(Disclaimer) Methinks the link below goes to a right-wing conservative site
which I normally would not recommend to anyone.

But it is a rare fact that for once, conservatives and progressive liberals are on the same page about the Common Core and Standardized Testing. We’re just coming at it from polar opposite directions regarding education.

But it is a rare fact that for once, conservatives and progressive liberals are on the same page about the Common Core and Standardized Testing. We’re just coming at it from polar opposite directions regarding education.

Thanks.

That being said however, the example given here is a
wonderful explanation of the different processes that various people (including
students) use to understand math. I mean really understand, not just to do rote
algorithms that they have had to memorize, like math was taught to me. I needed
another way than I was taught. I had some serious problems learning fractions,
algebra and trig. Even though I got A’s in my high school math courses, I had
no idea how to apply it to real life problems. In fact, I aced Trigonometry
because I had a great tutor, my hubby (then boyfriend) and because I could
memorize formulae, not because I understood anything about Trig. I learned a
lot of math I wish I knew long ago when I learned to teach with Everyday Math.
We've had it all wrong all these years. We were educating future factory
workers who would take direction well and do things efficiently and not future
mathematicians and scientists who actually think about multiple possibilities
for answers. There needs to be room for both. Take a good look at each way to
solve. It might be better to print it out.

Our school has been using those methods for the past 12
years. We often heard from those parents at school who thought their method of
doing math was better, even though many freely admitted they weren't too good at
math! All they really needed to do was come to school and learn why we were
teaching this way and allow themselves the “fun” of being taught to do the
problems and play the games that would reinforce their children’s math skills. If they did that we were usually able to bring them around to agree with us.

Prior to changing math series, 3th, 5th and 6th grade teachers had stopped using the
school district’s math series altogether. It was a horrible book to follow and
our kids were getting nowhere fast. We taught without a textbook for 3 or 4 years because we thought the texts
were inappropriate for our needs. Adopting the new math series was not taken
lightly. There were 5 program choices and we examined each one carefully before
making a decision. Then we piloted the series in one room in each grade so we
could tell whether it was going to work with our inner city kids.

Although the teachers had to learn how to teach math all
over again, and the teacher’s guide was permanently attached to our hips for
the first two years, we saw an immediate change in standardized math test
scores for the better, with 75% of the kids in the pilot classes scoring high
on the open-ended questions, while only 35% scored well in the control groups.
I won’t tell you the rest of the staff went gently into
the new series, Some came through kicking and screaming about how if the old
math was good enough for them, it was good enough for their students. But it
wasn’t good enough; we had way too many kids scoring way too low. We needed to
do something then to reverse the trend. It took a couple years of staff
development once a month until most teachers were sort of comfortable with it,
but I did have to go around and collect the old math books from the lower grade
classes before a couple teachers bought in.

It was a steep learning curve for the teachers, me included,
but our kids did so much better with the new series, which used unorthodox
methods to do the basic operations. I learned many surprising things while
teaching Everyday Math. Did you realize that there are at least two ways to add
and not use regrouping? Three ways to subtract without “borrowing”? Three ways
to multiply multi-digit numbers? At least three ways to divide? I didn’t know
any of that before I was introduced to Everyday Math. In fact, during report
card conferences, I heard from a few parents who were born in the Caribbean
that some of these “new” ways were the ones they were taught in school in their
native land. One mother from the Dominican Republic showed me an astounding way
to divide, one I had never seen before. For 18 years I taught remedial math to
3

^{rd}, 4^{th}and 5^{th }graders who just couldn’t get it. I only took the ones below the 27^{th}percentile, and that was about 25% of the student population. I’d hypothesize that anyone below the 50^{th}percentile could have used my services, but there weren’t enough hours in the day. The last year I taught, close to 65% of the students were scoring proficient or above on the math PSSAs. We had been using the series for 10 years at that point. The “new” math works.
These are legitimate strategies for doing math. I taught
some of them to my remedial math students in the 1980s. Nothing there is new.
More kids would learn math well if they were allowed to play with the various
methods and choose the one that works for them. If for no one else, kids that
don't get the traditional way need alternatives. Adding mentally is quite fast
when you get to higher numbers and you are less prone to "carrying"
or "borrowing" mistakes. Plus it strengthens their understanding of
place value, which will help them in middle school pre-algebra and algebra. The
danger is going too fast - you have to play with the place-value blocks until
you get it, then go to the lines and x's until you get it, then on to numerical
representations. If we want them to move, not at their pace but at ours, it'll
never work.

Seriously, the way we were taught is sorely lacking, but you
CAN teach an old dog new tricks, I am proof. I didn't learn these methods until
I was in my late 30's-early 40's. I so wish I had been taught that way in grade
school. Maybe then I would have felt confident in the higher math. But instead
I shied away from higher math at all costs. Try it with an open mind. No
student should be required to do the numerical representations for regrouping
numbers until they are 10 or 11, when they are capable of more abstract
thinking.

Please trust me, the methods work. They really, truly do. My
students for the last 12 years proved it over and over again. Try it, you might
like it.

If you need another explanation, try here:

And I am not the only one out there who feels this way.

http://themindfulmathematician.blogspot.com/2014/03/a-letter-to-frustrated-parents-of.html?showComment=1395879786610#c4380641401902810822

http://themindfulmathematician.blogspot.com/2014/03/a-letter-to-frustrated-parents-of.html?showComment=1395879786610#c4380641401902810822

Still learning!

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