Jump to content

Menu

Math Curriculum Woes


Recommended Posts

I feel like I have looked at every curriculum under the sun and still am unable to choose a math curriculum for my 2nd grader.

Some background: We used The Good and the Beautiful Math 1 for first grade, and overall I enjoyed the program and my daughter seemed ok with it. However, when we started 2nd grade with the same program, my daughter cried every day and seemed like she couldn't remember basic math facts. I decided because of her math anxiety that we would just focus on learning the basic addition/subtraction facts along with Life of Fred for the first half of the year (which we did). She has progressed some, but is still slow and still hates math. Now that it is the second half of the year, we are currently using Math Lessons for a Living Education because I wanted to introduce something gentle and more textbook-y (Life of Fred seemed too sporadic), but this curriculum is also all over the place (for me) and doesn't give enough instruction. She does seem to like the hands-on aspect of it, however.

I have no idea what to purchase for her next year. She is likely going to repeat 2nd grade math just because I want her to be solid on concepts before moving on. But which math curriculum is good for a student who struggles and has a high-level of math anxiety? I feel mastery approach is best with some sort of kinesthetic learning. I am an English teacher, not a math instructor, so I do need a curriculum that spells things out for me and isn't too abstract.

Any help is appreciated!

-Angela

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I looked at it early on, but I worry about the investment for something that I am not sure on. It seems like a lot of parents switch to something else after the first book or two, but it could be useful to gain the foundational understanding.

Spoiler

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have recently made posts along the same line! (“Torn on math” and “Does this math curriculum exist?!”) I can so relate to this! Finding the right math curriculum is HARD. We are also using MLFLE, but are going to switch next year, as I feel it is too light and is not giving my kids the strong math foundation I want them to have. I’m sad to hear that TGATB was not great for you guys, since that’s one of the programs I am strongly leaning towards. 

I would look at Kate Snow’s website and read through all her math curriculum reviews. I have found them really helpful. I am also really strongly considering Math Mammoth—maybe that would be a good fit? It’s a mastery approach. I am also more of an English person—struggled with math a lot more—so I am feeling increasingly uneasy as we get into older elementary grades. I definitely will be brushing up on my math...I think I’m going to order the first two books of “Learn Math Fast” to help get me up to speed. (Maybe you could use that program as a supplement for your daughter? Supposed to be great for people who struggle with math.) But, like you, I really want a program that is pretty instructive and will hold my hand through the teaching process. (Which is why I’m more drawn to TGATB! However, many posters have assured me that Math Mammoth gives parents enough direction.)

Have you looked at Math-U-See? It’s supposed to be really good for kids who struggle a bit more, and I think it has a kinesthetic element to it. I think I might start there, actually! After reading and re-reading a zillion math reviews...it seems like that might be a good fit!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you looked at Miquon? Two of my three kids were late bloomers when it came to enjoying math. Like your daughter, one of them enjoyed Fred but needed more practice and less abstraction. Neither of them turned into math lovers overnight, but with Miquon they worked through the pages without complaint and sometimes even enjoyed themselves. Miquon uses a set of color coded books and cuisinaire rods. You can either work straight through the books for a spiral approach or focus on a topic and work on that topic across the books for a mastery approach. There is a clear teachers guide that explains how to teach each page. The pages are friendly looking. It looks like someone hand drew them and they're not cluttered. 

When they finished Miquon we moved on to Beast Academy and more Fred and both kids are strong math students now. One is in seventh grade doing Life of Fred beginning algebra and Jacob's and one is in fourth and doing Beast Academy 4. 

The con of Miquon is that (like you) I feel more confident with literature/english. Miquon isnt hard to teach but it's different from the usual approach (more discovery and experienced based) so it took me a while to feel sure that I was doing it right. Over time though I saw that my kids had a stronger sense of why they were doing what they were doing, so my confidence improved too. 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 hours ago, Masers said:

@MasersThanks for the response. I did personally really like TGATB, but I don't think it reviews enough for my daughter. I have heard they are updating their math curriculum, however, so that may change.

I did read through Kate Snow's reviews (my son is actually using her curriculum, but unfortunately she only has the k one out), but still was torn on what to use. I have looked at Math Mammoth, but for some reason it didn't seem like a good fit. Math-U-See seemed interesting, but it seems like it would get boring just working on one aspect for a year. Part of the issue is having her learn things without making it a drag. I still don't like math, so I don't necessarily expect her to, but it would be nice to find something that was tolerable. I have heard that program can get dull after awhile (but maybe the repetition is what she needs?). It's so hard to tell.

@Hillcottagemom I have looked at Miquon before, but I don't remember it well enough, so I may look at it again. I appreciate your response as I navigate this.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think you might want to step back from books completely. I would give a short math break (for her), while I experimented with teaching math in a hands-on fashion.

1st - If you use the internet, you'll find 10,000+ math songs for skip-counting, math facts, etc. I'd have her listen to the songs and make a note of which ones she gravitated towards. Then give her craft-sticks or large beans and have her work out the problems as she sings along with a preselected song. (Make sure that she has the beans she needs for each song, even if you have to set them up before hand in a muffin tin or ice-tray)

While you're doing more research on how to teach math in a hands-on fashion, every day do hands-on, enjoyable counting activities in the AM and PM with her. She needs repetition so keep the activities short and find the most productive pace for her. Set a timer so that counting practice doesn't last more than 10 minutes.

Before you spend a dime on "a math program" spend a couple of weeks researching and rehearsing how you are going to teach regrouping in base-10.

I have found nothing more effective to teaching the regrouping concept than craft-sticks and rubber bands. You can buy 1,000 craft sticks, black hair rubber bands and brown office rubber bands for well under $15 dollars. You can practice building numbers, regrouping them and seeing the algorithm in action for yourself. This works for thousandths - thousands.

You, mom, need to practice, practice, practice modeling arithmetic operations with the craft sticks. While you're experimenting with teaching arithmetic with the craft-sticks, have her systematically practicing counting with physical objects and later (much later) with charts.

She needs to be able to 1) understand quantities physically and 2) count fluently in the abstract. She may need to continue counting practice until she is in middle school and that's perfectly fine. It will aide her number-sense tremendously, boost her confidence and enable her to keep up in working longer calculations without getting lost constantly.


That includes Counting, counting on, counting back, skip-counting, skip-counting on and skip-counting back.

Once she can complete a mult-pattern counting drill such as
"start at 0 and count by 5s" and when she gets to 45, you tell her "now count on by 9s" and she says 54, 63, 70" and you tell her now count back-wards by 10s and she says "....60, 50, 40, 30..." and you say "...now count back by 6s" and she says "24...18, 12, 6, 0"

Then she is fluent in counting. 

 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

After dabbling in far too many math curricula as supplements to my main curriculum (Singapore)—Miquon, Beast Academy, Math Mammoth, Life of Fred, Math Facts that Stick, Rod & Staff, and some even more short lived one I cannot recall—I have finally one to the stunning realization that 1) there is no perfect curriculum that does all the things (fun/enjoyable/engaging, hits math facts, deep on concepts) for all the students and 2) the best one is one I will stick with consistently. 


That being said, I see that you are concerned about mastery, basic math facts, a program that does not feel scattershot, one that is gentle and likely to help your daughter build confidence, and is teachable by a non math teacher.

While Singapore is my main program,  I would suggest considering Rod & Staff—a far less “cool” but totally solid program. Easy to teach, gives pretty scripted lessons for instructor, inexpensive, and math facts will absolutely be mastered. It is mastery, but there is constant review. I mean, constant review, but as the instructor you can incorporate as much or as little of that as you need. Everything moves forward in a logical progression and each step is totally drilled down before moving on. Things start slow, but in about 4th grade they pick up and you’re covering most of the same topics you would with a faster moving curriculum (I cross referenced R&S 4 to Singapore 4, and R&S5 to Singapore 5, they hit most of the same topics but often in a different order). I also like how they introduce concepts very concretely (skip counting with coins, fractions by using a ruler). 
 

Last year we had a math hiccup with my eldest (then 4th) where he had forgotten some things and was feeling discouraged in Singapore (he was a year ahead, so I think doing 5A). He hated math and thought he was terrible at it. So we took a break and did the last half of R&S 4. It felt easy for him, and after a month or two we returned to Singapore and he was a new child. Confident, flying through the rest of Sing5 with ease. So now I have all my kids do R&S as independent work and Singapore with me, so the extra review and drill actually happens (I had been slacking on that, and Singapore expects it). 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@mathmarm Thanks for the tips. I have been pretty much ignoring math curriculum all year, but I do want to prepare for next year, which is why I asked for suggestions. Thanks for the detailed ways I can have her practice.

@gradchica I do agree that there is no perfect math curriculum, and I hate that I have jumped around a bit this year. I looked into Rod and Staff, but I feel like the drill aspect of it would kill my daughter. She freaks out if there are too many problems (though I understand I can limit how many she does), and she can't do anything timed. I liked the idea of Singapore Dimensions (their new curriculum), but I heard that Singapore is better for the math-minded (which she is not).

Has anyone tried BJU math? It seems like a good balance of mastery and spiral, and I like that it has a story element plus manipulatives with built-in review. But it is expensive, so I am wondering if it works well for a student who struggles a bit.

Thanks!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, Angela Mora said:

 

Thanks for your response! Do you feel like the review in TGATB is adequate for a fairly mathy child? My boys seem to catch on pretty quickly to most concepts. I do feel like the review in MLFLE is lacking...my son definitely needed more review in long division and 2 digit multiplication than they gave, but at least they do spiral back to it pretty regularly. Still—it could definitely improve with more mastery. How do you feel like MLFLE and TGATB compare? And what do you think about Kate Snow’s kindergarten curriculum? I’m planning to start my preschooler with that next year. Thanks—it really helps to hear from parents who have used the programs, even though things vary so much between kids! 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@MasersI think if your child is math-oriented TGATB would be ok. It definitely has more review than MLFLE, which I feel jumps around every other page. I do think both curriculums are good about using hands-on materials. TGATB has longer lessons (though, again, they are shortening them in the new version, I believe). TGATB is very manipulative heavy, and I found it a chore to put everything together for the next day, whereas MLFLE is pretty open and go. Between the two, however, I would definitely go with TGATB as it seems more focused and comprehensive.

I do like Kate Snow's K program. I like that she doesn't have a lot of written work (my son is slow in handwriting), and that it includes review daily as well as a lot of hands-on activities. They are not long lessons, either, which helps with an antsy boy. I am pretty sure I am going to stick with the program as I believe in the mantra "if it isn't broke, don't fix it." My son is more math-minded, however, so the concepts come easily to him regardless of the method. However, I do think another program with lots of worksheets would kill him 😛

Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 minutes ago, Angela Mora said:

@MasersI think if your child is math-oriented TGATB would be ok. It definitely has more review than MLFLE, which I feel jumps around every other page. I do think both curriculums are good about using hands-on materials. TGATB has longer lessons (though, again, they are shortening them in the new version, I believe). TGATB is very manipulative heavy, and I found it a chore to put everything together for the next day, whereas MLFLE is pretty open and go. Between the two, however, I would definitely go with TGATB as it seems more focused and comprehensive.

I do like Kate Snow's K program. I like that she doesn't have a lot of written work (my son is slow in handwriting), and that it includes review daily as well as a lot of hands-on activities. They are not long lessons, either, which helps with an antsy boy. I am pretty sure I am going to stick with the program as I believe in the mantra "if it isn't broke, don't fix it." My son is more math-minded, however, so the concepts come easily to him regardless of the method. However, I do think another program with lots of worksheets would kill him 😛

Thank you!! Yes, Kate Snow’s program sounds pretty ideal...I know she was trying to take the best components out of different curriculums. I wish she had it for older grades. I LOVE that MLFLE is open and go...I am just not currently on top of things enough to do a lot of pre-planning and preparation. I’m deciding between TGATB and Math Mammoth for my older son next year. I just feel like I’m not going to be totally satisfied either way...and also like maybe he’d LIKE TGATB better, but Math Mammoth might be more what he NEEDS. So. I very well may get both programs, since Math Mammoth isn’t very expensive, and TGATB is going to be less expensive next year, too...and then try them both out. Idk! Let us know what you decide!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

23 hours ago, Angela Mora said:

I have no idea what to purchase for her next year. She is likely going to repeat 2nd grade math just because I want her to be solid on concepts before moving on. But which math curriculum is good for a student who struggles and has a high-level of math anxiety? I feel mastery approach is best with some sort of kinesthetic learning. I am an English teacher, not a math instructor, so I do need a curriculum that spells things out for me and isn't too abstract.

Here's an idea: don't worry about math facts for now! What concepts do you feel like she's not solid on? Note I said "concepts" and not "facts." 

I imagine part of the reason she hates math is that it's really boring! All you ever do is add and subtract small numbers. That's just never going to be fun. 

I'd suggest you work on MORE concepts gently and in a fun fashion. Please don't repeat 2nd grade math, because there's literally nothing there. Instead, try to do more concepts and aim at understanding, while gently reinforcing her memory via games. Do you need math game suggestions? They can make things a lot less boring. 

And yeah, I'd teach her in a hands-on way. Do you feel like you have a good understanding of all the concepts you're trying to teach her, or is your own understanding more procedural? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Not_a_Number It has been awhile since I went over concepts with her, so I am not sure what to say in terms of what she is not solid on. I've been mainly just working on getting her to remember addition and subtraction facts rather than concepts as I felt like she couldn't move on until she had better recall. I am an English teacher, so while I understand how to do a problem, it is not my nature to understand the why or even how to teach it properly, which is why I go with instructor booklets that help me teach the ideas. I don't know how to focus on concepts without some sort of curriculum as it isn't my forte.

I've started incorporating more math games, and my daughter does like them.  She does like hands-on math; but again, I feel I need something to use rather than me just playing games with her. I don't mind that as a supplement, but I do feel she needs more. But maybe that is more my own issue than anything else.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, Angela Mora said:

@Not_a_Number It has been awhile since I went over concepts with her, so I am not sure what to say in terms of what she is not solid on. I've been mainly just working on getting her to remember addition and subtraction facts rather than concepts as I felt like she couldn't move on until she had better recall. I am an English teacher, so while I understand how to do a problem, it is not my nature to understand the why or even how to teach it properly, which is why I go with instructor booklets that help me teach the ideas. I don't know how to focus on concepts without some sort of curriculum as it isn't my forte.

I've started incorporating more math games, and my daughter does like them.  She does like hands-on math; but again, I feel I need something to use rather than me just playing games with her. I don't mind that as a supplement, but I do feel she needs more. But maybe that is more my own issue than anything else.

I think getting her to memorize without doing anything more interesting will lead to serious math hatred. You should absolutely move on. Yes, the goal of remembering math facts is a worthwhile one, but it is NOT one that should slow down conceptual learning. 

The best thing you could probably do is learn ahead so you know why and how things work. That is really helpful with teaching math 🙂 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@MGSI have not tried going back yet. I technically have TGATB Math 2 for her, but we never opened it. I did look at it recently and just didn't have the heart to use it.  I did like the curriculum, but it didn't seem like she retained enough with it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 30/01/2021 at 5:15 PM, Angela Mora said:

I feel like I have looked at every curriculum under the sun and still am unable to choose a math curriculum for my 2nd grader.

Some background: We used The Good and the Beautiful Math 1 for first grade, and overall I enjoyed the program and my daughter seemed ok with it. However, when we started 2nd grade with the same program, my daughter cried every day and seemed like she couldn't remember basic math facts. I decided because of her math anxiety that we would just focus on learning the basic addition/subtraction facts along with Life of Fred for the first half of the year (which we did). She has progressed some, but is still slow and still hates math. Now that it is the second half of the year, we are currently using Math Lessons for a Living Education because I wanted to introduce something gentle and more textbook-y (Life of Fred seemed too sporadic), but this curriculum is also all over the place (for me) and doesn't give enough instruction. She does seem to like the hands-on aspect of it, however.

I have no idea what to purchase for her next year. She is likely going to repeat 2nd grade math just because I want her to be solid on concepts before moving on. But which math curriculum is good for a student who struggles and has a high-level of math anxiety? I feel mastery approach is best with some sort of kinesthetic learning. I am an English teacher, not a math instructor, so I do need a curriculum that spells things out for me and isn't too abstract.

Any help is appreciated!

-Angela

I have also been on the hunt for a new math curriculum and posted about it in "BJU Press Vs Rod and Staff...Vs Singapore" for my 2nd grader.

Here's what I've found out:

1. BJU Press is great but goes at a slower pace than Singapore. It's also expensive.

2. Rod and Staff is inexpensive but may be too much drill. It won't be the best if you want your child to have a STEM career.

3. Singapore is great at mastery and mental math. However, you will have to learn how to teach it properly. Plus it is best in conjunction with manipulatives. There is not enough drill for some people and in general it seems to be a hit or miss.

4. TGTB is beautiful but there are too many extras. Many STEM people believe that you're better off with Math Mammoth or Singapore Math.

5. Math Mammoth is highly recommended. However, people complain that there are too many problems per page ( i.e. the page seems crowded) and it's not very pretty. But most agree that it's a solid program. Many people say that it's similar to Singapore Math but Rainbow Resources Center disagrees. They even have a PDF document comparing many math curricula. I'm still contemplating switching to Math Mammoth.

6. Themeville Math is currently what I'm investigating because it's just one big worktext with Teacher's instructions included and a Solutions book. It's very detailed but minimal and has lots of mental math. Older versions are in the format of 1A, 1B, 1C and so on. It currently goes from Grade 1-5. It's the most affordable of all that I've listed.

7. From what I've seen Math Lessons for a Living Education is all over the place and too gentle. It also seems like it would be a setback. Many people I know tend to switch during their second year of using it.

I really wish that choosing and using a math curriculum would be soo much easier.

But I hope my summary helps.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 1/31/2021 at 5:47 PM, Angela Mora said:

I've started incorporating more math games, and my daughter does like them.  She does like hands-on math; but again, I feel I need something to use rather than me just playing games with her. I don't mind that as a supplement, but I do feel she needs more

Kate Snow’s Addition facts that stick (the demos with 10-frames and the games, more so than the worksheets) was a useful supplement for my Gr.2 child in improving recall while doing something she enjoyed. This could be used alongside another program that kept working on conceptual learning. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've found that card games, along with instruction about how to count on, are quite good at getting addition facts down. You can just play Addition War along with explicit instruction on counting on -- it's like War, but you put down two cards and you can ask the child how much they make together. It works like a manipulative because you can see what you'er adding. 

@Angela Mora, can your kiddo count on? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do you have the activity box that comes with The Good and the Beautiful?  If so, why not play games from it for awhile and skip the bookwork?  The games are very similar to a lot of the activities in Right Start Math as well as Kate Snow's Addition Facts That Stick. The box already contains ten-frames, counting manipulatives, base-ten bricks etc.  

 

Edited by ksr5377
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...