Thursday, December 19, 2013

Product Review: Math U See Algebra I

We just switched math programs from Horizons Pre-Algebra into Math U See Algebra I.  I will post a product review of Horizons Pre-Algebra at a later time.

We're beginning Lesson 1 of Math U See Algebra I, and I'm starting to learn how it works for us.  There are some critical things to making the program work.

First, an overview:

Math U See is "Math that you see", meaning they will teach you the "whys" behind the math.  It fits into the category of "Mastery Learning", although it has review written in, as well, so that mastered topics aren't lost and forgotten.  The components of the program are:

DVD instruction for each lesson.
Each lesson is comprised of a sheet A, sheet B to practice the new concept
Each lesson is comprised of a sheet C, D, and E to practice the new concept + add in review.
Each lesson has an Honors page, which is story problems and practical application of the new concept + review concepts
Each lesson has a test.

The test works best if the student is able to teach those concepts back to you, versus just being able to fill in answers on the worksheet.


So essentially there are 8 components to each lesson that you will need to balance.  You will need to find a way to structure it within your week.  So far, we're attempting this schedule:

Day 1: DVD lesson and sheet A
Day 2: Sheet B and C
Day 3: Sheet D and E
Day 4: Test
Day 5: Honors page

We will tweak that as we go.  If a lesson is not being understood to mastery, then I will need to slow that lesson down, and maybe repeat pages as needed.

I've found that the Review Pages (C, D, and E) are teaching important concepts within the pages themselves, and are not included on the DVD instruction.  So, if you think you are going to skip some of these, you may want to double check the sheets you plan to skip.  You might be missing important new information that will hamper you in the near future.

Now that I have a 13 year old that bucks math, and bucks my instruction, I'm attempting to make this a "your responsibility thing", but without fully letting go.  This is like saying your child can now play outside without you there, but you're secretly behind the window, watching and double checking:)  I'm giving my daughter the worksheets, DVD, test, and honors page as a single lump and giving her a due date.  She needs to figure out how to get it all done within the specified amount of time.  After she completes math, I check it and circle wrong answers.  I put those in front of her, and wait for her to find what she did wrong.  If she doesn't find it, we find it together.  Then, I put math away for the day and I don't worry about it.  If she gets stuck, she asks me, and I instruct as needed.  This hands-off method is working much better than what we were doing.  Before, I was fully responsible for teaching the lesson, making sure my daughter understood it, and sitting next to her for every single problem.  Any inadequacies were my fault, even if it was just her being in a mood that day.  I needed to get that back breaking, world flunking responsibility off of me.  This was our answer.

[caption id="attachment_128" align="alignnone" width="540"]wpid-20131219_141007.jpg Abbreviations. Does your child use them? My child is rather creative with hers.[/caption]

One caveat, though.  I have to be WELL prepared to answer her questions on the lesson if she has them.  That means, I need to work through every problem on each lesson before she is given her packet for the week.  I've gotten through lesson 1.  So far, so good!
Resources: Algebra I Teacher Pack (2-DVD set and Instruction Manual), Algebra I Student Pack (workbook and test booklet), manipulatives set and algebra/decimal insert set.  You can find the resources here at the Math U See website.

The sample video and more info about the program can be found here, at the Math U See website.

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