Elementary Math Programs

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by tgim, Mar 17, 2010.

  1. tgim

    tgim Habitué

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    Mar 17, 2010

    We are reviewing math programs in order to adopt new math textbooks. Does anyone feel strongly (positively or negatively) about their adopted texts or any they have seen in action? Our big concern is that many companies use technology as a selling point. Technology is great - but it isn't going to make or break an elementary math curriculum. We need the basics, lots of ideas for practice opportunities, problem solving strategies, and assessment strategies that also prepare students for the state tests........or a magic wand...
     
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  3. Bumble

    Bumble Groupie

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    Corrective Math/Connecting Math Concepts is HORRIBLE. It is too verbal in my opinion. I don't like Everyday Math because the games are too complicated and I don't like the pointless lessons that don't connect to the standards.
     
  4. Grover

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    Mar 18, 2010

    The very best math program I've ever seen for elementary is Gattegno. It's also incredibly cheap. It is developmentally appropriate for k-6, even though it starts in algebraic format. It uses the Cuissenaire rods much more effectively than the Cuissenaire program. My students always loved doing Gattegno math, almost zero stress and no resistance to participation. The program teaches complementary operations together (addition/subtraction, multiplication/division/fractions) in a spiral format that returns to and builds upon the same concepts several times so that students who don't quite grasp something the first time around have many opportunities to get it in a slightly different context and are not bogged down in frustration. The program moves forward very quickly, and actually allows for some creative expression- very rare in math programs. I believe the current source for this and other Gattegno materials is Educational Solutions, somewhere in NY. I know they have a website, but haven't looked for it in years.
     
  5. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    Mar 18, 2010

    Our district has adopted Investigations by TERC, and I would not recommend it. The concepts are presented almost out of order. For example, we have to do the unit on measurement before we do the unit on fractions. They are supposed to have already learned the measurement fractions in 3rd grade, but I have about 10 students who were not in our school and many of the rest don't seem to remember it from when they did do it. There are a lot of gaps between the textbook and our curriculum as well.

    I would rather not have any textbook and simply teach the math that is in the curriculum. You could buy a whole heck of a lot of math manipulatives and supplies for the cost of one lousy textbook.
     
  6. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Mar 18, 2010

    My district uses Math Expressions. From what I have heard, everyone loves it. I think it's pretty good, but some things are a little too easy for K. It doesn't challenge my highest kids (they actually leave the room and do enrichment activities every day because it's so easy). Our school math scores have gone up a lot since the curriculum was adopted last year.
     
  7. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Mar 19, 2010

    I agree completely! When I taught math, the textbooks were rarely dusted off.
     
  8. 4thGradeIteach

    4thGradeIteach Rookie

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    Mar 19, 2010

    We use Envisions. It isn't bad, but it's pretty boring.
     
  9. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Mar 19, 2010

    I'd go with something like Singapore math -- the quality of the problems that are worked on is just so much deeper. Some people might not like the sparse review, though, and if so I'd suggest using whatever other program you like and adding the Singapore math problems to it. It's a good litmus test: if your students can do those problems, they have a really good grasp of the material.

    I gave my fourth-grade son comparable pages from Everyday Math, 6th grade, and Singapore, 6th grade. The EM problems he finished in a minute or so, in his head. The Singapore problems he struggled with, but he was much more excited about actually doing.
     
  10. Grover

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    Mar 19, 2010

    This would be great if teachers all understood math. Unfortunately, a pretty large fraction seem to grasp only arithmetic. Left to their own devices, they might teach procedural computation, but the underlying concepts would have a hard time getting across. Heck, that's true even WITH math textbooks and programs. Possibly because the people who write them are stuck on arithmetic too.
     
  11. terptoteacher

    terptoteacher Connoisseur

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    We are also adopting a new curriculum.. most believe that Singapore is great for the older grades, but not so hot for primary.
    True?

    I've also heard that Expressions doesn't challenge the highly capable student, but it's really good for the average to below average student.
     
  12. Rabbitt

    Rabbitt Connoisseur

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    Mar 19, 2010

    We use Math Expressions.
    I haven't had a problem with challenging my high end students.
    Every one of our 3rd grade students have been proficient or advanced on Wisconsin's WKCE the past 2 years.
     
  13. dianejw

    dianejw Companion

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    Mar 19, 2010

    I love Everyday Math, but I also use Singapore Model Drawing Strategies to support it. The Everyday Math curriculum is an incredibly intense program, but my students come stronger in math content to me every year. I believe the key to any program is that it needs to be embraced by everyone and taught the way it is intended to be taught.
     
  14. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Mar 19, 2010

    Wow, grover...from so many of your posts you seem way down on teachers...wondering why...

    I may be just fortunate, but I teach in a district with highly qualified professional educators who teach with meaning and understanding at the forefront of their lessons...my sons were the beneficiaries of such good teaching in the district in which I live as well...so sorry that's not your experience, but please do not disparage the 'large fraction' of teachers- I think you are commenting based on your own misconceptions and biases....
     
  15. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    Mar 19, 2010

    Whatever happened to regular ole' fashioned spirited teaching?

    Most of my Math teachers were wonderful. They taught me well enough where I earned high grades in Math throughout high school and college. They didn't need any special district-mandated programs with fancy titles. One example, I took high school Algebra about 15 years ago and remembered enough to help/tutor my friend to earn a "B" in her college course.

    That's goold ole' fashioned teaching from my teacher (and learning for me).
    I doubt that kind of depth is there today with these programs.

    I'd love it if I were trusted as something called a professional, and was able to use my techniques from my teachers, my Coop. teacher (something of a Math expert), my Univ.super, other teachers, and myself.

    Disclaimer:

    I haven't use these programs, so I'm not speaking on them individually. I am speaking in general about all the "programs" in education. I bet this stuff is expensive to implement as well.
     
  16. Grover

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    Mar 19, 2010

    I think you may be projecting a bit here, czacza. Most of my issues are with programs and policies, not teachers. It's true, however, that a large fraction of the teachers and ed majors I've dealt with over many decades have a very limited understanding of math. What they generally teach are procedures for calculation, which some of their students master and some don't. I don't think this is surprising, since we've had serious issues with math education for decades. It doesn't mean these teachers are stupid, just that there are quite a few who need good programmatic support to teach math effectively. Or perhaps American kids are just stupid and lazy- but for some reason we seem to be running a math deficit vis-a-vis much of the world. What's your explanation?
     
  17. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    Mar 20, 2010

    Just curious, dianejw, do you teach in a suburb or rural district? I teach in Ohio as well, in a low socio economic urban district. EDM is killing us. Spiraling does not work when there is no support at home in helping with the content. Every year students come to me further and further behind.
    I am not saying that EDM is a bad program, it is just not right for us. That is why I wondered what type of students you are working with.
     
  18. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Mar 21, 2010

    We have enVision.
    We only purchased the on-line component- we do not have the physical text books. Therefore, I dislike it immensely because the practice pages are WAAAYYYYYY too easy and only have 7-10 problems on average. The book has more problems, but since all the kids do not have online access, I do not use it.
    So, I use the practice pages from our old series and do nothing with enVision.

    To put my :2cents: into the no-textbook discussion- that is fine and dandy with the younger kids, but my kids have to pass the state test to get to 6th grade. So, they have to practice with pencil and paper. I don't teach from the book- I never touch it. The only thing I do is give them practice worksheets. The other 2 teachers on my team could not teach with out the teacher edition. They both are great math teachers, but struggled with it themselves in school. I majored in math and have always understood and loved it. I have no problem teaching without it- I did even before we adopted enVision. Except for order of operations- I do use the t.e. for that because if I make it up, it can get into math too advanced for 5th grade (negative numbers and such). I learned that lesson :)
     
  19. dianejw

    dianejw Companion

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    Apr 2, 2010

    Knitter63,
    I actually teach in an inner city school with 82% free and reduced lunches. I truly believe we have been so successful with EM because all of our teachers embrace it. We have had done a lot of professional training with EM, have had EM consultants who observe us teaching and have collaborated with the teachers across the district who teach the same grade level. We are trying to build in more time now where we can collaborate across grade levels in our building. Having confidence and success with EM did not happen the first year. It took about 3-4 years before we started seeing strong differences in students' knowledge of math concepts. We are on our 5th year now of using Everyday Math, and I've been able to implement all the components of the program. The only weakness I have found in the EM program is problem solving which I added through Singapore Model Drawing. The Model Drawing helps to take students from concrete to abstract. It gives them a visual reference to help them understand the math problems. Hang in there. Every year gets better with EM math.
     
  20. ecl

    ecl Rookie

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    Apr 2, 2010

    Here's an explanation.

    http://archive.aft.org/pubs-reports/american_educator/summer2002/curriculum.pdf

    Check out pages 4 and 5, and compare the amount of topics taught to 1st graders in the A+ countries and the topics taught in the U.S.

    Five topics as compared to twenty two! As they explain in the article, the U.S. teaches math a mile wide and an inch deep.

    I do believe, however, that if elementary school teachers possessed at least a mid level math certificate, math scores in this country would increase significantly. Lots of top math professors agree.
     
  21. Grover

    Grover Cohort

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    I found this point particularly telling- "Our intended content is incoherent. Math, for example, is
    really a handful of basic ideas; but in the United States,
    mathematics standards are long laundry lists of seemingly unrelated,
    separate topics."

    The charts comparing the most-adopted curriculum elements of "A+" countries vs U.S. state and local curricula are pretty shocking. It's not just a matter of 'a mile wide and an inch deep', many of the commonly adopted elements in U.S. math curricula seem to be A) developmentally inappropriate for the target group; and B) seriously non-sequential. When you couple this with issues of methodology, it's no wonder we're in the trouble we're in.
     
  22. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    We use Houghton-Mifflin Math for California.

    I rarely use the book, though. I know my STANDARDS, so I teach from the standards vs. teaching each & every chapter from the textbook (which includes many non-grade-level standards)!

    It's all about knowing your state standards!
     
  23. Grover

    Grover Cohort

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    Sad, but true.
     
  24. tgim

    tgim Habitué

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    I agree, YTG - I am the teacher who preaches to others NOT to use the book as your primary means of teaching, but merely as a resource. Our curriculum has to be driven by the standards. Unfortunately, many standards are not developmentally appropriate, as someone above noted; and I have yet to teach a text in order...all have to be resequenced in order to work for us.

    Singapore math isn't one of our options - it's sad, but it reminds me of when a hands-on science program was available and not enough teachers saw the value in it. Most teachers I have spoken to about SM think it is too much of a change. However, I thought Singapore math was so fascinating when I went to a session on it at a state-wide math meeting two years ago. I do incorporate some of the ps strategies into my own ps program. I asked to go to a training on it this year, but funding fell through.

    Next week I am going to really delve into the options and spend a day w/ each so I can see how it works for me. Thanks, everyone! Keep your comments and observations coming!
     
  25. WannaTeach

    WannaTeach Companion

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    Apr 3, 2010

    For kindergarten we have had great success just using the McGraw Hill math with the workbooks. I feel this text works best for our students and fits best with our standard course of study for kinders.
     
  26. WannaTeach

    WannaTeach Companion

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    I always remember and tell new teachers that the text is only a resource. Your SCOS curriculum is the guide to what the students should master. Doing so allows for hands on activites rather than just paper and pencil. Math is so much fun using manipulatives and later throwing in math stories.....I love teaching.
     
  27. DaleJr88AmpFan

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    Apr 4, 2010

    We just went through a new adoption of textbooks to fit our curriculum as it relates to our standards and benchmarks. We looked at best practices and reviewed 6-7 different companies. We narrowed our search to Everyday Math and Math Expressions. One of our steps to determining a new adoption was to visit sites with both programs in place. During our visit, we looked for many things and created positives & negatives for each. We finally decided to update our current text with the revised third edition of Everyday Mathematics. In our district, our math scores have been very high for the last 6+ years in math. We have been using EM for eight years. It did take a bit for our kids to develop a great foundation for the EM language. The math games are excellent; I've never found them to be difficult to understand or play. Those games are an essential component of the EM curriculum as that is where the basic facts are practiced and reviewed. One thing that we found with Math Expressions was that the lessons and skill review did not have the same depth as they were currently getting in EM. In looking at it from a gifted teacher perspective, EM does much more extending the basic knowledge than did ME.

    Again, when we looked at all the programs, we looked at best practices as well as matching it to our standards & benchmarks. Best of luck to you as you try to find the best fit for your curriculum.
     

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