Wednesday, April 4, 2012

More Math Fun

I haven't posted much about math games or anything like that over the past year. We had our major revamp last year with school & I just needed the break from being overly involved in a lot of things, as well as making sure that the kids had no gaps in their learning. Both boys survived the year & enjoyed it as well! They learned that someone besides Mom is quite capable of teaching them, & we had a lot of great laughs with the programme we used.

This year, however, I decided to switch from Teaching Textbooks to Saxon math. There were a lot of reasons for this, one of the biggest was that I felt Teaching Textbooks was just too easy for Morgan who seems very math inclined. While I had hope to fill gaps last year, it was apparent he had very few & honestly the child flew through the math he had with little problems.  When I looked at the Math 5 I just didn't feel it would be beefy enough to hold him & I wasn't sure I wanted to put him in Math 6 for a variety of reasons.

Saxon has always been a number one choice amongst homeschoolers, be it a hated programme or a loved one. While I wasn't as keen on it in the younger grades because of it's excessive scripted lessons, I won't deny that while we used it Morgan learned a great deal from it. It was also my crutch as I hobbled along with Living Math lessons when we first started down that road.

I pulled on a placement test from their website {also available at the CBD website} and was pleased to see that both boys would be able to use the middle grade series. I was pleased with this because I wasn't interested in the younger grades at this time.  One of my big reasons for choosing this curriculum, aside from the beefy"ness" of it, is that they make a homeschool version! Did you know this? It's true, they do!!

The homeschool version even has lecture DVDs you can get to accopmany the book if you want, but as I understand it the lecture DVDs are exactly the same as the information in the beginning of each lesson. For now, I'm content to take back over teaching the math lessons so we skipped the DVD lecture. I may change my mind on this, to give Morgan more experience with someone else teaching him, down the road.

The really fun thing about being back with Saxon at this level is that we can learn our lessons by games again. Last year, we played very few games as I really wanted the boys to use the curriculum we purchased and not change it around in anyway. We did that. We were very happy with our year. This year, I wanted to be a little more involved, especially with Jayden's math. Not because he's lacking or struggling, but because it dawned on me that he didn't get to play some of the games that Morgan learned with.

Because I'm back to teaching the boys their math lessons again it's also easy for me to pick up instantly on where they are struggling & why. For instance, Morgan is honestly amazing with numbers. He truly wows me. Each lesson starts with mental math & often this child can answer the mental math question before I finish reading it out to him & it takes me a moment to come out of one mode into another thus feeling like I'm way behind him in finding the answer. However, this child is easily distracted.

We have a beautiful large farmhouse style table where we work. I teach one child a lesson, assign him problems, & set him to work. Then I teach the other one, assign him problems, & set him to work. While Jayden can sit there while I walk and move around him teaching Morgan a lesson, Morgan can't handle it in reverse. He's easily distracted to watch us, listen in, pipe up with his opinion or answers, etc. This can lead to careless mistakes. He was meant to discover what Y was in his work, and because he copied the problem down into his notebook, looked away to watch me teach Jayden, he looked back and circled part of the problem presuming he'd all ready found the answer.

It'll be a small learning curve for him to learn to concentrate and find his groove. He does have a desk in his room he could retreat to, but he doesn't like to be alone. I'd suggest he turn on his ipod, but heaven knows what that might lead to! Again, all this to say that I can easily pinpoint when he's distracted making simple/foolish mistakes vs when he doesn't grasp a concept.

We've also been doing flahcards this year. I shared the triangle ones we made. On top of the flash cards each day the boys also do a fact sheet. This is something Saxon has done with the children from the very start, & while it drove me insane in the younger years, I love it now. My boys were hesitant when I pulled out a sheet with 100 Addition facts on it the first day, but I approached it as a challenge for them. My words were, "We're going to do this page each day until we can beat our own time & have a new high record!"

So each day they sit down and to the page shortly after flashcards. Each child started with their fact page on different days to give them a little one-on-one to accomplish it in. The first day for each student was disastrous in regards to time. Within a week they'd each shaved off whole minutes from their work & were getting 99% of the facts right.

Interestingly enough they remember all the short cuts for certain math facts, & it's also evident in each of them which fact families they need the most practice with. Because of this we decided to stick with just a couple fact families in our flash cards for now until we are up to speed on those. Then we will add in another fact family & so on until we are really quick at all of them.

Thursdays I do the writing on their fact sheets for them. This gives me a much better view of how quick they are with their facts. They can know the answer really quickly, but it can slow them down to have to write it down. So on Thursdays they sit with me & just shout out the answers while I scribble down their answers. Of course Jayden cost himself 30 seconds recently when he pointed out I'd written the wrong answer under one of his problems. Whooops!

We now only do our Saxon math on Monday through Thursday. Friday is saved, especially, for games I know they'll need to boost certain skills & some fun new games to encourage skills they'll be learning. I have a few I just can't wait to try out with them. Do you think my neighbors will mind if I make a number line from negative 10 to positive 10 in the road?

1 comment:

Nancy said...

Oh My do I have the math whoa's right now!! I just ordered Saxon as well a couple nights ago from CBD. I was surprised at the HUGE price difference between CBD and Sonlght. I tried to do a more living math approach with Math on the Level and decided it wasn't working for us. I was tossing between Life of Fred and Saxon. I went with Saxon as a good solid foundation and I can add in other things. I think that will be best for us.

Glad we are in company with math and Sonlight too!