NOTES TO THE TEACHER
I have found that almost every person reaches a point in his life
where he stops learning new math skills. To be successful when
using the PLONSKI MATH METHOD you must keep in mind the
goals of the method.
1. Seek out the mental stumbling block that is impeding
the student's further progress.
2. Make the student strongly and clearly aware of that
mental stumbling block.
3. Persistently challenge the student to overcome that
mental stumbling block.
4. Challenge the student to gain speed in using the math
skills the student has already learned.
To be successful when using the PLONSKI MATH METHOD the
teacher must accept the mindset of a tutor. (Please also read the
article entitled "NOTES TO THE STUDENT."
The PLONSKI MATH METHOD is a diagnostic-prescriptive method.
It has been used successfully with thousands of students. The
procedures, assignments, and sequence of assignments of the
PLONSKI MATH METHOD have been refined and re-refined over a
period of almost fifty years of trying different assignments and
sequences of assignments. I have discovered that the
subconscious mind is not at all logical and so the optimum learning
sequence is not necessarily a pattern that seems logical. The only
results that count are results that endure.
Read the "NOTES TO THE STUDENT" article for information
about how the student must begin and what his daily practice
procedure should be. We have been fortunate to be able to
use school classrooms as control groups for experimental
purposes. In grades 4 through 12 the best results have always
been achieved by students who work at least one hour a day five
days a week. In one control experiment, a class of 40 students
working 45 minutes a day was compared to a class of 40 students
working 60 minutes each day. At the end of one year the
45-minutes-a-day group accomplished only 75% of the work done
by the 60-minutes-per-day group. We have experimented with
every combination we could think of (e.g. working every other
day, half-hour mornings with half-hour afternoons, four-hour
school days vs. eight-hour school days, etc.) The only thing
that really seemed to matter was accumulated minutes on task.
The growth rate was proportional to accumulated minutes on task.
Young students and hyperactive students and students with
attention deficit disorder did better work when the sixty minutes
was broken into smaller portions and done a piece at a time.
We were amazed to discover how quickly the attention span grew
for such students when they saw other students were able to work
for longer periods of time without a break. We have had many,
many students who practiced the PLONSKI MATH METHOD
assignments for a full hour during school and then bought a disk
to take home so they could work on it some more at home and
on week ends. The learning curve for such students far
surpassed our wildest expectations. I have learned to
PRESUME NOTHING! Even ten-year old students can learn to
construct Algebraic proofs and solve quadratic equations!
I call the ages from 9 through 12 the golden years. These
students are in the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades. They are
eager to learn and thrive on challenges. Without realizing it
many public schools have been slowing these students down.
On the contrary, because these students are so docile and
cause so little trouble, parents and schools tend to neglect
them while focusing their efforts on the "troubled" children.
(The squeeky wheel gets the grease.)
The teacher must remain mindful
of the following efficiency procedures:
1. Whenever the student is given the option:
IS THIS A TEST (Y/N/Q)?
The student must always choose N unless the teacher gives
him different directions. This will allow the student to
work at the task until the acceptable proficiency level
is obtained. When the acceptable proficiency level is
obtained the results are saved as though the student had
taken a test. The results are saved to disk as a score
of 100 %. The next time the student chooses the S option
on the main MENU he will be given a new assignment.
2. The objective is to have the student practice the assigned
task until a level of 100 % is achieved at least one time.
(Note: This does not necessarily mean that a 100 % result will
occur the next time the student practices the same assignment.)
3. Whenever the teacher wants to see the student's progress
report, the teacher will choose the
"L = Look at your scores"
option on the main Menu but use the student's name.
4. The teacher also has administrative options available.
The administrative options are code-protected to prevent
corruption of the files. To obtain the administrative codes
contact the author.
5. Often times it is slow thinking speed that is the students's
mental barrier. Mental speed is a function of spaced repetition.
I strongly recommend for the student to start the entire process
all over again from the beginning every nine weeks. This can be
easily done by assigning the student a different PERIOD number
for each nine-week time span. (The school edition uses PERIOD
numbers; the home edition does not.)
6. Advanced students should also start over again from the
beginning but every eighteen weeks instead of every nine weeks.
An advanced student working forty-five minutes per school day
should be able to complete the entire computerized portion of
the PLONSKI MATH METHOD within eighteen weeks.
(An advanced student is defined as a student who can complete
at least one hundred assignments within a nine-week time span.)
I consider the true cause of the lack of success in American
public schools to be a flawed learning theory. This flawed learning
theory, which is used in American public schools, has its basis in
animal learning theory. The learning theory used there is based on
the work of men like B. F. Skinner. Skinner's learning theory is
appropriately called "Animal Behaviorism."
I believe Skinner's animal behaviorism theory has been wrongly
extrapolated for use with humans. In America we use animal
behaviorism techniques for eight years in our elementary schools
then we wonder why the students behave like animals when they
reach high school. Skinner examined the way animals "think".
When we use animal behaviorism teaching techniques, we are
teaching our students to think like animals.
Animal thinking is uncritical, cue-response, thinking behavior.
I believe our problems in America with gang youth activity is an
inadvertant outcome of the learning-teaching techniques used in
our public schools. Criminal gang behavior is based on the
flawed thinking skills of the gang members. This uncritical,
cue-response behavior is also strongly evident in the behavior
of audiences in a motion picture theater.
In public education the recent promotion of the use of
"higher order thinking skills" is based on the recognition of the
errors in extrapolated animal-behaviorism, public-school, teaching
The PLONSKI MATH METHOD is based on a different learning
theory. I call this theory the "Human Learning Theory." This
learning theory is a blend of a clear understanding of "intuitive
learning," inductive logic, and the "Socratic Method." Currently
the only way to come to a full understanding of this human learning
theory is to experience it for yourself. Experiencing the
PLONSKI MATH METHOD for yourself can bring you a long way
to understanding the theory behind its structure.
BE CAREFUL OF YOUR EXPECTATIONS.
Are you disappointed with a student? Maybe your expectations
were to high. Are you surprised at a student's great progress?
Perhaps your expectations were too low.
BE CAREFUL OF YOUR PRECONCEPTIONS.
I cannot tell you how many times my preconceptions kept me
from seeing the obvious. Your preconceptions can make you
blind and deaf to reality.
Regarding the student's need for praise from the teacher, below
is an excerpt from The Coachella Valley Federation of Teachers
Bulletin Nov. 1989.
PRAISE OR FLATTERY?
-CVFT BULLETIN Nov. 1989
Children quickly catch on to inflationary
praise, and your flowery words lose their
It is necessary to distinguish between the
concepts of flattery and praise. Flattery is un-
earned. It is what Grandma says when she
comes for a visit: "Oh, you're getting prettier
each day. I bet you'll have to beat the boys off
with a stick when you get to be a teenager!"
Invariably, boys are told how smart or strong
they are. Flattery heaps compliments upon
the child for something he did not achieve.
Praise, on the other hand, is used to rein-
force positive, constructive behavior. It
should be highly specific rather than general.
For instance, "You've been a good boy..." is
unsatisfactory. A better way: "I like the way
you straightened you room today." Parents
and teachers should always watch for
opportunities to offer genuine, well-deserved
praise to their children, while avoiding empty
-- Taken from the CVFT bulletin Nov. 1989.
Copyright © 2006-2012 TOM PLONSKI
Last modified: July 22, 2012