Friday, November 02, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up: Bad Day and Good Math

I had all the photos taken to include in a post about how much we like our new math curriculum. And then we had...

A Day.

One of THOSE days.

One of those maybe-the-yellow-school-bus-isn't-such-a-bad-option-after-all days.

I'll spare you the details. They aren't pretty. Highlights included Toa of Boy dumping his uneaten lunch in the garbage in an act of defiance and then going hungry for the afternoon while he sat at the kitchen table doing worksheets I printed off the internet (in my own fit of frustration and defiance.)

Like I said, not a pretty day.

But, Toa crafted and apology in Legos (the two r's aren't quite visible in the photo). I made his favorite dinner that evening. So, hopefully things will be back on track now.

And, despite our horrible, no-good, very-rotten day, both Toa and I do like the math curriculum, so I'm going to share about it anyway.

Everyday Mathematics was recommended to us by a good friend. I visited the website and watched a video of a classroom lesson. Then I looked at the prices and had a sticker shock moment. But, I was able to find the two student journals I need on ebay, used, but not written in.
(I skipped buying the Student Resource book that was supposed to go along with the curriculum. Even on ebay, it was out of the budget and it didn't seem like we absolutely needed it.)

Each lesson includes a page of "math boxes" that are a collection of very short review work. Normally, Toa of Boy hates the review section of math lessons, but the math boxes are different enough that he hasn't realized they are meant to keep skills fresh. (Shhhh---don't tell him they're review work!) I am NOT a fan of 'busy work' or generic worksheets....despite my breakdown this week. But the math boxes have a wide enough variety of skills to keep his mind engaged.

Sadly, the one random Math Boxes I happened to snap a picture of has a section of simple addition/subtraction problems which is pretty rare. I thought about cropping them out of the picture before I loaded it to my blog, but I thought I'd leave it. There are the occasional computation reviews. Still, they are rare enough that the math box page doesn't become a drudgery.

(You can click on the image, or any of the images, if you'd like to see a slightly larger version of it.)

 The lessons are set up so that the math boxes are supposed to come at the end of the lesson, however, we do the math boxes first. For the most part, Toa of Boy can complete the math box page independently, with only an occasional question or two. There are a few times, like today, when he completes the math boxes when I'm not even around, and then I check them and we do the teaching section later.

We don't have a teacher's manual for the teaching sections, but for the most part we haven't needed one. In part, we don't need one because I'm comfortable enough looking at a lesson on multiplication arrays and coming up with a spur of the moment hands-on activity.

But, mostly, we don't need a teacher guide because the lessons have clear student instructions for unique and engaging math activities.

Here are a couple of Toa's favorites.

This lesson involved measuring how many steps you took to cross a large room, measuring the room, and then finding an approximate length of a step. Then you time how long it took you to take so many steps...and somewhere in there it lead you through approximating a walking speed. We skipped some of this process, because Toa looked at me and told me that it takes him and Grandma about 30 minutes to walk the big block of our neighborhood and that he asked the Jedi drive their walking route to measure it's distance with the car's odometer. From this, Toa told me it takes him about half and hour to walk ________.

Next, the lesson asked us to pick a destination in a different city. Toa had to measure the distance to the city, and then figure out how long it would take him to walk there if he walked continuously with no stops for rest or food. Then he had to figure out, realistically, what stops he would need to take and how long the stops would take, and what a more realistic arrival time would be.

His other favorite, so far, has been a lesson on data collection and examining data to find the mean, the mode, the median, and so forth. Not too exciting....unless the data you are examining is first collected in a cool 'reaction time' process. First, the 'reaction time' strip was cut out of his workbook. Then I held the strip, and he kept his thumb and pointer finger open around the bottom edge of the strip. With no verbal warning, I dropped the strip, and he had to quick pinch to catch it. The strip had a gauge to measure his reaction time according to where his thumb landed on the strip.

Now, if I, or some textbook, had just given Toa of Boy a set of random numbers and asked him to do some landmarking and computation with them....getting the lesson done would have been like pulling teeth. But test his own reaction time and then crunch those numbers to learn which hand had the quicker reflexes? Oh yeah. Bought and sold, baby.

I also was blessed with several fun and interesting learning books at a used curriculum sale last spring. I had a nice stack of 50 cent to 1 dollar books in my hand, and the sweet mom running the booth told me I could just have them. "Be blessed," she said. And I was and am!

One of those books was logic links.

We aim for doing a few logic puzzles about once a week or so.

Another book we were blessed with is a math card game book. It's SO MUCH BETTER THAN FLASHCARDS for practicing multiplication and division skills!

Here's a sample game, taking from a side view of course, so as to be totally confusing. Each of two players is dealt three cards (the columns on the left and right of the photo.) Then two cards are flipped over in the middle. They are multiplied to find the "target number" for that round. Each player gets a point for each of the cards in their hand of three which can be divided evenly into the target number. (We kept track of our scores with tally marks on a separate piece of paper.) Then all the cards are discarded and new cards dealt out for the next round.

(And, just because I'm me, this post was actually written at the beginning of  September. Then it sat unfinished waiting for me to resize photos so that they would load easier and not take up so much of the space blogger allocates for saved photos. BUT, it's still a good overview of how math is working for us this year!)

Check out what others are doing this week on Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers!

No comments: