30 May 2006

RightStart Geometry

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 20, Measuring with Sixteenths. At a glance, this seems to combine lesson 12, which featured total meltdown and tears, with lesson 19, voted most-hated lesson so far. The instructions are to bisect, bisect, bisect, bisect, using the 30-60 triangle. And yet, she is singing while she does it. What gives? “Oh, it just seems easier.” “Do you think that’s because you’ve done this sort of thing so many times that you’ve had lots of practice?” “No. You don’t have to be so precise with this to get the right answer.”

Lesson 21, A Fraction of Geometry Figures. This involves crosshatching fractions of various figures. KidV1 is excited to do it, expecting it to be fun. She notes that she has trouble getting her crosshatching perfectly even since she isn’t used to drawing along the edge of the 30-60 (I note that she is engaging in the forbidden-in-our-house practice of pushing the pencil along the edge of the drafting tool rather than dragging it along; I don’t mention, though, that she’s been using the 30-60 in every lesson, so when the heck does she think she’s going to get comfie with it, hmmm?). She stumbles when she gets to a later problem on the worksheet -- she is supposed to crosshatch 1/4 of a rectangle that has been divided into 6 parts. She isn’t able to see how to find the precise point to bisect a line, complaining that her triangle doesn’t give her the appropriate angle. Huh? I show her that she simple needs to bisect the base of the rectangle (like she’s done about a billion times in the past few lessons -- again, I don’t utter this aloud). I think she’s irritated with herself for not catching onto this, and having to ask me.

Lesson 22, Making the Whole. I am only vaguely aware that Geometry has taken place. I’m upstairs peeling down wallpaper, dreaming of my own high school geometry class, how much I enjoyed doing proofs. (It occurs to me, though, that mostly I enjoyed being in a class with Ted Higman, and mostly I excelled at geometry to impress him. Too bad my crush wasn’t large enough to entice me into taking Latin with him instead of sticking with Spanish. Now he’s a professor of Electrical Engineering and I’m a housewife peeling wallpaper while humming “Debajo del boton”. Sort of a cautionary tale about taking contemporary languages rather than classical, isn’t it? After all, I could be peeling wallpaper while reciting Latin nursery rhymes. Woohoo.) I sneak a peek at her finished worksheet -- it has various partial figures, such as part of a parallelogram, and she was supposed to construct the entire figure from the part. I notice that she’s written “best” across the top. Cryptic. “Best lesson”? “I’m the best student”? “It’s best to do this when Mommy’s busy somewhere else”?

Lesson 23, Ratios and Nested Squares. We are bustling this morning, having discovered that we need to make a trip to Toys’r’us for a birthday gift. As I do our morning readaloud (Eight Cousins), KidV1 gets out her math materials. Homeschool multi-tasking! I happen to glance up and see the worksheet. Wow, those nested squares look cool -- each is at a 45 degree angle to the previous. “Hey, can I do this lesson? It looks fun.” No. I take KidV2 into the other room to work on phonics as KidV1 begins the math lesson. We finish phonics, I walk into the kitchen to put the phonics book away. KidV1 is sitting at the table, scraping her leg with a pair of scissors. “Look, it turns my skin white!” “Uh-huh. How’s math going?” “Oh, it’s ratios. I think ratios are so confusing.” “Well, how about the drawing part, do you understand that?” “Yeah.” Heavy sigh, and she finishes the drawing she has been working on (nesting squares) and cuts it out. Meanwhile, I glance through the lesson and ask, “Did you understand this ratio here at the beginning?” Eyeroll, and, “well, of course, because they told it to me right there.” Okay, so she understands the example, but has a fear of doing them herself. “Well, I think maybe you’ve just convinced yourself you don’t understand them, so, presto, you don’t understand them.” (Two days later we go to see Akeelah and the Bee, and I recognize the same attitude in that scene where Akeelah’s mom says she dropped out of college because she convinced herself she couldn’t do it.; I wonder if KidV1 recognizes it, too.) KidV1 continues the lesson with an air of martyrdom while I go off to other household business. I check on her a bit later. “How did it go?” “Okay, I guess.” “Did you get the correct answers?” “Yes. I wrote them down differently, but the book said that was okay.”

Overall, this course seems to zing us from math agony to math ecstacy on a lesson-by-lesson basis.

And, in this afternoon’s mail, a big envelope arrives from Activities for Learning. It’s the rest of the pages for Geometry! When I tell KidV1, she is very excited, just like we had recieved a surprise present.

RightStart B is on hiatus. We’re going to do some Waldorf-based math, then take a math-break for summer.

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