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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Teaching Math Through Balance

Remember how I felt (sort of still feel) about fractions?  Blech!  But, thankfully, the TOS crew is giving me all kinds of options to help me get over my fear of fractions.

The latest chance I have gotten is from The Critical Thinking Company  and it is called Balance Math Teaches Algebra!  I know, lots of exclamation points lately.

From their website:  Balance Math™ Teaches Algebra is designed to move from simple to complex, with lessons scaffolding on earlier learning. And like all the Balance Math™ and More! books, these problems involve critical thinking and computation. To students, these problems are more like puzzles, with just enough challenge to forget they are doing math!

This booklet is 64 pages long with 52 activities.  Just the perfect size to get your kids into algebra without scaring them off with a thick textbook.

It is designed for use in grades 4th through 12th. 

I think there is a thin line between introducing fractions early so they aren't too scary later, AND introducing them too early so it frustrates them and makes them think that they will never be able to do fractions.

So, I had my 4th grader (L-girl) and 6th grader (A-girl) just kind of try the first few activities, because I was afraid to scare them with fractions.  L-girl just didn't get it.  So, we stopped.

A-girl sort of got it so we just did a few here and there.  D-man who is pretty deep into algebra now, got them and said that they were sort of fun because they made him look at equations in a different way than he had been with the textbook he has been using. 

I don't know if he actually forgot he was doing math or anything....but he said there were sort of cool.

Here is an example of what is inside:

It is all about keeping the scales balanced.

See?  A nice visual way of thinking about it, isn't it?  Even for me, someone still in her adult years afraid of fractions.....this visual approach makes sense to me.

The Balance Math Teaches Algebra!  book is available for $14.99.  The Critical Thinking Company has won over 100 National awards for their products.  They have a lot to look at.  Go browse on-line or request a catalogue so you can flip through it and mark your pages, like I like to do.

Take a look at what other TOS crew members thought of the Critical Thinking Company stuff they got to try, like Inference Jones or Crypto Mind Benders.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Balance Math Teaches Algebra! for free in exchange for an honest review of the product.