Math Planning- How Do I Do It?


I know some of you are interested in how we plan out our math lessons using Math on the Level. Or perhaps you aren’t using any curriculum and want to use various resources to do math. Or perhaps you are just looking for something extra for your math curriculum or you want to tweak it a little. What does that look like? How do I do it? Let me see if I can explain.

First of all, Math on the Level gives you a list of concepts that students should know in roughly four basic areas of math before they can do Algebra. The author gives some information on what is chronological or what concepts are built on others, but she leaves other things for teaching any time. You don’t have to have a program like Math on the Level to do this sort of teaching. What you need is a concept list and some benchmarks- if you have a math program, the publisher has already laid out a scope and sequence for that grade. Or you can try the What My ___ Grader Needs to Know series and check out what that program says is appropriate for each grade level- another bench mark source.

Since I’ve been using MOTL for a few years now, I was able to come up with a list for what my 6th grader should be working on based on what she has left before Algebra. I simply listed many of those things out but not all of them because she still has 1-3 years left depending on when she begins Algebra I (8th or 9th grade). I did the same thing with my 1st and 4th graders. Sometimes it’s easy. You know your child needs to master long division or multiplication tables and that will be a major focus for the year.

A portion of R11’s target concepts for the year
I9’s list- they are color coded so I can see easily the various breakdowns of “units”. So, decimals and money or operations or fractions, etc. That is how MOTL separates them out.
I keep a list of our math resources- books, websites, and games or activities close by in my planner.

In general, I like to teach new concepts about twice a week– sometimes three. Right now I have it so that I do the same unit with the three younger kids. That way I can work with them all at the same time covering the new concepts easily with each student at his/her level. I like activities that illustrate a concept and have some problem solving component to them to challenge my older kids. Most of my activities I can modify for the different skill sets.

I choose from the list of concepts from the same topic– For example, this year I’ve started with Money and Decimals. I won’t exhaust every concept right now, but we’ll spend about three weeks on this adding new concepts to the review list. Then it will be time to switch gears and go with a focus on Operations or Geometry and Measurement or even Fractions. I plan to cycle through these areas of focus throughout the year, each time getting closer to the end of the list of concepts I need to teach for the year.

Where do I get the activities? I start with my MOTL manual which has a lot of ideas for activities to go with each concept. There are also math adventure and math resource manuals which provide a lot of ideas on lessons, games, etc that can be used with any concept. I also use the math resources I have collected over the years. Some of them are books written to the kids and some are more teacher friendly, but they all have really clever ideas on how to incorporate math skills into activities of all sorts.

We do a combination of hands on activities and exploration along with things like Life of Fred, games, and computer practice. Sometimes I pull extra problems if a student needs more work on a topic. I use the white board to break things up. So, if someone needs to practice multiple digit multiplication, he can do problems on the white board. I also practice timed math skills- something that I am not all that worried about but my children to experience when taking standardized test and this year is a testing year for three of my kids. In NY we test every other year starting at 4th and until 8th. After that, they must be tested every year. Otherwise, we I turn in a narrative assessment at the year’s end.

I hope this explains some of how we do math here in our homeschool. I’ll be sharing activities, ideas, and resources along the way.

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  1. Thank you for sharing. The concept list is a good idea. I remember also seeing a benchmark list (or something similar) on an online encyclopedia. It might have been World Book.

  2. The idea of having a list of target concepts for each child is great! I tend to be a little haphazard with math and skip around, but I need a list to help me ensure that I'm covering everything. I did make a list of our math resources, which has helped me to remember to use them! You've really inspired me to use lists–usually even if I have a list I forget where the list is, but I'm trying to do better with that. 🙂

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