Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Math - Looking for the Easy Way to Teach Pt 2

Continued from: Math - Looking for the Easy Way to Teach, Pt 1
Yesterday, I began a post about Math, the easy way, and began talking about reading. Now I want to apply what I've learned through teaching a struggling reader how to read. To recap, I learned that more phonics was just more phonics. It was a good and necessary skill, but there was a time to move on and build fluency. It was also the hard way for her to read (my second daughter did not have this same difficulty with phonics). So what made reading easy and how do I apply that to Math?

Lessons were short and to-the-point.
We started really easy and repetitious.
We continued to practice the really easy and repetitious until it was just about memorized.
We added in something new that almost seemed just as easy, but built our skill level just a teeny bit more.
I didn't ditch phonics completely, but integrated it into what we already knew, so the practice wasn't overwhelming (it wasn't too much phonics).

With some tweaking, I think we can do something similar here for Math. I'm attempting to create something that does this (taken from Well Trained Mind forums about Kumon):
- starting at a low, comfortable level
- starting with oral as well as written drill
- not moving ahead until the earlier skills are mastered
- repetition until children notice patterns and memorize common facts
- using timed work to insure the student is working quickly and easily before going ahead
- generally teaching one skill at a time (although math skills build on one another), and not introducing & mastering more than one small thing at a time
- correcting every problem to 100%
- not stopping drill when 10x10 is mastered, but instead continuing on through fractions and up past calculus

In other words, once we have basic facts mastered, we can continue to apply this (quickly, painlessly) to tougher concepts, such as multi-digit adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, fractions, decimals, ratios, percent, etc. One thing builds upon another. This isn't to say that tough concepts won't be taught. We'll continue along in our grade level math books (or, T4L right now, but eventually move back into BJU). But I'm adding in quick, easy, timed drill to our day.

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