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    Why Rod and Staff math?

    Of all the many, many math curriculums out there, I am wondering why MP has chosen Rod and Staff? R&S is the only piece of the MP curriculum that I have not yet held in my hand, but I am open to trying it with my small group of 2nd/3rd graders next year. (I'm not loving our current choice.)

    So please tell me...what makes Rod and Staff your pick?

    #2
    We started with ShillerMath, a Montessori approach with high emphasis on number concept, little actual writing, and a spiral concept that had my child doing pretty "advanced" operations at a young age, so it fed a certain part of the ego that your child can do multi-digit addition and subtraction with carrying and borrowing across multiple digits. But I just kept having to download practice worksheets and do supplemental workbooks because it never cemented the facts. So, we switched to Saxon, and while my child actually loved the calendar time and gentle approach, it was the spiral approach that killed her. She got anxiety over the math facts she could not recall quickly enough, and it presented them in this horribly confusing way. It was like learning 4 steps to do one simple problem (like 8+2=10), and she still had to count on her fingers to accurately solve any operation. So, then we switched to Horizons Math 2. I loved the colorful workbooks and thoughtful teacher guide, but again, the spiral approach touched concepts that made you feel like your student is advanced when she may not have true mastery. Mine sure didn't. It was the last piece we had no plan of subbing out when we came to MP2. Well, the more I read, the more I was intrigued. We did a hastened version of R&S Math1 over the summer, going only at the pace my daughter could master. It humbling to have to start at 2+1=3. As she moaned and whined about how hard it was to memorize, I began to see fruit and confidence build. She knew when she was ready to mix the 9s with the 10s. Now, we're 2/3 way through R&S Arithmetic 2. I love it. It's so thorough. My child's confidence has soared. She is "released" to do even more advanced math operations and mental math as we bake and figure out lifespans from death dates. It's awesome. I wish I had set aside my pride and come to R&S sooner.
    Mama to 2

    Summer:
    MPK with SC1 Phonics & Math
    SY 20/21
    4A

    Comment


      #3
      I do not know why Memoria Press chose Rod and Staff. I actually have been slow to like it and still don't consider myself a fan but we use it because MP recommends it and I find it easily to implement each day. In your situation where there may be a group of students coming whose parents may have differing ideas for math curriculum's, it will actually be perfect. It is straight forward, basic math mastery. In that sense it suits everyone, especially when they don't have to teach it. It also makes any homework given much easier to understand for the parent. For you teaching it will also be predictable and straight forward with very few (if any) necessary manipulatives. That ingredient alone makes life a little easier with a group of children. I think it is the perfect choice for group instruction.
      Callista
      Long time homeschooler with MP

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by enbateau View Post
        We started with ShillerMath, a Montessori approach with high emphasis on number concept, little actual writing, and a spiral concept that had my child doing pretty "advanced" operations at a young age, so it fed a certain part of the ego that your child can do multi-digit addition and subtraction with carrying and borrowing across multiple digits. But I just kept having to download practice worksheets and do supplemental workbooks because it never cemented the facts. So, we switched to Saxon, and while my child actually loved the calendar time and gentle approach, it was the spiral approach that killed her. She got anxiety over the math facts she could not recall quickly enough, and it presented them in this horribly confusing way. It was like learning 4 steps to do one simple problem (like 8+2=10), and she still had to count on her fingers to accurately solve any operation. So, then we switched to Horizons Math 2. I loved the colorful workbooks and thoughtful teacher guide, but again, the spiral approach touched concepts that made you feel like your student is advanced when she may not have true mastery. Mine sure didn't. It was the last piece we had no plan of subbing out when we came to MP2. Well, the more I read, the more I was intrigued. We did a hastened version of R&S Math1 over the summer, going only at the pace my daughter could master. It humbling to have to start at 2+1=3. As she moaned and whined about how hard it was to memorize, I began to see fruit and confidence build. She knew when she was ready to mix the 9s with the 10s. Now, we're 2/3 way through R&S Arithmetic 2. I love it. It's so thorough. My child's confidence has soared. She is "released" to do even more advanced math operations and mental math as we bake and figure out lifespans from death dates. It's awesome. I wish I had set aside my pride and come to R&S sooner.
        Enbateau,
        This is such a great post of personal experience that I think really captures the difference R&S offers compared to other curriculum. You hit the nail on the head - but had to learn it the hard way! I was in a similar boat 8 years ago when I had a 5th grader using Saxon 6/5 who was in tears every week because problems had reappeared that she could not remember how to do because she had not mastered the concept when it was first presented. But such is the problem with math programs that spiral through concepts without developing mastery. It was at that point in our homeschooling journey that I really dug into math, learned the difference between a mastery-based program versus a spiral program, and found R&S math. THEN I looked for a curriculum which used R&S math, and ended up finding MP. I am actually so grateful MP uses R&S - otherwise we might still be out there in the weeds of trying out lots of different curricula!

        AMDG,
        Sarah
        2020-2021
        16th Year HSing; 10th Year with MP
        DD, 19, Homeschool grad; college sophomore
        DS, 16
        DD, 14
        DD, 12
        DD, 10
        DD, 8
        DD, 6
        +DS+
        DS, 2

        Comment


          #5
          There are several reasons we chose Rod & Staff. It is a mastery based program providing consistent review of concepts introduced and allowing the practice and time needed for concepts to take root. It incorporates both oral and written review beginning lessons with a recitation- style review of facts. Main focus of the lessons for all levels are on the four operations. Workbook pages are uncluttered and simple without superfluous pictures and multiple colors that are distractions to the task at hand. The pages also have the correct amount of written practice needed. After facts are learned they continue to be reviewed so they aren’t forgotten. Just because a student can recite their times tables one week doesn’t mean they are mastered and need never recite or write them again. There is a focus on building up speed when answering the facts. Additionally the interactive lessons are easy to follow, engaging to the student, and fun to teach. The fact that the books are cost-effective as well is a bonus!

          These are the main reasons Cheryl Lowe selected Rod & Staff though there were likely others too!

          Blessings,

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by ShawnaB View Post
            Of all the many, many math curriculums out there, I am wondering why MP has chosen Rod and Staff? R&S is the only piece of the MP curriculum that I have not yet held in my hand, but I am open to trying it with my small group of 2nd/3rd graders next year. (I'm not loving our current choice.)

            So please tell me...what makes Rod and Staff your pick?
            It might help if you browse through some of the articles from the Classical Teacher Magalog of MP. You can click on the "Articles" tab at the top of this page, and then search by subject. There is a whole topic on Math. The first article that comes up with you search for Math, is titled, "Why Johnny Can't Add," and is one of the best. I tried to copy the link to post it here, but it would not work. It has always been helpful for me to know the "why" of MP's choices too - and their articles are a great way to do that. Nothing is random. It's all part of a very well-thought-out plan.

            AMDG,
            Sarah

            2020-2021
            16th Year HSing; 10th Year with MP
            DD, 19, Homeschool grad; college sophomore
            DS, 16
            DD, 14
            DD, 12
            DD, 10
            DD, 8
            DD, 6
            +DS+
            DS, 2

            Comment


              #7
              Ditto on the previous answers...super easy to teach, and, most importantly, mastery, mastery, mastery!! There are some really good articles from MP about this (here's one that is great: https://www.memoriapress.com/article...hnny-cant-add/ ). The most valuable thing an elementary age kids can do with their time allotted for math is master mathematics, meaning instant recall of all the basic facts and quick and accurate operation of all functions taught. My sister is an algebra teacher with no exposure to classical education, and she has said that if a student comes to her class with all the basics memorized and an understanding of graphs, she can teach them algebra. Unfortunately, the school district she teaches in doesn't seem to be to able teach this to kids by 9th grade.

              I have also used Horizons, RightStart, and Saxon due to co-op requirements and other reasons. I have talked with so many parents who like such-and-such curriculum because their kids are really "getting" the advanced concepts or because it seems to prepare their kids well for standardized testing. But, a couple of years later, said curriculum will have become too cumbersome, and the parents notice their kids still don't know the basic concepts really, really well. In math, the difference between understanding the concept and mastering all the associated facts is huge!

              One caveat: Rod & Staff will prepare a kid to do well in middle school and high school math, and, as you can see by HLS's standardized testing scores, test well above others. However, in the elementary school years, children might test at an average or even below average level if the standardized test is heavy on advanced concepts. This has happened the last two years with my daughter. She gets super stressed out and has even cried during the tests because there is usually one whole section that is completely foreign to her, but I simply explain to her all of the above and that by the end of 7th grade, this will have reversed and she should be testing far above average. But in a hybrid school setting with parents of different backgrounds, I would recommend that you read up quite a bit on the importance of mastery so that you can answer your parents' questions.
              Michaela
              Daughter: Age 11 MP 6A (MPOA for TFL, 6th grade math, and composition)
              Son: Age 6 1st Grade MP Traditional Spelling, Literature, Math, and Handwriting
              for 2019/2020 school year

              Comment


                #8
                Good news, Shawna! Last year's Sodalitas videos are free now and you can watch Cindy Davis teach on The Order of Math. It's fabulous! https://www.memoriapress.com/streami...hering-videos/

                Scroll to the Tuesday videos and it's the first one.
                Festina lentē,
                Jessica P

                2020-2021
                11th year HSing · 9th year MP
                @ Home, HLN, & Latin online
                11th, 9th, 6th, 3rd

                Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

                Comment


                  #9
                  Jessica!! These videos are FREE?? Oh my goodness...and now I see how I am going to be spending the rest of my weekend. Glad this is Superbowl weekend so the rest of my family will happily leave me alone...provided they all have enough guacamole. (I must head to the store for more avocados....)

                  These are GREAT responses, and I just finished reading "Why Johnny Can't Add." Fascinating article and it synthesizes so much of what I have observed as a homeschool mom and an educator over the years. (I also work as a Personalized Learning Facilitator for a public Charter School.)

                  I bear witness to the issue of mastery vs. familiarity and the need for automaticity in arithmetic. Its almost like if a child has automaticity it is assumed, within the philosophy of "new math", that they lack conceptual understanding, which is not necessarily the case.

                  On the other hand, I think some of teaching the "why" is essential too...do you agree? The two goals--automaticity and conceptual understanding--need not be mutually exclusive, do they? What I mean is, a young child should be able to memorize 5+7=12 and also demonstrate what that looks like with concrete objects or in story form. Or be able to carry and borrow, and also demonstrate what that looks like with base 10 blocks--is that agreed?

                  I hear both sides of this dilemma. One teacher says "Suzy knows the algorithm to multiply 2-digit numbers, has no conceptual understanding of what it means. So she cannot advance into higher math because she lacks these higher-level math thinking skills." I hear this a lot among my public school teacher friends...which is ironic since these kids have been learning math via "multiple strategies" since kindergarten.

                  And then I also hear "Johnny is bogging down in pre-algebra because he still cannot add fractions easily, or he still doesn't not have his multiplication facts fully memorized."

                  At the end of the day, students need both---automaticity and a conceptual understanding of why. But modern math has overly emphasized "why" to the detriment of "how". I think its OK to teach the "how" and let the "why" develop later as higher-level thinking skills come with age.

                  That said, I too have used many different curriculums over the year--Shiller, Singapore, Saxon, Math U See, Teaching Textbooks.

                  This year, I started my class with Singapore and was frustrated. Singapore promises mastery and conceptual understanding and uses the workbooks with lots of pictures and print, to teach concepts and provide practice. This does NOT work with grammar students in a group, as it requires a teacher to sit next to each child, explain what the pictures are demonstrating, explain what the instruction means...meanwhile six other children are raising their hands and calling out because they don't understand.

                  I switched to Math U See after 2 months because Math U See IS mastery based. And it is working pretty well, save all the management of manipulatives, which again when you have more than one student working together, becomes crazy. I want to teach math, not manage stuff.

                  So as I contemplate more the realities of teaching grammar math for mastery in a classroom, I find this is what I need:

                  1. A curriculum to provide a logical scope and sequence for the concepts--a guide--ideally to also include oral recitation with flash cards, systematically laid out to reinforce concepts and automaticity with the goal of mastery. (Not spirally)

                  2. A minimal supply of basic manipulatives to pull out as needed to demonstrate concepts in a concrete way. This is mostly done on the board, whole class, rather than giving every student individual manipulatives.

                  3. Written practice. Workbooks do not need to teach concepts. I can teach concepts. Workbooks need to provide practice that student can do independently.

                  4. Games and activities to build conceptual understanding and problem-solving. These do not have to be a part of a curriculum package. I have been gleaning heavily from the Math Games books by Denise Gaskins (excellent!), as well as going to the tried and true favorites: Shut the Box, Mancala, Sequence, Set, Dominoes, etc. My students are highly motivated to think mathematically when it matters, and competition makes it matter.

                  So, I'm thinking that Rod and Staff, with the addition of some basic demonstration manipulatives and a repertoire of math games, may work very well for us next year. I won't be sad to say goodbye to the many boxes of Math U See manipulatives that make me crazy with management!
                  Last edited by ShawnaB; 02-02-2019, 01:00 PM.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Shawna,

                    R&S Teacher Guides actually outline how to make visuals for introduction of addition and subtraction facts. In our classrooms we use manipulatives the first time we introduce a fact family. After that if a student needs to use his fingers we encourage that though work to wean them as quickly as possible. It usually takes a few weeks. In my experience as students memorize their facts and gain speed they are less reliant upon their fingers. Speed drills and flash card games aid in this. The important thing is for students to know that 2+3=5 and add quickly. Explaining why it is so is less important as that understanding comes later and it always does. None of our students begin abstract math without this understanding though it has never been a focal point of lessons.

                    Enjoy your weekend and investigating!

                    Blessings,

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Michelle T View Post
                      Shawna,

                      The important thing is for students to know that 2+3=5 and add quickly. Explaining why it is so is less important as that understanding comes later and it always does. None of our students begin abstract math without this understanding though it has never been a focal point of lessons.

                      Enjoy your weekend and investigating!

                      Blessings,
                      You realize, being free from the idea that a student has to understand conceptually before we move on really does change the approach to teaching aritmetic. I also realize how deeply ingrained this value is for me, given all my public-school teacher training. Hmmm.....good thoughts!

                      Comment


                        #12
                        If you start with Arithmetic 2 from R&S, you won't see as clearly how they DO go through number sense. It starts in Arithmetic 1. There are plenty of ways they demonstrate place value and number concept. It continues into grade 2 with the crayons (single, 10pk, 100 box, which feels very much like base 10 blocks) or farm animals (lambs, pigs, horses, & cows for units, tens, hundreds and thousands, respectively). They have a really good number book/number line approach. My favorite of all is the boats. We made the manipulatives in colored card stock for Arithmetic 1. Later, in Arithmetic 2, we made the bees and blossoms fact families and bees/blossoms chart. It is my kids favorite thing to get to touch. In warm weather, we go outside to the driveway and draw white boats and color the "away boats" in blue chalk. Even my then 4 year old was picking up on whole and greater/lesser part. All of the teacher's manuals have scope/sequence in the front. That should be available as a preview on Milestone books.

                        I also have a background as a public secondary ed teacher. R&S is super conducive to a group learning environment.
                        Mama to 2

                        Summer:
                        MPK with SC1 Phonics & Math
                        SY 20/21
                        4A

                        Comment


                          #13
                          This year is my first experience with R&S and I love it. I cannot stress enough the importance of mastery. I have taught middle and high school math for many years now. It is very difficult to teach a student Algebra when they have not mastered arithmetic.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            I''l add to the Horizons fail. I thought we were moving along well with "advanced concepts" for K and 1st. Turns out, I had only accomplished teaching the number line. Without it, or their fingers, they had no idea how to add two simple numbers together. I thought I had done something wrong. I actually contacted Horizons publishing with my concerns, convinced I had done something terribly wrong in the curriculum. I had watched my son add 8+7 100 times. Easily 100 times. But if I were to ask him, he would draw a blank. Even if he had just done it 5 minutes before. He would find a sheet of paper to draw a number line. The publisher contacted me back, even sharing a similar story, echoing a similar frustration with her own child and how the system has been made to model "modern teaching practices like Common Core" although it doesn't adhere to Common Core. Her own child, several years older than mine also had no mastery of the arithmetic concepts and was struggling in 4th. Basically she supplemented until her child "got it". She even took my concern to her director and his response was that it works for some kids and not others, and if it isn't working, you have to supplement but that generally, kids eventually memorize the arithmetic facts. Sorry...but that's years of what? Frustration. We were about to start carrying and borrowing...how do you do that on a number line? I moved him over to R&S as per MP, feeling as if I had wasted a year. As it stood, I felt like R&S 1 looked a little too easy. So, when I started my 2nd grader on R&S2, I also had his younger brother who was starting 1st grade do the same one. (yay...combined cores on this one) So two kids, 2nd and 1st grade, both mastering R&S 2. I took my Kindergartener and started him on R&S1. He's doing well. If anything, it sometime moves a bit slow for him. It will pick up a lot in R&S 2 but he won't finish K without knowing his math addition and subtraction facts like the back of his hand. That's more than I can say for his brother 3 years older.
                            It's just hard to switch from the pretty and colorful pages of Horizons to the relatively bland R&S. But then, I started to notice the "bland" less. It was more..."meat". My kids were actually learning, and accelerating their learning. Carrying and borrowing has moved smoothly. Imagine if I had stayed to the course with the number line nightmare....can you imagine teaching multiplication tables later? I don't understand this new concept of repeated exposure without mastery. The programs seem to specifically not want you to memorize the arithmetic facts. I've even spoken to school teachers who echo the same problem. The kids aren't memorizing the math facts and can't truly progress. It's just weird. I came from a science background. It really is worth memorizing that pi=3.14159 or that the molecular weight of carbon is 12.01. Memorization is key to all the sciences. I think of memorization as the ability of the mind to save "bandwidth". We really can only make so many calculations and computations at a time. If we are wasting bandwidth and resources trying to figure out if 8+7=15, we aren't spending it on the really hard stuff. R&S seems to know that.
                            Melissa

                            DS (MP3) - 9
                            DS (MP2) - 7/8
                            DS (K) - 6
                            DD (Adorable distraction) 2 1/2

                            Comment


                              #15
                              MBently, Thank you for this. Horizons is another program I was looking at for my cooperative next year I agree, it's pretty. So good to know all of this!

                              I am using Math U See Alpha for my group of 1st/2nd graders. We switched from Singapore mid-year because although Singapore purports to be a mastery program, it is very heavy on the complex problem solving and conceptual understanding. However, my students were not even close to mastery of their addition facts and therefore could not do any of the exercises in the practice book without me sitting with them and talking them through each one. Yes, they understood that a whole could be taken apart and put back together again. They knew how to find the missing number in a number bond. But they had to count on fingers every single time! Zero automaticity, and it certainly didn't look like that automaticity was anything they were going to develop anytime soon, without A LOT of supplemental support.

                              So I was spending all my time printing fact drills from the internet.

                              Math U See is really good for creating mastery of these facts. However, it is PAIN to manage in the classroom. The integer blocks are great for demonstration. But managing multiple boxes for multiple students...way too complicated (and expensive!) I am pretty sure that Miss. Beadle (circa Little House in the Prairie) suffered no such nonsense when teaching her students arithmetic!

                              I constantly need reminding that homeschoolers are a huge consumer market. Often I find that the shiny and new-fandangled appeal to me, but then don't ultimately serve. That is something that I am coming to truly appreciate about my limited experience with MP. There is a simple elegance to the materials. I actually use all of the pieces of the curriculum, rather than wasting all the superfluous stuff.

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