Monday, September 14, 2015

Our Math Block & How We Use Teaching Textbooks

Last week, I shared our current homeschool routine. Now I am working on a series of posts about the different lesson blocks that make up our day. We have blocks of time aside for math, language arts, independent work, and Sonlight/Bookshark readings and discussions.

This post is about our math block and how we are using Teaching Textbooks this year.

We start each day with our math block. By "we", I mean my younger three children. Grace is officially in high school this year and likes to set her own schedule, but my boys are not quite ready to do that. Last year I put math lessons on their independent checklists, but math got pushed to the end of the day -when we were out of time- far too often.  I prefer to get most of Rose's work done early so she can go off and play or just putter math comes first.

 All three younger kids are doing Teaching Textbooks this year...TT7, TT5, and TT3.


I have been having James do his math first, because he is usually up and finished with his morning chores first. My goal is to have him sitting down at the computer around 8 a.m. to start math, but it is often closer to 8:30.  And he sometimes has a pupper friend with him, which naturally doubles his lesson time!


During his lesson I am usually getting dressed and ready myself, trying to keep everyone else on task, and straightening up the kitchen from the breakfast mess. I really like to have everyone (except Rose) doing some sort of schoolwork by 8:30. After I deal with the most pressing chores, I pile all the books we need for math and language arts on the table.

I have Christopher start his language arts work while James does math. Rose usually gets up around 8:30, and I often read a chapter of Life of Fred: Butterflies with her while she eats breakfast. When James finishes math, either Christopher or Rose do their lesson. Whoever is not doing math is starting our language arts block work. So, it is really more of a combined language arts and math block from 8 a.m.ish through 10:30 a.m.

So this is how we use Teaching Textbooks!

1. The kids watch the lecture on the computer. For my boys, I quickly scan through the lecture notes in the workbook so I know what they are covering. They watch the lecture on their own. I sit and watch the lecture with Rose when it is her turn.

2. They do the practice problems. These are supposed to be optional, but my kids don't know that!

3. They do the problems. There are usually 22 problems per lesson The author suggests having the kids write the answers in the workbook, but I don't do that because I want to reuse the workbooks. Instead, I printed out some graph paper and stapled several sheets together to form a math journal. Just search "printable graph paper"; there are loads of options for doing this.  I do not make them write out problems they can do in their head; they just enter those right into the computer. This is one of the boy's math journals...they aren't ones for leaving much white space!

4. I check the gradebook - I love that TT grades each lesson for me! If they missed any problems I get out the workbook and discuss it with them. I will ignore a careless error or two, but if there are more than that I will have them redo the problems on the whiteboard.  If they didn't understand something, I go over the lecture notes with them and make up a couple of problems for them to try. This usually only takes a few minutes.  I also ask them to use the "view the solution" option if they get a problem wrong.  The gradebook actually tells me if they viewed the solution or not, which I love!

5. They do the quizzes...but I treat the quizzes differently. TT has a quiz every seven lessons or so. On quiz day, I photocopy the quiz and they do it all on paper. They either enter their answers into the computer as they go or enter them all at once when they finish.  I am pretty picky about the quizzes. I ask them to show all of their work and equations clearly and neatly. Completed quizzes are saved and used as work samples to send to the school district at year's end. We haven't had any quizzes yet this year, but Rose will be doing her first one in a day or two.

So that's how we use TT and how we do our math block. I also did a review of Teaching Textbooks 5 last year. Just ignore the part where it says I have no plans to switch James from Math Mammoth to Teaching Textbooks....because obviously I did! TT turned out to a be a way better fit for him.

My next block post will about our language arts block.

1 comment:

  1. Ha! I never told Cyrus the practice problems were optional either! And he does whatever work he has to on scratch paper so I can save the program for Cassia. I too love the automatic grading -- got the updated Algebra just for that reason!


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