Sunday, October 9, 2011

Surviving Saxon Math

For years now I've struggled with some of the aspects of our adopted math program, Saxon Math. I've blogged about it (Marriage of Saxon and Guided Math), discussed it with other teachers and administrators, searched on-line for help and tried many numerous ways to improve the program's deficits. I love the constant review that the program is based on, but come on....27 problems or more every day of independent practice?  All of this AFTER the fact practice, warm-up, lesson, and practice problems. ONE day of instruction with a scant few practice problems on difficult skills? All of this when students in the grade before are only subjected to 10-12 problems on a worksheet each day? This year, I think I've finally found the answer:

  • Students do either evens or odds on the lesson set. (I worried that this would not be enough practice to gain proficiency, but it is working well so far.)
  • I add practice problems from other sources so students are able to learn and practice the day's skill to a deeper level.
  • We spend more than one day on harder lessons (such as subtraction across zeros). 
Before this year I struggled to fit in enough time for students to finish their work at school. I also had many students who struggled with their math self-concepts. They just didn't think they were good at math, got bogged down in all of the problems, and it affected their performance.I've seen a dramatic change this year---students look forward to math! They are successful. They are able to complete the work at school. The additional practice on the day's lesson helps build their confidence in the skills they're learning. I think I may have finally figured out how to survive this Saxon Math!


  1. I have found (fingers crossed) a system that works with my class this year. We do the whole group lesson. The students then work on their lesson set during our small groups math time during "Meet with the Teacher" and during their Independent Practice center where they can work with a buddy. I have been giving the entire lesson set, and my students haven't been bogged down (yet!). My math grade are dramatically improved over previous years, and I give the glory to small groups instruction.

  2. How many math groups do you meet with each day? I've been pulling two groups, for skill-specific instruction (not necessarily having to do with the day's lesson).



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