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How Does Math·U·See Work in a Coop Setting?
In 1989-1990 I was a one-man traveling tutor. My weekly circuit took me to four different groups of home educators where I taught math, science, physical education or any combination of these three subjects. It was at one such group that Math·U·See was born. I have since taught at other coops through the years. I recognize that no two coops are alike just as no two homes are alike. But there are similarities and I will try to address some issues that need to be considered when using Math·U·See for older and younger students.

Upper Level Students

For older, or upper level students, studying Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1 or 2, Geometry or PreCalculus, Math·U·See can be taught in a cooperative learning situation. The first prerequisite is each student should have a good foundation when entering any of these courses. I would define a solid foundation as having a thorough grasp of the four basic operations, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division as well as fractions, decimals, and percents. I used to teach high school math in a public school system. I taught many students who could learn the basic concepts of algebra but were held back by never having mastered multiplication or fractions.

Regardless of their age, if they have gaps or holes in their foundation, please take placement tests to identify these areas of need and begin at the suitable level. Math is a subject that is sequential and builds upon previously learned concepts. I can't encourage you enough to not put your child in a class simply because their "friends" are taking the same course. Find out what your student knows and begin there, so he will experience success and develop confidence as he studies at the appropriate level.

Placement tests are available online and are free of charge. If there are other placement questions consult your local authorized Math·U·See representative.

Teachers should watch the DVD and read the Instruction Manual before presenting a lesson. This may sound obvious but this is based on years of experience. Many schools have used Math·U·See, but not with success. The common thread was that if a teacher watched the video instruction they did well, but if they did not watch the DVD then they did not do well. Math·U·See is a different approach. Good teachers can adapt this approach to a classroom, but all of the elements (answer keys, examples, written and visual instruction) still need to be employed for the best chance of success.

Parents need to be on board with the different approach of Math·U·See. The best way would be to have several demo DVDs circulating among them until they understand how Math·U·See works. This is not a straight forward workbook method. It has video and written instruction, hands-on manipulatives, and is based on mastery learning and proper placement.

Students should also each have the Instruction Manual for the written directions, examples, and answer keys, as well as the DVD. If they do not have all of the components of Math·U·See, then it will be "math you almost saw" instead of "math you understand." They need to be able to watch the DVD and review the examples. They also need to be able to have their homework corrected as they do it to reinforce the correct way to solve the problems and save them from making the same mistake through an entire lesson.

Math·U·See is designed as a tutorial approach, which means moving at the student's pace. It is incumbent upon the parents of the children to be involved to see that this approach is followed. Since math needs to be taught sequentially and each level needs to be mastered before moving to a succeeding skill level, only a tutor or a parent can determine when to move to the next concept. If the student is not learning at the pace of the coop then adjustments need to be made to help him to move at his own pace for success.

Elementary Level
Younger children are a different situation. I believe the best place for them to learn math is next to a parent who can move at their appropriate pace. This is the beauty of home education. Parents are able to teach their child according to their unique learning style and take the time necessary to thoroughly master a topic. Since math needs to be taught sequentially and each topic needs to be mastered before moving to a succeeding skill level, only someone who is working closely with the student can determine when to move to the next concept. I may understand math and have a few interesting jokes, but no one knows a student better than a parent. No one can replace Mom and Dad. The videos were created to present the math topic in each lesson, and the manipulatives were designed to provide a tool for a parent/tutor to illustrate the new concept. I would be very reticent about putting a child that is studying Primer through Zeta in a coop setting.

Some Additional Tips for a Coop

To offset the cost of the materials, you might consider including the cost of the blocks (or a portion of the cost) in each child's "book fee" or "materials fee," if you have one. This suggestion came to us from an administrator of a coop.

Teacher Blocks

The magnetic blocks (as seen on the demo videos) are available as a special order. The cost is $90.00 per set and one set contains the equivalent of half of a Starter Set of blocks. However if you are going to teach in small groups (which we highly recommend), then the table blocks should suffice.

More Worksheets

If you need extra pages for practice, there is a worksheet generator on our web site for that purpose. We also have an on-line drill program on the web site, too. Both of these services are free.

On Site Training

Some reps may travel to your school or coop for an onsite inservice. Contact your local rep for their fee and availability.
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We have been doing Math-U-See for 2 years now, and will be starting our 3rd year of it this next school season. My son is not a very big fan of Math, but he says that out of all the math he's ever done- this is the best one! We have other family members who also are big fans of Math-U-See, and I'll be starting the Primer with my daughter this next season :) Just wanted to express our appreciation, thank you!
Martha D

Math U See