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Our New Math Curriculum ~ Teaching Textbooks

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In a few weeks I’ll be sharing our full curriculum line-up for the 2010-2011 school year. I had mentioned a little bit ago that we were already switching over our homeschool math curriculum for both of the girls and they will be continuing with the new program through the summer and then next year.

What did we switch to? Teaching Textbooks.

Are we liking it? Absolutely yes…but this is going to be a lengthy post. :)

We’ve used Abeka since we started homeschooling {and for now Zachary will continue to use it} but during the second half of our school year Laurianna’s frustration was mounting with math ~ and there were many days that resulted in tears for her. In doing the {numerous} reviews for math products this last year, we found one thing that seemed to help her and make it easier ~ the computer.

If I put a worksheet in front of her with 20 problems, she would start, redo, recheck and take f.o.r.e.v.e.r. to complete even five problems. Give her 20 similar problems on the computer and she would answer them in very little time, many times figuring the answer in her head ~ and correctly. Math problems that would have taken her five minutes apiece if done using the worksheet.

The difference? Generally with the computer she is getting instant feedback and won’t sit there second-guessing her answers. If she gets one wrong on the computer, she just moves on without a fuss.

We tried several sample lessons of Teaching Textbooks online, took a few placement test and decided to order Math level 4 for her, even though she is closer to the level 5. Abeka covered different concepts, but truthfully the endless worksheets were killing us.

Our goal was to start her on Math level 4 at the end of the year and have her work on a few lessons each week so she would gain confidence in herself and her math skills {because she is smart, she just doesn’t think she is no matter how much encouragement she receives from us}. Essentially, she is reviewing concepts right now, but we’ll move her into level 5 somewhere in the middle of our school year.

Coughing up roughly $100 for the program was a little difficult ~ but we are loving it enough that we ordered {and are waiting for} the Math 3 Kit for McKenna to use. We also only ordered the cd-roms and not the workbooks to go along with the cds at this point, since they can do any problems on scratch paper at this point.

With Teaching Textbooks, basically you watch the lesson, do the problems and then review any of the problems that you missed or need help on. Each lesson has a guided lecture, Q/A time and it self-corrects. When Laurianna is done with her lesson, I’m able to print off her scores to put into our record book, along with any quiz scores {love this!!}. The parent section of the software allows me to have her repeat a lesson if needed, change answers and also shows me specifically where/if she needs help.

Even though the program is a bit more pricey, it can be used again from year-to-year with the rest of our children {making it $25/child for us}, includes a passcode for 2 computers {you can call if more are needed} and it can also be resold {hooray!!}.

The biggest question is ~ does Laurianna like it and is it actually working for her? She actually asks to do her math lessons now, so that should give you some indication of how it is going at our house.

That and McKenna is upset that her program hasn’t arrived yet.


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  1. Our boys loved going to the TT website to do the samples of the math lessons. It was like a computer game to them. They have been doing that for a couple of years now, while working on Singapore Math. We ordered TT 3 this year and may order a higher level for our 5th grader when he does some work in Math-U-See to build up some of his skills first. I just really like how Steve Demme teaches certain concepts in MUS better. But, if the kids will DO their math joyfully on TT, then it seems like a good idea to switch. Less begging kids to “please just finish” their math! :)

  2. I have been researching tirelessly for possibly a new math curriculum. I have really been looking hard at Teaching Textbooks but am concerned that my 2nd grader who was in public schools for K & 1st grade and is now homeschooled and using Horizons 2nd grade math (only about a quarter of the way through it) can already test out of the 3rd grade TT placement exam and tests out of the majority of the 4th grade placement exam. Even though he is advanced in his math knowledge, he really doesn’t like to do math because it seems so tedious to him. Horizons just really is very thorough and I love it but he hates the constant review and number of problems. It takes him 1-2 hours just to complete his math lesson and it is very teacher-intensive which I do not like. I really love the idea of TT being on the computer and everything is taught, practiced, graded and corrected right there- working on the computer is definitely right up his alley. My biggest concern is that because it appears that we should start him with 4th grade or 5th grade based on the placement exams when he is technically only a 3rd grader next year, will he be challenged enough and will everything be taught? I follow your blog and have really gained a lot of insight and direction from your homeschool journey (especially over the year and half I agonized in prayer over whether I was being called to homeschool or not) so I really would love to hear your thoughts based on using this curriculum with your children and how it has been going since you wrote this review. Thank you so much.

    • Emily,

      I know that our kids tested a little higher than they were supposed to initially, but remember that there may be concepts covered during the year that they may not have covered before {i.e. so if you skip a level, there may be gaps}. My best advice – I would call TT directly and ask them their advice. They are super helpful {I’ve chatted with them at various homeschool conventions}.

      Another thing that we’ve done with our kids when it is a concept that they know/understand – they will listen to the lecture for one lesson and do the practice questions {not the rest of the lesson} and then move to the next lesson and do the FULL lesson. If they get anything lower than a 96% they need to go back and do the entire lesson that they skipped. :)

      All of our kids have loved TT – and we still use it with our oldest three and are waiting for our youngest to be old enough to use it as well!

    • Sharon Hanna Canaday says

      I too, transitioned from Horizons to TT, and found that the kids could skip a grade, or even two. As was mentioned above, Horizons is very thorough, and, in my opinion, pretty advanced (they start algebra concepts very early, that is for sure). Math curriculum writers typically build in a lot of practice and review, right into their curriculum. TT teaches thoroughly and typically ensures that the child learns it well the first time, and so does not need quite so much re-view and re-visiting of the same concept over and over.

      I have found, though, that the first several weeks of every level is quite a LOT of review, and my children get frustrated with it, so I have started doing something, this year, similar to what you are doing. If they feel they know the material in a particular chapter, they can skip to the quiz, and take it. If they place at 96% or higher, they can skip the chapter. If not, they have to go back and do all the lessons in the chapter, or, if I have time, I will single out the lessons they particularly need.

      The pre-algebra year, in particular, has a GREAT deal of review…

  3. Sharon Hanna Canaday says

    we are HUGE fans of TT. We started our now-twenty-year-old in it when we transitioned from unschooling to more structured school and it did a very good job of catching her up on any of the ‘holes’ we missed by not using a structured school curriculum up to that point. We have five other children, and have gradually filled in almost all of their levels, in fact, I think this year, I bought the last one, that I didnt’ have before, with the possible exception of pre-calc. which I’m not sure I will ever buy… (that’s another post)
    Two things:
    #1 – it’s worth it to invest in them, especially if you have younger kids who will grow up into them. They don’t take much space to store and are timeless. And if there are upgrades, TT is a VERY easy company to work with, keeping things current. In all the times I’ve called, I don’t remember EVER getting a recording, unless it was outside of business hours. Also, they hold their re-sale value VERY well. (and we have found that buying just the disks works fine, too. We keep a white board/marker by the computer and the kids work their problems on that. No need for the workbook.)

    #2 – It’s a good idea to buy direct from the company, because they do do updates now and then, and if you buy from CBD you may miss an update. CBD carries stock, and they may stock several hundred copies of a certain grade and then, TT does an upgrade, and you end up with the ‘old’ version, even though you paid full price, and then you have to pay $20 for the ‘patch’. That happened to me once. I always buy directly from TT now.

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