Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Waldorf Homeschool: Seventh Grade Algebra

Today we started our Algebra/Geometry block. With the school year just beginning, we are usually ready to dive in. So I thought I'd put the toughest subject (for me to teach) right at the beginning, while I have the will and energy. Kind of like scheduling the most academic subjects in the morning, when the Boy's will is the strongest.

I have come a long, long way from my grammar school days of hating math. I never understood "why?" so it never made sense to me. By teaching math through a Waldorf perspective, I've learned to appreciate algebra and geometry. 

We've studied the history of math through our studies of ancient history, and the "why's" have become so much more evident. The concept of equations makes sense when you understand some of the history.

That is the approach I've decided to take with the Boy. In sixth grade we read "String, Straightedge, and Shadow," a book I would recommend to any math teacher or history teacher as a supplement to their curriculum.

It is not my goal to have the Boy be an algebraic wizard by the end of the year, but instead, to have a good understanding of what algebra is, why it came about, and how it can be used. Plus a basic understanding of formulas and proofs, and an understanding of how to solve equations. (process).

The Boy is like me in so many ways, and how he approaches math is one of them. He likes to know why things are done the way they are, why does he need to know this, how does it apply to real life? If I can give him some of those answers as we work our way through this block, he will have a much better foundation for increasingly difficult work. I want him to feel like he CAN do algebra rather than the way I felt all through school...that I stunk at it.

The Curriculum we are using is from Jamie York Press, Making Math Meaningful.  What I like about this curriculum is that I have to have a good grasp of the concepts because I am teaching it. He is not reading the book or watching a video...I am the teacher. Yes, that requires some work. But he's going to come to me for questions anyway. I might as well know the subject matter.

What I don't like is that there's no real lesson plan. Just the concepts to cover separated by grade. So I have to figure out how much I want to cover in each lesson. The author assumes the teacher has knowledge of each concept. It's explained in the teacher's book, but only briefly. Thank goodness for Google and Youtube. (Jamie York has several Youtube vids that are really helpful.)

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