By Jessica Kelmon
This popular, effective math curriculum blends conceptual thinking, hands-on activities, and real-world problem solving with more old-school methods like lectures and “drill and kill” rote practice. Using a “spiral approach,” Saxon builds on skills gradually over time by returning to a skill repeatedly, rather than teaching discrete skill-based lessons and moving on.
Grades covered: K-12
What it looks like: In class, teachers give scripted lectures, which means two second grade teachers in different states teaching lesson three will cover pretty much the same thing. In early elementary school, for example, the class has five daily math activities sprinkled throughout the day: morning routines (typically student-led, whole-class activities focused on real-world problems.); fact practice (including practice drills, flashcards, worksheets); lecture (introducing a new concept); guided class practice (often worksheets); and homework. On every fifth day, the teacher gives the kids a quiz or an oral exam to assess what they’ve learned that week.
Homework: You’ll see nightly homework that ranges from rote drills to conceptual homework (say, drawing a house floor plan that requires calculations) to real-world problems tailored to your child’s age. Students are encouraged to try many different problem-solving strategies, so don’t be surprised if your child’s homework involves guess-and-check strategies, drawing, building models, working backwards, making lists, or even acting out a problem.
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