16 May 2006

RightStart Geometry, RightStart B

The continuing saga of our adventures using RightStart Geometry and RightStart B. I have a 10yo and a 6yo who have average math ability.The 10yo has done Miquon, Singapore, RightStart Transitions, Level D and Level E; RightStart has saved her from a life a math phobia.

On Tuesdays I upload an update of what we did in math for the week.

RightStart Geometry:

Lesson 12, Measuring perimeter in inches, featuring bonus student meltdown. KidV1 had commented that this was going to be just like the earlier lesson on measuring perimeter in centimeters, but using inches. She had sailed through that lesson easily, so I didn’t bother to look this over. Mistake.

On the work sheet the student makes a ruler. They measure out inch squares (using the inch tiles that they’ve been using since RightStart A, although really KidV1 used a ruler since she felt that was more accurate. By the way, she likes to tell me if she veers from strict adherence from the directions. She knows it’s okay to not follow directions precisely because in the 10 years she’s been around Mr.V and me she’s noticed that we tend to use directions as more of “suggestions”.)

Next, the student is to use the 30-60 triangle to find a point above the line, then draw down from that point to give a half inch mark ... this is to be done along the entire ruler, so that the ruler ends up being marked in inches and half inches (the ruler is then cut out, and used to measure the parallelograms on the worksheet).

But, whoops, it isn’t working out as easily as the centimeters. The method she used in that lesson isn’t working. She’s frustrated, and calls me in. But, whoops, I have no clue what’s going on, and need to mess around a bit to figure out what is going on. This upsets KidV1 more, and she tries to shoo me away. I figure out that she can make a point within the inch square and draw a line up to the half inch mark.

Later, when things have cooled down, it occurs to me that what she was doing was marking the apex of an isosceles triangle , then dropping straight down (or up) from there to bisect the base. Ah. Of course, the directions didn’t include this tidbit since it would be an overwhelming amount of info. I talk to her about it. She didn’t understand at all that she was supposed to be putting the 30-60 in the corners of the squares. That wasn’t clear to her from the directions or the pictures. I don’t know how she managed to do the centimeter lesson at all. Key learning: it’s okay to not follow directions precisely as long as you know what things you MUST do as directed.

Lesson 13 Drawing parralelograms in inches. Just like lesson 11, but in inches. Very easy. Draw 3 parallelograms with perimeters of of 8 inches. No problems.

Lesson 14, Drawing rectangles. This lesson looks almost exactly like the one I just did in Level B with KidV2. When I look over her worksheet (drawing rectangles with a certain perimeter) later I comment, “I don’t think that’s the way they wanted to you to do it.” “Yeah, but this is the way I wanted to do it.” “Okay, but do you understand how to do it correctly?” We discuss. She does understand, but had been making a stand for creativity.

RightStart B:

Lesson 23, Introducing tens. This is the lesson where we make 10 bags of 10 tiles each. I’m a little nervous about this, since KidV1 needs to use the tiles for her math to day. That turns out not to be a problem, though.

KidV2 thinks it’s fun to make the bags of tiles. We use blue and yellow to coordinate with the abacus (except we’ve apparently lost some of the yellow tiles over the past few years ... oh well, we fill in with red). KidV2 easily “gets” how to count the tens as 1-ten, 2-ten, etc. She’s heard KidV1 do this in the past. Also, KidV1’s and Mr.V’s interest in China help -- we call it the Chinese way to count (and, yes, KidV2 could probably do this exercise in Mandarin, but I wouldn’t know if she were doing it correctly since my Mandarin is limited to “the plane”).

We switch smoothly over to using the abacus. KidV2 asks if we are ever going to use the rest of the bags, considering we only actually used about 4 for the lesson. Ummm, I don’t know, but we’ll keep them around just in case.

She’s obviously having fun with this lesson. When I show 7-ten on the abacus and ask her how she knows, she says, “welll, the beads change color here, then I go 2 more and I know that I’m at 7, and that’s what I’m going to be on my next birthday -- 7 -- and then Daddy will have to start keeping track of how much allowance he owes me ....” etc. etc. This tells me she’s totally at ease with the concept.

The place-value cards are also easy. Again, she’s seen them around, as I sometimes take them out to help illustrate discussions we’re having about numbers. Really, she’s been thinking about tens and place values for months now; it has popped up many times in conversation. This lesson seems well-timed for her.

Lesson 24 Partitioning and adding tens. The warm ups include questions like 4 plus 2 and 6 plus 2. KidV2 is enchanted to discover that adding 2 to an even number gives you the next even number. We go through series several times with the abacus (2 plus 2, 4 plus 2, 6 plus 2, 8 plus 2) while she contemplates the wonders of math.

Next, I draw quadrilaterals on a chalkboard (I have a “thing” for chalkboards -- a whiteboard or some scrap paper would work just as well). Then I draw some shapes that aren’t quadrilaterals. KidV2 is intrigued by this new concept, and we spend quite a while counting sides and discussing what is and isn’t a quadrilateral. Okay, it was maybe 5 minutes, but it seemed long to me.

Then we partition 10-ten. This doesn’t make sense to her, so I back up and demonstrate how we had partitioned 10 ones a few weeks ago. She seems to catch on, so we go ahead to add tens, using the chalkboard and the abacus. She wants to continue making up problems, writing them on the board and performing them on the abacus for quite awhile. Eventually I lure her to the next step -- the worksheet. “Mommy, look! 5 plus 2 equals 7 and 5-ten plus 2-ten equals 7-ten! See how they match?!” As she chatters I realize that whe’s sometimes counting up as one would do on their fingers instead of using the abacus imagery. Is this a problem? I assume not -- surely if she uses the abacus imagery most of the time she’s “got it”.

Finally, she is supposed to write the partitioning of 10-ten in her math journal. This seems like a LOT of writing for a 6 year old, but I recall that she really enjoyed writing the 10 partitioning a few days ago. I ask her if she wants to try this, and she’s quite excited to try. I go do something else while she finishes up -- I’ve had enough math for today, although she seems ready to go for Montessori’s 3 hour work period. She bounces around chattering about her discoveries of patterns whilst partitioning 10-ten.

Lesson 25, Introducing Hundreds and Rectangle Desgin. We have hit the speed bump in the road to understanding place value. Those abacus tiles -- we discuss and disuss that each is worth 100 beads. We count the beads. We compare them to the abacus. Then, I hold up 2 of them and say, “so, how many beads does this represent?” “102” Sigh. As I reflect on this lesson, I think I should’ve used Montessori’s 3-part lesson to nail down the concept. We make it through, but I wonder how well she’s internalized it.

Then we do the rectangle patterns. I tell her “there is something special about 1 of them,” jsut as directed in the book. She replies, “Well, this one is special because it’s the biggest, and this one is special because it’s the smallest ... really, they’re all special in their own way.” Okay, I find that really funny, and decide we’ve done enough for the day. I quickly point out that a square is a kind of rectangle, and announce math is done.

It’s a short math week because we’re going out of town.


knitsteel said...

I'm still confused. What is your favorite math curriculum? Is it different with each child?

GailV said...

I'm not quite sure what you're asking. I like RightStart, and I like the parts of Christopherus Waldorf math blocks (I don't consider that a separate math curriculum, though, since it's all part of Christopherus). I'm alternating weeks of RightStart with weeks of Waldorf math with my younger dd. She wants to do math every day, and the Waldorf math blocks are too intense for that. RightStart is our "break". If we were in a classroom, these are the weeks that we would be doing circle work that deals with numbers and rhythm, and doing some recitation. We'll have another Christopherus math block starting next week. I know that we aren't letting the math get a proper "sleep" between blocks, but I'm dealing with a child who thinks I'm not teaching her enough at the ripe old age of 6!

I decided to blog about the RightStart math because so many people are curious about the program, particularly the geometry. Various homeschool boards have people questioning what it's like to do RightStart, how much time it takes, how much effort, how much the kids actually learn. So I thought that rather than posting long replies about RightStart that will drift away into the archives, I would package it on my blog so I can say, "Hey, if you want to know how it worked at our house, take a look at these blog entries." I hope to eventually put some sort of tag on them that will separate them out, or maybe just stick them all on their own page. My html skills are pretty minimal, though, so it may be awhile before that happens.