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...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Teaching Second Graders With Manipulatives.

fun math activities, crewton ramone in the classroomCrewton Ramone in the classroom! Here are a few videos and shots where second graders use manipulatives and do math that is supposedly beyond their years. These videos should give you a good idea how to incorporate the blocks into the classroom. Manipulatives make math fun and easy. They make math concepts visually obvious and you can get a lot more math done in a shorter amount of time once the students become familiar with the base ten blocks. Look how many addends get made when they build a tower. It's much better than writing them down over and over again--and more effective. Be careful with worksheets.

But don't be fooled into thinking all these kids can do with manipulatives is add and subtract and do some place value...they can learn all kinds of math concepts. The basic operations (addition subtraction, multiplication, division) and much, much more. Use your search engine I have tons of vids and posts up about math from counting thru high school math.

I often forget to turn my camera on during the lessons. You can look at the board and tell we covered a lot of math concepts, from square numbers to square roots to multiplying by nine. Here is a post lesson short:

Here they are doing second grade math, just learning their addends. I can't stress enough how important it is to learn and master all 45 addends.  We have broken into teams and they are racing to build pyramids of  10's and 13's...or you could use worksheets and get less done in more time. Note how we go from addends to factoring polynomials without skipping a beat. I expect you can see how it's all one lesson. Even when we are doing algebra, the algebra is just along for the ride what we are focused on at the second grade level is multiplication and addends and having fun.

You can hear the fun.  Building towers is a favorite fun second grade math activity. I use it as a reward. They practice addends and have fun doing it.  But they can do much more than just addends, they can do algebra, understand problem solving fool around with Pythagoras' math concepts regarding triangles and much more. As you can see addends in algebra go together all in one breath as it were, factoring cements the addends and gives them some multiplication and factoring of numbers and algebraic expressions.

Second Graders Factoring x² + 9x +18 with EASE!

This video is unlisted and won't come up in searches. It is on the sample lessons page along with a whole lot more. Gives you a little taste of the stuff you can get with a password. The password protected pages have hours and hours of vids. Here is a sample addends lesson with very young students.

Second Graders Tell ME Pythagorean Theorem

Breaking them into teams makes the whole thing much more manageable, creates a little competition but also lets kids know as they are working on the problems and other teams jump up and yell "done!" that they aren't impossible and that if their peers can do it, they can do it. It also adds a little excitement.

This little group of girls is working together trying to figure out what fits in the corner...not only do they get math skills but they learn team work and cooperation. I can't tell you how many times the kids who are supposedly the top of the class in math end up "losing" to other kids who are not as good at math as they are (my own son included) because they couldn't get their group to work as a team. And by "losing" I mean finishing after the other "winning" group, sometimes by mere seconds.

Keep it fun and keep it moving. Just play. Play is very makes learning easier and faster.

I have several posts showing the use of base ten blocks in classroom situations plug Crewton Ramone In the Classroom into your favorite search engine and see what comes back...besides these:

And now you know why in the world of Mortensen math this is no big deal, astonishing to some but not me or other who have spent the time to learn to use this effective method for teaching.


Don't forget to find me on FB.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

More Hundreds. (Perfect Scores.)

Before I met him he was usually less than 50%.

Here is a functionally autistic student who went from "F" to "A" in a rather short period of time. Base ten blocks made all the difference. Symbols alone are rarely sufficient until you have spent a lot of time playing with manipulatives. Check out the vids on this page and note how I always fall back on blocks to remind him of concepts we have already covered and to make answers "visually obvious" as the Montessorians say. .

Note the difference in auditory perception which is so common in these kids, they don't hear or process information the same way we do...but I can assure getting "F's" has the same effect on them as anybody else. And so does getting "A's". He was quite proud of himself.

I only spent a few lessons with this kid before he told his mother I would "kill him" if he came and got the answers wrong after all that work. He took it literally. It was fun while it lasted. His mom says maybe he'll come back one day...

If you would like some tutoring where ever you are, all you need is a set of blocks and an internet connection, I usually use google vid chat, that way the dupes at the NSA can learn some math too.

It's pretty easy. You send me funds via paypal and set up a google acct so we can use their vid chat. I also have ooVoo but nobody uses that, and rarely we use skype...the software is just a little better with google although my last few skype calls have been trouble free. I have done vid tutoring all over the country but also Europe, Indonesia, and of course Canada. If you have a couple of kids (siblings) I charge the same not per kid...several families put their three kids on the other end of the video and we all play math since with these manipulatives we level the playing field... Also a few parents are starting to figure out they can make money tutoring others too. The demand is high. I have also done teacher trainings, tutor trainings etc via vid chat not just tutoring kids. All that is required is that everybody has a set of base ten manipulatives (or at leaste enough to go around) and a decent attitude.

As long as you have a set of blocks I am quite confident video tutoring is just as good as being there in person and I have quite a few people who have been getting tutored off and on for months...

Dig thru this blog and play around at The House Of Math...just click links and watch the vids that interest you...get a password which unlocks hours of vids and screencasts (there is also a password protected screencast page) plus PDF's, my book and more detailed pages of instruction where you get to sit in on actual sample lessons but also get direct instruction on how to present math concepts. Maybe it would be a good idea to to start on the Getting Started Page which basically covers how to use a Curriculum Starter Kit but can also be used as an overview. As one person said, "I just go and wonder around clicking links and watching vids and hours go by..."

People are always amazed at how much they get for a password. One page of sample lessons alone is worth the 24 bucks.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Captain Jack and Ratios.

This was a fun student. He was having trouble with math because as usual they didn't teach him concepts or teach to his learning style. Again, we see if they can get their hands on it it makes more sense. He had a lot of misconceptions but the nice thing with this particular child is once he got it he got it and he didn't need a lot of repetition. Ratios turn out to be easy.

The cross multiplication they were teaching him didn't make sense even if he could get the answer....but once he grasped the relationships between the numbers things fell into place quite rapidly. Instead of memorizing and algorithm which he would quickly forget he began to get to get a better understanding of what was going on as we played around for an hour. I have made several videos and blog posts about ratios.

I think you will find these videos amusing as well as informative.

I used a lot of manipulatives to get the concepts across but didn't get it all on vid because he often got distracted if I busted out the camera. But if you watch closely you should begin to get some ideas on how to use the blocks to present ratios. You may also watch videos teaching ratios with Sarah, another autistic student to whom I spent time teaching ratios.

Writing is not his strong suit. I spent a long time working with him on how to hold a pencil. Often his teacher's aid would write for him but she also ended up doing a lot of the work for him so he wasn't learning as much as maybe they thought he was which was reflected by his test scores.  When I met him many of them were less than 50%.  Soon he was getting perfect scores.

These videos should also show how important it is to know multiplication, not just be able to work a calculator. Also once the concepts are understood, you don't need to use the blocks for every single problem. What we are basically doing is studying relationships between these numbers.


For more videos you can't get anywhere else showing how to use these blocks with SPED kids and autistic kids and kids labeled with ADHD you might get yourself a password. Also a set of blocks and a net connection and I can tutor you or your kid anywhere...math tutoring on Maui is nice but it can be anywhere there is a decent net connection.  People are amazed at how much you get with a password. You get PDF's and my book, plus hours and hours of videos and screencasts...


Early last year I followed a link to your web page from The Libertarian Homeschooler's FB page. Saw lots of cool stuff, put it in the mental queue to investigate further for my 4 year old twins. Bought a password last fall watched more, read more, started to try a little bit with the kids. Loved, ABSOLUTELY LOVED, the methodology. INCLUDING that concepts can AND SHOULD be introduced and explored in a non-linear fashion.

We thought we might take advantage of the curriculum kit sale this winter, but with other life issues going on we decided that we would just wait and continue working with the kids with some used Math U See blocks we'd picked up and ideas from your site. Well... then you posted an Ebay listing for a used Mortensen kit and I was able to pick that up. So, thank you so very much for passing that listing on to us. The kids have been doing all sorts of investigations with them and I think my husband's heart skipped a beat when my daughter discovered that 100 was a square made out of 10s. Cool. Luckily the next thing they tried was using the square as a Frisbee and we were humbled...

Oh, I had meant to drop you a note after watching the videos of you working with the little girl with ADHD, Emma I think. Well, in addition to some kudos for giving her some Vitamin C, I wanted to tell you that I thought having her hold the blocks in each hand, not just use her dominant hand for everything, that was PURE GOLD and one of many ideas I saw you use that I've noted to incorporate into our math play. Her neural networks are going to owe you big time for that! Hopefully you put some real butter on that popcorn too...

[but of course and real brewers yeast too]

We will definitely be password customers again in the future. I look forward to seeing where you go with your site.And I also just wanted to tell you how great I think it is that you post info to give parents more info about vaccinations. I wish I had more info, way earlier in our lives, and I hope that your posts will help someone out there make better decisions.

~JK, San Diego


I just came across your site this past weekend and I am so thrilled to have found it!


I'm really freakin' excited about this. I think this is the math I've been trying to find for the past decade + that I've been homeschooling my children. I know you've heard this before, but while I was watching some of your videos, I understood some math concepts better than I ever had

I just spent two minutes with my math hating 17 year old son, showing him how to factor a polynomial with blocks. After a bit of denial that it couldn't possibly be that easy, he actually seemed a little excited to try Mortensen methods to help him with his work."Loving your videos and we have been playing with the few blocks we have while waiting for our package.
I am learning so much!!" ~ SK, Florida


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Little Geometry, Triangles, and counting to 180.

Some simple concepts regarding triangles and 180...This student up until quite recently found triangles to be confusing and stupid.  But with a little directed discovery and explanation things very rapidly started making sense.  Geometry is often easy for visual learners because they can see it...this is not a primarily a visual learner,  this is a kinesthetic learner. He is good at sports and the reason he showed up in the first place was because if he got an F they wouldn't let him play.

"If you can count to nine tell me if something is same or different or not and identify a rectangle I can teach you math if you want to learn it...and you need to be able to speak a language preferably English." Is basically how our lessons started and at first he was incredulous. After an hour triangles were EASY. Now we just have to work on the negative associations he has built up over the last two years...he got a D in algebra and hated it. I showed him problem solving and factoring and he was hooked.

Next we will mix in a little algebra...this vid also brings home the fact that knowing your addends by heart makes a BIG difference. Concepts build on concepts and skill sets build on skill sets...soon instead of "2" they will put something like 4x - 20 there. And the student will have to figure out that 4x - 20 = 80.   Which is a snap if they understand problem solving concepts but just adds to the confusion if they just got a "D" in algebra and hate it and none of makes sense. Hero Zero and No Fun Get Back To One to the rescue.

In this video a student I am tutoring discovers that the stuff he thought was hard might not be so hard as long as he can count to 180. The angles of triangles always add up to 180 and using a little logic and reasoning we see why the exterior angle and the two non-supplementary angles add up to 180 degrees. I did a lesson already using directed discovery so that he was able to pretty much figure that out for himself he just couldn't elucidate it well so I showed him using some symbols and it really started making sense. (See also vid below.)

angles of triangles, geometry,

You can't see the x but it is the other angle in the triangle.

This student is a little camera shy and as with all students, tends to behave a little bit differently when the camera is on which adds a little pressure. This is another student that was in danger of not being able to play sports because of his math grade and apparently he's pretty good at baseball...and does "ok" in his other classes except, of course, math.

From what I can see he is indeed a kinesthetic learner and once he gets his hands on the blocks a lot of math problems fade away. (Do you see what I did there? I crack myself up.)

angles of triangles, angle measures, geometryNow we are ready for a "complicated" problem like this on to the left. Looks like it might be tricky but again if you can count to 180 it's not very hard. Turns out it's just two problems stuck together.  Suddenly it's pretty easy except for the part that he sees a problem like this and automatically runs a program in his head that this is hard...but then it turns out to be easy and the program is modified. Soon he will be able to understand even poor explanations because he will be running a program called "this is easy I can do this."

The geometry wasn't making any sense to him nor were the explanations he was getting from his teacher, so he quit paying attention and this turns into a loop that ends with an "F." BTW he tells me probably 90% of his peers are bombing tests and getting poor grades. I'm pretty sure the teacher is just as frustrated if not more than the students.

Anyhow, once he starts understanding basics concepts and the generic ideas all they can do is switch the numbers...and test scores go up dramatically....and people think Crewton Ramone is magic. But it's not magic it's just math....and knowing when to start counting to 180....

Oh and BTW Happy New Year.