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?