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How To Use

Many people confuse memorization with understanding. Once while Steve Demme was teaching seven junior high students, he asked how many pieces they would each receive if there were fourteen pieces. The students' response was, "What do we do: add, subtract, multiply, or divide?" Knowing how to divide is important, understanding when to divide is equally important.


Math-U-See: Suggested 4-Step Approach

In order to train students to be confident problem solvers, here are the four steps that I suggest you use to get the most from the Math-U-See curriculum:

  1. Prepare for the Lesson
  2. Present the New Topic to the Student
  3. Practice for the Student to Acquire Mastery
  4. Proceed after the Student Demonstrates Mastery

Step 1. Prepare for the Lesson

As the teacher, watch the DVD/video to learn the concept yourself, and see how to demonstrate this concept with the blocks or fraction overlays. Also, read and study the examples in the Teacher Manual, along with the written explanations. The video and the Teacher Manual are designed to easily familiarize you with the new material. They are your multi-sensory educational tools. The older and more mature the student, the more useful the video and Teacher Manual will be for them as well.


Step 2. Present the New Topic to the Student

Present the new concept to your students. Have the students watch the video with you, if you think it would be helpful. Older students will benefit from watching the video.

  1. Build: Demonstrate how to use the blocks (or fraction overlays) to solve the problem.
  2. Write: Show the problems on paper as you build them, step-by-step.
  3. Say: Explain the "why" and "what" of the math you are doing.

By using Build, Write and Say (also explained on the video), you are helping the students to use their eyes, ears and hands to learn. Do as many problems as necessary until the students understand. One of the joys of teaching is hearing a student say "Now I get it!" or "Now I see it!"


Step 3. Practice for the Student to Acquire Mastery

Using the examples and the Lesson Practice problems from the Student Text, have the students practice the new concept. Coach them through the building, writing and saying process. It is one thing for students to watch someone else do a problem, it is quite another to do the same themselves. Do enough examples together until they can do them without assistance.

Note: Do as many of the Lesson Practice pages as necessary (not all pages may be needed) until the students remember the new material and gain understanding. Utilize the word problems, which are designed to apply the concept being taught in the lesson.


Step 4. Proceed after the Student Demonstrates Mastery

Once mastery of the new concept is demonstrated, proceed into the Systematic Review pages for that lesson. Mastery can be demonstrated by having each student teach the new material back to you. Let him build the problem with the blocks (or fraction overlays), write it as he progresses through the problem, and say what he is doing as he works the problem. The goal is not to fill in worksheets, but to be able to teach back what has been learned.

Note: The Systematic Review worksheets review the new material as well as provide practice of the math concepts previously studied. The word problems are taken from material the student has mastered in previous lessons as well as the new material. Remediate missed problems as they arise to ensure continued mastery.

Proceed to the lesson tests. These can be used as an assessment tool or as an extra worksheet. Limiting the time on a test is your decision, but be aware that it is often an unnecessary source of stress, especially for younger children.

Your students will be ready for the next lesson only after demonstrating mastery of the new concept and continued mastery of concepts found in the Systematic Review worksheets.

Confucius was reputed to have said, "Tell me, I forget; Show me, I understand; Let me do it, I will remember." To which we add, "Let me teach it and I will have achieved mastery!"


Length of a Lesson

So how long should a lesson take? This will vary from student to student and from topic to topic. You may spend a day on a new topic before you reach the lesson sheets, or you may spend several days. There are so many factors that influence this process that it is impossible to predict the length of time.

By following the four steps outlined above, you, the teacher, will know when to proceed to the next topic. Math must be taught sequentially, as it builds lesson by lesson on previously learned material. If you move from lesson to lesson without mastery in each lesson, the student will become discouraged. But by adhering to the suggested approach and moving at the student's pace you will be helping to create a confident problem solver who enjoys the study of math.

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I'm a chemist and a mother of 3. My kids are 10, 8, and 5. I was just watching your DVD for Epsilon and had to stop and write you. (I got goose-bumps and was so happy with the program.) My college major was Chemistry/Physics/Math Education. I chose to work as a chemist until I had kids, but teaching is in my heart. Besides my own kids, I do get to teach chemistry part-time at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon. I'm continually aware of those students who don't know the math concepts like they should. I found your program through another homeschool mom when my 10 year old was pre-school age and immediately fell in love with it. I so very much appreciate your approach to math. What an amazing start these kids are getting by learning to think and understand, not just memorize formulas! My kids understand math far beyond their peers...and you should see the structures they can make with the math blocks. My 5 year old has known how to make 10s for a couple of years now. My 8 year old learned her multiplication largely from making rectangles with her little brother. My 10 year old is starting fractions. She loves the overlays and seeing the patterns. Math is a joy for me to teach and for them to learn. Thank you!! These new DVD's and books are awesome. I like the re-organization of them. I used the others up until this year. I like the student texts with the word problems included and the teacher's books are even better than ever. It might sound silly, but I can't wait to see how you teach the higher math skills. I want to buy them all just out of curiosity. Smile. Thank you so much for sharing your mind with us....your math mind as well as your Christian mind. Thanks for taking a stand and being an example worth following. I speak highly of you as a person and as a teacher whenever I get the opportunity.
Estella Schmeltzer

Math U See