Top Notch Math Program

Discussion in 'Elementary Education Archives' started by 5thgraderocks, Sep 1, 2006.

  1. 5thgraderocks

    5thgraderocks Companion

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    We're beginning to pilot math series this year. We currently use EDM. Does anyone have a math program that you love? We'd like to try out as many as we can before we officially adopt.
     
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  3. TeacherRW

    TeacherRW Cohort

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    We used to use Scott Foresman, I believe. However, for the last five years we have been using EDM. Our math scores have never been so good. As a matter of fact, our gifted services dept may have to start adjusting their cut scores for GT math. We have nearly 1/3 of all students meeting/exceeding the scores now. If we could only find a reading series that included all the components in the same prescriptive way as EDM, we'd be in business.
     
  4. mrsrooney

    mrsrooney Rookie

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    Check out Math Makes Sense from Addison Wesley. Many (if not all) schools in Ontario use it and it is amazing! I am not sure if your school would use a Canadian resource but it really is worth looking into, can't say enough good things about it.
     
  5. mrsrooney

    mrsrooney Rookie

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    I have to say though that I think it is the teachers and not the math program that will help increase "scores" and I measure the success of the program in student understanding and problem solving skills rather than putting a lot of emphasis on scoring.
     
  6. shouts

    shouts Companion

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    I've done some research on this. Check out the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study for some great information.

    We need to get away from the spiraling "new math" that is helping our students fall farther behind. We need an intensive, mastery based math program.

    (We also need highly trained math teachers at younger levels, but that's a larger. systemic problem)

    The only curriculum I could embrace right now is Singapore Math. It's not perfect yet, but with some supplements it's the best option. I hope some U.S. company takes the lead and comes out with a comparable program.

    Everyday Math is an AWFUL program.
     
  7. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Why do you think that about ED, Shouts?
     
  8. Gracie

    Gracie Rookie

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    Math

    We use Math Trailblazers. It has a lot of problem solving lessons. Really makes the kids think and know the "whys" of math.
     
  9. born2teach84

    born2teach84 Comrade

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    we also use math trailblazers, but ALOT of teachers hate it. It doesn't account for the esl children and the parents are having a much harder time with it thent he children because they are so used to doing math a certain way and then their children come home with this.
     
  10. shouts

    shouts Companion

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    ED?

    No program currently in wide use addresses special needs. People crowing about their school's scores have to be dismissed with our arbitrary rules about ignoring the scores of classified children (thank NCLB). You have to remember that the top 20% of children or so with excel with almost any math program - it just has to challenge them.

    What we really need to do with classified children is give them the best teachers (specializing in math instruction, not generally certified), give them more time in the essential subjects, and extend the most important part of the curriculum to mastery.
     
  11. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I don't know about requiring that teachers who teach math in elementary school (to special-needs kids or otherwise) necessarily being NOT generally certified, but I certainly agree that the people who teach math generally need to be better prepared than they are. A brief glance through the postings on the Basic Skills Tests and Multiple Subjects Tests subforums bears this out, I'm afraid.

    I suspect it is with math as I suspect it is with reading: even a weak program can get good results in the hands of a teacher who's skilled, confident, and invested in the program, and even a first-rate program won't produce well in the hands of a teacher who's unskilled, unconfident, and not invested in the program. We can develop programs and train people on them ad nauseam, but if the teachers don't know math and don't enjoy math, the teaching simply isn't going to be as effective.
     
  12. shouts

    shouts Companion

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    I would wager (based on personal experience) that if you ask elementary education majors what their least favorite subject was in school, 9 out of 10 would say math. I agree that these probably aren't the best people to be teaching first and second grade math.

    But evidence shows that usings experts in teaching math at elementary levels have a more profound effect on test scores - so there is something to expertise as well.

    Now if my supervisor could only retire so I could start the campaign against EDM.
     
  13. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I think you'll get the 9 out of 10 if you ask who doesn't like math, though I've seen plenty of prospective teachers who reserve bigger hates for history or science - or, for that matter, grammar. These share the attribute that they're relatively easy to teach badly.

    Are you proposing having math taught at elementary levels by people who teach only math?
     
  14. shouts

    shouts Companion

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    If that's what it takes - it would probably make for better instruction. I'm sure I would be better if I could focus on one subject. It's a model that works in Asian countries - who are far ahead of us.
     
  15. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I think that model may not work as well in the US - I don't think it will sell and I don't think it will be possible to muster the numbers of qualified math teachers required to carry it off properly (judging from the difficulties in filling existing secondary positions in math), and I think there's much to be said for elementary teaching that integrates across the disciplines and domains - which is infinitely harder to do when one specializes.

    But as for the proposition that much more rigor and depth is needed in preparation for elementary math, I fully agree. Then again, the same can be said for the other domains I mentioned.
     
  16. iteachk-1

    iteachk-1 Rookie

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    I completely agree that the program used is only as good as the teacher who teaches it. Our current program is McGraw Hill Mathematics. It often offers only 1 lesson on a concept. If I strictly covered what is in the curriculum without assessing my students for understanding/mastery, they would not have the skills they need. I often need to reteach or spend extra time on a concept.
     
  17. darzie

    darzie Companion

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    Our district recently adopted EDM, and at first I hated it. Now it's growing on me, although I believe it teaches an inch thick and a mile wide... I'm curious. Those of you who dislike it... why?
     
  18. shouts

    shouts Companion

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    You just pointed out exactly what's wrong with that, Foresman and virtually every math program currently in use in this country. It's not taught to mastery, relying that the child will get it next year. Unfortunately for most of the bottom half - they don't.

    Now if you compare it to Singapore Math you'll see that the integration is also missing out. It isolates concepts - impractical in real usage and no foundation for higher math. I've got some great examples if anyone is interested.
     
  19. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I did some freelance writing last year on a 5th grade math textbook for a major textbook publisher. I've got to admit they weren't thrilled with my work. After 20 years of teaching math, I wanted step by step explanations, and lots and lots of problems. They were looking for lots of "white space" and photographs, with minimal instruction. The texts are also very much geared to California and Texas.

    I have LOTS and LOTS of weaknesses, but I'm a good math teacher. I like and understand math and I'm good at making difficult concepts easy to kids. But I've got to tell you: I wouldn't buy the book I worked on. A child who missed my class, or one who left class a little fuzzy on the procedure would get absolutley no help from this textbook. Yet it's a major publisher and I know that thousands of kids across the country will be using it in the next few years.

    Any of those teachers mentioned who never really liked math in the first place is in trouble too.
     
  20. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I'm just wondering how much any of you use whatever math textbook you have? How do you use it in class? Instruction, just the exercises, homework, examples? To be honest, I never use the math textbook.
     
  21. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Well, and to teach without the textbook, a teacher has to enjoy a certain level of comfort and confidence in math (which, 'daisy, I know you do). The teachers who don't are toast. And the states whose book adoption boards are dominated by people who don't know math and don't know elementary teaching are bound to end up with pretty books that don't do the job.
     
  22. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I don't at all.

    In fact, my classes were THRILLED to hear on Friday that they could leave the textbook at home. I use it for homework-- every night!!-- but don't use it in class. (The only exception-- if I'm sick and it looks as though I'll be out a few days. On day 1, I'll ask them to bring the text for the next few days; it makes it easier to come up with sub plans.)

    But then again, I've been doing this for a long time. And I agree... lots of textbooks LOOK wonderful. They have striking photographs pretty diagrams and pretty font and color changes. The kind of text I prefer is boring: lots of problems and written procedures. ANd if the answers to the odds are at the back of the back, it would be wonderful if they were error-free.

    That's another reason I love my school; we're an independant Catholic HS-- we choose our own books. The only restriction is that the local public schools (very reasonably) won't fund a text book change more often than once every 5 years.
     
  23. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    What's the saying? "Pretty is as pretty does." I think it's probably possible to incorporate design elements and perhaps even introduce a little levity into the text... but those aspects have to serve the material rather than the other way around, or the book's a waste of time.
     
  24. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    TeacherGroupie,

    It's 8am in NY--go to BED!!!
     
  25. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    Shouts - I would love to see some examples.

    I'm with Daisy and Alice: I rarely use the book. When I was required to pilot a new series last year for my building it was really tough going to the meetings to discuss what I did and didn't like about the material. But I did like all the manipulatives I got!
     
  26. shouts

    shouts Companion

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    (This was considered the hardest question on a Massachusetts state assessment for 10th-graders, based on data that showed that more than half of the 72,000 test-takers got the question wrong. )

    Of the people in attendance at a recent baseball game, one-third had grandstand tickets, one-fourth had bleacher tickets, and the remaining 11,250 people in attendance had other tickets. What was the total number of people in attendance at the game?

    A) 27,000, B) 20,000, C) 16,000 or D) 18,000


    In Singapore math this is roughly a 6th grade problem - as the visualization method they use makes it somewhat simple.
     
  27. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I'm with all of you. And, Missy, the same thing happened to me. I voted for the book that had the easiest to read (no clutter) workbook. This year they switched my MS workbook to the new edition (yes, hopefully even the teacher guide will have the right answers) and I told them to save their money and don't order the textbooks. I assigned all homework out of the workbook because the textbook was too heavy. And I really think it just confused them anyway. I like to use my teacher guide for additional word problems so I don't have to think up great ones on the spot. And I do copy the unit tests from it. I make up my own quizzes.

    Okay, ladies, we all feel about the same way. It is the comfort level that matters. The sad thing is, the kids who never had me before look at me like I'm strange and I know it's because their other teachers taught 'from the book' (please infer my disdain).

    And one more thing. I sure wish I could get a group of students - either my 5th or my pre-algebra kids - who had learned the basics of place value by using a base ten set instead of from pages of a book. And a second thing. I wish their teachers hadn't abandoned unstructured problem solving because the kids couldn't do it. Hellooooooooo .....
     
  28. shouts

    shouts Companion

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    This is revealing about the spiral vs. mastery approach (you'll note that several states have recently made moves to alter their curriculums towards the latter)

    Avg. No. of topics per Grade Ratio to Sing.
    Singapore 15
    California 20 1.3
    Florida 39 2.6
    Maryland 29 1.9
    New Jersey 28 1.9
    North Carolina 18 1.2
    Ohio 26 1.7
    Texas 19 1.3

    I have to upload a picture of the graph problem I want to show (Foresman vs. Singapore) - I'll try to do that tonight.
     
  29. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    None of our 8th graders in regular pre-algebra could get this. We have some in high school algebra I and geometry who could. It better be A or I'm embarrassed.

    Shout - what is your connection to Singapore?
     
  30. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Florida might not be the worst in that statistical analysis, but we have only about a 50% graduation rate. Pitiful.
     
  31. shouts

    shouts Companion

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    No connection - We use EDM at our school but I did some grad research on math curriculum. Now I'm using Singapore Math at home with my children to supplement what they do act school.

    I would LOVE it if our school district moved in a new direction, but that will have to wait until I'm tenured.
     
  32. shouts

    shouts Companion

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    All you have to is find the lowest common denominator of 3 and 4, and draw 12 boxes. Cross out 1/3 (4 boxes), 1/4 (3 boxes). You have 5 boxes left for 11,250. Divide by 5 to determine the value of each box, then multiply by 12 for the total.

    These are all skills most middle schoolers have mastered - they just fail to visualize the problem correctly.
     
  33. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    That would assume that schools take the time to allow their children to explore problem solving methods.
     
  34. shouts

    shouts Companion

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    But most children would not explore this - it has to be modeled! Thus the problem we've been discussing...
     
  35. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Students are not used to using their brains to look at things from various angles. The NCTM publications have wonderful open-ended problem solving activites printed monthly in their journals.
     
  36. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Yeah, they're great, aren't they??
     
  37. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Yes, they are.
     
  38. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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  39. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Alice, that's a fine site!

    So what does it take to get students to consider alternative ways to solve a problem? I see the same sort of stuckness in my adult students, the same inability or reluctance to deploy all the tools available. (This is true across subject areas, by the way.) What can we do?
     
  40. shouts

    shouts Companion

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    CHANGE THE CURRICULUM IN THIS COUNTRY! PLEASE! No more new math, no more spiraling, more complex training.
     
  41. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    First, there's not "a" curriculum. Second, that's a long-term top-down solution, and I hesitate to guess what kind of stupid "research-based" mental straitjackets will come along with it (have you checked out all the scripting that happens in lower elementary reading education these days?)

    What can we start doing today?
     

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