Making Math Meaningful
In the words of author David Quine, "Making Math Meaningful is based upon the idea that people are a special creation of God with abilities and needs to worship, to create, and to reason. With Making Math Meaningful children are taught to reason, to understand, and to apply what they learn - not simply parrot back information!" The curriculum stresses understanding concepts over computational practice.
This is a complete math program for levels K-6. Each Parent-Teacher Guide consists of a series of highly organized activities, or lessons. Chapter objectives are clearly stated. Each lesson is separated into "What I am to Say" and "What I am to Do" sections that the teacher can easily follow. There are three basic lesson types: Exploring, Naming, and Applying the Concept. In Exploring, the child investigates a concept. Manipulatives are used in levels K-3 to provide concrete examples. In Naming, math terminology is introduced. In Applying, the child practices the concept or skill.
A suggested teaching schedule is provided, but the teacher should move at the student's pace. Quine recommends that children be taught math during longer periods of time, 1.5-2 hours, for 2-3 days a week. This provides sufficient time for the teacher to introduce whole concepts and the student to digest the information. If a grade level is completed before the school year ends, move to the next level. Otherwise, stop and pick up at the same point for the following year. After completing level 6, students should be ready for Algebra I.
Sets for levels K-4 consist of a Parent-Teacher Guide (includes answers to the workbook exercises) and a Student Workbook. Level 5 has a Student Directed Workbook only with answers at the end of the workbook. Level 6 has a Student Directed Text only with answers at the end of the text. Also available is a math manipulative kit for grades K-3 that includes 50 Unifix Cubes, 100 Counting Chips, and 100 Connecting Links. Other required materials are listed at the beginning of each activity and can generally be found around the house.
One aspect I liked about the Parent-Teacher Guides is every lesson is an activity. Students cannot be passive about learning math when they are asked to count pennies, dimes, and dollars (to learn about base 10 place value) or to equally divide a loaf of bread for a family of 8 (to learn about fractions). This program does a great job presenting "real-life" math problems to which students can easily relate. For example, division problems are presented in the context of a family's summer travels across the U.S. and the distance they traveled between cities.
Although I agree with Quine in emphasizing concepts over computation, my concern is that there may be students who need more practice in computation than is provided. Personally, the more practice I got, the better my computational skills became. If this is the case for your child, you may need to find a suitable computational supplement. Also, there are no written tests or quizzes for this curriculum. The rationale here is that the parent should know whether or not the child has understood a concept since he/she interacts so closely with the child in this program. However, for student-directed levels (5 & 6), there are evaluations by the chapter. ~ Anh