6/10/13

{Crew Review} Math Mammoth ~ Make It Real Learning

I think I read somewhere that the purpose of math is to be able to use it in real life. We should be able to apply mathematical solutions when necessary to every day tasks like deciding which cell phone company has the best deal, or how much flour do I need if I 4 1/2 times that recipe.

Because I want my daughters to be able to make connections between the math they are learning as part of school, and the math they sometimes unknowingly use as part of every day life, I jumped at the chance to review  Math Mammoth with 3 e-books in the Make It Real Learning math series.

We chose Graphing and Other Algebra Skills for grades 7,8 and high school ($4.99), Linear Functions 1 for Algebra I and Algebra II ($4.99 ) and Quadratic Equations 1 for Algebra I and Algebra II ($4.99). Each of these eBooks explores math skills using real life situations. A situation is described such as comparing portable music players. A series of questions related to the real life data follows. These questions often build on the previous question and in some cases, such as choosing the best cell phone plan, the two-page sections may build on each other. Following every section is the answer key. Sometimes we had to use the answer key to help us backtrack to figure out the problem.

Using Make It Real Learning:

We set aside our regular math curriculum to focus on these short eBooks for the review. Ideally though, I think I would use these as a weekly supplement throughout the school year. Each two-page section is enough for 1-2 class periods.  With each workbook containing 10 activities, 3 workbooks would be enough, in my opinion, for a full year’s worth of supplements by assigning 1 activity each week.

Some Features I love:

  • Each activity has a little quote box that answers the question “When am I ever going to use this?”  One answer: “Using the concepts in this worksheet, you will be able to interpret graphs of real world data sets and explain their practical meaning.”
  • The problems on the worksheet cause you to think.  Unlike traditional math workbooks, the student will not be able to just regurgitate word problem formats with different values.
  • The answer keys contain the entire text of the problem.  This means I don’t have to flip back and forth to get the context for the answer.
  • With the eBook format, I only have to print the pages we need. I don’t have to print the answer keys.
  • Some of the eBooks use a type-it-in feature so the student can use typewriter or drawing tools available in Adobe Reader 9 or higher to type or draw answer at the computer. (Note: we didn’t use this feature but I love that it was available on the Graphing eBook!)
MIRL_Graphing_Other_Algebra_Skills_I-s mirl-linear-functions-1-s

mirl-quadratic-functions-1-s 

Thoughts from Turtlegirl (finishing grade 10):

 “I kind of bit off more than I could chew with the Quadratic Equations. However, when I did the graphs, it did me a lot of good to practice using the math in a real life setting. Word problems are my weak point in math, and this helped solidify it. I like how they use actual statistics. I also like that they have you use your answer in one question to solve the next sometimes. (However, it does make it difficult when you can’t solve the first, and thus you cannot solve the next!) I like that with the graphs, you don’t always have to make the graphs but instead most of the time, just extrapolate information from the graph to form your answer.” 

Thoughts from Tailorbear (finishing grade 8):

“I have had a lot of trouble with linear functions. I don’t really understand them. So I had a lot of trouble doing my problems. Plus I don’t like word problems that much. I have trouble translating and other things (Although these were easier then others). I like graphs! Graphs are simple and understandable. Unless you don’t know what horizontal asymptotes are! I really think that if I knew more about the subject I would do better with the problems!

My thoughts:

I confess my math skills are very very rusty. These three e-books in the Make It Real Learning series teach application of specific math skills. I found myself reading and re-reading a problem and not comprehending what I needed to do.  I lacked the vocabulary and the math skill to be able to use thinking and reasoning to set up the problems. Both Turtlegirl and I believe that Graphing and Other Algebra Skills was an appropriate level for her but even that level stretched Tailorbear a bit too far.

I recommend using the Make It Real Learning series as a supplement choosing books with skills below the current working level. I wish I had chosen levels below the Algebra 1 level such as Fractions, Percents , and Decimals I (or II) or maybe even Arithmetic II for Tailorbear.  I love the concepts and philosophy of this series.  Math needs to be meaningful. These are short, inexpensive e-books that show math in real life context and I think they make an excellent supplement.

This is not the Schoolhouse Review Crew’s first time trying Math Mammoth. I loved Math Mammoth’s 6th Grade Light Blue Series. The Blue Series is wonderful as well. You can check out past Crew run’s of Math Mammoth as well the current crew’s opinions.

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about Math Mammoth.

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