Here you will see students as young as 4 and 5 years old doing algebra and "advanced" math, without ever knowing it's supposed to be hard.
You are invited to learn how to use this method...

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Homeschool Math, Dboyz Playing Pascal with Base Ten Blocks

Here are a few recent vids. The point of them and this post is to illustrate and bring home basic concept number three: we form rectangles to facilitate counting. Rectangles make it easy to count and we can reduce many seemingly complex math problems to basic counting with the help of our friend the rectangle. In the first vid they make percentages EASY by using a rectangle.

What basic concepts do you see in these three vids?

Rudimentary Editing Skills Level 101: ACHIEVED. Mastery w/ percentages is being attained. THEN we can move on to ones that end in 5. Baby steps. Note the block serves as a "post" or memory anchor on what to do. They understand the CONCEPT so now I'm just changing the numbers...and we also get practice with multiplication and division.

Here is their little sister playing and learning addends...she had asked very nicely if I would play what's under the cup with her since her brothers were playing outside with two neighbor boys...and she wasn't being included. So I brought DBoyz in and shot that short vid and then sent them back out and played with her...we played what's under the cup and built tens and then she made a house for little ponies to stay in and then we cleaned up and it was time to go. She made the comment, "Time always goes so fast when I come to your house." Because time flies when your having math.

This next video is also edited. The full version is on Dboyz page at the house of math.  All three of these videos can be used for educational and training purposes...lets use them to focus on basic concepts.

You can stop here. The rest of this post is long and aimed at those who are interested in learning more from the perspective of a trainer or an aspiring master trainer. A link to this post will appear on the teacher training page too. Here is the whole converstion on Crewton Ramone's FaceBook page.

I highly recommend you click that link and read the thread, what follows are some (slightly edited) excerpts lifted from that thread starting with this: First things first, I don't write or make videos for Unicorns. Celeste is a unicorn. Female engineer. Statistically speaking they don't even exist. There are few Unicorns who have become interested in the house of math...Staci was another one: black female electrical engineer...Irene is another one I'm confident she knows more math and certainly more chemistry than I do...these are the exception not the rule...and it must turn tables and become the rule not the exception. I have been paid large sums by men who fully understood the mathematics well enough to apply it to physics or engineering or economics but could not explain why you invert and multiply to a seven year old's satisfaction...much less why the x's don't change when you add them...what has to happen is people who actually understand math have to be given the tools to be able to explain it to others.

Most parents statistically speaking failed algebra. Many teachers got a teaching degree because it "didn't involve taking a lot of math..." Teachers currently still think there's a trick to it:

: if you understand math and math concepts will you still need special techniques?
Answer: once you understand the concepts all they can do is change the numbers.

I'm starting to break lessons into small pieces for a couple of reasons, First: because we know the attention span of the average viewer is extremely limited...two minutes is optimal video length...what a laff: people want to learn math in two minutes....if not screw it...girls can become strippers and guys can always cut grass--wealthy people rarely do their own yard work. Second: because too many parents and teachers can't wrap their head around switching from topic to topic because they can't see how the lessons relate...we are learning about Pascal and summation but all we are doing basically speaking is addends and multiplication....the percentages practice was practice on multiplication and division. Once we get the CONCEPT down all we can do is change the numbers and then it just becomes practice with doing whichever of the basic operations are required because AGAIN computation is how we DO math but it's not THE mathematics.

You can do all the math with just addition and subtraction but it takes longer...further if you cannot DO computations quickly and easily mathematics is HARD because you have to contend with two things layered on top of each other: trying to remember the rules and process for the problem at hand and trying to remember the rules and process for the computation required itself. This overloads the system and results in failure, anxiety and incorrect answers which leads to negative feed back, which leads to more fear and anxiety, which leads to an aversion for the mathematics which leads to more of the preceding and a feed back loop is created that includes actual pain, mental anguish and damaged self esteem which leads to hating math, which leads to the dark side.

The concepts are very basic here. We form rectangles to facilitate counting. There are more as an exercise for those who are thinking about tutoring or maybe one day training others...what other basic concepts are covered in these three short videos? might also go over them in your mind even if you are "just a mom" teaching your own kids. You can put comments below if you like...but there are several more at work here. I mention some of them in that FB thread.

Now, the reason that this method is so effective is because if all math is counting and we can reduce any problem to simple COUNTING, then anybody can do math that can count. The trick, if there is one, is knowing how to reduce a problem to simple counting, which as it turns out is the genius of it all and which is why we say if you can count to nine form a rectangle and tell if something is the same or different or not we can teach you math...I add that they must already be able to speak a language generally it's English and if you can speak that language math should be EASY. Anyhow what basic concepts do you see in these vids? 

Mathematics is the study of relationships and we describe these relationships with symbols. pie is not just is the relationship between the circumference and the diameter, it's not just sin30° = .5, sin is the relationship between the side opposite 30° and the hypotenuse...addition and subtraction are inverse functions but basically the same thing in order to do one you need to do the other basically you are combining, the same with multiplication and division, things look scattered and random (even though the tab bar on my website basically goes in the order you will see it presented in the public schools) because you don't get how the language goes together or the gestalt of can't study one part without studying some other part...using this method. You can certainly compartmentalize the mathematics and they do for an example think back to or visit your nearest public education institution.

 "Just show me how to do the problems" is the problem. My son is currently suffering under this line of thinking where he gets to do timed worksheets for multiplication facts. He doesn't do as well as other kids on these because he doesn't write quickly, therefore he must not be very good at math. They are majoring in minors.

When asked to be able to use and apply this knowledge to something like 28 is what percent of 70 or how many 4's in 72 they either can't do it at all or take forever and certainly can't do it in their heads...but they can whip out a 50 problem worksheet of single digit multiplication facts in under 3 minutes...but then ask them to figure out how much change they get if they buy 7 pounds of rice at 2.78 per pound and pay with a $ pencil, no paper...and they can't do it, because they can't organize and keep track of their thoughts.

Concept #3: Rectangles facilitate counting.

A = LW This gets totally LOST if you just memorize (n² + n)/2 which is what most of my students have done if they even know about this at all....they use summations on SATs and other standardized test to "separate the men from the boys..."

In the example for 14 we see various addends. a couple for 14 and also for 4, we also see the number 105 is 70 + 35 again numbers are made up of other numbers and that part will come in handy when doing division but also trainers should see the distributive theory of multiplication as we distribute the 7 across the 10 + 5 so the 70 = (7)(10) and the 35 = (7)(5)...students some how are mystified by this when they get to algebra even though they have been doing it all along, where the most common grade is "F" and when asked to multiply 7(x + 5) often have a very hard time even though it's easier than doing it in base ten because all we get is 7x + 35...whereas in base ten we have to combine like terms (the tens) which is a basic Concept #2: we only count things that are the same. If you were going to be a trainer and were asked to delineate the concepts on these vids and you came back with counting, forming rectangles and "The blocks help you see the patterns." I would FAIL you...because you failed to see the the basic concepts...

If you were being tested under Jerry or another Master Trainer named Brian you would fail and more than likely receive a  serious dressing down to go along with it...I remember one woman in particular in tears after she got done being schooled...although Brian would try to be a little nicer about it. I'm going to (try and) develop some Master Trainers...if I get 7 in the next 9 years I will have done phenomenally. When you are done you should be able to take any textbook and then take just about any problem and either show how to do it with the blocks or step back and show the basic concepts needed to do the problem because by now it should be clear that you don't want to model every problem with the blocks nor should you need to...and you don't need to hit the student over the head with them or take away the aha moments by just telling them....let them explore and discover for themselves. You nudge them in the right direction or point them down the path that will lead to the discovery you want them to make....but they walk down there alone. You are not far off, just in case and to catch them if the fall---control of error is important but failing your way to success is also important...not wrong just getting more information...that attitude leads to discovery and opens up the wonder. Control of error does not mean don't let them make mistakes ever or avoid making mistakes: it means learn from the mistakes, take that information and then use it to get it right.

Fear of failure or frustration of getting it wrong or worse being put in a position where they can not succeed shuts down learning decreases wonder and joy to zero or less--usually less, and makes the math what it is today. I see math memes like this:

And like this:

If you understood what you were doing how could you NOT know?  Yet this is a completely common response from many of my students who are not used to getting A's.  Try it some time ask your child or students how they did on their math test...

I would encourage to click this link and read the thread. The point is not to "talk down" or to deride other people who don't quite get it...entire companies have been built that purport to use base ten blocks to help you see the math...but some methodologies with base ten blocks are better than others. I can swing a hammer and work a saw...and my trig is strong, but I know quite a few carpenters who using the exact same tools, would get whatever it was built faster, better and prettier than I would.  My aim is to make you, if you so choose into a person who can teach math using base ten blocks and other math manipulatives, faster better and prettier than the majority of your peers. Unfortunately, I can't do it in an hour or even in 50 five minute videos...but I do have some parent teacher training more than 7 hours worth at VERY reasonable rates which many have found to be very, very useful.

If you would like to enter into a dialogue regarding concept number three, or make a comment about the teacher training (many have taken it now) please do so in one or the other of the comment boxes or ask questions about concept number three not 4 not 5 but 3 that would be concept number three the one about rectangles and how they facilitate counting.

Give me your email address and I will give you a subtraction manual in pdf.




I do not recommend my Tumblr because there's sex, and "naughty" pics, and swearing and all manner of content for grown ups, along with controversial topics...but the other ones are fairly tame, although still not tame enough for the Christian Homeschool crowd.


  1. Closing in on 1,000 youtube vids...should hit that this year....

  2. I have just installed iStripper, so I can have the hottest virtual strippers on my desktop.