In this blog post we will explore the different types of Math-U-See worksheets available, the role they each play in the mastery process, and more.
“Can’t I just buy the student pack? After all, my daughter is only in third grade. I think I can figure out the answers at this level.”
It seems that, at almost every homeschool convention I attend, I hear a similar question. My common response is, “Worksheets don’t teach; teachers teach.” You see, this question stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of worksheets within the Math-U-See curriculum. Let’s take a moment to explore the different types of worksheets available, the role they each play in the mastery process, and whether or not your student needs to complete them all.
The first type of worksheet you and your student will encounter in the Student Workbook are Lesson Practice pages. There are generally two or three Lesson Practice pages per lesson, depending on the level. However, a Lesson Practice worksheet should never be your student’s first exposure to a concept. As the parent/teacher, you first introduce the concept in a manner similar to that shown on the video segment, using explanations from the Instruction Manual. If the examples shown on the video and in the Instruction Manual are not sufficient, you may then use some problems from the Lesson Practice A worksheet. These Lesson Practice pages only contain problems dealing with the new concepts from the current lesson. Lesson Practice pages allow the student to explore a new concept with guidance and support as he works towards mastery. They provide practice and application of the new concept and provide a basis for questions and more specific teaching. At times a student may need to observe you working through an entire worksheet using the Build-Write-Say process before feeling comfortable and confident enough to attempt a problem on her own. Your student should complete a sufficient amount of the Lesson Practice worksheets to gain proficiency with the new concept and to show mastery using the Build-Write-Say process. You may not need all that are provided. On the other hand, if you find your student needs additional practice, you may be able to create more using the online Worksheet Generator.
Systematic Review worksheets provide the opportunity for the student who has already mastered a new concept to integrate that concept into his prior knowledge. It is one thing to demonstrate mastery of a concept in isolation, but it is quite another when multiple concepts are mixed together! Systematic Review worksheets also allow you to confirm continued mastery and retention of previous concepts. Here again, your student’s individual needs should be your guide as to how many of these worksheets (or problems from a worksheet) your student completes. I recommend always completing Systematic Review D for each lesson, as it will often contain a “Quick Review” section for a previous skill or concept.
The final type of worksheet in the student workbook are Application and Enrichment pages (Honors Application pages in Pre-Algebra through PreCalculus). These pages will sometimes provide a fun activity related to the concept, provide further application of a concept, or even introduce a new concept. As these pages are optional, you may use them (or not) to whatever degree you believe they will benefit your student.
I’ll close with this illustration: If I had never touched a piano before and I was told to play a G scale, I would be clueless as to what to do. A piano teacher could teach me how to read the notes on the staff, how those notes correlated with the piano keys, and the proper fingering to play the scale to the point that I fully understood a G scale and could explain it back. However, when I tried to play the scale, it still would be very slow and choppy. Only through practice and repetition would I develop the desired muscle memory and proficiency to play the G scale correctly. Worksheets are to the math student what practice is to the music student: a way to build understanding and develop skill and confidence.