Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Math-u-See or something else?

For math instruction, we've been using Math-U-See.  We started out with RightStart Math which just wasn't a good fit for us.  The lessons were too long and kind of boring and I had way too much to do to prep for each lesson.  So far, we've been very happy with Math-U-See.  We watch the instructional DVD and then practice on our own and then do the accompanying worksheet.  We've learned a lot and I feel like the program is building a good foundation.  

I'm worried though.  Z1 doesn't seem to know how to subtract 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5.  It's very important that he masters them.  Math-U-See teaches these subtraction facts through addition and this approach is pretty cool (to me).  

Here's the method:

When subtracting 9, you need 1 to make hidden 10.
When subtracting 8, you need 2 to make hidden 10.
When subtracting 7, you need 3 to make hidden 10.
When subtracting 6, you need 4 to make hidden 10.
When subtracting 5, you need 5 to make hidden 10.
When subtracting 4, you need 6 to make hidden 10.
When subtracting 3, you need 7 to make hidden 10.
When subtracting 2, you need 8 to make hidden 10.
When subtracting 1, you need 9 to make hidden 10.

So in the example 15 - 9, the student would think "when subtracting 9, you need 1 to make 10 (the "10" in 15) so 15 - 9 = 5 + 1 = 6.  I don't know . . . looks confusing as I type it but the blocks make is so incredibly plain.

Anyway, the fact that Z1 doesn't know these facts makes me think that maybe MUS is not effective for him but I don't want to give up on the program just yet.  I've been drilling these facts on paper and on the computer and over the next two weeks, we will be doing these lessons over.  It's very important that he masters these facts before we move on to subtraction with regrouping.  

Z1 bucks at the idea of "going back" to Alpha level so I'll have to frame it in a different way.  Hopefully, this review will be all it takes to get these facts solidified in Z1's mind.  But I'm doing research and looking into Singapore and Saxon math.  Truth be told, though, I do not want to go down the road of looking for yet another math curriculum.  I hope Math-U-See works for this year at least.  


Dee said...

I hope you can make it work for you. I know how you feel, I really try not to curriculum hop.

Erin J said...

I honestly would stick with it. We are in love with Singapore Math at our house and I still had to stop lessons and review certain math facts before moving on to the next unit. It will happen no matter what program you use. Mostly cause children hit certain milestones at different times. What didnt click yesterday might click today. And sometimes we have to go off script to get the job done. When we had trouble with larger subtraction facts I had my daughter use a method that works pretty well. I call it counting up. So instead of trying to remember what 15-9 is we would add up till we get to 15 from nine. like 10, 11,12, 13, 14, 15 and then we would know the answer is 6. I stressed counting up quickly as possible to come to the answers with speed and accuracy. Is that kind of what MUS is trying to teach as well? I also realized that even though manipulative examples worked real well for addition with subtraction I stressed the mental math more cause the block were slowing her understanding down. But that was just with that.

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