So you're intrigued by the idea of MEP maths. You've read my blog posts and you've decided to take the plunge. After all, it's free - what've you got to lose? So far so good, but what do you do next?
In a departure from my usual blogging style, I'm going to walk you through the process. It seems so simple, but you can't believe how confused some people seem to get when things are simple...
So choose your starting point:
What is MEP anyway?
MEP stands for the Mathematics Enhancement Programme. It is a maths curriculum developed by the CIMT - Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching - at the University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom. It is currently undergoing trial in British schools.
MEP is free for non-profit use and while not specifically designed for home schoolers, the programme works well with a little modification for a 1-on-1 teaching style.
You'll find the programme at their website.
What makes MEP different?
This is from the MEP website - adapted slightly for homeschoolers by moi. You can read the original on the Primary information sheet linked below.
Most importantly, MEP aims to make all pupils mathematical thinkers and to make mathematics lessons challenging and fun for both teacher and pupils.
- It has very high expectations of teachers and pupils.Maths is taught in an integrated subject in a spiral, ever widening curriculum through the Primary years, with continual revision of facts and concepts.
- Lessons are highly interactive and have many activities.
- The logical foundation of mathematics is stressed, with correct, concise mathematical notation and language used at all times.
- Visualising mentally and through the use of models and manipulatives, and relating concepts to real life situations where relevant, are important aspects.
- Creative thinking and critical evaluation and discussion are encouraged.
- Join the MEP-homeschooler's yahoo group moderated by the amazing Carol Hepburn and ask lots of questions.
- Read the Primary information sheet.
- Watch the video of how it's done in Hungary where the programme was first developed.
This is always a bit of a challenge. I just started Jemimah from the beginning. If you've already begun maths using another programme, then this is my two-bob's worth of advice...for what that's worth...
- Print off the Scheme of Work. This shows you exactly what MEP will be covering and when.
- It is better to begin at the start of a year. Which one suits, do you reckon? If you find your kids know many of the earlier concepts, you can always do two or three lessons per day until the work begins to challenge them once again. Then slow to one a day.
- Many people find that MEP is ahead of other programmes, especially those written expressely for homeschool like MUS, for example. I don't know - MEP is the only maths we've ever done.
- Once you've decided on a level, print off the relevant IPMA test. You'll need an access code to access the test, and the details on how to obtain one are on that page. .. Kids generally do this at the end of each year. You should expect your kids to get close to 100% on this test before you select a level. Clear as mud? What I mean is this: Say you've chosen to commence little Johnny at Year 3. Open IPMA the test for Year 2. These are not placement tests. They do not cover all the work that has already been taught for a particular year. If your child doesn't get close to 100% he or she will find the next year's work too difficult.
- Remember that is is okay to tweak your child's level. If it all gets too difficult, then just adopt the 'pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey method and give a year a go. You can always go back or forwards!
Congratulations. I don't think you'll be sorry. After all - it's free, right!
Now comes the fun bit. You'll be giving your printer a bit of a workout for a few hours - do you have enough paper and ink? Beetle out and get those before you start. While you're at the newsagents, pick up a folder - we use this one (pictured above)because it contains a pencil case as well as pockets for manipulatives; some dividers; an exercise book; some felt tip pens in bright primary colours; and a ruler. While you're gone, send your children outside to start a collection of counters. Shells, pretty pebbles, sticks, pretty much anything that interests them, really. We use the counters from our Go board game.
If you're doing Primary maths, on this page you'll find the entire MEP programme to print out...well almost all. There is a text book that is available for purchase. You don't need it - really - but if you want to buy one, here's the order form.
Regardless of grade, you'll need to print the following:
- Practice book - these are the pages that the children complete - the worksheets as it were. Warning - you can't do MEP with these pages alone. You'll also need...
- Lesson plans - these are your sheets. They tell you how to teach the programme; give the answers; and introduce new concepts. They also contain mental maths drills. You need to do MEP with your children.
- Copymasters - Some of the copymasters are contained in the practice book; others are not. I print them all, and don't use everything. Other mums only print out the pages they need. It is up to you. I need to be organised before I begin, and this way I only need to print at the beginning of a new practice book.
You'll notice that some files on the website have a small red P beside them. These are password protected files. Interestingly, if you use an older version of some software you may find that you can view the files without a password. For the rest of us, you'll find the password in the files of the yahoo group here.
I print off a section of pages at a time, not the whole practice book. There's about 30 lessons in each, and that amount fits well in my folder.
Label your dividers with something like these headings and place the relevant pages behind each:
- Practice Book
- Lesson plans
- Copy masters
- Mum's pages
Under Mum's pages I keep:
- The scheme of work
- Notes on the lesson plans Years 1 and 2
- The posters I only used these for Year 1. In Year 2 we found things around our schoolroom instead. Note also that the posters aren't in the correct order. You need to use your nouse a little to work out which poster the lesson plans actually refer to. at some stage I'll correctly number them and pop it in another post.)
- The OHP transparency collection. You'll need 1-5 for year 1 and the rest for year 2. You'll find reference to them in the lesson plans when you need them. I print them all off at once. Print in colour.
Finally organise your manipulatives.
You'll find most of the manipulatives you'll require supplied. Print all cards on cardstock. You can laminate them if your kids are hard on their things. I didn't bother but we did take care of them.
- Number cards Years 1 and 2. You'll need two sets.
- Number lines Years 1-3. Print on card stock, colour each line a different colour and laminate. You'll only need one, and it's very useful.
- Sign cards Year 1. You may use these in Year 2, but less often.
- Shape cards Year 1 and 2 (and maybe later years?)
- Shape cards with dots Year 2 (and maybe later years?)
- Purchase some cheap plastic dominoes - two sets preferably. Year 1 and 2
- Some cuisinaire type rods would be nice. Jemimah got some for her first birthday from an uncle with high expectations. You don't need them, but they beat cutting up strips of paper IMHO. Year 1 and 2
- A purse with coins of your own currency. Year 2
- A packet of toothpicks. Year 1 and 2
- Finally, you'll need the counters we discussed earlier. MEP says this:
Encourage pupils to collect their own materials for use in maths lessons. (eg pebbles, shells, buttons, sweets, trinkets) to make maths for relevant to them individually.Getting started
Now it's time to start.
- Allocate a time early in the day when your mind is fresh (and so are your kids!!).
- The first few lessons may take a while. don't panic. Soon you should get finished in 20-25 minutes. Less sometimes, slightly more when a new concept is introduced.
- Don't allow procrastination. If you do find it occuring, investigate why. For us it happens when Jemimah thinks she can't do something (even if she can).
- If a lesson does take too long split it up. don't allow maths to become a hard slog that everyone dreads.
- Use coloured textas to answer questions and to liven up the page. colour things in if you like.
- Have fun!
Post Script 12/08/09
There have been literally hundreds of visitors to this post. Some of you have come from the MEP or AO Yahoo groups, others from the Well Trained Mind Forums, and even others from an Aussie group. I hope you have found what I have written useful to get you started with MEP.
Be sure to read my follow-up post MEP minute-by-minute, which shows what an MEP lesson actually looks like in our home. You'll get to see Jemimah counting on her toes there as well!
Hey, you now know lots about us, but I don't even know who you are! Please leave me a comment to let me know you've visited!