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Mathematics Power Learning for Children Review by Teri Lucas

Books I, II, and III and Contextual Mathematics Teaching Methodology
Professor Everard Barrett
Power Algebra
Professor B. Enterprises, Inc.
P. O. Box 2079
Duluth, GA 30096
(770) 814 - 8888

You owe it to yourself to take a look at Prof. B's website and view this extraordinary approach to teaching math titled Contextual Mathematics Teaching Methodology.

I had never even heard of Prof. B. Mathematics until I received one of those mass mail "home school" packets of postcards. Something about a math program which claimed to have "2nd graders mastering all the multiplication facts and long division, as well as, 5th and 6th grade students that out performed 9th graders on statewide algebra exams" caught my attention. I decided to request a review - what I received was beyond my wildest expectations! Because this truly is a unique approach to mathematics instruction, I will attempt to introduce briefly the philosophy of Prof. Barrett before actually listing the contents of the books.

Contextual mathematics Teaching Methodology is Prof. Everard Barrett's recognition of the universal gift for learning mathematics in all children. Prof. B has 30 years of history behind his approach. His belief, or method, follows something like this:

"If children are able in themselves (without adult instruction) to recall verbatim and confidently retell a favorite story after only hearing it a few times, they have without memorizing, retained the events of the story in proper sequence. Therefore, this skill testifies to their universal gift for assimilating structures. Of all academic disciplines, the one most concerned with the study of structure is mathematics."

Prof. Barrett applies this natural learning experience to his method of teaching mathematics. Mathematics is not presented as a series of facts to be drilled upon and memorized. Instead, his instructional method is one that provides for the teaching of mathematics in a natural and verbal story-like sequence to coincide with the child's innate ability to assimilate a good story. Although, this may sound a bit far fetched to most of us (I must admit it did to me) it seems to work.

We were approaching the end of our school year when I presented this method to my five-and-a-half-year-old son. Quickly and easily, he grasped each lesson moving rapidly through the workbook. He even began to look forward to math and the worksheets as a way to prove his newly acquired skills. He beamed with delight over page after page of perfect work that now seemed to come naturally to him!

These books do not move through the "traditional" scope and sequence of most (or any) of the math texts that I have seen in the past. Rather, they have their own scope and sequence which typically moves the child into an advanced math program without pursuing "acceleration" as such. For your information I will list the concepts presented with each book. The suggested grade levels will amaze you.

Each textbook opens with a dedication to "the one who is able to keep me from falling." Mathematics Power Learning for Children - Book I begins the series with suggested age range Kindergarten through first grade or remedial second through third grade. Concepts covered are original number sense activities, approaches to addition and subtraction facts, reading very large numbers accurately, using place value, and column addition. Mathematics Power Learning for Children - Book II for second and third grade covers the methods for understanding and mastering multiplication and division facts, multiplication, long division, and fractional equivalence, as well as the addition and subtraction of fractions and mixed numbers. It can be also used for remediation of fourth through eighth grade. Finally, Mathematics Power Learning for Children - Book III is recommended for grade levels of fourth or fifth grade with remedial levels of sixth through ninth grade. Concepts presented here include the understanding and mastery of multiplication and division of fractions, the decimal and metric systems, operations on decimals, transforming among fractions/decimals/percents, and rounding off. Each of these textbooks retails for $25 and workbooks may be purchased separately for $13. There are also answer keys, video sets, and charts available.

Power Algebra I is the next step in the series, which if you followed the trend above would place your student in the fifth, sixth or seventh grade at this point. There are 19 chapters in the instruction manual beginning with a series on integers, progressing to exponents, polynomials, binomials, and ending in multiplying/dividing with rational expressions. The text and a set of 19 modules retails for $65. The modules may be purchased separately from the text at $5.85 each. Power Algebra II and III are in the works.

The breadth and depth of this curriculum is so different from anything out there; you really must view the website to take in the entire scope of the curriculum. Parental involvement is a must as this is not a sit down and simply do a worksheet program, but the results are revolutionary!

-- Product Review by: Teri Lucas, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine