Nurturing Success


When you practice before you learn, you practice making errors.

When you learn before you practice, you practice having success.

You've probably never heard the term "nurturing" when talking about teaching, especially math.

What does that mean?

It's one of the biggest differences in what iLearn Math provides that distinguishes it from traditional resources.

The best way to describe it is to contrast it with traditional methods.

Typically, the teacher (or a video) presents information to the student. The student is then given problems to solve.

The actual learning then takes place through a "trial and error" approach. Student are given problems to solve and immediately told whether their answers are correct or incorrect.

The inevitable result is a lot of errors. The underlying assumption is that the only way students learn is through the "error correction" process in which an explanation is given on why an answer was incorrect.

This is a very inefficient process, and it almost always results in students making more errors (incorrect answers) than correct answers.

These errors are the source of virtually all of the frustration that so many students experience in learning math.

The iLearn approach is completely different.

The Positive Learning System

We refer to the iLearn Math approach as the Positive Learning System.

There are far too many features that support this approach to cover here, but here are a couple of important ones:

Error Prevention vs. Error Correction

In building the teaching process into iLearn Math, the focus is on preventing errors, not waiting for errors to occur, then trying to correct them.

All instruction is presented in small segments, but it's not really the length that is important. The important feature of this approach is that the instruction teaches only one idea at a time.

When instruction is structured this way, students are able to understand the instruction quicker and easier.

Teaching General Strategies

The content itself is structured so that general concepts are taught as the basis for consistent treatment of a topic across lessons, Chapters and grades.

No concepts are defined that must be "unlearned" later.

When students first understand these general strategies and concepts, it becomes easier to understand related content later that builds on them.

Teaching Mathematical Thinking

Another very important feature of iLearn Math is that the instruction "models" every step in the mathematical reasoning process.

Students are then required to solve the problems in a way that demonstrates their understanding of the underlying logic.

Sometimes, all of the steps in logic are included in the same lesson. In this case, students are required to "show their work" by entering their answers for interim steps in solving the problem, before they enter the "final answer."

In other cases, the steps in logic are developed across lessons in the same Chapter. As they move through the lessons, they are required to show that they understand the logic of each step, and are still required to work problems step-by-step until the final lesson in the sequence. These final lessons are referred to as "answer only" lessons in iLearn Math.

And related to this same issue, topics in iLearn Math are developed across grade levels so that the coverage in each succeeding grade builds on the understanding acquired in prior grades, but extends the concepts and procedures to deal with more complex situations or problem types.

Taken altogether, these and other features in the design of iLearn Math result in a process that gradually and consistently move students forward at a pace that is comfortable for them, and never becomes so difficult that it results in frustration or failure.

That's what we refer to as "nurturing."