Saturday, August 04, 2007

Math mastery by 5th grade

I'm trying to verify if MNPS uses the two math texts discussed in this 15 minute video (hat tip to Ben Cunningham). They are: "Investigation in Numbers (TERC)" and "Everyday Mathematics". The MNPS search feature has been disabled and I don't see it mentioned in their: Teaching & Learning: Subject Areas & Courses: Mathematics page where I expected to find a list of the approved texts.

It's really worth your time to view this 15 minute video especially if your child is having difficulty in math. This woman, who had to go back to college later in life for more math and has children in elementary school, clearly demonstrates the various 'new' math methods of solving the same multiplication and division problems. If you haven't understood your child's math homework see if it's one of these methods. It could be very illuminating.

Remember the multiplication problem is 26 x 31.

Here's a screen shot of each method. You may recognize one them from your own child's homework.

Standard Algorithm

Cluster Problems

Partial Problems Method

Lattice Method

And then here comes division. 133 divided by 6

Standard Algorithm (Long Division)

Cluster Problems

Partial Quotents Division (The Magic 7)

After viewing this with my daughters they were all surprised at how complicated they'd made a very easy process. Further, and my mother/teacher ears were tickled to hear, in retrospect they were glad I drilled fact families.

Shockingly, the Everyday Math books contain some 40 pages of atlas and 35 pages of how to use calculators because learning division is a waste of precious class time. Not sure how they're guaranteeing that calculators will always be available, or a power source to run them.

At the end she suggests picking up some cheap Singapore Math workbooks from to use to tutor your children if they're unfortunate enough to be using these texts.

Two things are absolutely fundamental and every otherwise normal child ought to have down solid by 5th or 6th grade both basic math and reading. I wouldn't blame any parent who wanted to sue the system for educational neglect if that much hadn't been done after at least 7 years in the public education system.

UPDATE: 08/15/07: I've just received the list of textbooks MNPS uses and neither of these two are on the list.


Staying Under The Radar said...

Since you asked, here's a report on metro...
I'm a metro high school math teacher. I expect my students to know how to multiply and divide, sans calculator, quickly and accurately, following the standard algorithm. My daughter completed fifth grade last year, took timed multiplication tests in 3rd and 4th grades, learned the standard methods for multiplication and division in her metro! elementary 3rd, 4th and 5th grade classes. I would not even consider showing the other methods you illustrated on your webpage to my students, except as an interesting novelty. Many of my students, at a metro! school, could easily outperform students from any school across the state. The math teachers with whom I work do an awesome job, we teach real math ... all the way through calculus ... we expect our students to do real math, and we have high expectations for them.

Kay Brooks said...

While I'm glad to read your students are using the standard algorithm my question was: Does MNPS use these two texts? Do you know? If not, do you know where on the MNPS website they list the texts they do use?

It looks like I'll have to call in the morning to learn the answer.

Staying Under The Radar said...

My guess is no, they do not use the textbooks you mentioned in your post. My daughter was in 5th grade last year, and I've never heard of them before. I could, however, stand corrected, as I teach high school and only know specifically about high school texts.