If you’ve been around since December, you may recall when we Hit a Wall with Saxon 7/6. Each day the seat work could not begin until I helped talk him through the lessons. I wondered if he just wanted more of my time – if he was struggling with mathematics – or if he just wasn’t paying attention to the DIVE CD.
What I found, was that he was Dizzy from Spiral Math . Math teachers speak of Mastery or Spiral. Mastery is working on the same topic for quite some time, 10-20 days, before moving onto a new skill. Spiral math shifts the math skills daily to keep learned objectives fresh. However, what we found after researching 6th grade scope and sequences for several companies – is that there is a third, combined practice. A Mastery to introduce new skills, and a Spiral to practice said skills.
I spent quite a bit of time researching Khan Academy and have completed 3 years worth of materials from Math Essentials. They both firmly believe that a student needs to focus on a task, with very few practice problems a day with a few review questions.
New Skill – Practice 10-15 times – 4-5 Review Questions.
I set out to redesigning Saxon for Math Mastery due to our budget and that we were half way through the year. I didn’t want to purchase a new curriculum. I found that I needed a few key elements:
- Skills introduced for 10-15 days, incrementally developing a skill.
- Practice Problems that would show Math Mastery within 10 questions given.
- Video for the math introduction lessons.
- Complete solved answers to help us see where the solving went off path.
- Sequential pace with clear math goals for the year.
We had all of this with Saxon, it was just jumbled up. So I spent time in the table and contents of Teaching Textbooks, Pearson, Math U See, Math Essentials, and Horizon. Taking out the key skills they thought important for 6th grade. I settled on Teaching Textbooks as the guideline.
We made a new plan going forward with 2013 grouping all of the lessons for Fractions, Integers, Decimals, Percent, and Geometry. Each Sunday night I would write up 5 lesson numbers on the white board. Jon was able, on his own, work on warm up lessons, put in the DIVE CD, watch the lesson, complete the practice problems, and then work on a few minutes of review. It was still around 40 minutes total work per day, but it was focused. The only time he needed my help was when a new skill was introduced. He likes to talk through his math.
I can’t tell you how much of an improvement this has made in our home the last 3 months. The feeling of accomplishment in my son. The smile of being able to do his math on his own. The first time, in 6 years, that an hour or more of my day has not been spent trying to re-talk math lessons. Strangely, I feel like the mom who has potty trained their last child. Is that weird?
We are on our last few lessons of Saxon 7/6 moving into April. I saved the Geometry for the end of the year. He has about 12 lessons left. I can’t tell you how excited we both are.
Moving forward? I’d like a solid grade 7 year of math. I am still debating on Math U See or Teaching Textbooks. Both have the above requirements that I desire. We prefer Math Essentials but they are lacking the video and the answers written out, save for the exact answer. I truly do not want to piece another year like this together!
We used Mathematical Reasoning for 7th grade for Nathan, and might do the same for Jon, then Pre-Algebra Teaching Textbooks for 8th grade.
(FYI Nate is Loving Math U See for Algebra 1 !)