- Reviewed on Saturday, August 16, 2014
- Grades Used: K-4th
- Dates used: 2012-14
We LOVE MUS!
I started my middle child on it after we wasted an ENTIRE year doing math with another program.
He started with MUS Alpha. It was perfect for him. Now he's in 3rd grade, and has gone from being (at the beginning of 1st) the kid who wasn't retaining the math information (because of the teaching method of the other program) to the kid I consider the most 'mathy' of the 3.
After I started one child with MUS, I switched my older son to it as well. He's gone through MUS Delta. This year I'm starting my youngest on MUS Primer, and so far we love it. It's perfect for her, too!!
There has been some talk and speculation about it not being enough in high school, but I always take things one year at a time. We may switch when the kids get older, or we may not. Right now, however, they are all learning the fundamentals - and learning them WELL - with MUS, so I have no reason to switch. As far as the later/high school years go, we'll cross that bridge when we get there.
I can say without a doubt that MUS is a solid program for elementary.
- Reviewed on Thursday, July 17, 2014
- Grades Used: 1
- Dates used: 2103
I pulled my daughter out of public school after finishing grade 1, and since she had learned pretty well nothing there, we started at grade 1 math. After doing a great deal of research, we began with MUS. I even showed her the sample videos. Everything looked great ... and she hated it. Now, to be fair, she hates math, period, but it just didn't go well at all.
I found the program to be dull and unimaginative. I really feel that I could have just made up a chart of addition question, quizzed her on those until she got them, and come up with exactly the same result.
There are some "tricks" taught in the program that are supposed to help learn equations better, to do more mental math -- like for 9+ something equations, you turn it into a 10+ something. For example, 9+3 is the same as 10+2. 10+2 is much easier to add in your head. Makes sense to me. Didn't make much sense to her. Especially when we got into 8+5 is the same as 10+3. It was just lost on her.
So, in short, I think it works well for some people, but it was a disaster for us. The manipulatives, which I thought would be great for a tactile kid didn't do anything for her (though she made friends with them some time after we switched programs). The videos didn't do anything for her (though she generally loves videos).
After switching over to Mammoth Math (I'll write a review for that too), I discovered that my daughter is actually really good at math. Go figure. She still hates it, but she's learned more.
- Reviewed on Friday, July 11, 2014
- Grades Used: 1-2
- Dates used: 2012-present
We have used MUS Alpha and Beta and will be continuing with the next in the series as well. (I will also be using Primer with my K student this fall.) Barring any unexpected difficulties, I foresee us using MUS at least up through pre-algebra (after which I am considering Teaching Textbooks to take some of the load off of me). I should also point out that we started with Singapore and loved it right up to the point where it started getting henky with the regrouping. We switched to MUS because it made more intuitive sense. For me and DS. :-) The regrouping under Singapore was laborious and arbitrary. That's what made us switch. We have stayed because the lessons are simple and easy to implement. The concepts are presented in a logical manner and there are several activities and games to help drive the concept home to students. The worksheets are great for practice. There are just a few problems on each page, eliminating the mental stress for some students when they see a page full of problems. If the student needs more practice, the website has a worksheet generator. We have utilized this heavily when new concepts are first introduced.
1. Concepts are explained so that the teacher not only knows what to teach, but how to teach it.
2. Simple lessons that present a single concept.
3. Worksheets are not overloaded with problems.
4. Great flexibility in implementation
5. Tests for each lesson make it easy to allow students to "test out" and prevent wasting time on material student already knows. We use the tests as evaluations for what has been learned and what needs more work.
6. Manipulative blocks. They simply work, but aren't necessary; if the student can perform without them, perfectly fine.
7. Story problems from the very beginning.
1. Though there is the option to go to the website for additional worksheets, it would be nice to have an optional workbook of supplemental practice. But I understand that it would be inefficient and a waste of sources. Maybe this is really a complaint for the too-many-clicks that are require to get to the worksheet generator on the website.
2. Visually unappealing. This is a double-edged sword. I am sure the simple B&W format benefits the distractible or sensory-sensitive students, but I like pretty things and color.
3. Believe it or not, I wish the student workbook came unbound. I end up tearing out all the pages and putting them in a 3-ring binder. The binding does not allow the student to work within the book comfortably (doesn't stay open on it's own), so the page almost has to be torn out to do the work. This leaves a collection of completed loose pages and a half-full bound book of the unfinished pages. Much easier IMO to have them all loose and stored in a binder. Binder storage also makes it easier for DS to get the pages out and work independently.
4. The hard cover teacher's manual. I realize it is probably to maximize usable life span, but plenty of teacher's manuals are soft-cover and still in a condition to re-sell or re-use with additional students. Spiral bound would be much better as it would allow the book to lie flat. As it is, I have to place something heavy across the center to keep it open when I am using the white board to present the lesson. Thankfully, I don't use the TM daily, just when introducing new lesson concepts. It would probably reduce the cost as well.
I have read a lot of the reviews and I understand that MUS isn't going to be a good fit for everybody. What I don't understand are the complaints that are attributed to MUS which are clearly issues with the parents and the implementation of MUS. Here are a few examples:
1. Too much memorization. (How is this even possible? Math facts SHOULD be memorized.). The other part of the complaint was that MUS never taught the students to do the math in their heads. What does this even mean? Perhaps the complaint was really that the student was memorizing the sequence (for example, 8+4=12) but not fully understanding the concept that 8 units plus 4 units yields a total of 12 units. But is that the fault of MUS or the parent? If a summer break is all it took for the student to "forget" his math facts, I am going to go out on a limb and say the student never really learned them anyway. At least not the concept of addition that two parts make a whole. And I don't say that with condemnation. I had a very precocious early reader who, despite having covered it 3 separate times previously, still couldn't tell me what the 5 vowels were at the beginning of 2nd grade. He had memorized them for the success of the exercise at the given time, but never truly internalized the idea that the letters of the alphabet were divided up into vowels and consonants. My fault. But I recognize that memorization is only one part of learning.
One more comment on memorization. When I am balancing my checkbook, I don't do the mental math of 8 + 4 by picturing 8 of something and physically adding 4. I know that it's 12 because I have it memorized. But I understand the abstract of putting two parts together to make a whole. THAT is where our students should be regarding memorization of math facts. Imagine trying to do an algebra problem by visualizing each and every simple math function it takes to solve it.
2. Not enough review. I think the only way this can even remotely be an issue is if someone thinks the 6 worksheets and test are the only resources available, AND that once all six worksheets are completed, it's time to move on to the next lesson whether or not the student has actually mastered the concept. No curriculum is meant to be followed blindly and rotely without some evaluation by the teacher-parent as to how the student is progressing. We spent 3 weeks on one lesson because that's how long it took DS to master the material. For comparison, he usually needs only a week for each lesson. Even then, there were occasions when we would interrupt the normal progress and go back for a pure review if I noticed him slipping. If the student doesn't get it, don't move on. If it's a matter of not enough practice, that responsibility rests on the teacher-parent, not the curriculum.
3. The student "forgets" what he has "learned." I imagine the student never really learned it to begin with. MUS is a mastery approach, but it is up to the parent to be sure that mastery has actually been achieved. Simply following the lesson plans in a linear progression is not enough.
4. "Big words" for little kids. So don't use them if you think it will add confusion rather than clarity. I didn't muddle my DS's learning with the names of the different parts of a math equation....until actually using the names helped him understand the concept.
By and large the majority of the complaints are less about actual disadvantages of MUS and more reflective of the assumptions teacher-parents made in the teaching/implementation. I see MUS not as a set of daily lesson plans that will guarantee X result when they are all completed. MUS is a scaffolding of math concepts presented in a mostly linear manner that provides a base level of practice. If the provided number of worksheets is sufficient for a student to master the concept, move on. If not, more practice is needed, don't move on. It requires some independent thought on the part of the teacher-parent. If Primer doesn't have any practice writing the numbers, and your student needs some practice, then schedule time in for the practice. (And honestly, complaining that Primer isn't self-directed??????). Not enough lessons for a full year? By what standard? Some students might take more than a year to complete a book. Like I said, it's not a book of lesson plans for the year.
Bottom line, I guess, is to know what MUS really is. It is NOT a year's worth of lessons to satisfy state attendance requirements. It is NOT a "do this, this, and this and you'll get this" curriculum. However, it is a flexible math program that provides the foundational basis for what to teach and how to teach (and to a certain extent, when to teach as far as the linear progression of concept introduction is concerned). It's up to the teacher-parent to figure out how much of the "what" and "how" a student needs to reach mastery level.
- Reviewed on Sunday, April 6, 2014
- Grades Used: Pre-Algebra-Algebra
- Dates used: 2012-2014
My dd has struggled with math for years. We attempted to use the old version of MUS when she was in 3rd grade but it did not have enough review for her.
After having used the new pre-algebra and algebra, she is retaining and excelling. We plan on continuing with MUS through high school.
Also, my ds is currently in Gamma and is doing very well. The revised version of MUS contains just the right amount of review to help retain information without being overwhelming.
This math just works! It is mastery, the lessons are short, and Mr. Demme teaches in a way that kids understand. I also appreciate the cost. It is very competitively priced and the teacher's books and DVD's have great resale value.