Posted tagged ‘results’

Shormann Math is for Everyone

August 6, 2015

A Great Question

We recently received a great question about our new Shormann Algebra 1 course:

Are your courses best for mathy children, or can average students also complete them?

While “mathy” really isn’t a word, anyone with any teaching experience knows what this parent was talking about. Some students just “get” math quicker than others. They’re able to go farther and faster in math than most children their age. So, is Shormann Math mainly for these students, or is it more for students who are gifted in other, “non-mathy” areas?

An Illustration

The best answer is that Shormann Math is for everyone! To help me explain how, first take a look at this photo I shot a few months ago of a Hawaiian green sea turtle. The photo appears at the top of Shormann Algebra 2, Lesson 25. You’ll see what this has to do with answering the parent’s question shortly:

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Everyone loves sea turtles, right? I mean, do you know anyone who hates sea turtles? I don’t. There are some things in this photo that everyone can relate to, like beauty, design, color, and function, to name a few. There are also things that individuals gifted in certain areas would appreciate that others won’t. Photographers, for example, may be curious about what type of camera was used, resolution, lighting, etc. Everyone might notice how the magnified view of the eye is blurred, and composed of rows and columns of tiny squares. But only someone with a good knowledge of computers and/or digital photography could explain the “why” behind the tiny squares (called pixels).

Connecting Students to Their World and Their Creator

But what if your child is a future computer scientist, engineer, etc., and they just don’t know it yet? What if they, or you, haven’t already drawn the line between “mathy” and “non-mathy?” Well, Shormann Math is for you, too! Because everyone is created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-28), everyone is designed to be creative like Him, too. But while God can just create by speaking (John 1:1-5), we humans need tools. And mathematics is like a giant treasure chest of tools, waiting to be discovered and put to use.

But the primary focus of Shormann Math is not about math. It’s about relationship. It’s about using math to help a child discover more about God’s Word and His creation, and build their relationship with Christ.

If you study the greatest mathematicians in history, like we do in Shormann Math, you find that all their new mathematical discoveries were connected to their study of Creation. While not all of them acknowledged God, a lot of them did, and in doing so it allowed them to see farther and discover more than any of their predecessors. The rich Christian heritage of modern mathematics is not something to hide in the back of a dark closet, but, like a favorite painting, it should be placed in the right frame, with the right lighting, and set in a prominent place.

In a nutshell, here’s what Shormann Math is about:

Shormann Math is designed to connect students to their world and their Creator by using an incremental approach with continual review to teach 10 major math concepts from a Christian foundation.

But Does it Work?

But does this “incremental approach with continual review” work? Well, the results of our Shormann Algebra 1 beta-test say “yes!” Pioneered by the late John Saxon (1923-1996), his “incremental approach with continual review”  has achieved astounding results. The results of Saxon Math in a traditionally low-performing Dallas public school were highlighted in this 1990 interview on 60 Minutes.

If the 60 Minutes interview doesn’t convince you of the merits of John Saxon’s approach, then maybe this historic quote by President Ronald Reagan will:

I’m sure you’ve probably heard about that new math textbook. It’s by a fellow named John Saxon, that has average I.Q. students scoring above high I.Q. students and has Algebra I students who use this textbook doing better on tests than Algebra II students who use the traditional text…

(Remarks at a White House Reception for the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, July 29, 1983)

Even a former U.S. President saw the merits of a teaching method that could help the average student go farther in mathematics than they ever dreamed.

Scholars describe mathematics as “the language of science.” And what is a good way to learn a new language (or a sport, or an instrument)? Well, you learn some of the basics, practice for a while, and then learn some more. You use an “incremental approach with continual review!” And like a language, sport, or instrument, mathematics is not a passive, textbook-only activity. It’s an active, pencil and paper pursuit. The method is instrumental in making Shormann Math for everyone!

Click here if you want to learn more about Shormann Math, including pricing, sample lectures and homework, a detailed teacher’s guide, and more.

Shormann Algebra 1: Results Matter

July 31, 2015

Why do results matter?

Shormann Math builds on a solid foundation of time-tested teaching methods, including the incremental development + continual review format pioneered by John Saxon(1923-1996). And not just Saxon’s teaching methods, but his teaching thoughts as well, including his thought that

Results, not methodology, should be the basis of curriculum decisions.

One of the primary reasons John Saxon developed his math curriculum in the 1980s was because new ways of teaching math were not working. Math “educrats” at the time were promoting their untested “visions” of math teaching. But with 3 engineering degrees, John was a math user before he became a math teacher. Not only that, he was a test pilot. If anyone knew the extreme value and importance of testing a new product, it was John!

Results matter because they reveal whether or not a new product really works. And while statistics certainly don’t reveal everything about a new product, they can certainly reveal many things. Most math curricula don’t provide this level of detail on student performance. But with Shormann Math, each new course is beta-tested in a live, online setting first before releasing it to the general public. The following are statistics from the beta-test of Shormann Algebra 1. The results show that the majority of students made an A! The following statistics, plus other detailed information about the course, can also be found in our Shormann Algebra 1 teacher’s guide. To purchase Shormann Math, click here.

Overall Performance

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Discussion: The average student in our beta test made an A in the class! Because each new Shormann Math course is beta-tested in a live online class setting, Dr. Shormann gets to know the students on more than just a “numbers only” basis. And we all know that God doesn’t make clones, so the fact that not every student performed the same should not be a surprise. Natural talent definitely matters, but so do things like attitude and maturity.  Dr. Shormann spends time during the video lectures encouraging students to develop fruits like patience and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23), as well as persevering with joy (James 1:2-3), and gratefulness (I Thessalonians 5:18).

Practice Sets

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Discussion: You’ve probably never seen statistics on student performance in a math class before, which is why it is important to discuss the data! The decreasing trend over time is exactly what we expected. Two big factors are responsible for the trend: 1) There’s more review of previously-learned concepts at the beginning, so it’s easier and 2) student effort tends to decrease the closer you get to the end of the year!

What we had hoped for was a Practice Set average above 85%, and that was achieved in all 4 quarters! 85% is a good cutoff for determining whether students are understanding, and retaining most of the concepts learned.

Note also the high first quarter average. Because Shormann Math is built on John Saxon’s method of integrating geometry and algebra, students using Saxon Math 8/7 or Saxon Algebra ½ will be most comfortable starting Shormann Math. However, not all beta-test students used Saxon previously, so the high first quarter average is a good indication that students who successfully completed any pre-algebra course should do just fine in Shormann Math.

Weekly Quizzes

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Discussion: Weekly Quizzes show a similar trend to the Practice Sets, challenging the students more as the year progressed. A score of 8 out of 10 or higher is a good indication of whether students understood the lessons covered that week. We are pleased that scores were well above this in all four quarters!

Quarterly Exams

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Discussion: Notice the Quarterly Exams do not follow the same trend as Practice Sets or Weekly Quizzes, with Quarter 1 having the lowest average. And this is where beta-testing a new product is so valuable. We realized that we were asking a lot for 9th-grade level students, most of which had never taken a cumulative exam like this. The solution? Practice exams! Just like when learning a sport, a musical instrument, etc., good practice results in good performance. The beta-test students clearly performed best on first quarter Practice Sets and Quizzes. Most likely, if they were given practice exams prior to their quarterly exam 1, this would have been their highest exam average. Now, all quarterly exams have two practice exams that students use to study for their actual exam.

85%+ is an indicator of good retention and understanding of concepts covered in a quarter. For all 4 quarters, student averages were at, or well above 85%. Because of Shormann Math’s format of continual review, we are basically asking students to be responsible for “all their math, all the time.” These results show that on average, students are responding very well!