Parents, here is an overview of the curriculum for next year’s math classes for children around early second grade — Thursday morning in Alameda and Tuesday morning in Concord.
CURRICULUM — MIQUON
The Concord class will begin in the fall at about halfway through the Miquon Red Book, and we will choose topics as needed for the children to finish up the Red Book, then begin the Blue. The Alameda section, having stared in January of this year, is ready to begin the Blue Book in September. To help you understand the Miquon series, I’ve reproduced three representative pages from the Red Book, with comments.
Because Miquon organizes their workbooks into more or less parallel topics, more advanced students can work with similar topics in the Blue book while others work in the Red Book. This works because what I teach in the lessons is problem-solving, which isn’t taught in any of the Miquon books, nor any other standard curriculum. You need live lessons for that. But the parts complement each other: problem-solving in our weekly lessons together plus skill reinforcement during the week as homework.
This is the last page of Miquon’s 24 page introduction to fractions. Miquon (and the Waldorf curriculum) is unusual in teaching all four operations in first grade, plus fractions, but I think this is correct. Children should get this broad conceptual understanding from the beginning.
The last page of the division unit. Children can solve these problems with Cuisenaire Rods or a novel abacus invented by the RightStart Math. Additionally, now that they know the meaning of all the operations, the children can solve word problems. With my Alameda class recently, for example: The baker baked sixteen pies, but after she set them out to cool, a rascally boy took two of the pies and ate them. Half of the remaining pies were lemon, half were cherry. How many lemon pies were there? Children solve this three ways: arranging manipulatives to tell the story, with a drawing, and finally with a math sentence.
This page demonstrates one of the reasons I like the Miquon series. These two sets of questions are quietly about the distributive property and about average, without cluttering things by prematurely mentioning those terms. This is math the way a mathematician sees it, and it is intellectually beautiful. In class, the children translate the ideas behind these exercises into words and then into hand gestures.
CURRICULUM – RIGHT START
I encourage parents to use a second curriculum alongside the Miquon books. RightStart Math is a curriculum of 300 math games, designed by a mathematician, and strongly influenced by Montessori methods. They bundle a kit with several decks of cards, game instructions, and an innovative abacus. The games appeal to young children and they offer a good complement to the Miquon workbooks. As good as Miquon is, it is even better for the child to get their nose out of a workbook now and then and do math in a more visceral game format.
In September, I suspect the children would only be up for lessons that are 1 1/2 hours, but I would like to ramp them up to being able, by January, to lessons that are two hours long. I’ve been successful at keeping childrens’ enthusiasm for 1 1/2 hours without a break, but it all depends on the group. For a longer class, they would need a small break.
The Miquon series is paced at one workbook per semester. We will stay with Miquon through Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, and at least part of Purple, and then segue in about two years to the Beast Academy series, published by The Art of Problem-Solving. This is the deepest and best-written math curriculum that I’ve found for grades 3-5. I can talk at length about it and show you some of their books, but that math is two years away!
In the mean time, if you have more immediate questions about next year’s math, please email or phone me. firstname.lastname@example.org , 510 417 5736.