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Do spiral math programs=more time each day?


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#1 diokos


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Posted 16 December 2012 - 09:20 PM

I went through a couple of different mastery math programs (Singapore and MM) with my 2 children with little success, finally trying a spiral (CLE) and finding that they finally understood and remembered the things they learned. I'm also finding it takes us about twice as long each day to accomplish our math lesson. I really shied away from Saxon for this reason-I read how long it can take to get through math each day. Is this just a spiral math thing? Do they in general take longer than mastery approaches?

We love CLE, except for it taking so long (and I suppose I may just be unreasonable in my expectations, too! We're looking at somewhere around an hour each day. Well, I suppose longer for my older child if we did everything in the lesson as intended.) I appreciate that my kids remember what they learned. We're behind our grade level with math because of the 2 years we fought 2 programs that just didn't click, and I'm not sure CLE is going to allow us to catch up. Ever. We school year round, so I can't use the summer to catch up. We already do math lessons on days that we don't accomplish other things in our school day. We also cut out tests and quiz lessons; and it took us a 10 mos. to go through one year's worth of math. I'm also disappointed in its lack of focus on mental math. It's very "old school" in its approach and I wish they were getting some of the strengths of the MM or Singapore programs in their education as well...

After coming off of Singapore and MM that took us 20 to 30 mins each day, the kids are burned out with CLE and still hate math, this time not because the don't undersand it, but now because it takes so long. I hesitate to switch them yet again I really don't want to fall even further behind, but I also want them to learn that math can be fun. I got a Life of Fred book to use once in a while as a break from our CLE, and they loved it. They're begging to switch. I could possibly make it work if I add in flash cards and games and things to reinforce concepts. Just really not sure what to do. I know Fred is classified as more a mastery approach and that already failed us twice.

Any feedback would be appreciated. Am I completely dumb for thinking about another switch when CLE really did fix the things I needed to fix (that they remember something). Am I asking too much for a curriculum to take 30 mins for my elementary students?

#2 PentecostalMom


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Posted 16 December 2012 - 10:48 PM

What grades/ages are you asking about?

#3 Hunter


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Posted 16 December 2012 - 10:57 PM

I do find that the programs with the most review take much longer. When I place the student lower, they work faster. Some need to work a grade or two below level to be able to finish in a reasonable amount of time.

When it comes to math, slow and steady is better than being at grade level, if a choice needs to be made. Not all students are developmentally ready for the math they are doing, and it shows up more when they are juggling a bunch of review topics. Some students are never going to "catch up" because as they finish more levels, they are pushing past their developmental level, so slow down.

#4 amyrobynne


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Posted 16 December 2012 - 11:05 PM

My 6 year old is fairly putzy, but it takes him at least 45 min to do Saxon 2. My 3rd grader was doing Saxon 5/4 for 6 weeks and it took about the same length, maybe less if it was easy for him. I switched the older to Singapore in Oct and will switch the 1st grader once he finishes the book in Feb.

#5 boscopup


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Posted 17 December 2012 - 07:39 AM

Hmmm... I wonder if it takes longer to do a lot of review problems because you're having to think about them a bit more, switching from one type to another? In a mastery program, you end up doing the end problems with your brain tied behind your back. :D

MM and Singapore both take us very little time. Review pages take longer, but they also have more problems. When I did MM, we skipped at least half the problems (this child didn't need a lot of practice). Doing that, it ends up being half a CLE lesson (I counted problems one time to compare the two - one CLE lesson roughly equals one MM section).

In the case of lower grade Saxon, I think the time comes in via the scripted teaching. At least in grade 1, the worksheets themselves didn't take any time at all. My son used to bring home his Saxon 1 worksheet, and I made him do his homework before doing MM (he much preferred MM, which was more challenging). The Saxon sheet took him literally 5 minutes or less. They were the same problems every day! So in that case, the actual seatwork was much less time for Saxon (even if I added in the fact drill and first side of the worksheet done at school), but the teaching time made the difference. It never took me more than 5-10 minutes to teach a concept in MM, whereas the Saxon lesson might take 30+ minutes for his teacher to teach.

In the case of CLE... there are just a LOT of problems. I was looking at level 4, I believe (or maybe 5?), and it was something like 50 problems in a lesson. I can see that taking a while! My friend who uses CLE crosses out problems sometimes. Our Singapore lessons usually have less than 20 problems total, so of course it takes less time.

#6 8FillTheHeart


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Posted 17 December 2012 - 09:28 AM

I don't think it is the spiral aspect, more probably the program. My kids have never taken much time to finish a lesson in Horizons. A full lesson in Math in Focus takes longer than Horizons.

#7 diokos


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Posted 17 December 2012 - 10:47 AM

Thanks for the insights. The kids I'm referring to are 3rd and 5th grades. I also have a K'er that we're doing Singapore Earlybird math with, or just general math activities-counting, writing numbers, etc. I also have a nearly 2 yo....So, it's a hard thing for me to think about devoting an hour to each kid's math lesson, plus all their other things :).

I think you're right with the CLE just being a lot of problems-when we're talking about that much time of actual writing on a worksheet it's a lot different than 30-40 mins of instruction/math activity followed by 20-30 mins wkst. We do faithfully do the flashcards with my 3rd grader, but they don't take much time at all. I can see how that would make the kids not look forward to math class.

I think my current plan is to do Life of Fred, along with games, etc. for a bit of a reward for finishing their books. When we get through one or two of the Fred series I'll re-evaluate and see if it seems like they're learning what they need to with that we can keep going with it; if it seems like they need the CLE brought back we can do that, but maybe cross out up to half the problems (if we did odds or evens then we'd still be getting each topic covered.)

As far as the grade level thing goes, I'm tempted to just put them ahead into their grades (or maybe only 1 yr behind) if we go back to CLE, knowing that with the amount of review that we're seeing they're going to have plenty of chances to learn anything they may have missed.

#8 Saddlemomma


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Posted 17 December 2012 - 10:51 AM

We do Horizon's Math which is also a spiral program. My dd really likes it, but that wasn't always the case. Horizon's also has a lot of problems and it was taking forever to do them. I spoke to the certified teacher who annually evaluates our work. She loved our Math program and told us to never change it, but we could make it easier. She suggested doing only 1/2 the problems for each section as long as dd understood the concepts. For instance, if there are 8 multiplication problems, only have dd do 4 of them. If she gets one wrong - have her go back and do the other 4 and so on.

If a new concept is being introduced, I have my dd do all the problems on that section to ensure she understands the new concept. Then I cut down the problems on the next pages for that concept as long as no mistakes were made while learning it.

So if there are 60 various equations in a lesson, my dd ends up doing about 30.

Now, for the past 2 years, Math doesn't take as long, there are no more tears, and dd actually enjoys doing it.

#9 NoPlaceLikeHome


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Posted 17 December 2012 - 11:27 AM

How far behind are you in math? My ds was able to do CLE Math in about 4 months by doing it everyday. There are about 160 lessons/tests with CLE so if you did a lesson everyday and occasionally double up on lessons you hopefully would be able to catch up. As for an hour or more at math, I do not think this is unreasonable since in school a child would typically have an hour of math in school and about an hour after school.

I found that doing math first thing in the morning helped as well as maybe doing a morning session and afternoon session to break things up. You could cross out some problems, but I would take care in doing so that you children gain procedural mastery of all concepts presented.

We do have MM levels 1-6 and SM Level 3. I found that MM is great but really takes as long to do as CLE. SM is great too but IMO should be done in conjunction with Challenging Word Problems and Intensive Practice or Extra Practice books so that procedural mastery is obtained. Currently ds is doing Saxon Algebra 1 with great success, but again he puts in about an hour a day or slightly more after school.

#10 sleeplessnights


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Posted 17 December 2012 - 02:40 PM

We have used several math programs and have recently made the move to CLE because I cannot commit to a teacher-intensive math for four kids. Yes, it does take considerably longer than Singapore, MM, or MUS. However, it does include speed drills and daily review. If I were an awesome math teacher, I would also add those to my Singapore lessons, which would also bump up the time needed to finish math.

I like to know that I'm covering all my bases with all of my kids. I don't think that 45 min to an hour of math a day is out of control, but it has been a big change and the kids are still whining over the length of the lesson. It's not hard for them, but the length is longer than they're used to. I think as they continue they will settle into their new math routine. I agree that it would be very hard to accelerate this program. I've heard that if you want to move faster, do another lesson on the same day as the quizzes, skip the first book of each level and, of course, work more days during the year.

BTW, we still add in some of Singapore's CWP for a change of pace every once in a while, but CLE is our primary program.