was being finalized – so we have not used all the resources that are available – and yet what learnedis why we were so discouraged with math.

It has been easy to learn with America’s Math Teacher.

This program has Basic, Advanced, Pre-Algebra and Algebra courses.  An online video tutor is linked to practice worksheets to complete.  Basic is for 4-5th grade and Advanced is for 6-7th grade.  There are tests for each level of (approx 20 pages) and an evaluation to determine where to start.  I downloaded the worksheets and set to work.

Spiral vs Mastery in Math

A question popped up for me – Spiral Math verses Sequential Math.  The program we had been using frustrated us with a spiral approach.  Learning a bit of a new topic –  different topic – every day. So when you open the math book, you have no idea if you are on ratios, Pi, Fractions, squares, measurements or geometry.  Then, you have a few questions of review combining all of the topics from the year.  Going here to there, never mastering one, sort of learning them all – was confusing. For me as the teacher, and Nate as the student.

This program – America’s Math Teacher – has a Sequential approach – or Mastery. Spend time in one area – 20 lessons or so – and then move on to another math area.  Your class tim is sectioned to review multiplication and addition tables, review topics learned, learn a new topic point, then have 10 or so questions to practice the new topic point.

Once I saw the difference – I got on the research wagon.

I did hours of research on Mastery vs Spiral – and realized this is where our frustration with teaching middle school math was coming in.  Introducing too many new ideas – never holding on to them for long – which made life frustrating. 🙂

We started our math career with booklets that were mastery based, but they only went through the 3rd grade. I’m not sure why I didn’t connect the dots to our learning style earlier!

I am so glad for the chance to use America’s Math Teacher’s Math Essentials – Mastering Essential Math Skills!

Both boys are doing well with the Mastering Math Essentials Workbooks that we downloaded from America’s Math Teacher.  For \$198.00 a family has access to the site for a year.  As of this writing in early September – all of the web details have not been worked out – they are making upgraded changes every day.  We have used the videos a couple of times when I couldn’t explain the new step – but if you are a new to teaching math mom – the videos would be really helpful.   For my 9 year old son, we had to do some backtracking in Subtraction so he could fully understand the place values to do borrowing for subtraction – but the course showed where he had not learned the topic yet.

For Nathan and for any child in this middle school period – I would recommend their products.  Mastering the Math Essentials – that’s what we need to do for these three years, really growing the walls of the foundation – before we start building again.

However, for Jon, we learned we need to tackle the foundation a bit more, the introductions – before moving on to Mastering the Essential Skills.

I feel that this year is going to be amazing – with a new/old perspective of Mastery / Spiral for math – and I am thankful that I got to review America’s Math Teacher – and that this online teacher helped me to see a better way. 🙂  If you would like to see what the other crew members said about AMT – visit their blog roll! I received  few weeks access to their site for free for the purpose of this review – They have free trials on their site if you’d like to see if this system would work for you!

The Transparent Thoughts of an Unschooling Family of Boys - Answering the question - What DO you DO all day?
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### 10 Responses to Swapping how we do Math

1. Corine says:

PS. I’m sure I can look it up, but if you have it on hand would you mind telling me what the offer code is to sign up for the trial membership?
Thanks! 😀

2. Corine says:

I’m so excited! I think this is going to be a great resource for my boys. Thank you so much for sharing this!!!! 😀

3. Phyllis says:

This is a great post. You are so right about the mastery vs. sprial approach being the reason most people reach a wall in math. We have loved Math On The Level because it lets the teacher choose which approach to use. It lets you decide what you want to teach. Love it!
Mastering Math Essentials sounds like just the thing for your family, however. It looks very thorough. Thanks for the most interesting post.

• pebblekeeper says:

Depending on how long we have access to the America’s Math Teacher, I’d be interested in Math on the Level. I’ll Google It!

4. Christine says:

Great that you found something that worked!

5. Great review! Love the picture of the written exercise page – great idea! Have a wonderfully blessed day!

• pebblekeeper says:

You guys are all so great today! What a fun way to wake up with comments in my in box, and encouraging ones at that!

6. amy in peru says:

well, along with MEP… my boys are SO different!

an online math program that we had access to, was a HUGE encouragement to my boys too… it was called the American Math Challenge I think? it had the option of doing timed math challenges against other kids their same age and my competitive boys LOVED it.

amy in peru
again.

🙂

7. amy in peru says:

ooh. so glad you found something that works! math is hard around here too. we have found life of fred to be a life-saver for us in sixth grade!

amy in peru