We are excited to offer this "tried and true" homeschool favorite math program! It sets itself apart from other math curricula with its focus on creating effective problem solvers who understand the underlying concepts in math and can apply math to real life situations. Honestly, as an adult, how many of us wish we had learned math in this manner?
Utilizing a Four-Step Approach, Math U See provides a K-12 mastery-based math program.
Truly multisensory, each level offers DVD instruction for the parent/teacher and student, manipulatives (through the Algebra level), and worksheets for practice. Mastery of math concepts is evidenced by the student's ability to teach the parent the concept by the end of the lesson. The authors have chosen to use letters of the Greek alphabet (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, and Zeta) to identify the sequence of concepts taught at the elementary level rather than a grade level designation. The Primer level is designed to provide an introductory broad overview and to encourage the love of math. Upper levels are titled more traditionally (Pre-Algebra, Algebra, etc.) Because Math-U-See (MUS) is mastery-based, students may enter the program at any level depending on their concept proficiency. Accordingly, it is highly recommended that all students take a placement test (opens in new window) to ensure mastery of any previously taught concepts. Placement tests are now readily available at rainbowresource.mathusee.com/
Courses provide 30-35 lessons and will usually take about one year to complete, although with mastery as the goal, this is flexible. Lessons follow a similar pattern. Watch the DVD, work through lesson examples in the instruction manual together with the parent, then the student completes worktext activities. These include practice (2-3 worksheets), review (3 worksheets), and an additional activity called the application and enrichment page. These contain topics not included in the lesson as well as familiar concepts in a new format. If your child masters the lessons quickly, skip the additional practice sheets and move to the review. Due to the mastery focus of the course, the amount of time to complete a lesson will vary. You may find it necessary to spend 2-3 weeks on one lesson, while others may be grasped quickly and completed in 2-3 days. For students needing more practice, additional worksheets are available on the MUS website.
Each lesson concludes with a test. Cumulative unit tests are scheduled regularly to assure students retain previous teaching. Each level concludes with a final test covering all concepts taught. These tests begin in Alpha rather than in the Primer.
Course components each play a role in the program's success.
Instructional DVDs provide parent-teachers an introduction to the MUS vision and methodology before transitioning to the instructional lessons. Teaching lessons are designed to be viewed by the parent first, followed by the student and parent (or student only at the upper levels or as the student demonstrates the ability to view independently). Each teaching segment is 5-8 minutes in length (upper levels are longer; 10-15 minutes) and is taught in front of a group of students and parents, who occasionally you will hear responding. The camera is focused on Mr. Demme, who explains and demonstrates the lessons on a large white board with magnetic manipulatives (or drawings). Lessons are clearly explained and easy to follow. Providing much needed teaching support, these DVDs are a big part of the appeal of the program.
The Instruction Manual. is also essential to the program. This hardcover book provides a curriculum sequence and introductory "how-to-use" information that outlines the MUS four-step teaching process. Teaching instruction with example problems for each lesson, solutions for the worksheets and tests, and a helpful glossary and index are included. The instruction is not scripted but is clearly presented and easy to implement.
The consumable Student Worktexts contain a mix of practice problems and word problems. Space is provided to work out the problems, but some students may prefer having access to "scratch paper" to work problems, especially at the higher levels. The front of the Student Worktext includes space to record grades for worksheet pages and tests.
The consumable Test Booklets are provided to evaluate student progress. Parents are encouraged to reteach previous lessons if the student does not do well. Mastery is the goal, and lessons build upon one another so that future success is dependent on students really knowing the previous concept.
The Demme Learning Manipulatives are unique. The Integer Block Set is a 133-piece manipulative blocks set that is used from Primer through Algebra 1. This is a set of plastic interlocking blocks with blocks in different colors designed to represent each number from one through ten (there is a hundred block as well). A Fraction Overlay Kit is utilized in the Epsilon course to teach fractions. This set is color-coordinated with the Integer Block Set to aid students in learning fractions. Beginning with Zeta and utilized through Algebra 1 is the Algebra/Decimal Insert Kit which is used with the Integer Block Kit to teach advanced decimal and algebra concepts.The Digital Pack provides lifetime access and includes streaming Instruction Videos, an online Instruction Manual, lesson solutions, and other online resources from any browser. You’ll also have access to the MUS Digital Manipulatives, using Chrome or Safari browsers. Digital Packs do not include Student Workbook or Tests. They cannot be purchased separately and are only available as part of the Sets.
The Skip Count CD and Songbook is optional but a suggested complement to the Primer through Gamma courses. With it your student will learn their skip counting and addition facts. There are two versions of the songs on the Skip Counting CD; one with Christian lyrics and the other with the lyrics taken from science and literature. Universal Kits for Primer through Gamma include online access to the Skip Count Songs MP3s and Songbook pdf. Please note, the online Skip Count MP3 includes the Science and Literature lyrics but not the Christian version.
All products marked as Set include: Instruction Manual with complete solutions, Instruction DVD, Student Workbook, Test Book, and lifetime access to the Digital Pack. In addition, Universal Sets include all the manipulatives needed for the selected level. Level Up Sets are for families who already own an Integer Block Kit (or Fraction Overlap Kit for Epsilon). Level Up Base Sets were created for families that own both the Integer Block Kit and the Algebra/Decimal Inserts.
As one who used this program in the early days of homeschooling, I appreciate many of the changes that have been made over the years. One of these is the systematic review as well as the additional level of challenge through the Application and Enrichment worksheets. Students who need additional review and practice will benefit from the focused practice that promotes mastery. Conversely, students who are math-gifted and require less practice to master the concept have the freedom to skip worksheets and move into the Application and Enrichment worksheet, unlike math programs with spiral review that become drudgery to exceptional math students. Additionally, the enhanced teacher explanations in the Instructor Manual and the DVD introduction will help parents feel prepared and more competent to teach math in this non-traditional, tactile way. It may be worth mentioning that if standardized testing is required by your state or organization, you may want to add a grade-specific workbook to ensure students are covering all that is required for the test. The final change I noted is that MUS has added additional topics to all levels to reflect current math standards.
As I look back on my children and our MUS experience, these improvements would have made the course easier to implement with Child B who enjoyed the hands-on approach while learning various approaches to solve equations. The philosophy of MUS was not as well-suited to Child A, who was my “just show me the steps and let me do it,” “I can memorize it through drill” child.
Keep in mind that using the mastery approach means that students spend more time on building solid foundational math skills, so it may appear that students are behind their peers in the early elementary years. They will catch up quickly and by upper middle school will be on target (if not ahead of) their peers. This is an excellent program for your hands-on student or one who wants to understand, really understand, the how and why of mathematics. There is much to appreciate in this unique program and it has tremendous potential for gifted, typical, or struggling learners. ~ Deanne