Can we implement the Mortensen Math program for our whole school K-12?
Having students at different levels of mastery is a challenge for which the Mortensen program is well suited. The 200 exercise books (exbks) are written to cover K-12, with a key difference that Jerry Mortensen introduced algebra & calculus at a very early stage by making the concepts simple enough that even kindergarten kids can learn it. The books don't have grade levels printed on them so older students won't be put off by working in an exbk labeled Grade One. When this was done at a school in Alaska, what you are entertaining, soon after it began grade five students were helping high school students with their algebra. Results may vary of course. :)
You mentioned moving students from Gr. 6 to your class. Not knowing your state's curriculum well, I guess they will have had some solving equations but no algebra. That's fine. MM will make the introduction of both very smooth, especially if they have had some experience working with manipulatives. The multi-sensory approach made possible by using manipulatives is fundamental to every student having success with math. The Mortensen Method is based on that principle.
Each student will ideally work through the program starting at their own level and finishing an exbk before taking on the next one in that strand, say, Measurement, but they may have, should have, one exbk going in each of the five strands algebra, arithmetic, calculus, measurement and problem solving and they are allowed to work in whichever appeals to them any given day. The lessons they learn in algebra, say, will assist them in progressing in, say, Problem Solving, Progress can be recorded on a chart such as I have attached and the teacher/parent can see where they are at any time and assess the rate of progress. Gold stars are nice too. :)
Manuals in Levels One, Two and Three give a lesson for each and every example in all exbks, so you never are at a loss to give specific help. You can quickly reference the lesson in the manual for the page no. and example a student is having a challenge with. There is even a sample dialogue between stud/teacher provided in each lesson so you can see how it should go.
Exbks can be purchased in any quantity. Volume discounts apply to schools. Allow lead time in ordering before books are needed.
The Complete Method is section one of the Teacher's Handbook. It is ~50 pages and a trained teacher will have no trouble applying the concepts & pedagogy immediately. The remaining 200 pages of the Handbook are appendices on each topic: counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, solving equations, algebra, story problems and functions & relations. Fully illustrated. $65 (you can buy section one: the Complete Method, $25, first if you wish and buy the 200 page appendix as an upgrade for $40. As a way to dip your toes first.
There are answer keys on CD for the exbks. Music CDs for skip-counting, and an extensive array of manipulatives. The Combo kit is the flagship - all topics can be taught with this alone and up to 3 pairs of students can work from a combo kit at once. Thus a carton of combo kits (4 min. for QVP) can serve a classroom.
The fractions kit is also very useful, and for larger numbers / algebra with higher powers too, the Very Basic Ops kit is useful, but the combo kit is king.
Questions always welcome.
Geoff White, B.Ed.
Original Query received
Sent: Friday, June 5, 2020
Subject: Implementing Mortensen Math in Middle School
I am a teacher at *** Montessori School *** in ***, USA. My head of school and I are exploring the implementation of Mortensen math in our middle school curriculum. I see that there are approximate grade levels listed on your scope and sequence page, but my students are at different levels of mastery. Some are ready for high school geometry, another is still struggling with integers and fractions. I am somewhat familiar with the materials and approach through my recent research, but I am a little unsure of where to start my students as they move to my class from grade 6. In the upper elementary class, they use primarily Montessori Materials. Would your teacher's manual help guide those decisions? Can you offer any other insight?
Teacher's Handbook for Teaching Math with Manipulatives
Table of Contents
The Premise P.1
The Five-Minute Overview of the Method P.8
Key Phrases in Mortensen Math
Very Brief Summary of the Method
Psychological Principles at Work
Introduction - cont'd
Create a Math-Rich Environment
The Teacher's Role & Student Self-Esteem
Six Key Ideas from Jerry Mortensen
Section One - Counting P.46
Section Two - Addition
Section Three - Subtraction
Section Four - Multiplication
Section Five - Division
Section Six - Fractions
Section Seven - Algebra
Section Eight - Solving Equations
Section Nine - Functions & Relations
Section Ten - Story Problems
Section Eleven - Mortensen Math Program & Materials P.240