Friday, February 12, 2016

DIY Math on the Level

As much as I have raved about Math on the Level (and I DO love what I know of it and WOULD recommend it if anyone was considering it) I haven't actually purchased a copy of the material.  I have looked over a friend's copy of the material, read everything there is to read on the website and taken a few webinars with the author.  But at the moment, part of our "experiment" is testing out a kind of a home-grown version of a Math-on-the-Level-like system.

From what I know (and chime in if you know better than I do) here are the essential things Math on the Level offers:

  1. What to Teach - Math on the Level clearly outlines and describes what your children need to understand and what skills they need to master in order to be ready for Algebra.
  2. How to Teach - Math on the Level books are full of very detailed explanations of each topic and lots and lots of good ideas about how to teach math and specific suggestions about how to help your children encounter individual topics, especially in "living math" ways.
  3. How to Assess - The primary means of assessment is in face-to-face interaction with your student as you teach the lesson.  The material also includes many, many practice problems (and answers) for each topic so that you will have plenty of options for making up their Five-A-Days.  Also, the record keeping system (either by spreadsheet or paper/pencil) enables you to know what has been mastered and what needs review.
At this point, my working theory is that I have resources available to accomplish all three of these these things.
  1. What to Teach - Using a combination of the table of contents to the math textbooks my kids have used in the past (because I still have the answer keys), the Mathematics Common Core lists and the Math on the Level list, I've put together my own list of topics.  (It's basically the same as the Math on the Level list, with a few additions/modifications.)
  2. How to Teach - This is the part I love best and that I most appreciate having the freedom to do on my own.  However (ironically?) it's also the part where I feel the most insecurity.  If I purchase my own copy of Math on the Level, it will be mostly for this reason - because I want to make sure that I teach each concept completely and thoroughly.  We've also been making use of Math Antics and  Kahn Academy to help us out with the how-to-explain-this aspect.
  3. How to Assess - I love the Math on the Level method.  I've basically adopted that method by use of a free spreadsheet I found on-line (which saved some time, but could be easily made from scratch by someone who had some basic knowledge of spreadsheets).  I already believe strongly in assessment by conversation (even in math) and am liking the new method of only five practice problems a day just to ensure that skills stay sharp.  Also, since I have teacher answer keys from all of the children's past Abeka textbooks, I have an enormous supply of practice problems (and answers).  And, of course, the Internet (including  Math Antics and  Kahn Academy) contains abundant resources for practice.  Of course, the benefit of the Math on the Level practice problems is that they are arranged and indexed by topic making it much easier to grab just what you need.
So, will this DIY method work?  Or will I end up purchasing a (used?) copy of Math on the Level?  Or, will I throw my hands in the air and just order everyone an Abeka textbooks for next year?  Stay tuned to find out.  Or, watch paint dry.  Either way, should keep you on the edge of your seat and provide great family entertainment. ;-)

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