Monday, December 28, 2015

Our Math Choices for 2015-2016

(This post has random pictures from the last few months that didn't make it into another post. It was this or pictures of math text books.)

Last January I wrote this review of Saxon Math. I just went back and read it and still agree with most of it. Yet, we went back to Math-U-See this year.

For the most part I don't regret using Saxon last year. Both boys needed something different. They were uninspired in math and a temporary change was necessary.

The only thing I would change in my review from last year is saying Saxon is conceptual. It is a little, but not consistently. I've learned for true math knowledge and mastering a topic that a student must know why and not just learn the procedure, otherwise it is quickly forgotten after the test or lesson. Saxon occasionally throws in some conceptual learning but after going completely through two levels, I learned it's sparing and they depend more on procedural. I also saw that my kids didn't understand what was going on (the why)and could not master certain math skills. 

Did I tell you that we adopted a cat in October . . . . but had to take her back after 10 days. The dog went crazy over the cat and couldn't learn to calm down which scared the cat. We are still upset over this. Lesson learned that Lucy is too high energy for a cat.

Caleb really struggled towards the end of that Saxon book last year. So much that we just finally gave up at the end and didn't complete it. I purchased the Saxon algebra book back in March to start reteaching algebra to myself. (Algebra was one of my favorite classes in high school, but that was a long time ago!) I quickly discovered that Caleb would not be ready for this book and I was struggling with the understanding of it myself. That is when I knew that we needed to go back to Math-U-See. Luckily, I had held onto a used algebra book that I had bought previously. 

I had planned to start our school year with Caleb doing Math-U-See and Tyler doing Saxon 6/5. A very long story follows in which at the end I realize that Tyler is still struggling with the multiply digit multiplication and long division and we hadn't gained any ground in the past year. I also learn that the silly amount of problems in each Saxon lesson has pushed both Tyler and I over the edge. After going over things with him (and doing a placement test with Math-U-See) I also learned that he would need to pick up in Math-U-See in the same spot we left the program . . . . . and this is where I feel like we wasted a whole year in math!  : (

We did get a little snow back in November. It didn't last long and we haven't had any more snow, yet. It's been raining for days and it's flooded . . . . I would rather had the two feet of snow instead. No one likes a cold December rain.

Turns out Tyler likes those DVDs and Mr. Demme again. Tyler did get off to a good start in Epsilon because he did learn a little something about fractions in Saxon last year. 

I still think both boys just needed a change last year. I did learn some lessons through all of this. Next time we should just take a month (or two) off from the program and do something different for math instead of changing programs completely. Second, it doesn't hurt to have more than one resource on hand for math. This is a good resource for when a student doesn't understand a concept and you can look it up in another resource and perhaps a different explanation will work. And third, slow down and take the math pace that your student needs. Completing a level and getting it done is not the goal. Understanding for mastery is the goal.  

Tyler loves rocks! He found this one in the creek during our early December nature hike. This picture got lost while I was trying to upload it for that blog post.

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