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Teaching Textbooks v. Saxon v. Rod and Staff

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    Teaching Textbooks v. Saxon v. Rod and Staff

    My third grade son has used Saxon since he was in Kindergarten. We started with Saxon 1, and so now he is in Saxon 5/4. It is dragging so slowly for us. If we do all of the review questions, it can take three days. If we do half, it takes two. We could skip the review questions and only do the lesson practice questions, but that defeats the purpose of using a spiral curriculum, and one of his weaknesses right now is his math facts and applying them. That said, he recently took a standardized math test and score in the 85th percentile, so the level is not the problem. He has a physical issue that interferes with writing comfortably, so I am his scribe for most things, including math. I started looking at Rod and Staff, and I like the simplicity of it. I also started looking at Teaching Textbooks. I think I would need to place him a grade ahead of where he is, because of the concepts taught, but at the same time he really needs to solidify his basic math facts. But doing lots of written drill work is torturous for both of us.

    Has anyone used all three of these who could compare them for me? Is there another app or online program where he could work on drilling his math facts? He has the aptitude for it, I believe, but the approach is not working.
    2020-2021 Eighth year homeschooling, first year using MP cores!
    DD - grade 7
    DS - grade 3
    Five born to Heaven, between 2009 and 2014
    DH is a bivocational pastor
    Celebrating 18 years of marriage this year.

    #2
    My kids have used xtra math for math facts. It isn’t always well received, but gets it done. We have always used right start because it doesn’t have as much written work as Rod and staff or Saxon especially in the early levels. In level D (about 2/3 through the book) there is a warm up with a multiplication problem with 4digit x 1 digit, a 4 digit subtraction problem, and a four digit addition problem at the top of the page and the rest of the workbook page is new material. Every 10 lessons there is a review lesson and a larger review a few times through the book. It is a bit non traditional in its early scope and sequence so it might not be appealing to you for a full curriculum, but I really like their philosophy of using card games to practice facts instead of flash cards and lots of written drill. They sell a math games book and some special cards for their games. I used Saxon early on and didn’t care for it at all. Teaching textbooks has a reputation for being a bit behind the grade stated and not being very in depth at the upper levels. Rod and Staff would be my choice out of the three, but cut back on the number of problems. There are so many problems in the books that it drove my kids crazy.
    Dorinda

    Plans for 2021-2022
    15th year homeschooling, 12th year with Memoria Press
    DD College Freshman
    DS 10th grade - Lukeion Latin and Greek, Vita Beata Greek Dramas
    DS 8th grade - Vita Beata Literature
    DS 3rd grade - Vita Beata Literature, Right Start F, First Form Latin

    Comment


      #3
      The reason I didn't like Saxon was because of the strange way in which they introduced the math facts. They did all the plus ones (5 + 1, 9 + 1, etc...) and not families, which teach the whole, greater part and lesser part. In R&S, learning 12, 9 and 3 teaches four math facts that stem from those numbers: 12 - 9 = 3, 12 - 3 = 9, 9 + 3 = 12, 3 + 9 = 12. And then all of the other facts (within the 12's blossom) are learned as a chunk: 12, 10 & 2; 12, 9 & 3; 12, 8 & 4; 12, 7 & 5; 12, 6 & 6. You can add in the manipulatives so that a student can visualize it, but it's also not necessary. The amount of review scheduled set my non-mathy, handwriting-averse kid for success. She went from being in tears with Saxon's timed tests to feeling competent, whipping out 200 facts every single school day before copying her problems from her text. I never thought my student would be capable of the work, but it gradually and methodically got her there. A great oral way to get done with flashcards is to lay them out on a long counter or dining room table and have the student slide down the line until he can get up to 60 cards in 60 seconds. We drill separately only the ones that aren't quick. I like to show them face-up with the answer first, having the student say the whole fact 4-5 times, then turn it over and say it 4-5 times, then mix in others, doing the same, and eventually getting to where only the answer is said. We only did 3-5 minutes of flashcard work a day (3 times running through 60 facts to get a personal "best" time...always with the hope of improving and getting closer to 60 in 60). In 4th grade, we switched to the Morning Math model of two 100-fact sheets each morning. It has been a game-changer! You can put 100-fact sheets in plastic protector sheets if your child has any ability to write by hand to see if vis-a-vis marker or dry-erase marker provides slip that doesn't tire out a hand. You could also do it all orally (no scribing at all). Again, don't set a countdown timer, set a count-up timer and aim for progress over the weeks (not just day-to-day). Try to shave a fraction of a second off your time each run through it.

      Arithmetic 4 also has a nice mental math portion as prep for each lesson. I try not to skip it, as it refreshes previously learned concepts, much like a spiral method would.
      Mama to 2

      Spring start MP1
      Summer start 5A

      Completed MPK, MP1 Math & Enrichment, MP2, 3A, 4A, SC B, SC C,
      SC1 (Phonics/Math), SC2's Writing Book 1

      Comment


        #4
        At Highlands Latin School, we do a timed drill every single day to start math class. We vary the operations, but every drill is at least 100-200 facts daily. That tends to keep our students on their toes, and it takes very little time since we are in a groove with this and students are used to it from kindergarten through 6th grade. (Kindergarten does not do 100-200 facts daily!)

        Tanya

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by tanya View Post
          At Highlands Latin School, we do a timed drill every single day to start math class. We vary the operations, but every drill is at least 100-200 facts daily. That tends to keep our students on their toes, and it takes very little time since we are in a groove with this and students are used to it from kindergarten through 6th grade. (Kindergarten does not do 100-200 facts daily!)

          Tanya
          Tanya, do you do those orally?
          2020-2021 Eighth year homeschooling, first year using MP cores!
          DD - grade 7
          DS - grade 3
          Five born to Heaven, between 2009 and 2014
          DH is a bivocational pastor
          Celebrating 18 years of marriage this year.

          Comment


            #6
            No, they do them written. Their famous line is that they kill a lot of trees doing math.
            Mama to 2

            Spring start MP1
            Summer start 5A

            Completed MPK, MP1 Math & Enrichment, MP2, 3A, 4A, SC B, SC C,
            SC1 (Phonics/Math), SC2's Writing Book 1

            Comment


              #7
              That's right. They are written. And we do use lots of paper. Students do the drill, and then they grade it orally in class, with the teacher calling out the answers row by row. Our goals are: 3rd grade - 100 facts in 5 mins., 4th grade - 4 mins., 5th grade - 3 mins., 6th grade - 2 mins.

              Tanya

              Comment


                #8
                I think the point of OP is that her child has issues with writing beyond just not liking it. In a classroom it would have to be written for the sake of every child doing their own work, but at home that isn’t necessary. It becomes as much of a handwriting speed game as math fact evaluation. There are other places to work on handwriting if what you are trying to evaluate math fact automaticity.
                Dorinda

                Plans for 2021-2022
                15th year homeschooling, 12th year with Memoria Press
                DD College Freshman
                DS 10th grade - Lukeion Latin and Greek, Vita Beata Greek Dramas
                DS 8th grade - Vita Beata Literature
                DS 3rd grade - Vita Beata Literature, Right Start F, First Form Latin

                Comment


                  #9
                  Yep, no one here is suggesting that writing is the only way to learn math facts. Both of my kids have overcome serious diagnoses that should affect their ability to write, so in absence of knowing the OP's son's diagnosis, I wanted to offer hope that some kids' disabilities can lead to writing. There are many modifications, as I listed above: oral flashcards on a long table, oral recitation of 100-fact sheets, better slip (if an implement can be held) with markers on plastic. There is a strong correlation in the brain between writing and memory. For those of us with children with various disabilities, we are doing all we can to aid our children's learning. My kids didn't "just not like it." We spent years with an occupational therapist. We are on the other side, and we thank God every day for His mercies and perseverance.

                  Writing in the air with the arm is another GREAT way to get in the writing component. In the beginning, I had my eldest child use her finger on a table to "air write" the answer to math facts. If a child lacks fine motor skill, the motion can be done from the elbow or the shoulder. I have gotten pretty good at reading "air writing." Your child could literally not have a hand and still do this.
                  Mama to 2

                  Spring start MP1
                  Summer start 5A

                  Completed MPK, MP1 Math & Enrichment, MP2, 3A, 4A, SC B, SC C,
                  SC1 (Phonics/Math), SC2's Writing Book 1

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Thank you, all!

                    To clarify, my son has a condition called palmar hyperhidrosis. His hands sweat profusely and it makes writing very uncomfortable. We are using a treatment to try to control it, but it is not completely under control yet, and in the meantime, after years of dealing with this, he has not developed any stamina for writing. So we are working on that bit by bit. Since I posted this, we have found an app that allows him to do math problems on an iPad, which is great! But he still hates math, and just doing six review problems today took an hour. And he got some wrong (subtraction with borrowing).

                    We are on lesson 56 of Saxon 54 and it is April. If we were to switch to Rod & Staff, what level would be best, and when should we do it?
                    2020-2021 Eighth year homeschooling, first year using MP cores!
                    DD - grade 7
                    DS - grade 3
                    Five born to Heaven, between 2009 and 2014
                    DH is a bivocational pastor
                    Celebrating 18 years of marriage this year.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      We're back in Teaching Textbooks again --- not because I don't like R&S, but because many children+tired momma = empty tank.

                      Like enbateau mentions --- the concepts can be introduced in odd ways, but for now, it's working for us. I add in drill review, because I feel like it's important, and you don't it in TT. I also agree that some degree of writing is so very important, to cement those facts in their brains. I think it's a huge challenge to figure out how much is enough, to challenge and stretch our kids, and how much is crushing.

                      A few things I would recommend ---

                      Instead of written drill work, what about oral flashcard review? 10 minutes a day of flashcards, and you're done. If you're a momma who embraces technology, you can even add them into the Alexa and it's completely hands off for you. It takes a bit of work to get it set up, but then you're done.

                      The triplet cards are very helpful for the 11-18 facts. I'll have to dig around and find the link --- but we print these on bright cardstock and review them periodically.

                      Another thing I bought was this Minute Math device. https://www.amazon.com/Learning-Reso...7891571&sr=8-7

                      Warning --- it can be LOUD- so a piece of tape over the speaker works wonders.
                      Plans for 2021-22

                      Year 11 of homeschooling with MP

                      DD1 - 26 - Small Business owner with 2 locations
                      DD2 - 15 - 10th grade - HLS Cottage School/MPOA/True North Academy/Vita Beata - equestrian
                      DS3 - 13 -6A Cottage School - soccer/tennis -dyslexia and dysgraphia
                      DS4 - 13 - 6A Cottage School -soccer -auditory processing disorder
                      DD5 - 9 - 4A, Cottage School/MPOA -equestrian
                      DS6 - 7 - MPK - first time at the Cottage School this fall!

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Would using a computer program or website to do speed drills be helpful in regards to the writing issue? Just a thought!
                        Rebecca

                        Boy-2nd
                        Boy-1st
                        Boy-4yo
                        Girl-2yo

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I just want to say that Teaching Textbooks is not behind or a bad program. I used it for my son for high school and he completed the Pre Calculus and it was challenging and he did well on his SAT. I think it's a fantastic program. I plan to also use it with my daughter, but she needs more help with math at the moment and so for us we are using Math U See until she gets to Pre Algebra level than we will switch off to Teaching Textbooks.

                          So many apps online for math facts are time based and both my kids struggle with that. I do like the program Math It for drill, also just reviewing math facts with flash cards daily. There are math games like Muggins. Right Start Math Games (you can buy the math games books and cards) But if timed won't be an issue for you than Xtra Math would probably work. I think the older grades of Saxon Math are math killers and I recommend Teaching Textbooks as soon as your kids can get into the program. I love how it reviews the problem if they get it wrong. That is a big deal for me as most textbooks do not really explain the answers very well, but with Teaching Textbooks it writes out and talks out the answer. This is such a great program and am looking forward to being able to get my daughter into using it. She really struggles with math and just needs alot of extra help right now.

                          There should be a placement test for Teaching Textbook on their website, I recommend using that.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Thank you, everyone! We are trying out Teaching Textbooks right now and I think starting in the middle of Math 4 is going to work. And we have had NO TEARS over math since trying it out, which is amazing!
                            2020-2021 Eighth year homeschooling, first year using MP cores!
                            DD - grade 7
                            DS - grade 3
                            Five born to Heaven, between 2009 and 2014
                            DH is a bivocational pastor
                            Celebrating 18 years of marriage this year.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              That is great to hear!

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