Now into my second “school” year teaching mathematics to a young man who is home-schooled, it seemed that I might be able to post some relevant perspective on the advantages and disadvantages of our particular educational situation.

Our Learning Space -- Comfortable, Well-Lit Desk -- With A View

The View

When I was first enlisted to work with Ian on Algebra I, he was already committed to using Saxon materials. I had familiarity with the Saxon method, which has a pedagogical bent toward skill building through continuous review and incremental concept building. Each lesson adds a “nugget” of new material, has a few practice problems, and then a homework set which consists of 30 problems. Perhaps 4-6 of the problems are on the new “nugget” and the rest are review problems. It is imperative for the instructor (in this case me 😉 ) to tie the concepts together during a brief time of direct instruction and to then work alongside the student as they practice solving problems. Feedback and homework corrections are vital to catching and eliminating conceptual errors or misunderstandings, because, misunderstandings can potentially be compounded until review problems are no longer just review, but a large and daunting set, full of menacing confusion. With this last point in mind, an important procedural change was made this school year. I now grade all the homework and provide Ian with a graph of the scores, updated weekly. This simple but important modification over last year, has markedly reduced the number of “bad” homework papers. This was one of the big issues from last year, fighting to maintain an acceptable level of quality and constancy with Ian’s work. One lesson, Ian might get 90% correct and the next it would be <50%. This should not happen with the Saxon method — and is not happening anywhere near as much now that Ian can see and is confronted with actual graphical data about his performance on homework.

In future posts, I’ll discuss the role of faith and religion, the relationship which has developed and my use of supplemental materials to bolster the geometry content in a Saxon Algebra I, Algebra II sequence.

Just thinking “out loud” here 😉 Peace!

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