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KristinK
03-26-2011, 09:19 PM
what does this mean? I've noticed a few people say that their child is following a "mastery program"...

which programs are "mastery programs"? do you just mean that they master a subject before moving on? (and isn't that just the normal way of doing things...?)

TIA!

SueEllen Grieves-Curl
03-27-2011, 09:17 AM
Units are the same way. They usually cover only one thing. You learn everything you can about that subject before you move on to the next item. This works well for us because we can focus on one thing at a time and not be all across the board.

Hampchick
03-27-2011, 09:34 AM
I still find it difficult to understand the difference between mastery and spiral. To me its all mastery in the end (hopefully), but with spiral you get little bits of the information in ever increasing complexity as you go up the spiral. Some programs are a combination of the two. The math we use, Right Start seems to be both spiral and mastery. Spiral because it introduces new concepts in bite sized bits but coming back to them again and again for more complexity or from a different angle. Mastery because you spend a long time focusing on addition (up to 4 digits) before moving on to multiplication and subtraction.

Ariadne
03-27-2011, 09:48 AM
Hmm...I just looked and I'm wrong about Math-U-See anyway. lol They cover other stuff, it's just that they have main topics for each level. :) I should've stuck to curricula I've actually used or own, since I have enough of them.No, I think you're right. Math-U-See is definitely mastery, even by their own description. "Mastery" doesn't imply "no review". It just implies "Our main topic will be X until your kid proves he knows it thoroughly." Conversely, "spiral" doesn't imply "your child won't master the topic" so much as "he'll get there eventually, let's keep things varied in the meantime".


I still find it difficult to understand the difference between mastery and spiral. To me its all mastery in the end (hopefully), but with spiral you get little bits of the information in ever increasing complexity as you go up the spiral. Some programs are a combination of the two. Yeah, the goal is to master the subject in the end, but I don't know that I'd call that a "mastery program". I think when most people describe math as being mastery or spiral, they're referring to the method for getting from A to B, not the end goal.

I think of mastery vs. spiral like this:

You're shopping in the produce department of your newly-opened Whole Foods. (That store has some interesting stuff in it and is fun to browse.) You don't really need to buy a lot of things, but you do have the time today to look around if you want to. So you have a choice:

1) Do you only visit their massive produce department today (and maybe even on the next few visits) until you really know what they have, and only then move on to dairy and so forth? It'll take you longer to get through the store, but you'll really know what that store has to offer--and in which department it's kept--by the time you're through.

2) Or do you browse the whole store, getting a little taste of everything the store has to offer, with each subsequent visit being done the same way -- eventually you'll get the whole layout. It may be more jumbled in your mind, but you'll have had a bird's-eye view of the store.

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Either way works. It's a preference thing. It's a right-brain, left-brain thing. It's a sensory overload vs. boredom thing.

When homeschoolers say, "We are moderately structured but have NO problems dropping the structure to chase bunny trails", they are describing a hybrid of spiral and mastery, imo at any rate. I think of it as having a supermarket loaded with hotlinks: Want to know more about this cauliflower and where it was grown? Click and dive deeper (to master the cauliflower) and return when you're done.

I don't know if that makes any sense but I've used that analogy before, elsewhere, and it seemed to help clarify things for some people. :)

dbmamaz
03-27-2011, 11:51 AM
Maybe i'm wrong here, but in math, i think there is also different ways that different kids learn. Some kids really UNDERSTAND the math, and once they get a concept, they get it. They wont need much in the way of review or practice once they get it. Other kids have to learn it more by rote - they do it over and over and start to learn the pattern or the process, but its easy to forget, so it needs to come back around to give them more practice until its really cemented in their brains. these are the kids who often felt like in public school, by the time they started to really get it, the class moved on to something else and they werent really able to be successful. I believe that systems aiming to be mastery make it easier for the kid to move on once they really get it, where as a kid who totally gets it will be really annoyed by a system which brings something up over and over for review without getting to move on to new and exciting content.

but this could just be my predjudice. I mean, you can adjust any system to work for your kid by adding extra practice problems or skipping problems. Right?

Ariadne
03-27-2011, 11:56 AM
Maybe i'm wrong here, but in math, i think there is also different ways that different kids learn. Some kids really UNDERSTAND the math, and once they get a concept, they get it. They wont need much in the way of review or practice once they get it. Other kids have to learn it more by rote - they do it over and over and start to learn the pattern or the process, but its easy to forget, so it needs to come back around to give them more practice until its really cemented in their brains. these are the kids who often felt like in public school, by the time they started to really get it, the class moved on to something else and they werent really able to be successful. I believe that systems aiming to be mastery make it easier for the kid to move on once they really get it, where as a kid who totally gets it will be really annoyed by a system which brings something up over and over for review without getting to move on to new and exciting content.

but this could just be my predjudice. I mean, you can adjust any system to work for your kid by adding extra practice problems or skipping problems. Right?I agree with you.

But to make things confusing it can also work in reverse. Mastery can work well for a child who is overwhelmed easily and needs to "park it" for a while because they don't learn quickly, and the spiral approach is too "busy" for them. Meanwhile, a child who learns quickly may also thrive on variety and a quick pace, and spiral can work really well for them.

Makes your head spin, doesn't it? :D

dbmamaz
03-27-2011, 01:11 PM
spinning like a spiral

SueEllen Grieves-Curl
03-27-2011, 04:46 PM
Most PS are spiral when it comes to teaching anything. Take math for instance. They will cover addition and subtraction in Kindergarten. In grade 1 they will go over that material and than go into 2 and 3 digit addition and subtraction. Than they will give just a small amount of other things like measurements, fractions, algebra, and even geometry. However they will give it in a way that it only set a seed in their mind. And each year they will be given more of that info. The hope is that when the child reaches High School Algebra and Geometry it is not all that hard for them to understand.
Mastery is you learn each item until you master it than you move on. There really is no crossing of material unless it is directly related to it.

KristinK
03-27-2011, 08:48 PM
so, to do a "mastery" program of math, you would do addition, and only addition until they knew it all? up to carrying over I guess? So you wouldn't introduce any time/measurement/money or anything? just addition every day until the kid says "OKAY I KNOW it!" ?

if that's the case, then after they master something like addition, you'd do subtraction, then maybe time, money, measurement....and they wouldn't be asked to practice addition again until all the other units were finished?

hmmm, I guess I don't really get it. because unless you only do one subject every day until it's mastered, they will always be "sampling" different things, etc....no? each time you change subjects?

dbmamaz
03-27-2011, 10:48 PM
I think the computerized systems take mastery to a new level, to an extent. With ALEKs, if you got 3 right in a row of a particular type of problem, it let you move on and you wont see anything else of that type - tho of course later things will build on that. Khan academy you have to get 10 correct within an area - but I think their areas are broader maybe.

KristinK
03-28-2011, 01:57 PM
thanks Corrigan!

I'm thinking "mastery" won't work for my dd7. She gets bored SO fast with repetition, so for math I generally do a couple of things each day.
Will keep playing around with ideas...

Ariadne
03-28-2011, 05:24 PM
I'm a former math teacher and a math curriculum junkie. Forgive me for my lack of brevity, lol.


thanks Corrigan!

I'm thinking "mastery" won't work for my dd7. She gets bored SO fast with repetition, so for math I generally do a couple of things each day.
Will keep playing around with ideas...When you say she gets bored with repetition, what do you mean exactly? I can see that being taken several ways re: math programs. (Ay yi yi!)

For example, I have two kids who learn things quickly. They also like variety. I have found that a spiral approach works well for them, though I've been careful which program I use (not too much drill, e.g. Saxon or Horizons) and I let them skip lessons occasionally.

OTOH, a good friend's daughter and another friend's son also learn things quickly. Each of them have thrived with mastery programs because they don't have much repetition once they move on. The boy uses Math-U-See with great success, and if he shows that he knows the material within a few worksheets--or even one--she lets him move on, knowing he will get some review on the D, E, and F pages of each lesson.

The girl has found great success with using Singapore, and her mom uses it similarly to how my other friend uses MUS.

I used MUS in the beginning, but my dd went through both Alpha and Beta in first grade. As she finished up Beta, she very quietly and seriously said to me, "Please don't make me ever do this program again." LOL

I love Singapore and would do it in a heartbeat--it's how I tend to teach them anyway--but my oldest is very, very time consuming + the other two like independence. They are thriving with Teaching Textbooks at a grade ahead (one kid two grades ahead) of schedule.

All of this to say, I'd ask myself a question: Does my daughter need daily variety of topics? Or would she rather only spend enough time with any topic to get it and move on? Some of those spiral programs (e.g. Horizons) have tons of colorful variety, but for a child who learns quickly there may just be too. many. problems. and the same things over and over. In that case I'd just mark off some of the problems and be willing to skip ahead.

Hope you find something in all of that to be helpful. :-)

dbmamaz
03-28-2011, 05:47 PM
See, my older son is very, very time consuming. He's SO VERY slow in calculations. I let him often do every other problem - we are using Singapore New Syllabus. But i did make him do every single problem in the last review in the practice book on the last section in algebra (for this year's book), because he really needed. I swear it took us 3 full weeks to get through those 4 pages. PAINFUL. But i really dont think a video course would work for him, because he so often forgets basic, obvious things, so often has anxiety so I just have to sit next to him . . . i just dont see a 'watch a video and do the problems' saving me any time, and it sure would cost a lot more money. I HAVE to know exactly what he's working on because he forgets every single thing instantly, so I HAVE to be able to turn back the page and say, Remember what we did here? and if not, I have to quickly review it for him.

Sorry, i'm still so frustrated w him and math!

Ariadne
03-28-2011, 08:00 PM
See, my older son is very, very time consuming. He's SO VERY slow in calculations. I let him often do every other problem - we are using Singapore New Syllabus. But i did make him do every single problem in the last review in the practice book on the last section in algebra (for this year's book), because he really needed. I swear it took us 3 full weeks to get through those 4 pages. PAINFUL. But i really dont think a video course would work for him, because he so often forgets basic, obvious things, so often has anxiety so I just have to sit next to him . . . i just dont see a 'watch a video and do the problems' saving me any time, and it sure would cost a lot more money. I HAVE to know exactly what he's working on because he forgets every single thing instantly, so I HAVE to be able to turn back the page and say, Remember what we did here? and if not, I have to quickly review it for him.

Sorry, i'm still so frustrated w him and math!I am so with you. Even if my son is doing TT5, I have to sit nearby. His score is better with me watching. He's like a little kid who wants to say "Look at me, Mom!"

I feel your pain on taking weeks to get through a handful of pages. We have BTDT more times than I can count. :-(

dbmamaz
03-28-2011, 09:16 PM
I just checked - a year of high-school level singapore is $50 (ignoring the teachers materials, which they say is not worth getting for homeschoolers), and TT is about 200? thats a really big difference!

Ariadne
03-28-2011, 09:37 PM
I just checked - a year of high-school level singapore is $50 (ignoring the teachers materials, which they say is not worth getting for homeschoolers), and TT is about 200? thats a really big difference!I know!!! Ack.

Mine will get used by more than one kid so that helps.

They have terrific resale value because the company doesn't have a problem with reselling it. They don't even have a problem with borrowing from a friend! (A friend and I are switching next year for two of our kids, and we'll have to get new install codes from the company. I called them about it and they were like, "No problem." They have excellent customer service and seem to be going for customer satisfaction paying out for them in the long run.

You might want to check out Homeschool Classifieds to see what the used ones go for.

High-school level Singapore is hard to teach, too, except for 1) the experienced, or 2) the highly motivated. It is also challenging to line up with traditional American class designations because geometry, algebra, pre-cal, etc are all mixed together.

It is an excellent program, though, that will prepare math-y types well for things like engineering school.

dbmamaz
03-28-2011, 10:30 PM
Well, i'm a mathy type . . . him, not quite so much. But we started with ALEKs, Life of Fred, and a couple of books we tried from the library. This has worked best for us so far, simply because I go over everything with him, and i can just gently and patiently (most days) go over it again and again, ask him in a different way until he remembers, etc. I dont use the highest level one, but one of the older middle-range ones. Really, I think its partly because it does DEMAND i be here, whereas LOF and ALEKS and idiots guide to algebra and whatever else we tried were all supposed to be self-directed. Plus, since I like the system, it makes it easier for me to be patient with it. Like it suits me best as a teacher, and since he really needs individual one-on-one hand-holding teaching, what works for me is probably a big part of the answer.

I am rather hoping that my younger one will be in school for high school - but he's also mathy enough that I could see going the AOPS direction rather than sticking w singapore. But i'll keep the books, in case.

Oh, and I actually took my school's 9th grade math class when I was in 8th grade, which was half algebra and half geometry, and then moved to the public school and had to start over w 9th grade math. Which was annoying. but there is no way my older son is going to high school.

KristinK
03-30-2011, 09:57 PM
I'm a former math teacher and a math curriculum junkie. Forgive me for my lack of brevity, lol.

...

All of this to say, I'd ask myself a question: Does my daughter need daily variety of topics? Or would she rather only spend enough time with any topic to get it and move on? Some of those spiral programs (e.g. Horizons) have tons of colorful variety, but for a child who learns quickly there may just be too. many. problems. and the same things over and over. In that case I'd just mark off some of the problems and be willing to skip ahead.

Hope you find something in all of that to be helpful. :-)

I have no issues with the lack of brevity :) I am really NOT good at remembering which curric is which, so thank you for taking time to spell some of it out.
And my dd is definately the type that wants to only spend as much time as she must, then move on.

hmmm, I realy have no clue what to plan for next year. This year I didn't buy any "real" curriculum. I bought a couple of workbooks such as "Canadian Gr1 Curriculum" and Brainquest Gr1, and she flew through those. I have a "Gr 2-3 Math" workbook from somewhere that she has half-finished, as well as things I've printed out from online (SmartPads books from the Scholastic site, word problems, time/money word problems, etc). So it's all really a mish-mash. I kinda feel like I need something more for next year so that I know that I've covered what she needs to know.