When I contacted Pearson Education, Inc. for product to review they generously sent me all that is available to public school teachers. As a result, this review may turn out to be quite lengthy, but if you are looking for something that offers a colorful and practical application of math, with lots of review, but not too much, introduces mathematical vocabulary, requires critical thinking, stresses student understanding of math concepts, gives the student complete instruction on EVERY page, and follows up with many assessment opportunities ...SCOTT FORESMAN MATH IS IT!
Pearson Scott Foresman is the world's leading elementary educational publisher. They are the ONLY basal publisher that focuses on developing key understanding of mathematical ideas. They claim that their curriculum provides EVERY child the opportunity to learn as well as to understand mathematical concepts and calculations. After reviewing the multitude of offerings that this math program presents, I would have to agree. As much as is possible, Scott Foresman Mathematics has something to meet the needs of EVERY student. Loaded with teacher helps and assistance, a superb support staff, and an extensive offering of materials, I would have to conclude that if you can't find it here, I doubt if you will be satisfied elsewhere!
Let me begin by saying that I reviewed 4th grade math. Allow me to also reiterate the fact that although I reviewed materials that are available to homeschoolers for purchase, they are used in the Public Schools. I have in my possession the 2005 updated editions. You may order anything mentioned in this review from the above website or call the 800 number with any further questions you may have. You may also order Scott Foresman Math from Rainbow Resources at www.rainbowresource.com. Since the workbooks are master copies for teachers there is no problem with copying the worksheets for multiple student use. I found them to be so reasonably priced that you may want to just go ahead and order a copy for each student.
For those of you who do not wish to read a lengthy review, the key elements in the Scott Foresman Mathematics Program are: student instruction on every page, clearly stated goals and objectives, consistent monitoring of student understanding throughout the entire curriculum, assessment of progress and immediate remediation as needed, connecting reading and writing to problem solving, providing real world problems, designed to reach all types of learners, lots of test prep, simplified teacher's manuals.
Now for the Review...
If your child has had the summer off or just plain needs some review from the previous year, you will want to begin by ordering the "Review From Last Year Masters." This provides a review of all key concepts covered in the previous grade level. Each page of the review begins with an example and is followed with a worksheet of student practice. An answer key is provided in the back of the text. This is a black and white worktext. My 4th grade copy was 20 pages of student instruction.
After your child has reviewed key concepts from the previous year, or if no review is needed, you will want to begin with the actual student text. This is a full color consumable student worktext in grades K through 3. Beginning with grade 4 through grade 6, it is a beautiful hardbound, full color, non-consumable textbook. The grade 4 textbook opens with a section titled, "Test Taking Strategies." This section not only talks the student through test-taking skills, but also walks the student through the process with loads of examples coupled with questions for discussion. Chapters are broken into manageable lessons. Each lesson begins with a quick warm-up. Complete student instruction for new material is right there in the student text followed by practice problems. Word problems or reading problems which incorporate math into everyday experiences are woven throughout. There is no need for a separate worktext to supplement this program. Finally, there is a mixed review of problems for test preparation. Students can even do reviews on the internet at www.scottforesman.com. At the end of each chapter there is a "Key Vocabulary and Concept Review." Culminating the chapter you will find a Chapter Test and a Cumulative Review and Test Prep, along with sections on "reteaching" and "more practice" in case your particular student just doesn't get it. I can't even begin to tell you all that this textbook encompasses just that there are 733 pages of student text which allow you to pick and choose for the on target, the struggling, and even the gifted learner. A substantial glossary of math terms concludes the text. You will however, need to purchase the answer key for grades 4 through 6 as it is not included in the textbook.
Now that a review of the "basics" is finished, let's go on to the "FUN STUFF." Scott Foresman Math offers a digital learning CD-Rom with engaging movies to learn about math, interactive games and print activities all of which correspond to the lessons in the text. This CD is easy to load (just pop it in), colorful and easy to use. The 4th grade edition features sea creatures and cowboys. There is also a CD of electronic math manipulatives which is used in conjunction with the internet. Traditional manipulatives for individual students are also available. The traditional kit includes two-color chips, play money, fraction tiles, dice, foam color tiles, base ten rods, 6 inch ruler, clock and a spinner all from the noted Cusinaire Company. I think my favorite fun thing has to be the "Math Games" pack. This includes 14 colorful game boards on heavy cardstock (7 sheets with a different game on each side), and a teacher's guide. The teacher's guide features instructions for use, game cards (these must be copied on card stock from the guide), and a list of materials (one or more of the manipulative items and some household things like crayons, pencils, etcetera, and possibly a copy of a "master sheet" also included in the guide). The correlated lesson that pertains to the game is noted. There is at least one game per chapter of the text. All materials are packaged individually for easy storage.
In case you are thinking, WOW that is a lot of stuff-there's more...If your student needs more practice with each lesson you may purchase an additional "Practice Masters Workbook." If he or she needs help in "Problem Solving" (those infamous word problems) there is a "Problem Solving Masters" workbook. Perhaps, you have a gifted student, well, you guessed it, there is an "Enrichment Masters" workbook. All of the answer keys to the Practice, Problem Solving or Enrichment Masters are grouped into one book, so you would need to purchase that with any of these workbooks. Maybe, this is your student's year for state testing, you are covered with "Spiral Review and Test Prep" which has a small separate answer key. If you need to assess where your student is mathematically or want to increase speed with timed tests it here in the "Assessment Sourcebook." If you need to repeat a grade, but want a slightly different text without purchasing an entire math program, you need the "Reteaching Masters Workbook" (note this will be a black and white text -161 pages for grade 4). Finally, if you want to make your own manipulatives you can use "Teaching Tool Masters." There is also a wonderful set of "teacher's" manuals which lay out full lesson plans for those who prefer a pre-planned curriculum. These are so simple and easy to use, keeping your student (and you) right on schedule if you are a little shy about teaching math.
When the Scott Foresman people say they want to make sure EVERY student learns they are not just trying to sell product. This is definitely HIGH QUALITY learning material. I really enjoyed reviewing this product. If you are concerned about this being a public school curriculum, don't be. I didn't look at every page in the textbook, but I did skim through it. I did not see any evolutionary content or material that would be offensive (and I was looking). I am not promising there won't be any, but I did not find it. At first I was overwhelmed with the extensive materials available, but I quickly understood that not all materials are needed for every student. If you need it, it is there. If you don't, don't buy it. The prices are reasonable so if you want to splurge on the extras you can. Everything is non-consumable for grades 4-6 if you want it to be. The only negative comment I can give on this curriculum is that it would be easier to use for homeschoolers if the answer keys were found within the workbooks or texts instead of in separate booklets.