Purposeful Design Math (2nd Edition)
This series should be considered a strong math option: a solid scope and sequence; pacing similar to a Singapore Math approach; well laid-out and colorful student texts; themed chapters and courses; and an excellent balance between problem solving skills (the STAR methodology: Seek, Think, Act, and Review) and basic algorithms. It is not a student-directed series, so the teacher should be prepared for minimal teacher prep for each lesson (15 minutes or so) and teacher-student interaction (foundational at the K-3 level and supplementary at the 4-6 grade levels.)
Claiming Psalm 8 as the series theme, each grade (1-6) centers around a particular aspect of Gods creation - Life in the Sea; Life in the Air; etc. These Biblical themes illustrate how math concepts are observable in creation and how man has applied these concepts. Scriptural references, allusions and passages are frequent throughout the student texts. While it is obvious that this series was created for a classroom setting (i.e. letter to be sent home to parents), it can be adapted to a home setting as long as the parent/teacher is willing to commit to a student-teacher interactive approach and recognizes the necessity of choosing some of the offered options rather than trying to do everything.
Cross-curricular applications are definitively emphasized. To give you an idea, here are some examples from Chapter 10 (Measurement) in the Grade 3 - unusual units of measurement (language arts), relating temperatures and rainfall to geographical regions (social studies), making inch-worms (art), and temperature collage books (science) spread over a week or so. There are literature selections for each chapter and short segments on each of these selections are included within the daily lesson plans. You can pick and choose from these activities rather than try to do them all.
Manipulatives are used throughout the series but predominantly in the K-3 books. Instructions for making some of these manipulatives are found in the Teacher Guide while others are included in the blackline masters. However, there are some traditional math manipulatives used at each level (We have prepared packages of these). The scope and sequence for this series is broad. Basic algorithms addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are covered thoroughly. Other topics include patterns, number theory, place value, fractions/decimals (introduced early), measurement, time, money, geometry, algebra (also introduced early), probability, statistics, and technology (i.e. calculator and computer activities).
This series compares favorably with the Singapore Math approach although there appears to be less emphasis on mental math. The scope and sequence is roughly parallel and similarly paced. This series does not share the rather unique problem solving methodology found in the Singapore programs bar modeling but it does have its own emphasis on problem solving. The strong Biblical themes and emphasis will appeal to many who like the Singapore scope and sequence but prefer material from a Christian publisher.
The Teacher Guides are substantial (especially at the younger levels), essential, and spiral-bound. There are two to four pages of detailed lesson plans for each of the 176 daily lessons (170 lessons in the 6th grade) packed with useful information in a friendly, easy-to-use format and contain general information for each chapter (11-14 chapters in each course). Lesson objectives and an introduction with a materials list are followed by directed instruction which includes math moments (suggested activities or applications that reinforce the lesson), cross-curricular moments, reduced student pages (with answers) and suggestions for enrichment activities. Moments with the Master or Moments with Bible segments provide biblical applications. Periodic recovery segments provide review and help for struggling students. Note: chapter resources include separate software lists for PCs/Windows and Macs, but these lists may be dated (some have a 1999 copyright; others 2005 or 2007) and lists are definitely classroom geared. The bottom line is that while you might find some valuable gems, I wouldnt count on these lists for software suggestions. But then these suggestions are supplemental to the courses rather than integral. The Directed Instruction sequence is the heart of each lesson and while not scripted, it is very thorough. "Explain that . . . "; "Demonstrate the . . . "; "Ask students to think about . . ."; or "Direct students to (worksheets)." These follow a general path of concept to concrete/practical context to abstract explanation. Additional resources such as: blackline masters, overhead transparencies, drills, chapter reviews, cumulative reviews and chapter tests are now accessible online as PDFs to be printed as you need them (some of our older stock may still include CD-ROMs, but these are being phased out). Overhead transparency PDFs can be digitally projected and used to illustrate teaching sequences. Blackline master resources include a total of 200 or so reproducible additional work sheets for practice, recovery or for enrichment. Answers to problems from either the Student Worktexts or Student Texts are found in the Teacher Guide itself (reduced pages with answers) while answers to the blackline masters are found on the next page of the masters.
The K-3 softbound Student Worktexts are colorful with well-illustrated worksheets (usually two per lesson) that include practice problems, word problems, and review, as well as occasional games and activities. The 4-6 grade hardcover Student Texts are also colorful but non-consumable. These have more reading and a consistent pattern: construct meaning (instruction), check understanding (short problem set), practice (more extensive problems), and apply (word problems) or review. Both worktext types utilize a nice variety. There are Chapter Check-Ups as well as an end-of-the chapter Study Guide. Calculator use is taught from Grade 1 and problems occasionally instruct the student to use a calculator.
We have also assembled Manipulative Kits for each grade level. Items in these kits are mentioned in the teacher guides as suggestions for demonstrating concepts. Manipulatives arent required, but these kits have been assembled for the convenience of those who choose to use manipulatives. There are other items mentioned in the teacher guides that are not included in our kits. They are items that may only be used a few times or might be something you can skip or may already have at home. Some items are a little more expensive, so substitutions have been made where possible others have been omitted. If you have purchased the manipulative kit for the previous level of this curriculum, Add-on Kits are available. These kits are just the additional items needed for the next grade level.
Second Edition materials reflect an obvious graphics and appearance update as well as a complete lesson "re-do." The courses have retained all of their many excellent features but there are some welcome differences. In general, within the colorful and engaging books there is a greater emphasis on skill development, mastery, cumulative review and formative assessment. The STAR methodology is still foundational but there is a greater emphasis on STEMs interdisciplinary approach. Chapter assessments are available in a traditional test format as well as in an editable test bank. Lessons include hands-on activities, conceptual understanding, problem solving, application, modeling, reasoning, and strands of algebra and geometry. The many supplemental teacher resources are found online (older stock will still include a CD-ROM) including blackline masters, transparency masters, memory masters, test banks, warmups, pre-assessments, materials lists, computer presentations and visuals. Cumulative reviews are provided every third chapter and a comprehensive year-end cumulative review is usable as the next grades pre-assessment test. Second edition Teachers Manuals are even more user-friendly and attractive (and they were excellent before); reduced color copies of the student pages are found in the TM. Also, the TM format matches the other Purposeful Design Bible and Science courses. Im glad to see this quality update of an excellent program. ~ Janice