Go Math Review

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With a strong, standards-aligned conceptual approach, a wide array of multisensory activities, an understandable teaching style and offering plenty of revision and review, Go Math can be a highly effective K-8 math program to help students develop their math skills in a less stressful and more engaging manner. 

What We Like

Approachable math curriculum with strong
conceptual math learning
Full color, visual materials make learning more
interesting
Lessons are designed to make math less
intimidating and more understandable
Activity-rich and multisensory lessons
Teacher’s editions are well-organized, make
teaching easier
Offers links to short, entertaining video lessons
Lot of opportunity for review and repetition

But watch out for

Written for classroom setting
Lessons can be parent intensive

What Is Go Math?

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Go Math is a series of math curricula aimed at elementary and middle school students that is available for both homeschools and traditional schools. 

The series teaches common core math with a strong emphasis on understanding, vocabulary and application and does so using a combination of workbook exercises, critical reasoning, hands-on activities, discussions and frequent review. 

What Ages Or Grades is Go Math Intended For?

Go Math is intended for students in K-8 and the standards-aligned program ultimately covers everything from basic numeracy to geometry and statistics. 

Homeschools can, of course, use the program above or below its intended grades, and given its very straightforward instruction, multisensory lessons and strong emphasis on repetition and review, we feel Go Math can actually be a particularly good choice for older students who are a bit behind in their math studies to work with.

The series follows a traditional grade progression and makes obvious references to each grade on the cover, however, which is something that parents of older students using it as a remedial resource might need to think about.

On the other hand, this can make it a lot easier for homeschooling families switching into the curriculum from another to know where to start. 

It should be noted, though, that without a formal placement test those coming from a less traditional or non-common core program may have to spend a little time going through each grade’s scope and sequence and pay attention to each lesson’s pre-learning assessment of knowledge to make sure no gaps exist.

What’s Required To Teach Each Grade? 

Go Math is fairly traditional as a math curriculum in the materials it uses, really only requiring a teacher’s edition and a student edition. 

As a result, it can be considered fairly compact, with not a lot of stuff that parents will have to buy, store and keep track of over the course of a year. 

Teacher’s Edition

Go Math’s Teacher’s Edition is a full color and very visual softcover book that contains pretty much everything a parent would need to teach the program at home. 

The books contain the program’s teaching material, including well-detailed explanations of teaching strategies and tactics, as well as explanations and outlines of lesson activities and games, answers to questions and exercises, troubleshooting help, common mistakes students make with each topic, links to the common core for each concept and even suggested living books for remediation (which can also serve as a good built-in literature-based component for interested homeschools).  

They also contain a fair amount of content for differentiation, providing teaching tips and ideas for activities for ELL, as well as for students who need remediation and advanced students who would benefit from enriched learning.

picture showing differentiation ideas in go math teacher's edition

This can be very helpful for parents learning at home, and broadens the potential appeal of Go Math quite a bit, although homeschools may need to pick up the program’s Reteach/Enrich books to make full use of the differentiation ideas. 

In terms of their overall layout, the teacher’s editions are pretty typical of a standard classroom teacher’s guide, with lesson guidance and suggestions surrounding a smaller copy of relevant student edition pages (with the answers and exercises completed). 

picture of go math teacher's edition showing layout and organization of lesson

As a result, they keep things pretty well-organized and are easy to follow and work with once parents are familiar with the flow, and there is a substantial amount of information on how to use the guides to teach at the front of each book in case parents are unsure, which is nice. 

On the whole, Go Math’s teacher’s editions are also pretty well scripted. 

Inside, parents teaching at home should find a good amount of detailed guidance on what to do in each lesson and how to do it, usually in plain English, which should help carry parents through lessons pretty easily. 

Further, there are even “Math Talk” exercises, which are little scripted dialogues that are kind of fun and that can help parents and students discuss (and thereby reinforce) what they are learning through a sort of Socratic back and forth, which is kind of cool.

picture showing math talk in go math teacher's guide

With all that said, parents should note that Go Math teacher’s editions don’t routinely contain an explicit, word-for-word dialogue and assume an ability to teach and move a lesson along, which can make it a little bit more challenging for new homeschooling families to use.  

picture showing level of scripting in go math teacher's edition

Homeschooling parents should also note that, as Go Math is largely intended to be used in schools, it does make reference to traditional teaching and a classroom setting, drawing examples therefrom and even making mention or including activities that use multiple students that will need to be adjusted for home use.

picture example of school connections in go math

Another thing that homeschoolers should note is that the Go Math student editions and teacher’s guides often make reference to digital resources available on the company’s learning platform, such as a personal math trainer, animated models, virtual manipulatives and much more. 

Sadly, these are only accessible to traditional schools with the appropriate licenses. 

Interestingly, however, the homeschool editions do allow parents to scan included QR codes, which then open a link to a suite of helpful videos that briefly explain and demonstrate math concepts.

Called Math on the Spot, these videos are fairly entertaining and are hosted by a cast of muppets and actors. 

Explaining concepts in simple, everyday English, the hosts go through a particular idea and work through it on-screen with an example or two, making them potentially very useful addition to lessons for parents with limited experience teaching math (or who are themselves a bit rusty on the subject). 

An example of Math on the Spot can be seen below.

Student edition

The student editions are where students spend most of their time in Go Math.

They contain the information and diagrams that students and parents go over as part of the instructional component, vocabulary work, as well as a wide variety of exercises, activities and games to use during a lesson. 

The student editions are soft cover, consumable books that are printed in full color and highly illustrated, making them a good deal more interesting to look at and use than many other black and white math workbooks out there. 

One thing to note, however, is that these books are presented differently depending on if a parent is using a classroom or homeschool version of Go Math. 

In editions intended for traditional schools, the student books (like the teacher’s edition) are a single volume intended to be used in sequence over the course of a year. 

Homeschool bundles, on the other hand, break the student edition up into a number of concept/chapter booklets, in a somewhat similar manner as programs like the Math Mammoth Blue series.

This arrangement can make teaching Go Math at home a lot more flexible in terms of scheduling, as parents can arrange and rearrange the topics they wish to introduce or work on as they would like. 

However, it also means that there can be more material for parents to store, organize and keep track of over the course of a year, which can be a little annoying.

Go Math’s Approach To Teaching Math

A Spiral Curriculum

Go Math is a spiral math curriculum. 

In other words, it breaks concepts down into smaller topics, introduces them a little at a time and periodically revisits them in greater depth as students progress in the series. 

This is as opposed to a mastery math program, which would tend to have students focus on one particular topic over the course of a number of lessons and would then move on completely once proficiency is determined. 

This spiral approach can have its benefits. 

For example, students may not feel as bogged down by a concept in a spiral program as they might in a mastery one, which can make learning less frustrating as students move on to new material fairly regularly and don’t spend weeks with a concept.

It can also make math a little less overwhelming for some students, giving them a break of sorts if they are really struggling with a concept, as they can move on and revisit the concept at a later date.

Spiral programs also tend to incorporate more opportunities for review and revision than mastery ones, with topics being reintroduced and practiced fairly regularly throughout a student’s career. 

Go Math in particular also incorporates a good deal of spiral review exercises into its lessons.

In these exercises students are given an opportunity to review and practice previously learned (often related) concepts alongside new material, which can help in keeping things fresher and prevent students from forgetting important ideas.

Conceptual Math Focus

Go Math is also a conceptual math program. 

Like programs such as Singapore Math or RightStart, Go Math places a particular emphasis on helping students develop a stronger understanding of why the math works and why certain strategies can help solve problems, as opposed to simply learning how to solve problems quickly. 

example of critical thinking encouraged by go math curriculum

Consequently, rather than focusing on drilling math facts, the program spends a good deal more time in explaining math topics, providing visual demonstrations, analyzing word problems and getting students used to using multiple approaches and strategies to solve exercises.

picture of conceptual instruction in go math

Rather interestingly, and somewhat uniquely compared to even other conceptual programs, Go Math will, at times, even have students write out explanations of the logic behind certain math concepts in their own words.

picture demonstrating go math conceptual teaching and getting kids to write things out

Parents should be aware, however, that this does mean that students tend not to get quite as much drill with Go Math as they might with a more traditional math program. 

Although students do get a fair amount of guided and independent practice during lessons, Go Math workbooks don’t have page after page of computational drill problems as might be found in programs such as CLE or Saxon.

While some students may appreciate this lack of (sometimes eye-rolling) drill, others may need the extra practice computational drill can provide in order to develop skill fluency, and may need to seek out extra practice materials as a result. 

Common Core Aligned

Although there are older, un-aligned editions of Go Math for sale out there, most newer editions of the program meet Common Core standards for math education. 

Both the teacher’s editions and student books specifically note which topics align with which standards, and on the whole the series can be a good option for homeschoolers who prefer (or need) to align to the Common Core. 

Hands-on, Multisensory Learning

In order to teach its concepts, Go Math makes use of a fairly wide variety of hands-on learning activities. 

During lessons, students have an opportunity to see and model ideas and concepts using math manipulatives, such as counting cubes or fractions strips (which are sold separately), which can help them better understand some of math’s more abstract concepts.

picture showing go math use of manipulatives teaching students abstract problem

Interestingly, Go Math also includes a number of activities that students can engage in during lessons to reinforce and explore math concepts.

For example, the program often includes various math-related board games that students can play.

picture of math related board game in go math student edition

In order to move their pieces, students must complete a short math problem, which gets them practicing and thinking about their learning without having to do endless drill.

In addition to hands-on activities, Go Math also includes a good deal of visualization (through lesson pictorials) and even has parents and students engage in discussions (including back and forth Socratic dialogues), which add audio and visual learning components to the program. 

As a result, we feel that Go Math can offer strong multisensory learning, which in turn can get students more excited about and engaged with their learning.

More than that, it can go a long way in helping students remember the information they are learning, as multisensory approaches have been shown to improve information retention in the long run.

On the downside, the inclusion of activities and discussion alongside instruction and practice can make math lessons take more time, which in turn can make them a little harder to fit into a busy homeschool schedule. 

In addition, the inclusion of manipulatives and other hands-on activities in lessons does mean that parents will have to go out and buy (as well as organize and store) items for lessons, which in turn means that they will have to do a bit more prep work compared to a traditional lecture-and-workbook program.

Cross Curricular and Real World Connections

Periodically during lessons, Go Math will make overt connections in a dedicated section between the math and other subjects students might be learning. 

At times, these can include references to science subjects, social studies, English language arts and fine art. 

picture showing go math cross curriculum teaching

While perhaps not an extremely in-depth study, these cross curricular connections can be interesting and can help students better appreciate math and get them thinking three dimensionally about their general studies.

In addition to making cross curricular connections, now and again Go Math will also demonstrate math applications in the real world, for example by showing how geometric design is used in engineering.

picture showing real world connections in go math

While these real world connections are fairly brief, they can be a great way to use things students are familiar with to show math as a practical and usable subject to study, rather than just something to suffer through and memorize. 

An Emphasis on Vocabulary

Finally, and perhaps a bit unusually for a math program, there is a strong focus on vocabulary development with Go Math. 

Each chapter helps students learn proper math terms through dedicated instruction, practice and games.

picture of go math vocabulary exercise

Math Go even includes math journaling exercises, which allow students to freely discuss, write or even draw their understanding of math terminology in their own words and which can also be a good point of integration for homeschoolers following a Charlotte Mason approach. 

Although not every student is a fan of vocabulary drill, its addition to lessons can ensure that students develop a stronger understanding of math terms and their proper use, which tends to be important in future math classes and in other STEM courses students will take, and is an often overlooked aspect of many homeschool math programs in our opinion.

How It Works

Go Math is a teacher-led program. 

Parents follow lesson guidelines set out in the teacher’s editions while students follow along and do their work in the student edition.

The program’s books are divided into a number of chapters, each centering on a particular topic or concept in math and containing a number (5-10) of lessons that relate to it. 

example of layout of go math textbook chapter

For example, one chapter may be about fractions and its lessons may involve comparing and ordering them, multiplying them, simplifying them and so on.

Chapters and lessons in Go Math are fairly consistent and follow a pretty similar pattern.

Chapters begin with a “Show What You Know” exercise as part of a lesson introduction, which evaluates the current knowledge and skill level of a student on related or pre-requisite information before beginning the lessons.

example of show what you know exercise in go math

In this way, skill and knowledge gaps are identified and parents can be more sure that their student is ready to learn a particular concept, which is helpful. 

Students are then introduced to key vocabulary and do some exercises to help familiarize themselves with the proper terms that the unit will cover. 

Somewhat similar to English language exercises, students may be asked to define words, fill in the blanks, complete charts, cut out and do memory work using flash cards and so on. 

Following the chapter introduction and vocabulary work, parents and students begin approaching the new information.

Lessons in a chapter start off by introducing a concept, often with an overarching/guiding question or by explaining a concept by modeling it or working through an example problem.

At this point the teacher’s guide may point out or highlight important information or provide tips to help students understand things.

There may also be some hands-on learning, such as a math game, or a discussion to help reinforce the learning.

Once a concept is introduced and explained, parents and students work together on some guided practice questions, with the teacher’s guide offering “go deeper” questions to challenge students to further explore concepts. 

Following this, and if everything is progressing smoothly, students can engage in independent practice in their workbook, such as by doing computational exercises, problem solving, written work to test their understanding and so on. 

At the end of each lesson there tends to be a short assessment (called a Lesson Check) to make sure students really get what they’ve learned, as well as a spiral review, which brings in some previously learned concepts and gets students to work on them a bit to freshen up their memory. 

After a few lessons (about half-way through a chapter) there is a mid-chapter checkpoint, which is a kind of test lasting a couple of pages that assesses a student’s learning to that point using some relatively traditional short answer and multiple choice questions. 

example of testing in go math

At the end of each chapter, meanwhile, students are usually given a review lesson, where they can practice everything they’ve learned in that chapter, before being tested with a fairly lengthy and comprehensive end-of-chapter cumulative assessment (about 4-6 pages of work).

Our Thoughts On Go Math Lessons 

Overall, we feel that Go Math lessons are pretty straightforward and easy to teach, even for parents with limited homeschool teaching experience. 

The lessons are very well-organized and sequentially laid out, making them very easy to follow and teach with, especially as the information is written in a pretty understandable, common sense manner. 

In addition, the teacher’s guides offer tons of helpful resources and ideas for conveying the information to students, with a good deal of troubleshooting and differentiation ideas that parents can make use of if needed.

For a program designed for (and frequently used by) traditional schools, Go Math includes an impressive amount of activities, games and multisensory exercises in its lessons.

At any given time, students might be asked to use manipulatives, discuss ideas, write things down, play board games and much, much more, all of which can make learning a lot more fun and engaging than most traditional, and even many homeschool, math programs. 

Lessons in Go Math also include a lot of built-in review and practice, which is something that we appreciated. 

Each lesson contains a fair amount of exercises, both guided and independent, as well dedicated spiral review, discussions between parents and students, a lesson check and, of course, an assessment of prior knowledge and a cumulative assessment at the start and end of the chapter, respectively. 

All this can really help reinforce and solidify concepts for students, and the frequent repetition of both current and previous learning can be highly effective for many students, particularly those with a tendency to develop skill gaps over time. 

Finally, we liked the strong conceptual focus of Go Math, particularly its frequent emphasis on having students practice alternative strategies for solving problems and checking their work. 

Often seen in highly-respected conceptual programs such as Art of Problem Solving, this approach can get kids thinking more critically and analytically about the problems they encounter, helping them develop the skills and fluency they might need to tackle unusual or novel problems in the future. 

That said, it is important to note that we don’t believe Go Math to be the most rigorous or advanced math program out there.

Aimed at least partially at the public school system, the main program is designed to really make math more understandable and approachable.

While the program does introduce concepts pretty well and allows students to explore different strategies and hone their analytic skills, there aren’t quite as many tricky or complex, multi-step word problems as in some more challenging programs aimed at advanced math students, such as Beast Academy

As a result, students and parents who are looking for greater challenges may need to pick up the program’s enrichment books or other supplements. 

Another thing parents might want to consider is the length of lessons in Go Math. 

Should parents go through the lessons as intended, there can be a considerable time spent explaining and discussing topics, doing hands-on activities, playing games, writing things down and, of course, reviewing concepts. 

Lessons, therefore, aren’t exactly all that short and can take up 4-6 pages, or over an hour depending on a student’s willingness (or enthusiasm) to discuss things and/or go off track. 

As a result, lessons may not be quite as easy to fit into a busy homeschool schedule as some other programs. 

Pros and Cons of Go Math

Pros

Makes math learning more fun and approachable 

With a plethora of activities and discussions to try, and an easy to understand method of teaching, Go Math can make learning math a little more interesting and approachable for students.

Materials are colorful and highly visual

Go Math’s teacher and student editions are full color and use a wide variety of illustrations and visuals to help explain concepts, making them a lot more interesting to look at and use than some other programs out there. 

Lessons are easy to use

By and large, Go Math’s teacher’s editions are very well organized and laid out and teaching lessons tends to be simply a matter of following each step in sequence. 

The program also offers a large number of tips for teaching, advice for troubleshooting lessons and ideas for differentiating learning. 

Lessons are also multisensory and fairly activity-rich

Go Math isn’t simply a lecture-based math program.

Its lessons are very multisensory, containing discussions, manipulatives, visual diagrams, hands-on activities and even games, which keeps learning engaging and able to help students with different learning styles better connect to the program, 

The program offers strong, conceptual math learning

Go Math is a strongly conceptual math program that teaches for understanding, rather than simple computational skill. 

It carefully explains why math works the way it does, encourages students to dive deeper into math ideas and helps them critically analyze and work on math problems using different strategies and approaches. 

All of this can help students develop a more solid background in math and become more confident when dealing with unfamiliar or unusual math exercises. 

There is a lot of opportunity for review and repetition

Go Math offers students a lot of opportunity to revisit and practice math concepts, both new and previously learned, during lessons with several dedicated review sections before, during and after each lesson, as well as before each comprehensive chapter test.  

Cons

Can take some effort and time on the part of parents

Go Math is a fairly parent intensive math program and its lessons can involve parents leading discussions, guiding practice, assessing student knowledge, setting up games, participating in activities and more. 

Written for the classroom

Go Math’s books are largely designed for classroom use, making frequent mention of the traditional school setting, teachers, classmates and more, which can be a bit of a turnoff for dedicated homeschooling families. 

Who Is Go Math Ideal For?

Homeschools looking for a multisensory, activity-rich math curriculum

Go Math includes a wide variety of multisensory methods of teaching to help students learn math, including visual diagrams, hands-on activities, journaling, active discussions, videos and even games.

As a result, it can be a very engaging and even fun curriculum for students to use and can be more effective for students with different learning preferences and styles.  

Homeschools looking for an approachable, conceptual math program

Like math curricula such as Singapore Math or Math U See, Go Math is a conceptual math program that tries to help students better understand why math works the way it does, how math works and why certain approaches are effective at solving problems.

It can, therefore, help them develop a deeper and more analytical understanding of math. 

At the same time, the program uses common sense explanations, plenty of visuals, hands-on activities and even games to help make learning a little easier and less intimidating for students. 

Homeschools looking for a common-core aligned program

Go Math is a Common Core aligned math curriculum that is used by schools across the US and can therefore be an excellent option for those interested in such an approach to teaching.

Students that need a good amount of repetition and review to master skills

With chapter pre-assessments, dedicated lesson reviews, spiral reviews, parent-student discussions and more, Go Math offers homeschooling students a lot of opportunity to practice what they’re learning and review previously learned concepts. 

This can be of great help to students who need a good deal of consistent practice to prevent skill and knowledge gaps from forming. 

Those interested in a “school at home” approach

Some families prefer to try and replicate the experience of a public school system as much as possible in their homeschool. 

As a curriculum written for and used by schools across the US, Go Math can fit this approach to at home teaching pretty well.  

Who Is It Not Ideal For?

Those looking for a program specifically designed for homeschools

Go Math’s teacher’s guides are more or less written for a classroom setting and tend to make references to traditional schooling from time to time. 

Although sold to and fairly frequently used by homeschools, it is not specifically and exclusively designed for homeschooling families, which can bother some parents.  

Students who pick things up quickly and get frustrated with lots of review

Go Math tends to review and revisit material a little more frequently than some other programs, with pre-lesson assessments, lesson exercises, lesson checks, spiral reviews, various games and activities, math talk discussions and more.

Those who pick up and master math concepts quickly may find it a little much.

Those looking for a more advanced homeschool math program

Go Math is a math program that tends to focus on making conceptual math more approachable and understandable for students and generally tracks along grade level in terms of rigor and pace.

As such, it may not be the most ideal program for those with highly advanced or talented math students. 

Price

Note: Prices correct as of writing. All prices in USD. 

There are a couple ways in which homeschooling families can pick up Go Math for home use. 

The program is offered as a complete and fairly expansive homeschool package that, as we’ve mentioned, breaks the student edition up into a number of booklets based around individual concepts for that grade. 

These packages also come with the teacher’s edition, a lesson planning guide (to help parents schedule and pace lessons), an assessment guide with copies of tests and rubrics for correcting them, and a reusable and plasticized chart with math facts, questions and rules that students should remember.

Alternatively, parents can pick up the student and teacher’s editions (with the student edition being sold as a single book), as well the assessment guides (should they feel like doing so) as individual items, which can be an option for those on tighter budgets.

Although the exact price for a curriculum varies by grade, complete homeschool packages tend to cost somewhere between $250-300.

Individual student editions tend to cost around $45, teacher’s editions around $62.40, and the assessment guides around $15.

As always, we encourage parents to check the latest prices for the program, as well as for any discounts or sales that might be on offer. 

Or 

Is It Worth The Price?

Although perhaps not the cheapest homeschooling math program around, we feel that Go Math can be an excellent math program for the right homeschooling families. 

Go Math offers parents and students a comprehensive and standards-aligned conceptual math program that helps students understand the math they are learning a little more deeply and can get them thinking far more strategically and critically about problem solving, something that will stand them in good stead in their high school math and STEM courses and beyond.

Perhaps more than that, the curricula explain concepts quite clearly and understandably, frequently connecting the learning to subjects and real-life objects/situations that students may more readily understand. 

It also provides students with ample opportunity for review and revision, often making these interesting through the use of games and hands-on exercises. 

Finally, Go Math is also a very multisensory math program. 

Lessons can involve hands-on activities, visual diagrams, videos, discussions and even games, all of which allow the program to suit a wide array of learners and learning styles and be more engaging in the process.

Bottom Line

With a strong, standards-aligned conceptual approach, a wide array of multisensory activities, an understandable teaching style and offering plenty of revision and review, Go Math can be a highly effective K-8 math program to help students develop their math skills in a less stressful and more engaging manner. 

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About the Author

David Belenky is a freelance writer, former science and math tutor and a tech enthusiast. When he’s not writing about educational tech, he likes to chill out with his family and dog at home.