Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I tutor.

It started as a, "He needs somewhere to go after school a couple of days a week, and is getting behind in his homework, maybe you could help him with it." So begins R coming, Mondays and Wednesdays after school. Conveniently, the same days Shamira is usually here anyway, so no added craziness to the schedule.

Turns out math is one of his biggest downfalls. And I suddenly had to face my worst nightmare:


No, not dealing with math every day, I love math. I had a teacher who stated "Math is life!" and I never once argued that point with him.

But Every Day Mathematics is a curriculum they have implemented in my children's school. They began it when Dustin was in the third or fourth grade I think. He wasn't hardly involved in it, because he did the ALEKS online math program in GT. The ALEKS program, in conjunction with a teacher, is in my opinion fabulous.

Every day math, however, I spent arguing with several teachers, not the least of which our beloved Taylors (Mr. and Mrs.) of how horrible it was.

It spirals. Meaning you introduce some things that you won't expect them to master, but don't want to sound like a foreign language when they need to master it (trapezoid in kindergarten kind of things). That's ok with me.

The spiraling, however, made it difficult for students who began the program in 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade to do the work, as the program assumes they have been introduced many things they were not. Frustrating, but with our excellent teaching staff not insurmountable.

You still learn your basic facts, multiplication tables etc. However, it also teaches numerous ways to do the basics, like multiplying and dividing 2, 3, and more digit numbers.

Enter in the lattice method, my arch nemesis.

Now, I know that different children learn differently, and need different ways of doing things. But the flaw I found was that ALL children were being expected to learn ALL ways. They couldn't just solve the lattice method their way, or solve the standard methods the lattice way, they had to show the work of all the ways during all the parts of instruction.

I grew to hate lattice method in particular. As it was explained to me, you just pull numbers from thin air, and it drove me NUTS. I mean N. U. T. S. NUTS!

Math is methodical, it is what it is, love it or leave it, yelling at it won't change it, and in 500,000,000,000,000 years 6 x 8 will STILL equal 48.

That's a thing I can stand behind. It's black and white, even variables are what they are, they have rules and regulations, policies to follow, and if x = 794 then it equals 794. 'Nuff said.

R is in 5th grade. Same as my sweet Brian, who gets his math genes from his math-loving parents (Bill's right there with me). I tried to help R with division. R is new to the everyday math program, Brian has been in it for years, but not R, due to different schools in his past. Of course, the 5th grade level caused R's mother to throw her hands in the air in disgust and wonder if her son would ever be able to catch on to it. Much like the mothers of ALL the 5th graders back a while. Had it not been for my Brian, and Mother Google (I used it oh yes I did) and a WHOLE lot of time and patience, I'm not sure R would have caught on. And in the process, so did I.

You don't blindly choose a number. You choose a multiple of the divisor you are familiar with. He knows his times tables, that helps. And he's learned the rules of two, threes, etc when it comes to division (google them, they could be fascinating to you).

And I'll be darned if that lattice thing doesn't work for him.

However, it works because he can use multiplication to get to his quotient. Not because he understands the division. And it will never work in the grocery store, when you are trying to figure out your cost per cookie between Mrs. Fields and Pepperidge Farms cost per muffin with the different brands of muffin mix. They do the weights for you, but one package makes 5 muffins while the other makes 6. Hmmmm.

But, I get it now. And I owe the Taylors both apologies (and a handful of other teachers) as the method isn't totally useless. And I can tutor it. Now I'm back to needing Mother Google just to help Dustin with his college Algebra. I want to go back to school!!

They say the best place to keep your enemies is close, so you know exactly what they are up to!!

1 comment:

Nicki said...

I am still glad we don't use Everyday Mathematics, and I am glad to be able to teach my children. "To teach, is to learn twice." I love learning. again.