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Learning Notes: Math & Multiple Choice

September 30, 2008

James stayed up really late Sunday night listening to his audiobooks. He finished Soul Eater by Michelle Paver and started the last book in the series.

He and I worked in Math-U-See Gamma. We are moving into multi-digit multiplication problems that involve regrouping. He has always done math mentally, and he doesn’t want to learn formal, written procedures. I love this. He never falls into rote, step-by-step procedures, so he always has to hold the math concepts in his mind when he works. On the other hand — well, he’s not learning to follow step-by-step procedures.

The disadvantage, a classroom teacher would say, is that he’ll get the point where he’s doing harder problems that he won’t be able to do in his head. Better that he get the hang of the standard procedures on the easier problems, so he’ll be ready. I always wondered whether he would get to a point when he would see the need to write down steps.

Today, we tackled problems like —



I did notice that — for the first time — he was writing things. No neat columns of numbers. He’d simply write: 470 — 120 — 21 Then he’d add the numbers in his head and come up with the answer: 611.

I also noticed that (for a 10-year-old) he was having some difficulty writing the numbers out, and he’s still occasionally reversing numerals. I have read that some kids will actually do mental math do avoid writing. It fits. Mild dyslexia or simply a right brained learner following his own timetable for writing? Does it matter? If I clearly labeled this as a “disability” would I do anything differently?

James and I also worked in Spelling Power (Level A) He spent most of the afternoon playing with his friend Aengus.

Sarah and I discussed the book we just finished, Multiple Choice. She analyzed the antagonist, protagonist and conflict, in much the same way we did with Luna. We talked about Luna more, and we discussed why it’s a more complex novel that Multiple Choice. She also compared Multiple Choice to another novel about OCD — Kissing Doorknobs by Terry Spencer Hesser.

We talked about plot, using the information offered in Deconstructing Penguins. The climax is the point at which the conflict reaches a turning point, a moment when — in some cases — the ending becomes inevitable. We identified the climax and resolution of Multiple Choice. In Multiple Choice the climax is a moment when the main character’s behavior causes an accident, and it becomes inevitable that she will accept help and begin to change. Sarah called this a “Road to Damascus,” which I liked. 🙂

We also discussed several possible climaxes and resolutions for Luna. As before, we decided there were several different answers. We talked about the fact that better, more complex novels are like that. Literary elements are like multiple intertwined threads.

Sarah and I worked worked in Math-U-See Pre-Algebra. She is also working hard writing a novel.

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