Monday, January 12, 2015

Middle School Monday - Math with Fred

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Middle School Monday

Welcome to Middle School Monday! This week I'm excited to be participating in the Virtual Curriculum Fair hosted by Susan at Homeschooling Hearts and Minds and Laura at Day By Day In Our World. We are sharing our thoughts on "Discovering Patterns" this week - patterns in science and in math, in particular.

Math has been the most difficult subject for my 8th grader to wrap her head around for several years. Despite being able to easily memorize all kinds of music and favorite lines from books and movies, Kennady has not found it easy to memorize math facts. Unless they are in a catchy Schoolhouse Rock! tune, of course, and she still goes through those Multiplication Rock songs in her head when she gets stuck. Truth is - I do the same! Those Multiplication Rock songs are awesome!

Needless to say, finding a math curriculum that works for Kennady has been a challenge. Worksheets and workbooks only hold her attention for so long, and if she can't stick with the program, it won't be effective. Our solution has been Life of Fred. These books work for her because they keep her interested and entertained as they explain math concepts, and she generally doesn't complain about doing math. Obviously, that's a big plus! I do believe that additional worksheets and practice to supplement Life of Fred is helpful, so I provide those along the way, but because they are not part of the daily routine of math, she's less likely to see them as drudgery. Small doses are the key!

Last year she worked in Life of Fred: Fractions and got started in Life of Fred Decimals and Percents, which she is finishing up this year. We've more or less committed to sticking with Fred for awhile, because I've already purchased Life of Fred: Pre-algebra 1 with Biology and Life of Fred : Pre-Algebra 2 with Economics. If it continues to work, we'll keep going with it!

Fred keeps Kennady engaged because it's written in the form of a humorous novel or chapter book. The title character is a little boy named Fred Gauss, who happens to be a math prodigy and despite being Kindergarten age, he teaches at Kittens University. Every day Fred encounters the need for math in his everyday life, and it is through these humorous stories that the math concepts are taught to the reader. At the end of each chapter, the student is invited to have their turn at "playing" with math, and every few chapters there are "Bridges" to cross before proceeding with the next chapters.  Kennady enjoys reading about Fred's adventures and mishaps, and very often retells the stories she has just read to me. I still think it is taking her a L-O-N-G time to get through the books, but I try to keep in mind that at least she is doing it. At least she is making progress, and learning. And if she was doing only a traditional workbook, she would be grumbling and resentful and hating it, so it's not like we'd be further ahead that way.

Looking ahead to the future, I would like for Kennady to use VideoText Interactive for high school algebra. This is what my high school son, Landon, is using, and he likes it very much. We had the privilege of reviewing VideoText through the Schoolhouse Review Crew and it has been the perfect fit for Landon! I think Kennady will be able to benefit from it as well in a year or two, because of the way the lessons are presented - short video teaching the concept and then some focused practice on the concept - and it's largely self-paced.
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What kind of math curriculum works best for your student? Leave a comment and let me know!

Each week I invite bloggers to share their posts about middle school here on Middle School Monday. The link is open through Friday, and I will do my best to visit, comment, and share your posts. Please grab the Middle School Monday button to add to your post or to your sidebar when you leave your link below, and please visit the other links and comment or share. I look forward to seeing what you and your middle schoolers are doing!
Middle School Monday at Homeschool Coffee Break

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For more "Discovering Patterns" posts in the Virtual Curriculum Fair, visit these participating bloggers:
Learning about Patterns in Our World Through Math and Science by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
Relaxed Homeschooling: Mathematics in the Early Elementary Years by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
Using a Bible-Based Math Curriculum by Tauna M @ Proverbial Homemaker
Math, Science and Logic for 2015 by Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses
Playing with Numbers by Sarah @ Delivering Grace
Unschooling Science by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset
Logically Speaking: Math, Science, and Logic for 7th Grade  by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
Numbers and Molecules! by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Math and Science in Our Homeschool by Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life
5 Math & Logic Resources We Love by Becky @ Milo & Oats
Giving Your Kids The Right Start With Math by Amy @ One Blessed Mamma
Math in Our Classical / Charlotte Mason Homeschool by Sharra @ The Homeschool Marm
Classical STEM by Lisa @ Golden Grasses
Math, Science and Logic - How do we Tackle Them? by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
The Physics of Delight-Directed Learning by Susan @ The Every Day of Education
Tackling High School Science by Debra @ Footprints in the Butter
Choosing Math Curriculum for Special Learners by Heather @ Only Passionate Curiosity
Math for all ages by Denise @ Fullnest
Middle School Monday - Math With Fred by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Learning With Math and Science Resources  by Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road

Thanks to Susan at Homeschooling Hearts and Minds for the Virtual Curriculum Fair 2015 banners created using clipart and graphics from StoryRock from My Memories.

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Unknown said...

This one subject has caused me much grief in the handful of years I've been homeschooling. My oldest isn't strong in math and I made the mistake one year of switching curriculum mid-year. We seem to be playing catch up a lot! I tried Life of Fred once but my girls rejected him (sigh). But since one of my girls is heavy into fractions this year, maybe I'll try this curriculum again - if only to give her a humor break :)

Denise said...

I've looked at life of Fred several times, it seems like it would be really FUN. My youngest 2 are not yet middle school age, but it is definitely on our short list of future math curriculum.

Kym said...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

Carrie - math is one of the toughest subjects to find a good curriculum fit, in my experience. Good luck!

Denise - Life of Fred starts with early arithmetic and goes all the way through calculus, so there is something for every age. And yes... it is fun!

Joanne said...

OH math; the bane of my existence! I had no problem finding books for my elementary students but ever since we've hit middle school we seem to keep trying (and dropping) math books like crazy. Either they are too in depth and text book like to hold my boys attention or else they barely skim over the material and while my boys get it all right they don't retain anything from one day to the next! We have looked into Life of Fred a few times for my middle son; who loves to read, but I never knew where to start him off.

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