Curriculum Notes (Math)

Now that the oldest boy is in a home school support kindergarten class, I’m starting to need to look at curriculum and figure out which ones are appropriate and which ones are worthless. Thankfully, I’m not alone in this, and there’s a ton of stuff on the web, some of it actually useful. For what it’s worth, I believe that kids have individual learning styles, and almost any style of learning will work for someone out there, and a subset of the teaching methods will work for any particular student. We’re not really pushing him, he’s driving most of the desire to wrk in workbooks or learn things. We’ll push through the occasional slow day, but most of the motivation is coming from him.

He’s got Math Expressions at school — it’s a fairly well regarded curriculum but we have individual issues with the at-home workbook stuff. He gets distracted in the non-math details and that derails the learning experience. For example, they’re working on numerical awareness, such as 5 is 5 things. Counting numbers, stuff that he’s pretty well got, but I don’t see a problem in reinforcing. The workbook could have something like “Draw 5 Bees” as a problem. Which leads to endless analysis and deliberation of how a bee should be drawn, and how complicated, and totally loses any thread of math, and pretty soon any thread of doing anything regarding forward progress. Not that I’m a real stickler for progress, but art is something that he does all the time, in volume and totally unprompted. Oddly, this doesn’t seem to be a problem at school, so it’s probably more of an expectation thing rather than something more fundamental. And, it’s not a problem with the of the other workbooks that we have around: Miquon, Singapore, and Jump.

Tabdump follows:

Cliff Mass is a professor in Atmospheric Sciences at the UW who is hammering on the math competency of the students coming into his 101 level class. In particular, there’s a diagnostic test here that I think I could have aced in middle school that incoming students collectively got a 58% on this year. He’s working on where’s the math.com a pretty deep website with a lot of curriculum reviews and overviews of what’s happening on the math education front these days. It scares me, not because it’s not what I learned, but that the math education seems so content and repetition free that there’s no way that the kids can learn the material. M.J McDermott, (a student of Mass’ and a Meterologist in Seattle) made a video demo of a couple of the current curriculum methods for multiplying and dividing.

Other links:

– A Comparative Study of high performing countries vs low performing countries.
– The California├é┬áMath Standard — regarded as reasonably good.
How the NCEE Redefines Math — That explains a few things, this happened right around the time I left high school.

It seems that curriculum changes are a continuous stream of overreacting to the perceived faults of whatever came before. I remember not ‘getting’ Tom Lehrer’s New Math song, as whatever math I had was some sort of a reaction or counter reaction to whatever he was singing about decades earlier.

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