Sprite is using her third set of Textbooks (TT) math curriculum, and we have no intention of switching to anything else. It is really working for her (and for me). We both love that it can be done independently and that she receives immediate feedback on her answers. Because it has both auditory and visual components (besides the normal explanations in the book), it is a good match for her learning style.

When we initially switched to TT, I called myself a living math dropout. Of course, I wasn’t *truly* giving up on a living math approach simply by using Teaching Textbooks. And I’ve found that TT **can** be used as part of a living math approach.

## Talk About Math

One of the *dangers* of TT is that you may totally give over the math instruction to the CD-roms and altogether lose contact with what is being learned. It’s easy to do; I’ve found myself in this pattern.

“Doing your math? Great!”

[Sprite does the lesson.]

“What was your score? 94? Wonderful! Now let’s do science.”

That’s not really wise for us. When I am not keeping up with the math, it’s harder for me to help her when the need arises. And I’ve found that it’s important for Sprite to *verbalize* what she learns. Yes, even in **math** you can use narration.

So at least once or twice a week, I make a point to ask specifically **what** her math lessons are covering. If she can’t tell me, that’s a sign of a problem. But just telling me the topic isn’t enough, either. Then I follow up with a question — “And how do you do that?” Normally these math check-ins are brief and give me reassurance that Sprite is really understanding. As a plus I can see where the lessons are headed and learn any techniques that are different from how I was taught.

## Write About Math

For the most part we stick with oral narrations, but when a TT lesson results in a bad score, I like to take our talk to another level with **math notebooking**.

Before Sprite reworks the problems she missed, we talk about the concepts in the lesson. I ask probing questions and make her define math vocabulary terms. I help walk her through the math rules as she writes on a notebooking page. Her page may include sample problems, diagrams, and charts along with text.

The notebooking page often turns out to be a handy reference for reworking the problems she missed the first time. The effort of explaining the math in words normally corrects faulty thinking and refocuses Sprite’s attention on the key concepts.

## Add on Math History Lessons

Lastly, we can add on the math history from livingmath.net. To be honest, we haven’t spent any time on our mathematicians in *many* months. But once we wrap up Ancient Rome, I anticipate having a bit more time to devote to math history.

At any rate, the point is that you can incorporate biographies of mathematicians into your use of Teaching Textbooks so that you have a holistic approach to math.

I know that a lot of my readers use Teaching Textbooks, too. Do you consider TT part of a living math approach? And if so, how do you make TT more living?

Melissa says

“…we have no intention of switching to anything else.” Don’t you just love the feeling that comes with discovering something that fits your goals, your preferred method, your child, and YOU!?!? 🙂

Love how you’ve put all of this together in this one brilliant post!

Mary says

Thank you for this. I am wanting to switch to TT with my oldest next year, but I didn’t want to be totally “hands off” with math… I love the idea of living math and you have given concrete ideas to help us.

Jimmie to the rescue again!

Dawn says

We just switched to TT and love it. My kids ask to do extra lessons all of the time. We will be ready for the next level in no time.

Blessings,

Dawn

Lisa says

Just wondering if you’d share how you keep up with her lessons to know that she’s really understanding it correctly? Do you read through her lessons periodically or each day? I’ve been wondering this because we’re looking into using TT next year, but I don’t want to lose my ability to help him when he gets stuck! Thanks so much for this post! I love the idea of math narration and using it in a living math kind of way!

Kathi says

We have really enjoyed TT too, and it has kept my children as well as me, on track. We are covering fractions, decimals, and per cents, so if we have a trouble spot, we pull out the correlating parts of the workbooks “Keys to Decimals,” or “Keys to Fractions,” etc. I got these very inexpensively through CBD, and I find these very tiny incremental approaches excellent to helping ME to help them work through a tough place. We stop, sit at the table for a while, and work through these together, then go back to Teaching Textbooks. If we need to work out practice problems at the white board, then we have some fun with that too. We could probably do this part on a notebook page and it would be a handy reference, like you said. I find the combination of their independent work on TT and our together-time with the Keys every so often, is a good pairing. It also keeps me in touch with the details of HOW they’re doing what they’re doing. And yes, I ask questions about what they’re doing, and it’s most enlightening to find what they understand or don’t. When they had a lesson on credit cards, they got the concept backwards of who pays whom! We certainly went over that one orally. 🙂

Amber says

That’s all I use for my daughter and I absolutely love it!! 🙂

Dana Wilson says

Jimmie,

Teaching Textbooks was WONDERFUL for our high school math. And we sure worked through several math curricula before we discovered that one!

We incorporated all subjects, pretty much, into our history studies, so we read biographies of scientists, mathematicians, composers, etc. But I must confess by the time they were in high school they were doing so much reading in other subjects, we kind of let the math-history connection drop, sadly.

Ahh, we just have to pick and choose sometimes, right?

Jackie says

We use TT as a supplement to our other resources. My daughter who doesn’t exactly like school, really enjoys it. I know lots of folks think TT is a little behind some other resources, but I like that it doesn’t push too much too soon.

Joyfully,

Jackie,

A homeschool Mom who enjoys blogging.

Catherine says

Hello Jamie,

I enjoyed reading this post. We haven’t tried TT, but your point about keeping in step with the child’s learning is very valid. I found that we were slipping into the pattern of ‘Okay, you’ve done maths. Good score! Now let’s do science.’ I really don’t like being in touch, so I’m making sure I’m across what’s being covered before the children begin work, and then follow up later.

LOVE using living math books, too. We’re about to start ‘Mathematicians are People Too’. They just arrived in the post the other day, so I’ll be reading those over the week. 🙂

Alicia S. says

We absolutely had this issue with T.T. It felt like my daughter was the only one on Earth who didn’t love this program. It’s hailed as such a refreshingly fun program, but she hated it. I started the program doing every lesson with her, but ended up being more of a distraction than an aid, because the lessons were all so easy for her in the beginning. By the time she did need my help, I was out of the loop. I’d have to read through the lesson myself before even knowing where to begin without showing her a conflicting method.

One thing we did for a while was pick one of her most troublesome lessons that week and make a lapbook for it. It forced her to not only review until she understood the material well enough to convey, but also to slow wayyyy down. Sometimes she rewound the lesson four or five times in order to illustrate each step without forgetting anything. Unfortunately, when she started to catch up again, I let her stop. (I really wish I hadn’t.)

Now that this is our last week of every other course, we’re taking the first few weeks of summer to really focus on each problem lesson in math until she’s confidently caught up. I plan to walk her through each lesson myself and offer her more practice problems whenever necessary before moving on to actually redoing the lessons in the program.

We actually only homeschooled this year for the first time in order to get her caught up without the major distraction of friends, boys and fighting that she had at public school. She’s going back next year monumentally ahead of where she would have been in every other subject, thanks to homeschooling – except math. I’d love to supplement over the summer with other resources that we could keep around even after she returns to public school.

Shannon says

Thank you so much for this. I am going to start asking my boys to narrate their lessons back to me. What a wonderful way to know that they have have really absorbed the information. I love the idea of a math notebook too. I might have to start that this year.