Monday, August 1, 2016

Our math curriculum

Sasha Fradkin (who writes one of our favorite blogs) asked a question about the curriculum we use. My reply was getting long, so I decided to make it into a separate post.

Do we use an existing curriculum or are we making our own?

We are doing a mix. My wife prefers to have a linear curriculum as a guide and fall-back, in case there wasn't time to plan anything more customized. She currently uses:

  • RightStart/Abacus Math: ok, but not exceptional curriculum, highlight is the extensive use of physical manipulatives.  
  • Beast Academy workbooks: wrote more extensively about this in a review before. I think these create good jumping-off points for really fun conversations. 
  • DreamBox: for consolidation of standard skills, our enthusiasm for this is waning, rather than waxing right now (noted in same review as BA). 
We also use the CCSS math standards as a reference. I periodically check against the standards to see whether we are missing anything. If so, I will go to the Georgia Standards of Excellence, read through their activities for the related unit, and pick a couple that seem fun.

If I were forced to use only a single source, GSE would be my recommendation.
About Georgia Standards of Excellence
As far as K-5 math, this is a really awesome resource with a ton of great activities. For some reason, we find the webpage organization a bit confusing, so here is our quick recipe.  
To get to the great activities, I click the expansion menu in the right-hand box for the grade level of interest, then look at the curriculum map for that grade. I find the topic of interest, then click the link for the unit that covers that topic. The unit doc includes a lot of teacher background, which I mostly skip and focus on the activity descriptions.
Games and explorations
My personal preference is much less structured. I really like games and explorations and spend a lot of time exploring math activities on the MTBoS. Most of what I do with the kids is inspired by something I saw while doing my own play.

That said, there are some sources that are so good, we are essentially going through all of their activities:

  1. Mathpickle. Cannot say enough positive about this.
  2. Peter Liljedah's numeracy activities. Now that I notice them, I bet his good problems, card tricks, and resources pages will all have gems as well. 
  3. NRICH and Wild Maths.

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