kitchen table math, the sequel: YouTube reactions to Everyday Math

Sunday, March 15, 2009

YouTube reactions to Everyday Math

This curricula and others like it are in most school districts. No child will be left behind in math because no child will ever move off the starting line.

Another reason to get you[r] child out of the government schools.

+++++

I received that garbage, but why is it my job as a parent to relearn math, UNPAID, to teach my son? If I'm going to teach him, I'll teach him the proper way to learn which he does wonderfully with. Let him flunk the No Child Left Untested tests. I want him to actually MASTER MATH and he does it using traditional methods, just like Mom and Dad.

+++++

when I see this video, I'm so happy that my children live in Europe and don't need to grow up in America...

By the way... WHY IN HELL is there a chapter on how to use a calculator in the "everyday math"-book? 38 pages??? At least in Sweden, students are not even aloud to TOUCH a calculater before 8 grade!

+++++

i hate this math! my son is "learning" this in his 5th grade class, and it's just garbage!! what ever happened to bringing home a math book with 10-20 problems for homework?! the students move on to something new every day (hence the "every day" part) and they don't review enough to retain the lesson. now i have to learn this craziness so i can help him come test day...it's like i'm in grade school all over again! balony!!!!

+++++

I dont like my school! They teach this in my 5th grade class :(

+++++

What the bloody hell was that latticed matrix nonsense in the second part?

+++++

We teach this way because under education reform, everything has to be done differently than the old evil way. The district gets federal money if it picks any of the NSF funded no-math math books. Look up outcome based education reform if you want to see the entire reform beast and how it links up to standards based testing like WASL and a bunch of other bad ideas. The only thing standard about standards-based is that standard methods are not allowed.

+++++

What the ever-loving f***?!?

No wonder our school kids fail at everything; that is not math.

+++++

I don't doubt that a properly administered EDM program can be effective but you should see the mess when it is not. PARENTS ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT SUPPLEMENT and more often than not they are left in the dark.

+++++

Everyday Math is HORRIBLE! I have an elementary education degree, and honestly think that this is the most AWFUL math curriculum I've ever seen. My stepdaughter has been subjected to it throughout her elementary years, and we are going to pull her out of school and homeschool her to get away from this and other "progressive" educational methods that lead to disaster.

+++++

My sister uses Everyday Mathematics in school [elementary] and she hates it. She hates math, but enjoys dividing the simple way. She gets her answers wrong trying the EM way. But she is getting better at it, but she does NOT enjoy EM. Not even her teacher likes it! She has been doing EM since 3rd grade. She enjoys the old Mcgraw hill stuff. But...I go over her homework, and I was like 'What the heck is this stuff?'

+++++

We are starting Everyday Math at our school this year, after having Investigations.
The teachers will be baffled by lattice multiplication, and the kids will, as well.
That means more math teaching for this parent.

+++++

this one may be my personal favorite:

I don't blame you for being angry! Your school district has definitely been neglectful if you didn't receive the 4 page Family Letter that precedes every unit, explaining the concepts and algorithms in the unit, as well as the answers to every Home Link on the last page. It's also disappointing to hear your district didn't purchase the required Student Reference Book that your child could bring home and use as additional support for the new concepts.

+++++

no, wait, 5 stars to this one:

Speaking as a maths teacher, this is bollocks.

+++++

This video shows everything I wrote to the Everyday Math people. I did get a response from them.Their letter supported their program saying it does work. What did I expect them to say? I have a 3rd grader. We have not reached this level of Everyday Math torture. It must be hell in homes where no one knows what a partial sum is or the "lattice" method.Or for the children who come from homes where all of the tools needed for this program are unavailable. It is just ridiculous!

+++++

This video shows everything I wrote to the Everyday Math people. I did get a response from them.Their letter supported their program saying it does work. What did I expect them to say? I have a 3rd grader. We have not reached this level of Everyday Math torture. It must be hell in homes where no one knows what a partial sum is or the "lattice" method.Or for the children who come from homes where all of the tools needed for this program are unavailable. It is just ridiculous!

+++++

my son's school uses this idiot program and as a result i am putting him in private school next year, where they teach math the correct way.

34 comments:

Cheryl said...

"This curricula and others like it are in most school districts."

Where are the statistics to back this up? Because I am a teacher, and I've never seen this. Most of the math in our curriculum is taught the same way it was when I was in elementary school in the 60's & 70's.

Mind you, I think "everyday math" is horrific, and if it were taught in my son's school I'd strongly consider homeschooling.

BUT, I think that many of these anti-public school movements are based on broad generalizations that just don't hold water in your average suburban district.

concerned said...

Some states require the use of mediocre NSF math programs for eligibility for certain grants.

http://www.missourimets.com/
mx/hm.asp?id=GrantFAQs

8) What are the program-approved mathematics and science curriculum models?

Competitive priority will be given to applicants who have implemented National Science Foundation (NSF) funded mathematics and/or science curriculum that is research-based and standards-based. Prior implementation is defined as a minimum of one school year, including the current 2008-2009 school year.

Eligible mathematics curricula include the following:

Elementary Mathematics
a. Everyday Mathematics®
b. Investigations in Number, Data and Space®
c. Math Trailblazers™

Middle School (Junior High School) Mathematics
a. Connected Mathematics 2™
b. Mathematics in Context®
c. MathScape: Seeing and Thinking Mathematically™
d. MATH Thematics

High School Mathematics
a. Contemporary Mathematics in Context©
b. Interactive Mathematics Program™
c. MATH Connections®: A Secondary Core Mathematics Curriculum
d. Mathematics: Modeling Our World
e. SIMMS: Integrated Mathematics

concerned said...

Some states require the use of mediocre NSF math programs for eligibility for certain grants.

http://www.missourimets.com/
mx/hm.asp?id=GrantFAQs

8) What are the program-approved mathematics and science curriculum models?

Competitive priority will be given to applicants who have implemented National Science Foundation (NSF) funded mathematics and/or science curriculum that is research-based and standards-based. Prior implementation is defined as a minimum of one school year, including the current 2008-2009 school year.

Eligible mathematics curricula include the following:

Elementary Mathematics
a. Everyday Mathematics®
b. Investigations in Number, Data and Space®
c. Math Trailblazers™

Middle School (Junior High School) Mathematics
a. Connected Mathematics 2™
b. Mathematics in Context®
c. MathScape: Seeing and Thinking Mathematically™
d. MATH Thematics

High School Mathematics
a. Contemporary Mathematics in Context©
b. Interactive Mathematics Program™
c. MATH Connections®: A Secondary Core Mathematics Curriculum
d. Mathematics: Modeling Our World
e. SIMMS: Integrated Mathematics

Catherine Johnson said...

gosh -- I'm sure I've seen stats on Everyday Math....but I don't know where.

I have the impression that fuzzy math is pervasive in Westchester. Tex is in Westchester & her school has fuzzy math; Irvington does; Hastings adopted Everyday Math; Dobbs has one of the curricula (I met a Dobbs mom at Kumon who filled me in); Edgmont has Everday Math.

Project Lead the Way appears to be taking the country by storm, too.

One of our board members said the other night that we must not cut Project Lead the Way because it is "an engineering class" and "we are building an engineering program in Irvington."

It'll be cool watching the district "build an engineering program" before they've built a functioning math program.

Cool paying for it, too.

Barry Garelick said...

BUT, I think that many of these anti-public school movements are based on broad generalizations that just don't hold water in your average suburban district.

I wouldn't say these "movements" you speak of are anti-public school. They are parents who do not like the education their children are getting, and that applies to private schools as well. Everyday Math on its website brags that there are so many million classrooms using their program, which translates to a market share that is not insignificant when you consider that Investigations is also spreading like the flu. I live in a suburban district (McLean VA) and my daughter's elementary school used it. Prince William County, which is south of us, has been battling Investigations for the past two years, and their struggle has been written up in the Washington Post. Similarly there is a struggle in Frederick County, Maryland against Investigations. And Montgomery County, Maryland, a big suburb of Washington DC uses Everyday Math. So I wouldn't call these claims generalizations.

Catherine Johnson said...

oh - I missed that qualifier -- "anti public school"

As far as I can tell there are quite a few private schools using these curricula (I have no figures at all).

Sidwell Friends is using TERC.

I now support homeschooling, charter schools, & vouchers & I wouldn't shut down public schools....but I don't have the sense that the voucher movement is particularly focused on curriculum.

The charter people seem to have practically no interest in curriculum at all.

(That was a complaint.)

SteveH said...

"I've never seen this."

A newbie!

Where have you been the last 10 years? Actually, where do you live? Your property values might go up.


The big problem with Everyday Math is not something like the Lattice method. The problem is that it's impossible to get through all of the material. If you thought that EM jumps around too much, just wait to see what it's like when they try to cover all of the material in one year. Count the pages in the workbooks and divide by the number of math classes. Add to that their determined use of inefficient group learning in class and you get something that can't possibly work.

In fifth grade, my son's teacher covered 65% of the material, but sent home a letter declaring victory over critical thinking and problem solving.

If you ever get a chance to review EM, remember to chop off 35% of the material, either at the end or some places in the middle, depending on the whim of the teacher.

I remember talking to some private schools that used EM. They said that they supplemented it. How? How much more beyone the 35% are you going to take away to add in supplementary material?

In another thread, we clearly established that schools really don't think that curricula like EM are better than Singapore Math. The main selling point of EM is that it is designed for full inclusion. Understanding and problem solving are just pedagogical cover for letting kids slide along at their own speed. Throw in spiraling (circling) and Math Boxes, and you can argue away anything. Schools get to select curricula based on whim, but to change to something else requires research-based proof.

Cheryl said...

I live in CA, not under a rock. And yes, property values in my city are very high, and part of the reason is we have excellent schools. However, you wouldn't want to live here--our state budget is a mess and the education cuts are frightening.

Did a little research. Everyday math was rejected by the CA State Board of Ed as not meeting standards until 2007. So... most districts (including my own) would not have done an adoption since it has become an option here.

So, not totally ignorant here--just blissfully ignorant. My district just did an adoption this year--not Everyday Math. Thank heaven.

Barry Garelick said...

California rejected EM, true, but their most recent adoption allows it as you say. Until then, there was a way for Districts to get a waiver and adopt EM if they wanted, as was done in San Diego. Palo Alto is currently talking about adopting it.

Curriculum Matters at EdWeek features a story about this.


http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2009/03/a_skirmish_in_the_math_wars_de.html#comments

Barry Garelick said...

According to Everyday Math's web site:


"[EM] is currently being used in over 185,000 classrooms by almost 3,000,000 students."

This is about a 10%+ market share. Add in Investigations and others, and it's probably close to 20% of the NSF-funded curricula. Not a small market share at all. Both EM and Investigations appear to have very talented marketing departments, so that figure is likely to grow.

KathyIggy said...

EM may be designed for full inclusion, but in our district what appears to happen is some SPED kids get so behind in math they get moved to an "instructional" classroom. In those classes, a "lanugage-based" Math curriculum like EM is not used. For my autism spectrum daughter, EM was a disaster. Her calculation skills are around grade level, but reading comprehension is about 2 years behind and math word problems probably 3+ years behind. She was in tears about math. We supplemented at home with Saxon and Kumon. In the "instructional" class, it's either SRA Real Math or a combination of that and supplemental worksheets from the "Key to" series (Key to Fractions, etc). My daughter is enjoying math and even asks me to buy her "Spectrum" workbooks. The fact kids can get enjoyment in finding the right answer and not having to explain it in paragraph form is missed. My 3rd grader is suffering through EM though. I doubt it will change as our district does well on the IL NCLB tests; our school just won an award for having 90+ % meet standards for 3 years in a row.

Anonymous said...

Cheryl,

In IL, EM is everywhere.

There's a website called Illinois Loop which allows you to look at math curriculum choices district by district, when they adopted them and when they dropped them. If they don't use EM, they often pick one of the other equally bad ones.

So, if you wanted to escape a school system in the Chicago suburbs, you'd have a really hard time finding a town that doesn't used EM.

SusanS

VickyS said...

In February 2009 the Institute of Education Science (US Dept. of Education) released a study entitled Achievement Effects of Four Early Elementary School Math Curricula: Findings from Frist Graders in 39 Schools. The particpating districts agreed to randomized adoption of 4 different curricula by schools within the district. The curricula were chosen to reflect 4 different instructional strategies and included Investigations, Saxon, Math Expressions and Scott Foresman Addison Wesley (SFAW).

Regarding market share, they state that:

"A small number of curricula dominate elementary math instruction (seven math curricula make up 91 percent of the curricula used by K-2 educators), and the curricula are based on different theories for developing student math skills (Education Market Research 2008)."

The citation for the report is Education Market Research. Mathematics Market, Grades K-12, 2008: Teaching Methods, Textbooks/Materials Used and Needed, and Market Size. Rockaway Park, NY: EMR, 2008, which you can buy for a few hundred bucks or download for a cool $1,000+. It is described by the publisher as such:

"Mathematics Market, K-12: 2008 is Education Market Research’s latest study of the estimated $1.95 billion U.S. market for Mathematics instructional materials. The Mathematics instructional materials segment experienced a robust 25.8% spending increase from 2005 averaging 8.6% year-over-year growth."

The also have a report on the explosive growth in the market for Supplemental Materials.

In an 2007 Ed Week article, EdWeek Jan 27, 2007, which I can no longer find, I believe the market share statistics for grades 3-5 were as follows (note, "other" includes things like Investigations, Mathland, and the likes):

Everyday Math: 15.5
Houghton Mifflin: 11.0
Scott Foresman/Addison Wesley: 15.1
Saxon: 8.7
Other: 49.7

Doug Sundseth said...

Adams 12 and Mapleton (my district and the district my son is actually attending school in) in Colorado (Denver metro) both use Everyday Math in most schools. In Adams 12, only some charter schools are using any other curriculum.

In fact, Stargate, the GATE magnet in Adams 12 (and one of the best-regarded schools in the state) even uses EM. Because of that, even though we're on the waiting list for Stargate, I'm not sure we'd accept a place for our son if we reached the head of the list.

Anonymous said...

EM provides training for teachers. I love teaching EM. I have taught it for 2 years and it gets easier to teach each time. I think that when teachers do not get the proper training (EM provides this), students struggle. EM provides letters to send home to parents that explain the entire unit. Our kids today are not like us when we were in school. Their attention spans seem to be much shorter and they need more stimulation (due to our increasing technology). The old "paper and pencil" technique of "drill and kill" does not motivate students to do work (although, your shining stars in the room will do it without complaint). My students love doing the explorations and games that are incorporated into the program. They are practicing the skills over and over until they reach mastery. Education today is to be "differentiated", so that students are worked at their own instructional levels. EM allows teachers to gear up the lesson or down to help students. When we were in school, we all did the same page, with the same number of problems.....and if it was too hard, that was just tough....because everyone else was doing it.

Ben Calvin said...

Hi Cheryl, I'm imagine this is beating a dead horse, as I'm late to this thread. The comment you were referring to, This curricula and others like it are in most school districts. was a comment left on the YouTube clip, not a comment from one of the posters here. And you are quite correct, EM and the other notorious programs probably do not at this time have a market share over 50% of the market.

However, as you probably know by now, EM has now been allowed under California State Standards, and has been adopted by San Diego, Palo Alto and San Francisco. It seem to be gaining market share in California. It's a popular new and coming item on a lot of educators agendas (as illustrated by the anonymous comment above).

Ben

concernedCTparent said...

It's difficult to know where to begin with this comment. I'm glad you like teaching EM, but the fact of the matter is that this isn't about making the teacher happier, it's about making sure the students learn what they are supposed to be learning.

Compare EM material to what a student in a top performing state or country is doing and you'd know why it doesn't matter how happy it makes you, it isn't teaching the children what they need to know. Students in the U.S. are no less capable than students in the top performing countries and yet our top students (even the ones you call shining stars) cannot keep up with their peers outside the United States. Why is that, do you think? The difference is the curriculum (focused, coherent, progression of mathematics learning with emphasis on proficiency with key topics), how this exemplary curriculum is taught (to mastery: computational fluency and conceptual understanding), and that the students are taught by teachers that have content knowledge that goes well beyond the grade level they are teaching (teachers with advanced mathematics study and certification).

I suppose since paper and pencil is not motivating and attention spans are short, we should make a teacher's job easier by passing out calculators? Is it not feasible to believe that students aren't motivated because they are unprepared to succeed? That perhaps, if they experienced the sense of achievement that comes from mastering something important (say, basic math facts, for example), the student may actually be more engaged?

I suggest that you read Why Don't Students Like School? by Daniel Willingham. In it you will learn that students will avoid thinking (thus, the short attention span and need for stimulation) when the cognitive conditions are not right. Furthermore, you cannot expect your students to learn without building a foundation of factual knowledge. Factual knowledge precedes skill and conceptual understanding requires content knowledge.

Your job, as a teacher, is to figure out how to make the cognitive conditions conducive to learning and teach foundational knowledge. Upon deeper exploration you may find that this doesn't necessarily mean playing games, handing out calculators, and entertaining the students at the expense of mastering a subject as vital as mathematics.

SteveH said...

"I think that when teachers do not get the proper training (EM provides this), students struggle."

Students struggle even when teachers do get training. Everyday Math is flawed.


"Their attention spans seem to be much shorter and they need more stimulation ..."

So EM is the best we can do under the circumstances?


"The old 'paper and pencil' technique of "drill and kill" does not motivate students to do work ..."

So EM is the best we can do under the circumstances?


"My students love doing the explorations and games that are incorporated into the program."

So EM is the best we can do under the circumstances?


"They are practicing the skills over and over until they reach mastery."

Baloney. If you use differentiation, then everyone is mastering (or not) different skills at different times. There is a destination here, not just a process.


"Education today is to be 'differentiated', so that students are worked at their own instructional levels."

Gee, there's a new concept for us. So kids are mastering skills at whatever level they're at in groups in class. It's amazing how magic works. Finally, in sixth grade, when they have to learn new material and also finally master the old skills that never quite got done before, Math Boxes will do the trick? Of course, if students never quite get there, then it must be their own fault. Differentiation means low expectations and then blaming it all on the kids in the end. All you have to do is point to the kids who survived EM with tons of help at home or with tutors.


"When we were in school, we all did the same page, with the same number of problems.....and if it was too hard, that was just tough....because everyone else was doing it."

You have to get from point A (counting in Kindergarten) to point B (algebra in 8th grade). Math is not about having everyone do their own thing based on whatever perceived level they're at.

Everyday Math ignores the problem of trying to keep all students up to international grade-level expectations in math. They think that if they circle through the material enough times, students will naturally meet their potential. This appeals to schools that use full-inclusion.

It just does not happen.

This is all about high expectations versus low expectations.

Barry Garelick said...

Also, teachers who believe their students are "getting it" and therefore attribute such success to EM, may be seeing the results of tutoring.

See One Step Ahead of the Train Wreck which is about the afterschooling of my daughter with Singapore Math to avoid the train wreck of EM.

Ben Calvin said...

Their attention spans seem to be much shorter and they need more stimulation...The old 'paper and pencil' technique of "drill and kill" does not motivate students to do work ...Anecdotally, seeing my third-grader and his peers, I reject both those statement as untrue. If given the chance to learn properly sequenced Math and English, they perform at least as well as my 60's generation did. And it can be measured via the ITBS. And this is not in an isolated environment. In my house (and in his peers) you will find the usual panoply of video game consoles and computers. But school, homework and extra-curricular activities come first.

concernedCTparent said...

Like Ben, I reject the attention span and lack of motivation excuse as a cop-out. It's simply unfounded.

I hate to admit how many platforms of video games we have in our home. My third grade son, who is a master gamer, is quite the math guy regardless of his video game playing. In fact, he is working on the sixth grade level of ALEKS mathematics, devours Singapore Challenging Word Problems for breakfast, and received high honors for his performance on the JHU-CTY school and college abilities test which placed him in the 99th percentile as compared to peers two grades ahead (5th grade).

Academics are the priority-- no doubt. One of parent's many jobs is to set the rules and that is merely one of them. That said, most children will learn well when taught well. Teaching a child well is not the same as keeping a child entertained. That's what video games are for.

VickyS said...

My boys also have long attention spans. There is nothing more academically de-motivating for them than the random, always changing, jazz it up, activity based modes of instruction currently practiced in today's schools. They don't get any sense of progress or accomplishment.

They were intensely motivated in math until they encountered Everyday Math. That pretty much killed it until I put them through rehab.

They are also both avid gamers. Watch a gamer. Tell me there's an attention span problem.

SteveH said...

"Watch a gamer. Tell me there's an attention span problem."

There is no attention span problem, just a low expectation problem. It's one of my biggest jobs as a parent; getting my son to work really hard on something that's not a lot of fun. This is especially true when his school thinks that learning has to be natural and his friends go with the flow.

Woe to parents who trust the schools to help their children reach their potential. If schools want to understand the academic gap, just ask the parents of the best students. In all of the state-required questions they ask parents, not one is about what, exactly, parents do at home. We don't just provide a desk in a quiet area and limit TV and computer time.

SteveH said...

"When we were in school, we all did the same page, with the same number of problems.....and if it was too hard, that was just tough....because everyone else was doing it."


This really bothers me and points to a key problem in K-6 education.

Why do kids struggle and what should be done about it. This is a big problem in math because new skills are built on top of old skills.


"EM allows teachers to gear up the lesson or down to help students."


This assumes that the school and teachers are doing all they can. This puts the blame, or at least the onus, on the student.


How does this gearing work when all kids are at different levels. When EM circles back to a topic that has been mastered by 20% of the kids, what kind of gearing is possible for these kids? How is that gearing better than letting them move ahead? For the other 80%, what kind of assessment is done before the gearing takes place? Those 80% are all no longer on the "same page". In fact, they are on many, many different pages. How is this better than working really hard to keep all kids on the same page? How can you possibly gear up or down for so many pages?

You can't.

Differentiation is a fraudulent concept. At my son's school, full-inclusion is king. It trumps everything else; curriculum, expectations, content, and skills. Differentiation was brought in to try to get full-inclusion to work. It pales in comparison to setting high expectations and separating kids by ability and willingness to work. The only way to justify full-inclusion and differention is to say that the process is more important than the goal; that some sort of conceptual understanding or discovery learning is more important than content knowledge and skills. It's trying to say that lower expectations are better than higher expectations.

VickyS said...

Successful examples of differentiation are few and far between. The first grade teacher that gave individualized weekly homework packages. The third grade teacher with the challenge spelling words for extra credit. Occasional group projects where kids are carefully grouped.

From what I've seen differentiated instruction generally means the kids who are farther ahead are sent to the hallway, library or back of the room to fend for themselves while the teacher teaches the slowest learners.

EM "allows" this b/c you can send the high achieving kids away with some silly game to occupy them while you try to get a lesson plan across to the other kids.

That's differentiated all right. But does it mean anyone is learning anything? Especially those kids in the back?

The concept of differentiated instruction was invented, I think, in response parents who have charged that their kids are not learning anything in a general, non-ability grouped classroom.

It's just a hollow word. How can one teacher in a 30 kid classroom truly teach different kids at different levels? Either you have factory schools like we went to (which definitely have their strong points) or you have truly individualized learning. Attempts to straddle both worlds using a single heterogenous classroom with one teacher are doomed to fail.

Outcome-based education is really about equalizing outcomes. Differentiated instruction sure seems to be the right tool for the job. It's an Animal Farm moment!

SteveH said...

In first grade I asked my son's teacher about differentiated instruction and got one of the silliest explanations about how a group of mixed ability kids can each get something out of a lesson that matches their ability level. They weren't taught at their level, mind you, they just understood things at their own level.

So, after talking to the principal, the differentiation turned into differentiated homework. Our son read books at his own level (that we picked out) during DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) time during school and at home and then wrote book reports at home. The book reports were our choice, not the teacher's choice. He handed them in to her, but she rarely looked at them. So most of his day was group play time. Homework was differentiation.


The problem with differentiation is that acceleration causes problems. Only enrichment is allowed. It's one thing to read books at your own level, but quite another thing to learn to write at a much high grade level. They probably won't stop you, but they're not going to teach you.


One thing that really pissed off my wife was when she heard the principal talk about how they fill the kids with all sorts of stuff and don't expect to get anything back out until fouth grade. By then, the principal said, most kids average out to about the same point.

Low expectations. Equal outcomes. Guaranteed.

Paul B said...

This is a real hot button for me. In my district we've had block time creep for years. The district solution to everything is to drop 'extraneous' classes and expand the time on 'core' curricula. We're basically delivering three blocks a day of 100 'differentiated' minutes each.

This misbegotten philosophy derives from a more is better mindset that is bereft of any consideration of the quality of the time that is 'created'. For kids, this is an excruciating amount of time to sit in one spot. Worse, as you bloat the core subjects you lose opportunities to target kids. Instead of having 7 or 8 classes per day that you could target to different skill levels or subjects, you have three obese, sclerotic torture sessions. We do have assorted remedial things where kids are pulled from the core to receive targeted things but this services vastly fewer kids than actually need such things.

Our middle school team has proposed to blow this system away next year. We are asking to split the 100 minute math time in half. One 50 minute block will deliver the proscribed curriculum (eminently doable). The other 50 minutes will be gradeless. Kids will be tested into and out of this latter class based purely on objective measures and this time will be further broken into sections where we can focus on gap filling.

Our administration has approved the plan and now has to go fight for it at the district. It's not likely to be approved, too radical.

SteveH said...

In my son's middle school, the blocks are not quite that big (about 90 min), but they do have a funny six day schedule. Everyone asks (including teachers) what day it is. The school began posting it on the main door of the school, which is too late if you brought the wrong book or homework to school.

Our school is the king of full-inclusion and differentiated learning. Families with special needs kids move to our town for that reason. It is a source of pride in the community. However, there is an undercurrent of discussion. If they are really serious about differentiation, what are they going to do to help the more able kids who need acceleration?

So, 7th and 8th grades have become transition years from in-class differentiation to the high school tracking system. The most obvious transitions are in math and Spanish. The ONLY reasons for these changes, however, have to do with specific high school requirements being driven back into the lower grades. Before, kids were struggling to handle Spanish II and Geometry as freshmen. Parents had clear evidence of a problem. This forced our middle schools to "get real" - sort of.

What I've never had answered is why mixed-ability, group learning, in-class differentiation is so good in K-6, but not in the upper grades. Perhaps they think that kids are closer together academically so they can get away with this social experiment. It seems to work because the more able kids are not allowed to get ahead. Enrichment replaces acceleration.

By seventh grade, even our schools know that they can't keep doing that. After 6 years of low slope education, students have to make the nonlinear jump to prepare themselves for the high slope college or honors tracks in high school. The best students (and those with help at home or with tutoring) will be able to handle this fine. But what about all of the kids who don't get this support? This happens just when schools start telling kids that they have to take more responsibility for their own learning. This happens right when kids are going through more emotional and social changes. I wish schools would be more pragmatic. Too often K-8 education is driven by ideology and pedagogy. Parents and students have to pick up the pieces. If they don't, then many kids will never reach their potential.

Paul B said...

If you assume all kids enter K with the same base knowledge, then grouping methods have less impact in the early years. But, over time, kids pick up gaps so a kind of capability dispersion happens. By middle school it's time to yank the populuation back to some sort of homogeniety.

I would even argue that the middle school mission should be at least partially committed to gap filling, i.e. identify gaps and invoke remediations to get ready for High school. This would create more bang for the buck than stuffing ever more sophisticated dust offs of meaty concepts into the curriculum. So my preference would be that middle school should be the most highly differentiated and I don't mean by this, what passes for differentiation today. I mean highly targeted remediations regardless of grade or age.

My belief is that most IEPs in middle school are cover for the ravages of elementary school programs that leave kids in the dust.

We just keep truckin' on in middle school under the (sarc on) premise that more of what didn't work before will suddenly produce results. I'd love to see a graph of IEP vs. grade. Bet it goes exponential in middle school.

Sara R said...

California might not have a lot of Everyday Math, but constructivist math was common in California in the mid late 90s when I was an elementary school sub. The program of choice back then was MathLand. The education professors and such were excited about the program back then, but by the early 2000s it was out of favor: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathland. California's Mathland experience may be why they don't have as much constructivist math now as other places do.

SteveH said...

"MathLand"

My son had MathLand in first grade. I heard about it first from his pre-K (independent) teacher. She loved my astounded reaction. Our school told us how wonderful it was, but now it's gone (except some remaining bad reviews) from cyberspace.

Now we have Everyday Math. No wonder they think there was improvement using EM. Look at where we came from.

SteveH said...

They didn't learn here.

alva said...

The world's largest shoe industry portals, shoes, nets to provide a flood of Air Jordan Shoes of information, NFL Jerseys and puma chaussures hommes line trading and other information.

mobile phone

alva said...

You can find the latest and most Footwear tide of information, including NFL Jerseys, MBT shoes, nike tn, and other related content. 
                                 China Wholesale