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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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Thank you for sharing your work with us. My daughter has gone from tears to triumph with the Math·U·See curriculum. She just finished Delta with a 98% test average. After 20 years of homeschooling 5 children before her, I was at a loss when she started seeing "math" as a four letter word. Well, that is cured thanks to the Gamma and Delta books. While she is now 12, turning 13 soon, she is energized to push forward. This school year she whizzed through those two books and when we resume our school year in January she has pledged to do Epsilon and Zeta in one year. Her turn-around is spectacular. Thanks.

Math U See