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Any experience with STMath?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

DS's school want to put him in 1st grade STMath because his kindergarten teacher stated unequivocally that she cannot teach him at his level in parallel with the rest of the kindergarteners.


Look down the page a ways to see my comments to whatnextmom on my opinions of ALEKS.


Do folks have any experience with this program? 


Right now, it seems like the plan is to have him in there a semester to figure out which grade level math he should be placed in.  I heard muttering around the table of 2nd and 3rd grade as options.  However, those schedules won't work, and I'm not sure he can handle the writing requirements of 3rd grade math, though he can certainly compute it and explain it orally.

post #2 of 7
Thread Starter 



It looks like it's pretty new, so maybe not much wisdom out there yet?


From what I can see, it looks to be great at showing concepts.  DS has the concepts down completely.  He needs the mechanics of showing the answer: literally writing numbers, you write the answer next to the equal sign or below the horizontal line, what the math symbols mean.


The school also needs to know what he does and does not know.  It might get them that, but it looks like it goes through the levels very slowly, where DS will have to play 200 games in first grade level to demonstrate mastery.  Fantastic for remediation....


We have "concepts and applications" and "computation" scores from KTEA-II.  I know the school has KeyMath3 available, but I'm not sure he can write his answers properly.  Is there another way to place a child with early kindergarten writing abilities and {who knows but HIGH} math ability?


Compound this with what looks to be some flavor of auditory processing disorder for an extra challenge.  ;)

post #3 of 7

Well, no experience with in-class differentiation, but my kids have not been particularly capable writers for their ages (to say the least!) and they've been able to handle and benefit from the written demands of Singapore Math 2A/2B as five-year-olds. They did get me to scribe occasional bits: writing number-words into the hundreds, for instance. And they only wrote the numerical answers to word problems, never answering in full sentences. But the curriculum doesn't get fussy about that anyway. Singapore is a little more advanced than a typical North American curriculum, so that's probably up to an early 3rd grade level. 


I also found that my kids needed very little instruction, at least until the 3A level and beyond. Maybe a 30-second explanation of how an exercise or algorithm works, sometimes 5 minutes working through an example together, but often they would be days or weeks without needing any help except for occasional answer-checking. (Many of the workbook exercises are self-checking puzzles and such, so there isn't even a lot of adult checking needed.)


You can look over the program at www.singaporemath.com . They have page scans of the various books, and placement tests. Primary Math 3rd Edition is the most popular version of the program, the one most people go to. It's inexpensive, particularly when compared to most on-line services. No idea how much ST Math would cost, but I bet it isn't cheap.


Edited to add: Here's a page scan from early in the 2A book, to show the writing demands, and how my newly-5-year-old managed it. 



post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 



Yeah, DS has Singapore 2A.  We've found it's too much to be done totally independently, and your DD's handwriting is <wow> way better than DS'.  He also doesn't have the reading skills needed for it to do independently, making it something we tend to avoid.


The school seems really reluctant to set a young child along side the room with a workbook, but not so much on a computer.  It's also not clear if they've considered this much of an acceleration this young.  He'll get another acceleration in a 4/5 compacted year whenever he hits that grade level, which is another reason I don't want him in 3rd this year.  DD has a 2-year acceleration as a 4th grader working from a textbook this year, but the acceleration was last year, and the independent study is new this year.


I'm thinking we're going to do the computer at least temporarily, have him demonstrate it at home so we can check up, but we may also have to break out the 2A to teach those skills independently.  We may also ask that DS join his class for the handwriting part to learn to form the numbers.  Good grief, I'm not even sure he can do math for the 70 minutes it's scheduled for the upper grades.  I'm not sure he can go that long between bathroom breaks.  The desks will be too big.  Eeeeeeek

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Bumping.  Since this post, the school stalled, then tested DS (tested out of all of K-2 math with no gaps except a relative weakness to explain his reasoning to someone he doesn't know), then stalled some more, then placed him in 2nd grade STMath 6 weeks before the school completed its trial of the program.  We only have 2 more weeks of it now.  Hopefully DS can finish working through the grade 2 math level before then to establish clearly that he doesn't belong in kindergarten math.


I put some initial comments about the program here, and then wrote my comments on ALEKS, Khan Academy, and STMath as viewed from my house in response to a friend's questions here.  DS' love affair with STMath has since faded. 


Note I don't discuss much on how it teaches, but the effect it's had on us:  I've got two kids gifted in math but with very different personalities.  Email from his teacher says she's ready to start kindergarten level EM with the class in January (bigeyes.gif Start?) and that she thinks it'll be a great fit for DS.  <sigh>

post #6 of 7

Our school uses something called "Study Island" which seems similar to some of the things that you've looked at. It's actually test prep software for our state tests (more or less), but they've used it with dd (and to some extent ds) for differentiation (for both math and reading). Unfortunately, dd worked all the way through the 5th grade reading last year and so her teacher's had to be a bit more creative with reading. The good news is that she's only on 3rd grade math, and will probably finish 3rd and 4th grade math this year during 2nd grade. I don't know what they're going to do with her in 4th grade after she's maxed out this software in 3rd grade.


But instead of just having the kids sit down in front of the computer, here's what they do:

They have the kids take a pretest or do some work on the computer program. The teacher checks to see which concepts the child is weak in and prepares some lessons on those concepts. Last year it was the TAG teacher who did this. This year we lost our full time TAG teacher due to funding cuts. So, dd's classroom teacher is preparing the lessons/materials and then there's an instructional aide who works through the lesson with dd. There are about 5-6 kids in 2nd grade who are working well ahead of grade level, and so she works with each as needed. Dd is the 2nd highest in the math group - there's one child who's already doing 4th grade math. Dd's teacher was adamant that the kids couldn't just be placed in front of the computer and set loose -- they needed instruction. Since these kids are all pretty bright, they often need just a little explaining and then some practice.


Most concepts really benefit from instruction.

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Yes, what you describe to me sounds like a model form of using technology in instruction. The way DS is being treated (and on a different line, DD) is little more than babysitting. It's lazy education.

In September, it was explained that STMath was a stop gap measure and an aid to help figure out his level. The stalling was frustrating, but somewhat understandable considering multiple transitions occuring within the school in the district. Now Yippee, the trial of STMath continues through the whole school year. I got no answer as to what happens when he finishes (actually the vice principal seemed alarmed to be informed he was near the end), but the writing on the wall is that they'll then move him to ALEKS. DH and I are taking the two week break to devise our strategy. We now feel quite strongly that he should be instructed in a classroom of his academic peers with a human teacher. That will require moving him to afternoon kindergarten,and gee darn, into another teacher's class. We'd probably also lose our sitter over it (cuther hours by half), so it's a big toll to consider for DS.

Otherwise, I take up focused after schooling, and fill out the state testing forms to formally petition a multi-year subject acceleration.
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