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Shifting to Rod and Staff Math...(I hope!)...please share your wisdom!

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    Shifting to Rod and Staff Math...(I hope!)...please share your wisdom!

    After years of dabbling in Saxon, Miquon, and most recently two years of RightStart, I am planning to settle my entire family into Rod and Staff Math starting this fall. We'll be in levels K, third, and fifth. I'd love to hear any advice you have for shifting into its particular style of teaching, how best to use the teacher manuals, how much to let the student do alone vs. working through together, and other advice you might have. I recently bought the fourth grade set just to see what it looked like on the inside. I like the way it's laid out. I like the constant practice on many different topics. I'm not really confident about the teacher's instructions and how to run a lesson. Doesn't a new resource just completely reduce you to the nervous newbie feeling overnight!? That's where I am now.

    [Here's a true confession: the summer I found MP was also the summer I stumbled upon Rightstart with which I was completely enamored. I still love many things about it, but honestly never even explored R&S as an option. Two years after completely falling in love with everything MP--from the content to the methods--I'm wishing I'd given it a fair shot from day one. I do have suspicions that we'd be on a more solid mathematical foundation by now. So, newbies, give it a look!]

    All that to say, I'd appreciate any wisdom you've gleaned!

    Many thanks in advance!
    Festina lentē,
    Jessica P

    SY2019-2020 · 8th MP Year
    @ Home, HLN, & MPOA
    S · 10th, MPOA Henle 3
    D · 8th
    D · 5th
    S · 2nd

    Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

    #2
    Ahhhhh, P&G, I am so glad! Happy days ahead, I hope for you with math! We have been so math-content ever since starting R&S, that I am happy to your news.

    I have taken the time to really read the teacher books, especially the material in the front, to get me familiar with each grade level expectations. Then for anyone up through third, I have the book handy with me to go over all the drill they suggest. We do the chalkboard things on paper, but "as if" it were at the board (i.e. I tell her what to write down and she does the problem) Then they do the work, and I check it over when they are done.

    For fourth grade up, I let them learn from the lesson in the book, and do their work. Then, I make sure they check their work, and correct any mistakes. Then I say things like, "what was your lesson about? How did you do?" They should be able to give a short explanation, enough so I can tell they really got it. Then I do the oral drills with them, and scan the teacher's notes for any helpful tips or concerns. I remind them to hit the flash cards, and that's that.

    That is what I did with my oldest two, anyway, who were both pretty independent. My fourth will handle it that way when she gets there too. My third child though will start fourth grade math this fall. My expectation with her is different. I will have to sit with her, actually read over the lesson with her, and work the first section of problems with her (part A). Then I will go over one section of work at a time to make sure she understands each. When she feels satisfied, I will let her alone to do the work. Then she will bring it to me to be checked, and we will do the oral drill at the end. I will hope to transition her to more independence, but am not expecting it to just be there. She is just not that way yet.

    That is how I do it. I hope that gives you some ideas!

    AMDG,
    Sarah
    2019-2020 - 9th Year with MP
    DD, 18, Homeschool grad; Art major/philosophy minor
    DS, 16
    DD, 14
    DD, 12
    DD, 10
    DD, 7.5
    DD, 5.5
    +DS+
    DS, 18 months

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks for this post and reply! We are moving to R&S after a very successful half year of Singapore math. I am kind of nervous, as the saying goes "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", however, I really love the repetition of R&S along with the drill. Singapore just doesn't have that built in, so we have to supplement. For ease of planning and effort on my part, sticking with as much MP core as possible seems to be the best choice for us at the moment.

      I was wondering how it would work with my rising fifth grader, as he does a good chunk of his math independently right now. I was worried R&S was going to be teacher intensive, so it is nice to know he can still possibly work independently (if I can keep him focused I would imagine my 2nd grader (starting R&S 3rd) will need me to teach her, which I am prepared to do. Although she does most of her math independently too right now.

      Sarah, approximately how long do your third graders spend on math each day? We average about 25 minutes now including the extra drill.

      Thanks,
      Katie
      Katie

      2019/20 6th year with MP
      DS 15: 10th, MPOA Latin & HS Comp II
      DD 12: 7th, MPOA Latin & Pre-Algebra
      DD 9: 4th using 3A
      Twin DD's 6: 1st

      Comment


        #4
        Katie,

        25 minutes is probably about right. On her good days, she can get the written portion done in 15 minutes, then the time we spend together for drill. So that sounds about right. She is a dreamer though, so if she is not motivated, it can take a lot longer....not because of the work, just because!!!

        The upper grades have never seemed unreasonable. The ones who work independently say it takes 20 to 30 minutes, then again, time with me for recap and drill. I do not feel it has ever been overly teacher intensive. I have only rarely had to step in and explain something further than what the lesson presents to them. When that has happened, I check the TM and can know right away what they are studying and how to address it, so it does not seem like I have to be right in the middle of it every day.

        I hope that answers your question!
        AMDG,
        Sarah
        2019-2020 - 9th Year with MP
        DD, 18, Homeschool grad; Art major/philosophy minor
        DS, 16
        DD, 14
        DD, 12
        DD, 10
        DD, 7.5
        DD, 5.5
        +DS+
        DS, 18 months

        Comment


          #5
          Hi Everyone,

          We are planning to switching to Rod & Staff math for next school year too! We've used Singapore for K and Math Mammoth for 2nd this year. Next year we will be doing the full MP core for 1st and 3rd and, like Katie, I want to stick to the MP plans for ease of planning. I do have a question for you all... My second grade son needs more practice with his math facts. He does not like math but I think it is in large part because he isn't fluent in his math facts and, as a result, math is exhausting for him. He does extra worksheets for drill (which he hates) and uses Flashmaster (which he tolerates). The facts just don't seem to stick and he gets frustrated with multi-digit addition and subtraction. Any suggestions on what to do over the summer to prepare him? Maybe the grade 2 blacklines from R & S? I thought maybe that would be more systematic, if that makes sense. I'm just wondering what others have used successfully!

          Thanks in advance,
          Mel
          Melanie

          2018-2019:
          DS 12 - 7M, MPOA
          DD 10 - 5M, Delectare
          DS 8 - 3M

          Comment


            #6
            Jessica,

            I don't really have words of wisdom for you, but I wanted to agree with you on coming "late" to R&S math after discarding it... only to see later how wonderful it is.

            Looking back, my 2nd and 3rd child would have been far better served to have studied math under the "mastery approach" that is R&S. They used Horizons with its spiral approach. Now they aren't bad at math, but I think the discipline of the method would have ordered their minds better than the spiral approach.

            My oldest has never seen a math problem he couldn't do, so he doesn't count.


            As for my last, my rising 2nd grader, I have been working through R&S math 2 with him. I love it. I do see the need to use the lightly scripted opening sequence for each lesson, but that takes us less than 10 mins, even including the speed drills. Then he works on his math pages for 10-15 mins. Not sure if that helps with juggling your 3 kids, but I just wanted to lend agreement with your assessment: R&S seems very consistent with the MP curriculum approach and now that I am using it, I like it quite a bit.


            Jen
            DS, 26 yrs, graduated from MIT (Aerospace), recently completed the design and execution of unhackable military software... in his spare time.

            DS, 24 yrs, graduated from SIU's School of Business, ENGAGED!

            DD, 21 yrs, Senior in Education at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC

            DS, 11 yrs, 6M: complete!

            All homeschooled.

            Comment


              #7
              Great advice! Thank you and keep it coming!
              Festina lentē,
              Jessica P

              SY2019-2020 · 8th MP Year
              @ Home, HLN, & MPOA
              S · 10th, MPOA Henle 3
              D · 8th
              D · 5th
              S · 2nd

              Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

              Comment


                #8
                I don't assign all the problems

                I usually had my kids work the odd-numbered problems, and then I checked them. If they got them right (and understood the concepts), they were done. If they missed too many, I reviewed the lesson with them and made them complete the evens.

                We started with R&S the same ages as you are, by the way. It was a great move!
                Cindy
                Cindy Davis
                Science and Math teacher at Highlands Latin School - Indianapolis
                ds-25 college graduate: autodidact, working to pay the bills
                ds-23 college graduate: 1st year med school
                dd-21 college senior: Nursing

                Comment


                  #9
                  On skipping problems...

                  I admit that I am a math person, so skipping math problems goes against my grain. Still I used a cool "trick" with my 2nd and 3rd kids that might help someone. This "trick" was very encouraging for both my son and my daughter.

                  When faced with the daily grind of "all that math" (especially when they were in lower grades), I made a habit of allowing them to cross off X number of problems each day. The number was *always* 5 or and I varied the number... well, just because. See, I wanted them to do the entire lesson for Good Practice but I wanted them to feel encouraged, too. So, after the math teaching of the day, I'd say something like, "OK, let's see... today you can cross off..... (dramatic pause)... FOUR problems!"

                  And this worked great because the CHILD had the POWER (very important). My only real rule was that all X couldn't be from the same section (effectively skipping an entire section). The X problems must be from all over the lesson, although more than one *could* be from the same section.

                  It was a dream. They never cried or argued for less math. If they hit a road block on a particular problem (self-made drama since every problem was equally hard), I'd say, "Well, you could have crossed that one off. Are you going to swap one of your problems?" Sometimes they did, even though that particular problem wasn't any harder than the next one, but it definitely kept the independent math time humming along. I came to realize that as long as the CHILD had the power, he would adapt and overcome on his own and wouldn't assume that *I* was going to FIX IT.

                  BTW, sometimes I assigned ZERO cross offs just to keep them guessing.



                  Jen
                  DS, 26 yrs, graduated from MIT (Aerospace), recently completed the design and execution of unhackable military software... in his spare time.

                  DS, 24 yrs, graduated from SIU's School of Business, ENGAGED!

                  DD, 21 yrs, Senior in Education at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC

                  DS, 11 yrs, 6M: complete!

                  All homeschooled.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Is the format pretty much a new lesson with practice on that in section A, then the rest of the lesson is review? I'm looking at fourth grade so that's all I have to go on.
                    Jen and Cindy and Sarah--you bring me much hope!
                    Thanks!
                    Festina lentē,
                    Jessica P

                    SY2019-2020 · 8th MP Year
                    @ Home, HLN, & MPOA
                    S · 10th, MPOA Henle 3
                    D · 8th
                    D · 5th
                    S · 2nd

                    Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

                    Comment


                      #11
                      math

                      As long as they understand the concepts, I have my children do the even numbered problems on the even numbered lessons and the odd numbered problems on the odd numbered lessons. But that is only once they are out of workbooks and into copying the problems onto paper.
                      Blessings,
                      Jude

                      dd 17
                      ds 14 (special needs)
                      ds 11
                      ds 9
                      dd 7
                      ds 4
                      dd 2

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Ack! I have only the 2nd grade to go on. But, roughly....


                        1. BEFORE CLASS time is called out, letting the teacher know what materials to gather. Also, there are sometimes "blackboard problems" to organize ahead of time. Like Sarah, I use scrap paper since we are sitting next to each other. It takes me just moments to prep for our lesson. I do that while he is finishing up handwriting.

                        2. Scripted lesson. I follow this because there are little patterned chants that Q the student to respond. There are also occasionally mental math problems. Then, of course, the lesson teaching. (5-10 mins MAX)

                        3. IF there's a speed drill scheduled, the TM then directs you to administer it.

                        4. Independent student work time.

                        5. AFTER CLASS time is also scripted. It's somewhat optional, but it does encourage reinforcement and it sometimes has script for a slow, gentle introduction of an upcoming skill.



                        Jen
                        DS, 26 yrs, graduated from MIT (Aerospace), recently completed the design and execution of unhackable military software... in his spare time.

                        DS, 24 yrs, graduated from SIU's School of Business, ENGAGED!

                        DD, 21 yrs, Senior in Education at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC

                        DS, 11 yrs, 6M: complete!

                        All homeschooled.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Transition from right start

                          Hello Jessica, my name is Dorinda. While I have lurked on the forums for awhile, this is my first post. We currently use Singapore for my oldest 11dd and RightStart b for my 5yo ds (he finished a last week) and level d for 8th ds. I have dabbled in curriculum packages and individual subjects from MP over the last couple of years and I am thinking of switching everyone for fall. I have a 1yo ds and I need something more structured. The math transition is something I am anxious to hear from others about as well.

                          That said, my concern and something you might want to consider before you switch, is that right start does not present topics in the same order as many other programs. Multiplication is introduced in level c, but not really mastered until d, division isn't even introduced until the end of D. My oldest went through level e and started rod and staff grade 5 at christmas the year we were working on the 4th grade curriculum package and found it too easy. However, as I look at samples online I don't know where to put my 8yo once he is done with d. Grade three too easy, but grade 4 already very into division. I need to be done with RightStart because of the time the lessons take, but not sure what to do. I wish rod and staff had a placement test! It is a tough call between too easy and missing topics when you switch programs. I think I am going to work with 6 yo on b through summer and transition into R and S grade 2 in the fall and play games when we have time.

                          Good luck in your decision!

                          Dorinda
                          Dorinda

                          For 2019-2020
                          DD 16 - 11th with MPOA(AP Latin), Lukeion (Greek4 & Adv. NT Greek), Thinkwell (Economics and Chemistry), plus Pre-Calculus, American G’ment, Early Church History set, and British Lit
                          DS 14 - 8th with MPOA(Fourth Form), CLRC(Intro Lit and Comp), plus Algebra, Field Biology, Classical Studies 1
                          DS 11 - 6th with Right Start Level G online class
                          DS 6 - 1st with Prima Latina

                          Comment


                            #14
                            we are switching from Math Mammoth for 3rd so I am loving all the replies!
                            Karen
                            Mom to DD-13 and DD-8.5
                            3rd and 8th grade (2014-2015)

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Wow, lots of people changing, it seems! I have to say, we are so happy we did, that I hope you all will be too!

                              First, no, the upper grade books are not "part A is new and the rest is review." It does vary a bit from lesson to lesson, and from grade to grade. Generally though there are between four and seven sections per day, labeled A through G for example. Section A is usually the very newest thing that was introduced that day. Then one, two, or three more sections may use that new information mixed with some a bit older, OR they may work on a concept that was just introduced a day or two before. Then there can be one, two, or three sections of review exercises. The portion of the day that is the review lesson is clearly labeled, so you cannot miss seeing it, but there is no clear guideline, "always do A and B" sort of thing.

                              Another tricky thing is that some days there will be a single "item number", problem #20 let's say, which has 5-10 different numbers to fill in or small parts to do. If you just say "do the odds" you would miss the whole thing, and not do any of that particular set of practice.

                              A general rule of thumb is that the first set of problems is newest, it goes backward in time through the other problem sets OR it applies that new concept in several different ways; and then there is also a review section every day. If I ever let my children skip, it is a daily decision. We have no standing rule because of the variety of ways the problems can be set up. Also, I don't want it to be the expectation. If they get to a particularly long day of problems, and they ask, I will cut down for them, but they do not see it as a daily option. Really, the sections are short enough thatit does not really come up that often. Most of the time it is the review lessons before a test, as those are very long. But even with those, you only have a few of each type of problem, so rather than cut them, I just give them an extra day to complete them.

                              AMDG,
                              Sarah
                              2019-2020 - 9th Year with MP
                              DD, 18, Homeschool grad; Art major/philosophy minor
                              DS, 16
                              DD, 14
                              DD, 12
                              DD, 10
                              DD, 7.5
                              DD, 5.5
                              +DS+
                              DS, 18 months

                              Comment

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