Thursday, April 2, 2020

Math U See (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

One issue we have had with math learning is that Ashleigh struggled with addition and subtraction.  She does okay with multiplication and division but even simple addition requires her to use her hands to count. At a conference we attended last year, the speaker spoke about how his own daughter struggled with math.  His suggestion is take a step back and start at square one and allow the student to master those early facts.
When we were offered to review Accelerated Individualized Mastery (AIM) for Addition and Subtraction from Math-U-See , we knew this would be perfect for helping us build that foundation for Ashleigh.

In the package we found everything needed for the program. This included the resource guide and information for registering online to access the digital toolkit to use with the program, a set of integer blocks, a pack of 10 colored pencils that are aligned to the colors of the integer blocks, fact check cards to be used with each lesson, and 13 math strategy posters that help to illustrate the strategies used in the program.

AIM stands for Accelerated Individualized Mastery - meaning that this product is designed specificially for students who struggle and have not yet mastered single digit addition and subtraction, causing them to struggle as they advance to other math skills  The program uses three modes of instruction:

  • Accelerated – The opportunity for students to move quickly through a skill set they have not yet mastered, without extra distractions.
  • Individualized – Each student is different, as are their learning preferences. Using as many approaches as possible, the program creates an environment for a student to master the skills they still need at their own pace.
  • Mastery – In this program, mastery means that a student can recall all the math facts using as little mental energy as possible to remain engaged in the process of problem solving.
The AIM program uses explicit teaching and modeling of fact strategies, linking that understanding thru the "build, write, say" process (which I'll describe in just a moment), practicing to mastery by use of both what the student has already learned (referred to as facts known in the program) as well as new addition and subtraction facts, and the use of short, frequent sessions to avoid burn out and maximize retention.

Over the course of 22 lessons, students are taken thru each grouping of addition and subtraction facts.  The first lesson is learning the manipulatives that come with the program.  These are colored block sets that represent a integer. The kids needed to learn to associate the color with the matching number.

Integer blocks in different colors represent numbers for a visual and tactile tool
Once they learned that, the next 9 lesson were spent learning addition groups.  At lesson 11, the course switches to focusing on subtraction facts.  However, for lessons 19-21, addition facts not yet learned are also taught.

Using the program is easy.  The digital toolbox provides videos for the teacher to view before each lesson (although these videos are not necessary for teaching to program).  The first thing the parent must do is have the child take the Before AIM Assessment.  This is a simple series of single digit equations that the child is to answer in 3 seconds or less to give the parent a good understanding as to where the child is before starting the program. (A post AIM Assessment is given after the completion of the course to see the overall improvement).   Once the assessment is completed, the resource guide gives step by step instructions for each lesson.  Lessons are broken down into four sessions (Sessions A, B, C, D) that should last roughly 10-15 minutes each.

Garrett working thru the Build, Write, Say Session
Session A presents the new lesson information.  During this portion, the student uses the Build, Write, Say method.  The teacher presents an equation, to which the student the uses the manipulatives to "build" the problem,  they then write the problem down on a piece of paper, and finally they repeat the equation and the answer aloud.  The student then takes a break.

Session B is demonstrating understanding of the material using word problems.  This confirms that the student can still demonstrate the facts using the manipulatives after taking a break.  If the student does show the need for more practice at this point, the teacher can use the additional activities in the resource guide or also go to the digital toolbox and access various activities to help with more practice.  The student again takes a break following this session.

Ashleigh drawing equations in Session C
Session C is set to transition math facts to the visual memory of the student. This helps the student move from using the manipulatives and instead use the colored pencils to draw the equation rather than build it. The colored pencils coordinate with the same colors as the blocks, so the kids are asked to use them to build the equation on the paper.  The program calls this "fading". The student should be able to draw, write, and say each math fact card for the lesson.  Cards are divided into to piles in this session: facts known and facts not yet known.  Facts known are those the student can draw, write and say from memory where the second pile is those facts the student could not draw, write and say.
These facts are then reinforced by having the student either use the manipulatives to build, write and say the facts or choose a game from the activities section to help them learn the facts.

One of the activities available for extra practice
Session D is Access for Memory.  Using the fact cards, students are asked to solve the equation from memory.  Again, each equation is placed in 2 piles: those equations the child was able to correctly answer quickly and those that the student needs to practice again.  Each equation on the fact card is to be answered correctly three times - each correct answer a star is filled in at the bottom of the card indicating a correct response.  This step is repeated until all fact cards for that lesson have been answered correctly three times and all stars are filled in.  Once all cards are mastered, the student is ready to go on to the next lesson.

In addition to the activities available for extra practice, the digital toolbox also offers a worksheet generator which can create a twenty question printable worksheet to use with your student and drill generators.  You can also print fact mastery charts to use rather than the fact cards.

This program has been pretty straight forward and easy to teach and the kids have taken well to it.. I've on a few occasions found Garrett sitting at the table with the cards and manipulatives working on equations in his spare time.  The tactile association with this program has really appealed to him - I can't say I have ever found Garrett just working on school work for fun outside of school time.

I've noticed a huge difference in both of their abilities to answering equations, which is exactly what I was hoping for.   I plan to spend a few more weeks with this program, allowing them to build more confidence, before we consider ourselves done with the program and ready to resume our regular math curriculum.

#hsreviews #MathUSee #AcceleratedIndividualizedMastery #HomeschoolMath

For more information about Math-U-See and the
Accelerated Individualized Mastery (AIM) for Addition and Subtraction be sure to click the link to their website.  You can also find them on the following social media sites.


Members of the Crew have been using the Accelerated Individualized Mastery (AIM) for Addition and Subtraction program with their families. Be sure to click the link below to be taken to their reviews.
Accelerated Individualized Mastery (AIM) for Addition and Subtraction {Math-U-See Reviews}

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