Tuesday, September 25, 2012


A few months ago I posted a list of all the curricula I planned on using with Lydia this year, including a post on math specifically.  When I wrote that, I really didn't understand my teaching style or Lydia's learning style.  At least I knew that fact, which is why I had many resources from which to pull.  I've already mentioned that I'm dropping MEP Reception.  I think it is probably a good program, but I didn't enjoy teaching it and Lydia didn't do well with it either.  We're also finding that Essential Math A is going way faster than I planned.  I planned on using it for the whole year and she's going to finish it this week! That means I have to decide whether to move to Essential Math B or take a break with it for a while.  Looking through it, EM B starts speeding up much faster, and I'm not sure if Lydia will be able to keep up with the concepts.  That, and I didn't plan on hitting it until Kindergarten, and she's still barely 4.  So now I have to decide whether to take a break or just spread it out. I'm not sure what I'll decide.

In the meantime, however, I'm absolutely loving Miquon!  I guess you could say that math always came easily to me.  I enjoyed it in school, and although I only got to Calculus, I did enjoy it up until then, and I feel like I understood it.  I want my daughters to really understand the why's of math and not just the how, you know?  Miquon looks very promising to accomplish just that.

For those unfamiliar with Miquon, here's a bit of history about how it works.  It was a math program developed at the Miquon School in Pennsylvania in the 70s for grades 1-3.  There isn't a "teacher's guide" per se, but there is quite a bit of guidance.  It relies a lot on the teacher being comfortable teaching concepts and facilitating learning through exploration.  There are 6 "lab sheet" books that are named different colors.  Right now we're working on the first one which is Orange.  There is also a book that has some guidance on how to use the lab sheets, called Lab Sheet Annotations.  You can buy a book called First Grade Diary that is basically just Lore Rasmussen's (the lady who developed Miquon Math) daily diary about what she did in her class and how she overcame different students' hangups.  These are the two most helpful books.

Making 1:1 corresponding tallies and then finding the rod that goes with the number of objects in the picture.

Every lab sheet is numbered with a letter and a number.  The letter corresponds to a concept (A is counting, C is addition, etc.) and the number just identifies the lab sheet within the concept.  Here's a chart that shows what I mean. Because the lab sheets are divided this way, you can jump around as necessary.  So if the addition concepts start getting to be too much for Lydia, we can switch over to clocks or whatever else she's ready for.  It really adds a lot of flexibility for the teacher and the student.

One integral part of Miquon is Cuisenaire Rods.  They are a very simple math manipulative.  There are 10 rods.  They are different lengths, in centimeters from 1 cm to 10 cm, and each length is the same color.  It is amazing all the math concepts that can be taught with these.

The first task we had to do was have Lydia learn the different number/color combinations.  We've had our rods for almost a year now and she has had lots of time to play with them.  For her, though, it took much more formal teaching to help her learn that the white equals 1 or the yellow equals 5 (at least for now.  They can change depending on what you are teaching).  She has them down now.

Because of my goals and the fact that she is 4 and is enjoying it, we are working very slowly.  I want to be sure that she actually understands before we move on.  This often requires demonstrating concepts not on the lab sheets.  For this, the videos at Education Unboxed are proving to be very valuable.  They show how to use the rods to teach various concepts.  I also use ideas from the First Grade Diary and the Lab Sheet Annotations book.

I'm hoping Miquon continues to be as great as it has so far.  It has a promising beginning at least.

Update 10-21-15:
Lydia didn't make it very far in Miquon Orange. She just wasn't internalizing the concepts the way the program wanted her to. She needed more explicit instruction. However, Eleanor is now finished the Orange book and is almost done with the Red book. It is perfect for her. She sees the connections it wants her to see. Here's how we do it.

Every day, I let her pick a page to do and I pick a page to do. The only rule is that it has to be the next page in a sequence, so if she wants a page from letter L, she has to do 1 before 2 or 3. This usually works pretty well for us because if I see that the page she picks looks like it will take a while, I pick a page that will be fairly quick, or vice versa. Plus, I can keep her working on more difficult concepts when she would naturally do all the easiest pages first. On occasion, pages take longer than I anticipate, in which case I won't make her do both that day.

To keep track of our progress, I mark each page she completes on the progress sheet at the beginning of each lab book. Some people prefer to let the kids keep going on a certain letter track over multiple books, but I prefer to finish a book at a time. That might change at some point, but it is working so far.

Despite having two very different math learners so far, I'm still in love with Miquon for those who make the connections naturally.

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