kitchen table math, the sequel: Steve H on the perils of eyeballing Everyday Math

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Steve H on the perils of eyeballing Everyday Math

Unfortunately, parents won't really understand until they see the work coming home. At my son's previous school one parent (with a major in applied math) loved the idea of Everyday Math. By the end of the year he changed his tune. Too late.

I'm putting words in Barry's mouth (& will edit if I've missed his point), but Barry has said something very similar. When you look at individual pages, the math isn't bad. It's the hopscotching amongst topics and lack of mastery that are the problems.

Barry Garelick said...

Yes, I've said that. The worksheet itself is not bad; the problems can be quite good. What you don't see is the lack of sequencing and preparation. So a problem like 8.25/0.3 looks perfectly reasonable, but what you don't know is they have worked with neither fractional or decimal division. You also have no idea how or what the teacher said about such a probem because there is no textbook, and your kid is certainly not going to remember.

Catherine Johnson said...

William Schmidt's lecture at Baltimore Curriculum Project is fantastic on this subject.

I've transcribed some of it; will get it posted.

Anonymous said...

NEWSFLASH! From the common sense files, a study that demonstrates that pointing to the math problem helps students learn!

From Hand Gestures Help Math Skills, Study Concludes

"Here’s some interesting information for educators: a new study from the University of Chicago says that gesturing helps students develop new ways of understanding mathematics.

...

For the study, some 128 fourth-grade students were given a math equation similar to this: 3+2+8=__+8. None of the students had been successful in solving that type of problem in a pretest."

What was left out of the article is how many students DID answer correctly on the pretest. That would have been interesting to know.

Full text of the study is here
Another great contribution to math education by the University of Chicago.

Catherine Johnson said...

I'm actually quite keen on Goldin-Meadow's work & didn't know she had a new study out.

I think I sent something to Joanne Jacobs to post a couple of years ago.

Let me check.

Yup, here it is.

This part is fascinating:

When a math teacher’s gestures match her words, students don’t understand as well as if she tells them one way to solve the problem while gesturing to an alternative approach. But students get confused if the teacher tells them two different ways to solve a problem.

Anonymous said...

It just seems so obvious. Don't all good teachers point and gesture? And if you point to something that contradicts what you're saying isn't it obvious that it will confuse the student?

Catherine Johnson said...

I have to go back and read - I was thinking it was the opposite --

it's more than pointing though

it's a bit of a gestural....mnemonic device???

I'll re-read before I spend any more time holding forth on this topic!

Catherine Johnson said...

this is cool:

Cook's latest work goes further, showing that even abstract gestures can enhance learning. In a classroom, she had some students mimic her sweeping hand motions to emphasize that both sides of an equation must be equal. Other students were simply told to repeat her words: "I want to make one side . . . equal to the other side."

A third group was told to mimic both her movements and words.

Weeks later, the students were quizzed. Those in the two groups that were taught the gestures were three times as likely to solve the equations correctly than were those who had learned only the verbal instructions, she and two colleagues reported in the July 25 issue of the journal Cognition.

Gestures Convey Message: Learning in Progress WAPO

Catherine Johnson said...

OK, I think I was remembering it correctly.

This is from New Scientist, February 2006:

Gestures that complement rather than simply illustrate verbal instructions can boost children's ability to complete problems in mathematics, researchers report.
"The teachers are giving the kids two different approaches to the problem - one by hand and one by mouth - and somehow they seem to complement one another," says Susan Goldin-Meadow of the University of Chicago, US. She adds that early findings also show that students who copy the gestures of their teachers are more likely to learn.

The study wasn't about gestures that contradicted the procedure. The gestures were "complementary."

Speaking of which, I have got to get a post up about the book Spanish by Association.

Fantastic.

Catherine Johnson said...

And here's another!

Researchers at the University of Chicago have come up with a technique for teachers to use that increases student understanding of mathematics: explain how to solve a problem in one way, and also provide an alternative approach through gesture.

Students who were taught to solve arithmetic problems by teachers using mismatched gesture and speech learned twice as well as students who received instruction in speech only. The technique also helped students learn better than students who received instruction that was the same in speech and gesture, the researchers report in an article, “Children Learn When Their Teacher’s Gestures and Speech Differ,” published in the current issue of Psychological Science.

Catherine Johnson said...

That last one is the one to read if you're interested.