Dizzy from Spiral Math in 6th Grade

I feel like we’ve hit a wall with our math. I’m a bit stumped on where to go. I thought I’d type it out here, and see if any of y’all have any ideas . . . or encouragement . . .or tomatoes to throw.

Many of you know we did Miquon (hands on mastery) for k-3. We used America’s Math Teacher for 4th grade and enjoyed the simple problems, uncluttered page mastery approach.   Last year we finishing Jump Math 5, also a mastery, simple, black and white simple program. 

This year we moved into enVisionMATH 6, a Scott Foresmann – Addison Wesley product. I thought it would be wonderful. The first few lessons were. However, as we moved on, it was clear that the “Classroom Centered” math product was created to make sure there was an hours worth of in class information with homework to take home. Just a bit to much overkill for a homeschool family just wanting to learn math facts. The pages are so beautiful and full of so much information, but too hard for an 11 year old to work through on his own. Each day, mom pointing to where we should go – got a bit old – for mom.

A few weeks into the year, I pulled our Saxon 7/6 off the shelf complete with the DIVE cd for the tutor.  At first, it went really well. Smooth sailing. Jon would watch the video, complete the practice problems easily, and then do odds or evens for the review questions. Saxon is Spiral, which means he can be introduced to a new topic or add a bit to a learned topic each day. A different topic, every day. And I remember this with Nathan, at about the same time. Around lesson 60, the topics get quite intense. After focusing on a new skill, one needs to turn around and practice 30 pieces of the last 60 lessons. Your brain starts to spin a bit. We find ourselves going back to the chapter or looking up a topic in the math dictionary for every 3rd or 4th problem. This turns math into an all morning ordeal.

Over the winter holidays, I researched KHAN Academy.  I was looking for a product that could help Jon be more student led. I want to help him, and I do understand the math well, but we can lean on each other too much. I will want to ‘get through it’ and end up doing each problem for him out loud. This isn’t helping him. Khan comes with a video and then step by step solving tips for each lesson. I can help him, but he can be more in charge at finding solutions.

We’ve been using KHAN for a few weeks now, and I, the teacher, feel lost. The Knowledge map is so vast. There doesn’t seem to be a clear path of where to go for a 6th grade boy. They do have links to the Core Standards for 6th grade, but then, again, it is based on State Standards, a bit difficult to follow, or to put into practice. There are not videos for each core, or problems for each. There is no simple way to move through them, if there were. So – Again – Each day, even during our 40+ minutes of math – I have to help direct him on what to do next.

This morning I found two sites:

PLN Math 6th Grade

Mrs. Turner’s 6th Grade Math

These share their video path. I looked up the path for Horizon and TT6:

Horizon’s 6th Grade – with Scope and Sequence

Teaching Textbooks 6 – with Table of Contents

I’ve tried plugging in videos using Saxon 7/6, but again, they change topics every day. Khan is mastery – 100 understood before you move on, Saxon is slices like Sedimentary Rock built up each day.

I’m not even really sure what my question is. Should I order JUMP Math 6? Should I order TT6? Should I switch back to Math U See style since we loved Miquon? Should I just chill knowing it’s 6th grade and we have a good 3 years of Middle School before sinking into Algebra? Sigh.

Hubby says he will help Jon with his math more.  I looked at the enVision again today, and it is just too much on each sheet. I think, based on our supplies, we may either – Go back to Saxon, and stay focused for the rest of the year. OR Look into one of these teacher’s path’s videos and stay focused on their path this year.


Have you ever purchased a new curriculum mid year?

Thanks for letting my fingers think it out today.

About +Angie Wright

The Transparent Thoughts of an Unschooling Family of Boys - Answering the question - What DO you DO all day?
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22 Responses to Dizzy from Spiral Math in 6th Grade

  1. coricox says:

    Good to re-read now that we are in this spot as well. My kids both love Horizons, we’ve used 1-4. They switched the teacher’s guide in 4 and now I don’t like it. I feel like I’m out of the loop, it doesn’t give much direction, doesn’t tell which multiplication facts to work on (like it did in 1-3), etc. We are just about to finish Math 4 and now I need something else. We did a month of TT5 last year (in the middle of Horizon 4) (and TT4 in the middle of Horizon 3 for other child) and it had WAY too many holes in it for us. It went from just doing simple multiplication to multiple number multiplication and skipped around on other things. Definitely not solid enough for my tastes, even though we really wanted to be able to like it. I’m thinking MUS but when I showed the kids the sample online they were both like, no way, that seems way too boring. I can’t see spending all that money and them not liking it. I need to see it, test it out, and not spend a lot of money doing that. What do I absolutely need in order to try it? (I still have to sell TT4…)

  2. Pingback: Our Saxon 7/6 Experiment Results | Petra School

  3. I was surprised to see Horizon dismissed with so little reason. It is a Cathy Duffy top 100 curriculum and is well vetted. We have used Horizon Math since I brought my daughter home in fourth grade. We repeated third grade math in her fourth grade year due to test scores, so we are about a semester behind in math. We are finishing up Horizon 5 and will start Horizon 6 in February. I love Horizon, because one never has a chance to forget anything. There is constant reminder and review while new concepts are being introduced. There is plenty of practice but not mind-numbing…A math teacher friend said it is rock solid, but difficult to teach in a class setting because one is doing all sorts of things in each lesson. But that’s math isn’t it? We rarely sit down to figure a work book page of similar problems. We have to figure out how to solve the myriad math problems of life. I have added in the Life of Fred books, because my son in public high school found the explanations in the Life of Fred book much clearer than what was in his Trigonometry text.

    A blogger I admire has a series on math at thoughtsaftergod.blogspot.com/2012/11/welcome-to-math-week-series-introduction.html and I have an article by Linda Horrans on my blog in the Homeschool Super Posts Home Education entitled “A Generous Education in Math” here: http://garnergoingson.wordpress.com/garner-go-to-sites/

    Neither of these offer quick answers, but both offer solid perspective.

    • pebblekeeper says:

      Hi! I’m so glad you commented! I love your ‘likes’ on my page! I am glad you talked about Horizon – I have only seen a third grade book. I think my quick dismissal is because I don’t have access to getting it. And if I did purchase a new book, I had other ‘known’ choices I might choose first. I don’t really want to spend money on MORE books right now. ha! It does sound, from your description, that Horizon is very spiral, and that is what is hurting Jon right now. He needs to slow down and focus on one task at a time. I’m glad, for those following this math thread, that you gave such an amazing response!

      • I totally relate to the spending issue! And I love that with homeschooling, we are free to address the needs of our children!

        Love your blog! It’s interesting to get the “boy” perspective on things as well as seeing the West coast from my East Coast office!

  4. Pam says:

    Hi. I am new here but math has been one of those obstacles in our life as well. I have an 11 and 10 year old and we used Horizons the first few years but now we use Life of Fred with my 11 year old and a hodge podge of things with my 10 year old. I think I read in one of your posts that LOF wasn’t a fit for your son. I also give my boys these problems http://www.aea267.k12.ia.us/math/resources/daily-routines and they don’t complain and there is a mental math link as well http://www.aea267.k12.ia.us/math/resources/. I hope things work out because it can be very frustrating, confusing and hard sometimes.

  5. Whatever you do. Don ‘t DO HORIZONS. Missy tried it and it was a disaster. My MIL threw it in the garbage!

  6. I really think that picture with the puppy is simply adorable. What a lovely way to do school!

  7. Nancy says:

    I also have a 6th grader. I’ve tried several math programs and have found Teaching Textbooks to be the best, by leaps and bounds. My son is finishing up TT6 right now. The lessons are clear and easy to follow, the lessons progress at a good pace and he does it pretty much on his own. We use the CD almost exclusively. It is similar to Khan Academy, but frankly for this age, much better. I wish I had Teaching Textbooks when I was learning math!

    • pebblekeeper says:

      Yes, I think we will invest in TT7 for next year. And, after really looking through the lessons of S 7/6, We’ll finish that up. I think we are just both tired. We have done TT Pre-Algebra and find it very similar, espcially since we have the homeschool edition and the Dive CD. Only thing missing – is the step by step answer CD. That thing is Priceless to TT!!!! Thanks for the encouragement!!

  8. pebblekeeper says:

    I just spent most of the afternoon erasing Nate’s answers (now 9th grade) from the 7/6 book. He started it early 6th and worked up to the 110th lesson. We’ve erased the earlier lessons for Jon previously. What I found today, however, is that I am pretty sure where I see – that he hit a wall. Assuming that he knew. I can see that he did not do the practice questions after the video. He probably browsed the video/lesson page, then went on to work on his review questions. After reading through 40+ lessons, I can no see how backwards this was for us. We should have spent double time on the Video and getting the practice problems 100 percent, even finding more, and then drastically cutting back on his review questions. I can see the pattern of the questions he needed help with, were the sections that had no work in them. I can see that the questions he had in 7/6 were addressed in Mathmatical Reasoning and Americas Math Teacher and Teaching Textbooks. So – that tells me a few things. That we should spend the rest of this year going through these concepts. That they will be more firmly planted in the next two years, and that Jon is WAY further along in Math than Nate was at this age, and Nate is doing well in Algebra 1. I have thought that Nate was the one that was so good at math, but I think I just worried less, I think I put Jon up on the wrong pedistal, assuming he should know what Nate and I know . . . getting frustrated when he doesn’t . It was wonderful to see Nates bad penmenship, backwards numbers, simple questions and little cartoons on the page. Breathing. I’m making this MUCH more difficult than it should be. Again. 😉

  9. I have no answers for you but I understand where you are coming from. I have not found a math curriculum that I love yet. Right now we are doing a block of math. I am pretty much coming up with the probelems on my own but using a guide (ie-what is to be learned in the fourth and second grade). We also use Life of Fred when we need a change.

  10. Blossom says:

    I don’t have any suggestions because math is a tough one for us. My dd took a break from her usual math to just review for a few months. There was a gap somewhere that I thought we needed to find.
    We like Khan but agree to its lack of clear direction. At your son’s age my ds used Life of Fred because he was frustrated with math and needed a break. Then we went to Saxon because he stopped focusing on the math and instead just was reading the story. Bad choice for us. He is using Pearson MyMathLab now. It seems to be going okay but much of the time the concepts are not sticking day to day. He is in Algebra and he is 13. Personally, I figure if he stays in Algebra two years, fine with me!
    Btw- LOVE that photo of the doggie sleeping lol. Math is exhausting!

  11. brooke says:

    Oh that’s hard. Jake had a really hard year in 7th grade, Saxon 8/7. He wasn’t ready for it and I didn’t like their explanations. I’m okay with spiral but Saxon isn’t spiral. Saxon is ADHD. My word. I cannot stay focused. The explanations do NOT remind of past lessons (and are often poor). We switched to Life of Fred for a couple books and some TT and some online game called Ko’s Journey (it’s a middle school math). It got him through his hump. He’s back to Saxon 8/7 again. I didn’t want to, but he’s doing Challenge A here in Bend and they do Saxon 8/7, so we just went with it. He’s doing a lot better, but to me, it’s really second rate.

    Okay, what I have Eli doing in 6th grade is what I did last year. I started him backwards somewhat in Math Mammoth. It only goes through 6th grade, but it’s excellent. It fits for him. He’s so science-y. It’s Asian math, written by a Finnish mom (with a degree in math and speaks English who also tutored homeschoolers and wrote her own math curriculum in English, with the assumption the parent doesn’t understand Asian math). I like it. It’s truly mastery. It’s black and white. I like Asian math. Finland is very high in math. It all seems to fit together. Especially for a kid who’s likely to go into a STEM field. I did back him up so he’s understand and get certain concepts introduced.

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