Friday, May 9, 2008

Two more high school curriculum picks - Math-U-See and Analytical Grammar

[edited to add: I don't know why this post won't format properly with paragraphs and all the rest. Believe me, I've tried to correct it, but it keeps coming out in this eyeball-glazing one-long-paragraph style. Very annoying.]

Here are two more high school programs I've learned about through my most excellent friends Jane and Michelle.

The first is Math-U-See, a program I have heard people singing the praises of for years, but never checked into, whether through sheer stupidity or relentless inertia, I don't know which. Or it might have been the name, which I think is a little bit cheesy. But anyway, Jane did such an excellent endorsement of Math-U-See, which has just opened up its curriculum base to inclue pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, advanced geometry, trigonometry and calculus, that I decided to visit the site with Meelyn and my mom to watch the demo videos.
As we watched, I was dumbfounded to note myself -- me, the Compleat Non-Mather, doing algebra problems and getting them right with the help of the demonstrations with the manipulatives. Meelyn and my mother were similarly impressed, with my mother baldly adding that she thought it was high time I switched math programs, as she herself (who taught Saxon math as a fourth grade public school teacher) could not understand my stubborn clinging to the Saxon program.
Here's a testimonial from a teacher using Math-U-See:
Math·U·See builds a solid math foundation that connects math that can be applied not only in testing situations but actually in the real world. The students see math as meaningful and relevant. Math·U·See has worked well in my resource room. Students love to come to the board and build problems in front of the group, as others follow at their seat. No one has a chance to snooze. I am able to juggle two math groups in one period by alternating instruction. Even those kids who suffer from “learned helplessness”, suddenly work independently because they can use the manipulatives to make the problems make sense.
Jane, as a homeschooling mother, says that Math-U-See has taken her non-mathy eighth grader, Jillian, from hating, loathing and detesting mathematics to a place of tolerance, where she understands math's place in the world and why it is actually useful to know how to figure the area of a rectangle.
So! Meelyn and I are rather excited about this program, particularly as it costs almost exactly the same as the Saxon pre-algebra homeschool set plus the D.I.V.E CD-ROM. I offered to do pre-algebra with Meelyn this year for moral support, so I'm glad to know about Math-U-See. I feel it offers less of an opportunity for me to make an idiot of myself.
Michelle lugged out the workbooks that her daughters, Rachel and Gina, use and flopped open the teacher's manual and showed us how everything fits together. From the way I understand it. Analytical Grammar teaches grammar concepts in a fluid way instead of the usual "Here's a unit about nouns, followed by a unit about verbs, followed by a unit about blablabla," which is the traditional method of teaching grammar. As each new concept is introduced and taught, the students automatically go on to diagramming sentences, which I, as an English teacher, personally believe is the way to truly understand all the grammatical elements of the English language. In fact, I even tried to do that this year with Meelyn and Aisling, but it didn't work out because our grammar text and our diagramming text were from two different publishers and I never could get the two texts to work together.
I am looking forward to getting my hot little hands on that money coming from the government so that I can place these orders. I think that both of these picks will be winners for our family.

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