“ a complete, fully scripted, evidence-based, field-tested, non-consumable, penmanship, spelling, grammar, composition and reading, use-it-with-all-students curriculum based on systematic and explicit phonics taught via neurological response instruction.”There are currently 3 parts to the Madsen Method Curriculum with Part Four coming out in September 2011. The Madsen Method is not a graded curriculum, however, used in a graded classroom, the parts would be for:
- Part One: Grades K-1
- Part Two: Grades 2-3
- Part Three: Grades 4-6 1/2
- Part Four: Grades 6 1/2 - 8
As a member of the Crew, we received Part One of the Madsen Method for review. With a home educators discount, the price for Part One is $219.95. Without the discount, the price is $299.95.
So far we have completed Part One, Section One (of 5 Sections).
The 9 lessons in this section taught us:
- how to go to the "learning position"
- what the "Back Up System of Learning" is and what the four neurological responses involved in learning are
- how to position our writing arm and wrist when writing
- how to position a sheet of paper for writing
- how to position and hold a pencil when writing
- that writing is simply pulling and pushing a pencil
- the work of the non-writing hand
- the importance of the pencil holder
Here is a video of Dylan leading us in a review of how to hold and position a pencil. (Keep in mind, this was just a review and he may have left out some parts ~ like letting an edge of yellow paint show at the tip of his finger).
(I had 4 other videos to share, but I cannot get them to upload because the files are too large. I will video tape future lessons with a camera that has lower resolution so the files are smaller).
My thoughts so far:
I can see the benefits of the "Say and Do" process of learning. Basically, when you "say," you "hear," and when you "do," you "see." Using all the members of your neurological "TEAM" helps you to remember what you learn.
The teacher's manual is fully scripted, and there are tutorials, text boxes, side notes, formulas, photo illustrations, and cloud notes to help guide you along the way. It did seem confusing at first, but I often learn best by just doing (in this case, saying and doing as I was told exactly what to say to my students), so I jumped right in.
Since I am learning to teach my children at the same time I am teaching them, with the Madsen Method, it was important to read and be prepared for "class." And for class, I mean we had to bring down the student desks from upstairs to use in our classroom (dining room) as the "proper learning position" required the child to be sitting at the correct height to the desk and have his back against the chair. I sat at the bench at the table and after the first few lessons, my back was sore from sitting correctly. Which just goes to show that I do not normally maintain proper posture when I sit.
I found that my oldest boys were not very cooperative, until I gave them zeros on the first day's Behavioral Performance Bar Graph. For this first section, I graded them on cooperation, attitude and "non-script talking." I admit, the last part was even hard for me.
We also filled out a daily academic bar graph that was color coded for introduction, practice, review and tests. At the top of each bar is a spot to put the student's percentage and there are only two options ~ o% or 100%. In other words, we don't move on until we get 100%.
I realize the importance of beginning at the very beginning, but it feels a bit slow to me right now. It took us 2 weeks (about 9 school days) to complete the first 9 lessons, spending a total of about 6 hours in student instruction which averaged out to be about 40 minutes a day/lesson, however; some lessons took longer than others. This does not include the time it took me to read the introduction and prepare for each lesson.
Because of this, I have decided that I can not put all English subjects on hold for this review. So, we plan to commit the time necessary to complete one lesson a day, 4 days a week, and we will continue on with our subjects for this year as planned. I do feel that the Madsen Method is very promising, but because I am using this with 4th, 5th and 8th grade students and we have a lot of catch up to do, we cannot afford to do away with our basic plan this year, even if it means we have to relearn some things (like how to hold our pencil!). I am also considering this for Malachi when he turns 5 or is ready for Kindergarten.
They say it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks and I can see how that will be the case with the Madsen Method. My youngest, who is 9, is able to memorize long sentences of dictation more effectively and genuinely seems more adaptable to this curriculum than the older children. The MM requires that the children repeat back to me and do exactly what I say and do. Some of the sentences are hard and we are not used to this. The children cannot recite in unison and one child will confuse another and they will forget what they are saying. However, I can already see that they are making progress and I am amazed at what they are able to remember with this method.
As a side note, for this first section, I was determined to make it through on my own to see how well we were able to follow the instructions, but we are encouraged to call in anytime for a consultation. Mr. and Mrs. Madsen (Sharon and Joe) make themselves available by a toll free phone call or email and are always willing to help.
I have committed to teaching Part One of the Madsen Method over the course of this school year as a program of this magnitude can not be grasped or fully understood in the typical 6 week review period. I hope to update as we go along since this will be a longer review period. This has been update #1.