Saturday, June 26, 2010

FAQ: Math on the Level

Our use of Math on the Level seems to be a very popular subject recently. In my inbox right now there are no less than three different notes asking about Math on the Level. So, I think it's time to do another update on MOTL and how we use it, why we like it that sort of thing. You can read more about why we chose to go with MOTL here. In fact, definitely check out that link. I talked about the program plenty there as well.

So, here is the FAQ Math on the Level style:
  • Is it teacher intensive? Yes! Let's just get that out of the way first. By its very nature, Math on the Level requires some work from the teacher. This program is NOT for the person who likes the lessons and everything else spelled out for them. This is a GREAT program for people who want to individualize math instruction based on what their child needs. Therefore, the program provides you with many resources. It does not tell you what order or how or when you should teach it.
  • Is it teacher overwhelming? No, I don't think so. BUT, I'm up for the task. I enjoy the challenge of putting things together for the kids to make math come alive. I don't spend tons of time putting lessons together. I do spend more time than I did when I had a box math curriculum.
  • What about the price...seems expensive? Yup, it's pricey at first glance. $315 with shipping which takes roughly three days maximum. You'll have it in no time! BUT, this is a curriculum for kids preK through pre-algebra (grade 7 or 8). There are no consumables. If you invest in it and it works...that's it. You won't be paying this yearly.
  • What about resale? Well, MOTL definitely holds its value. First though, you can use the program for 60 days and still send it back for a full refund. I've seen used sets going for $250 or more and selling. I think the purchases is worth the risk and the author allows you to sell on the yahoo group.
  • Do I need the whole thing? Yes, eventually you will. You can buy it in different combos, but I think the best bet is to buy it all at once. I waited until I could. You need the entire set to take advantage of the math maturation concept. The author promotes the viewpoint that kids should be able to learn different concepts in math when they are ready and not necessarily in order except where that is important. For example, kids can learn basic geometry without knowing all their math facts. You can't explore this if you don't have all the instructional volumes.
  • Can I do this without the program? Sure you can...Kendra at the Pumpkin Patch does a really fine job at this. MOTL is GREAT for when you want to leave behind the conventional programming, but don't want to be totally out on your own. It's a set of resources- the manuals provide the background you need as a teacher and some ideas for teaching a concept. They have sets of problems at the back that you use to create the 5-a-Days (more on those later). They have concept charts that show you what all your children need to know when they are through pre-algebra. The Math Adventures and Math Resources books give you charts, graphs, etc that you may need and give you ideas on how to do math with unit studies and how to create math experiences that are more applied in nature. The record keeping books is what it sounds like- it shows you the various ways you can keep track of what concepts your student is mastering. There is also a large excel file form you can use to automate the process of keeping track of concepts.
  • What are 5-A-Days? These are the five problems you will create for your student to do each day to practice new concepts and review older ones. There are only 5 problems and you make them and rotate them. You can use the record keeping chart to mark when a problem is mastered and how often it should be rotated into the review.
I think that covers most of the questions that come up. In another post, I will go over how we use it and what our week looks like with MOTL. You know...the nuts and bolts of using MOTL on a daily basis.

Basically, I think it boils down to how you want to teach math. Do you want to work with your kids where they are and individualize their math or do you want to teach a boxed curriculum that dictates when and how concepts are taught. When you don't tailor math then ultimately for us, with our differing learning styles, we weren't using the program to its fullest. I would either resort to opening the book to the next set of problems or I would skip tons of repetition and then I'm not using all the resources I'd purchased.

When you think, "Can I do this?" You really need to think about your approach to teaching math. Is the extra time worth it? Will it be successful?

I still like Jim Trelease's quote from The Read Aloud Handbook when he says, "Parenting was not meant to be a time saving activity." This was in response to a parent telling him that reading separate books to his kids would take more time. I feel the same way about homeschooling- this was not meant to be a time saving endeavor. It's important to meet the needs of our kids. Even when it's not convenient or easy. Otherwise...I could send them down the road to the local brick building. That would save me lots of time.


Jen said...

Thanks, Heather!!

Rhonda @ Preparation Education said...

Great post! We love MOTL. My observations if I were to post on it, would be identical.

Heather said...

Thanks Rhonda! I appreciate knowing that from another user.