Math -reinforce the fundamentals

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Math -reinforce the fundamentals

Postby Amanda Boerner » Mon Apr 23, 2007 3:48 pm

I found this article in The Chicago Tribune about math in America.

Before anyone jumps on me and says that we are using other math programs in addition to the EVERYDAY MATH, I will tell you that I was told by the Asst. Superintendant that Everyday Math is the Math Program that every Elementary student in Merrimack is using. You are not given the opportunity to opt out of this "constructivist" math program for a more traditional one. If some teachers are supplementing it is not going on across the board.


http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opin ... ective-hed
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Postby mmoy » Tue Apr 24, 2007 10:48 am

It isn't clear to me that a constructivist program can't work but I think that it would take teachers with a pretty good math background to pull it off and elementary schools usually don't have a lot of subject specialization.

I read a lot of postings by Prof Herman Rubin (Statistics at Purdue) on teaching concepts and building up mathematics and then development of the procedures after learning the principles. Unfortunately it took me some time before I was able to figure out what he was talking about.

Giving problems which are open-ended and which may involve estimates, guesses and some frustration isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact it's something that you frequently see in math contests and problem-solving environments. But those environments assume facility with basic processes and procedures.

The traditional approach seems to have many benefits in efficiency. And it's long track record of doing a good job for a lot of students. But I've been thinking lately that adding a lot of fun math and providing some of the forms of the constructivist approach can lead to better outcome if the time and resources are there.
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Postby Debra Huffman » Thu Apr 26, 2007 2:42 pm

mmoy, I believe you fully understand the issue, but I'd like to clarify something so it is crystal clear to everyone: No one is suggesting that ALL open-ended problems and creativity should be eliminated from the elementary math program. We have asked, and will continue to ask, the administration to reconsider use of the Everyday Math program as it focuses too heavily on these sort of questions.

There are only so many hours in a student's day. Every minute spent on creative problem solving and learning unique algorithms is a minute NOT spent learning the basics. There needs to be a better balance between the two so in middle and high school they are ready for tackling more creative, challenging problems.

In the April 2nd School Board meeting, the Administration said they are considering additional training of teachers and parents, but is this enough? In my opinion, it is not. And some of the teachers in the classrooms trying to teach this program agree that this program is fundamentally flawed.

(I have a copy of the DVD of the 4/2 meeting and anyone who is interested in hearing what the administration presented to the School Board is welcome to borrow or copy it. Their commitment to the Everyday Math program is unequivocal. This is THE program chosen and there was NO indication that they are unhappy with this program, only that they should better train teachers and parents. The guest presenter even used the word "breathtaking" to describe our results.)

We have to get this right. Math and science play heavily in the future of America's economy. No room for mistakes here. We need to do a better job as compared with INTERNATIONAL math and science proficiency.
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Postby andysinnh » Thu Apr 26, 2007 3:19 pm

So I've gotten on this forum and tried to figure out why Mastricola is different than either RF or TF in terms of blending the math curriculum. I sent an email to Debbie Woelflein basically asking this question. She called me at work a few days later to speak. We had a very nice conversation, and she was very receptive to my thoughts.

Overall, it's apparent that their current thrust is Everyday Math - plain and simple. But I asked about leveling this "blend" across all 3 schools, and she said she was forwarding my email to the subgroup looking at the math curriculum to help drive that point to them. I got the impression that while they're not in a "reconsideration" mode of Everyday Math, they are wanting to look at implementation issues and consistency across the schools, and my example of the differences are something they will make part of their discussions.

Personally, I think that the change we can make is how we get this consistency and adaptation for the curriculum to blend different techniques, and that may be the best way to help improve things, at least in the current process.

Just my $.02....

andy
Andy Schneider
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Postby mmoy » Fri Apr 27, 2007 8:11 am

andysinnh wrote:So I've gotten on this forum and tried to figure out why Mastricola is different than either RF or TF in terms of blending the math curriculum. I sent an email to Debbie Woelflein basically asking this question. She called me at work a few days later to speak. We had a very nice conversation, and she was very receptive to my thoughts.

Overall, it's apparent that their current thrust is Everyday Math - plain and simple. But I asked about leveling this "blend" across all 3 schools, and she said she was forwarding my email to the subgroup looking at the math curriculum to help drive that point to them. I got the impression that while they're not in a "reconsideration" mode of Everyday Math, they are wanting to look at implementation issues and consistency across the schools, and my example of the differences are something they will make part of their discussions.

Personally, I think that the change we can make is how we get this consistency and adaptation for the curriculum to blend different techniques, and that may be the best way to help improve things, at least in the current process.

Just my $.02....

andy


Even if they were in reconsideration mode, going through the curriculum committee process to select something new would probably take at least a few years to get running smoothly.
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Postby Debra Huffman » Fri Apr 27, 2007 9:14 am

Andy, I am glad that you received a nice response from Ms Woelflein and I am glad she is going to bring your concerns to the appropriate people. In the April 2nd meeting, Emily Coburn asked about cross-school consistency and Ms Woelflein had no reply at that time, but apparently they are now looking at that, so that's a good thing.

We have had this program in place for three years. Ms Woelflein is now saying that the teachers and parents need more training (in the April 2nd meeting) and that cross-school consistency should be looked at (in her private discussion with you). These are good things.

As for what I consider to be the bad things... I will let that drop off the table for now. I haven't the time or energy for the sort of half-informed discussion that would occur here. I will continue my efforts with the people who are in a position to make a difference - the School Board members. I am still gathering data, but eventually they will be getting more information from me.

When I have something useful to post, I will post. But until then, do not assume that silence means satisfaction.
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Re: Math -reinforce the fundamentals

Postby mmoy » Fri Aug 24, 2007 6:27 pm

There is an article in the Journal about the Math Program getting an update. It's not fully clear to me what the improvements
represent as they're presented in somewhat vague terms and the Principal quoted was from Reeds Ferry. It probably would
have been better to state whether this program is for just Reeds Ferry or all schools. Deb Wolflein is quoted late in the
article so one could assume that it is for all three elementary schools. The issue on supplementary drilling isn't directly addressed.
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Re: Math -reinforce the fundamentals

Postby Confucius » Sat Aug 25, 2007 1:05 pm

If anyone has curriculum concerns, I suggest you not stop with Deb Wolflein. In my personal experience, she has not been very helpful at all in addressing individual student needs. If your child doesn't fit the cookie cutter mold, she is no help. This on top of the fact that she seems out of touch with what is happening in the district curriculum wise. Don't let her discourage you about what can and can't be done because she will try.
My font > yours.
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