Do you wonder how or why we would call ourselves unschoolers to relaxed learners and yet, still use and review so many products? We also have several staples that we use each week that rarely show up on the blog.
I thought I’d share a couple of instances from this week –
From Math –
Nathan finished his Mathmatical Reasoning Book this past week. We have really enjoyed how it opened up math as a conversation. The book wasn’t about practicing 30 random questions to keep a student from forgetting what they had just learned – it was about presenting a puzzle or question and using what they had learned with basic mathematical operations to solve them. Much of the work was performed at a higher level if the student had the opportunity to talk about the problem out loud. Even better if there were real life manipulatives with which to figure.
He has become solid in thinking through mathematical problems. I’ve seen the results as he helped our landlord replace boards in the boathouse. He had the measurements correct each time, and the adult workers miscalculated and ended up needing to purchase new boards. They officially made him the measurer and cutter. I see it when I cook that he will grab any measuring cup from the cabinet, and I prefer to use the individual exact measurement. This week he needed to cut several lengths of plastic rods, wooden dowels and plastic tubing for a project, and I wanted to put it away and wait til morning, yet, he wanted to finish, and accurately created the project quite quickly.
Most of his friends do not consider this as “school” if he’s not doing hours of math homework and complaining about it during the day. This week, we were given the opportunity to use a Pre-Algebra Teaching Textbooks course. I thumbed through the workbook to see where a lesson topic would come in to challenge him, or teach him a new way to perform the basic operations. We both settled on Chapter Ten – 68 lessons into the book. Taking the online placement tests we found that he was ready for either Pre-Algebra or Agebra, but not Algebra 2.
We have (he has) done 3 lessons this week, taking a relaxed pace of watching the video in the evening, (because that’s when we started), then working for 20 minutes in the workbook. So far that has been enough time to complete the practice problems. (He sets his timer on the iPod). I go through the questions and circle the ones that are incorrect and we watch the video together that helps us see step by step how to work through the problem.
What I have found is that he is lazy with long division. He guesses, estimates, and then choses. So a question that needs an answer of 3.8 miles (how many miles are in 20,064 feet) becomes Over three miles, a little less than four. A couple of other questions with changing fractions to decimals came out the same way. I’m wondering, when it is practical to switch to a calculator. Is Eight Years of Long Division enough for a poor kid?
The other area is where his mind thinks differently than the text. A reason I’m not big on the way we judge kids based on fill in the blank tests every 3 years here in Oregon. Question – write an equation that an unknown number minus 23 equals 51. He writes 51+23 = x . He explains to me why his answer is right. Again, an unknown number minus 18 equals 27, he writes 27+19=x . Hmmm. Again one half of an unknown number is 14. He writes 2x 14 = 28, then writes 2 x 14 = x. Technically not wrong, technically is wrong. On a state / public school test – would be wrong.
We both think that by day 5 he will understand the Teaching Textbook Questions enough to give them the answer that they are looking for. But my mind wanders, and I wonder, is that the point of math? To do 30 questions and give the answer in the exact way that the writer wants? My other half of my brain says, if math is this easy to him, have him chug through the 3 or four years of Teaching Textbooks and be good to go for College or whatever he needs. . . . He says he likes it, but it’s not fun anymore. I think we’ll need to throw in 1 or 2 days of Make it Real learning to help him out.
Wow. That was more than I thought I had on my mind for Nate’s math. . . . We do have access to the Algebra TT, after the first of the year, I think I work on swapping these texts. I do not see the need to do them both, and since he is ready for the next one it makes sense. But, through the end of November and December we’ll work through the intro algebra equations and keep it lighter.
Jon – is working well through Jump Math 5, now that I have a break in my required reviews, I’ll have to take some post time for his great experience with this program!
By the Way – if you have any great ideas for math for Nate, feel free to comment or email. He needs to be able to write things down. He would not do well with Life of Fred as his reading is separate from his math skills, we had a great time with Saxon 5/4 – 8/7 but got really bored. He’d rather switch to a non spiral method of learning. Is there a non spiral method math for algebra?
Thanks for listening.