# Top Notch Math Program

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

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Sep 4, 2006

Stop worrying about the clock. Set up one day a week for problem-solving games, provide meaningful problem-solving scenarios and don't model too much. The kids I see are spoiled by too much fast action and, dare I say it, too much teacher-led instruction. Remember I am in a school with very small classes. The attention is great but only up to a point. It's not that my kids don't want to think about math, they struggle with thinking about anything. We need to provide more opportunities for higher-level thinking skills.

Do I do enough of that? No. I know the dilemma - how do you get kids to use strategies if they can't even multiply? But, I've taken a brave step in language arts (no workbooks, little grammar instruction, no writing prompts, am trying to implement Calkin's Units of Study) and now include more calendar math every morning along with a math problem of the day. I wish I had more time with my kids to do more open-ended inquiry. Because we're a private school, they go to many, many specials a week.

2. ### AliceaccMultitudinous

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Sep 4, 2006

I think we've got to start with basics. We've got to pry the calculators out of their hands and teach them how math works and how numbers interact with each other. That means memorizing times tables. (My "Do Now" problems for the forseeable future with my 7th graders), having Juniors and Seniors who know the value of sin 30 without looking it up, and who know the Pythagorean Triples and the Special Triangle rules. It means Geometric Proofs, so we can teach kids HOW to reason. It means enough partial credit that kids aren't afraid to try, even if the answer they get isn't right. It means teaching them how to approach a verbal problem-- how to organize and make sense of the information they've been given.

I think it means omitting some of the info that isn't as vital. So they might not know about transformational geometry or Standard Deviation 'till college-- I can live with that. (New York State, thank you for finally listening to the pleas of math teachers over the past 20 years and dropping Math A/B and Sequential Math.)

3. ### TeacherGroupieModerator

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Sep 4, 2006

Are kids coming into your classes with decent preparation? If not, how not, and what do you think we can do about that?

4. ### AliceaccMultitudinous

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Sep 4, 2006

I think they're prepared for the work we give them . (Although the kids entering our school are shocked to hear that they don't use calculators until Spring of Sophomore year, when the hit the Intro to Trig chapter!) But I think that's because we've lowered the bar so low that we don't expect as much as we should.

How many states don't include a rigorous study of geometric proofs?? (From about 1982- 2008 or so, I can count NY in that number!) How many kids are using a calculator in elementary school? (My son's 1st grade math workbook included a page of mindless calculator exercises. Fortunately, his very wise teacher had them cross that page out!) I think our kids are a whole lot brighter than we give them credit for!

And, by the way, is there any particular reason that most 6th, 7th and 8th grade syllabi seem to be pretty much identical?? It's not just my school or my state; it seems to pretty much a constant in the books I've seen. Why not either teach it more slowly, but right, in the first place, or else teach it once and then move on? Why is it 3 years of the same material??

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Sep 4, 2006

We don't use calculators in MS at all - except sometimes when we work on percentages. The kids taking high school credits use them, though.

The FL standards are about the same for all 3 grades, too. We just make sure they get integers in 7th and don't worry about it in 6th. And, as I've posted before, we use more ability grouping in MS classes. That's why I have kids from all 3 grades in my class who will be solving equations, yet another pre-algebra class has kids who can't seem to master fractions. Many LDs in that class.

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