09 May 2006

RightStart Geometry, RightStart B

The continuing saga of our adventures using RightStart Geometry and RightStart B

RightStart Geometry:

Lesson 9, dividing equilateral traingles into twelfths. Well, this looks like a fun lesson! You make little designs of your choosing inside the triangles, then can color them in. And, there’s a bit of a challenge issued: “What other numbers could you divid it into? Two kindergarten girls divided the equilateral triangle into 256 equal parts. After hearing about the girls, a teacher learning drawing board geometry divided his triangle into 432 equal parts.”

I remember the teacher making comments like this back when I was in school, and how I immediately wanted to try for my own personal best. I wish I had time to do this lesson myself ....

But, deep in my heart I know that this is the death-knell for interest in our house. My kids have some deep instinct, some psychic connection to my brain, that warns them, “Alert! Alert! Mom thinks you will like this, therefore you should avoid this activity at all costs.”

And, sure enough, KidV1 does a perfunctory job on the lesson. She copies one of the designs given in the book because “I just couldn’t think of anything of my own.” Gah!

The next day we are having a couple of windows installed in our house. Workers are banging, pounding, demonstrating a wide range of power tools. We do little school while they are here. After they leave I announce that Latin and math will be done. KidV1 says she’d like to do some sort of worksheet ... something like a timed test, but harder and without a stopwatch. Something that involves division. Hmmm. For some reason the Iowa Test of Basic Skills comes to mind -- in past years we have done this in May. Perhaps this has been imprinted on her psyche, and she feels a deep need to do this sort of math this time of year. I print out a division worksheet from the Internet (consulting with her to make sure it’s the correct amount of “hard”) and also copy off a multivide sheet from RightStart E.

Lesson 10, measuring perimeter in centimeters, pops up the next day. I always dislike teaching lessons like this, for some reason. They always seem so tedious. I don’t mind the work itself, mind you, but sitting around discussing it with someone is on my To Be Avoided list. KidV1 zips through it calmly. Afterwards I ask her whether she had remebered what “perimeter” meant. She says, yeah, she always remembers area because she hates figuring it, and therefore perimeter is “the other one”.

Later in the day we go shopping, and KidV1 asks if she could please get a 3-ring binder to put her math papers in. The text is in a 3-ring binder, so all of the worksheets are already hole punched. She’d rather keep the completed sheets in a separate place. She has also completed some 3-dimensional objects in earlier lessons, as well as other things that don’t nicely fit in a binder (sometimes you cut up the worksheets). These are currently in a large ziploc. I suppose we are doomed to keep them for years and years as a momento of this year in math. They will eventually join the mummified chicken in the basement, although they will be discreetly placed in a Rubbermaid tub at some point so packers-and-movers don’t have quite so much to gossip about (that chicken ... the packers never mentioned the chicken ... when they went through all of the math manipulatives, though, they did ask if I were a teacher).

Lesson 11, drawing parallelograms in centimeters. Mr. V is home unexpectedly. KidV1 has to do her math while sitting at the table with Daddy while he eats a bowl of cereal. Words cannot convey the horror of this situation. Will Daddy continuously look over her shoulder, pestering her? I can see the panic on her face. But, Mr. V is suffering from a raging ear infection, and is only home because he’s not yet at the doctor’s office. His interest in parallelograms is zippo. I’m not even sure he noticed that math is occurring right next to him.

Somehow I end up checking over her work with her (usually I just let her look at the key herself; this lesson had some ephemeral answers, though, so she snagged me to look them over). I notice that all of her parallelograms have the same angle -- she has used the same side of her 30-60 triangle for each and every one. Oh well, the answer sheet shows possible answers, including a square. Hopefully this registers in her mind. She doesn’t get the question about three names for these figures (polygons, quadrilaterals, parallelograms). We discuss this briefly.

RightStart B:

Lesson 20, writing addition equations. Actually, we’ve done this type of thing in our Waldorf-inspired math lessons a couple of months ago. This is repeat information, but a new context. Plus, we have the bonus of a worksheet. While doing the Waldorf math KidV2 had complained that she wanted to be able to do worksheets sometimes. Hurray for RightStart worksheets!

Lesson 21, writing more equations and introducing the concept of parallel. This lesson begins the Math Journal, with is kept on grid paper (the grids at this level are HUGE and easy for KidV2 to write in). The advantage of the grid is that the numbers always line up neatly. In this lesson she is writing line after line of 10=9+1, 10=8+2, 10=7+3 ... she is fascinated by the patterns formed on the paper by these equations. All the 10s line up! All the equal signs, all the plus signs -- they all line up! And look at these numbers -- this column is getting smaller and smaller, this column is getting bigger and bigger! She hypothesizes that one column will have more odds and the other will have more evens (we’re working a lot with odds and evens during the warm-ups). When she finishes the entire chart we count odds and evens and discover they’re the same in both columns.

Next we turn the abacus sideways to add by 2s. These equations are written as 2+2=4, 4+2=6 ... the equal sign goes at the other end of the equation. The logic behind this is explained in the book -- the child sees that equations can go either way. The instructions say, “Ask if she sees a difference between this equation and those she wrote in her math journal.” I expect KidV2 to say something like, “the equal sign is at the other end,” because that’s what I would say if I were her. No, I’m underestimating her. She explains that the first equations took a whole number (10) and showed what it was made up of, while the second type of equation shows how you build up a number from smaller numbers. I stare at her, wondering if she has a future in writing math books, since she has paraphrased Joan Cotter’s explanation.

Finally, I introduce the concept of “parallel” by giving examples. I show pencils that are held in parallel positions, and contrast with pencils held in non-parallel positions. She is absolutely fascinated, and wants to discuss the topic in detail. Lots and lots of detail.

Lesson 22, adding on the abacus and introducing the concept of perpendicular. Well, perpendicular is just as exciting as parallel. It’s like suddenly decoding the Rosetta Stone -- a new world has opened up. Antoher geometry geek is born. After this, it’s sort of hard to move on with the rest of the lesson, but we do. It’s pretty simple for her -- she’s encountered stuff like this (writing equations) before. I write them wrong and she corrects them. We do equations for numbers less than 10. When we do 3 plus 4 equals 7 I comment that it’s probably pretty easy for her because of her knitting -- she had knit a scarf 7 stitches wide and kept careful track of the number of stitches as they moved from needle to needle. The lesson ends with a worksheet . “So, it’s like you get a worksheet or a game at the end of every lesson.” The tone of her voice tells me that she considers worksheets and games the prizes for a job well done.

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