kitchen table math, the sequel: Everyday Math Bleg

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Everyday Math Bleg

Can someone point me to or send me a copy of the scope and sequence charts for 4th and 5th grade Everyday Math. I'd especially like to see how the topics line up to the chapters in each text. In particualr, I really want to know what is taught in chapters 10-12 in the 4th grade text.

Background: My son's school is starting a pilot math program for advanced 4th graders. The school currently uses Everyday Math in heterogeneously grouped classrooms. (In contrast, in reading, the students are broken up into small homogeneous groups.) Apparently, there's been some pushback by the parents of the more advanced students who are bored with the glacial pace of the previous three years of Everyday Math (blissfully unaware of the horror show that awaits them in the upper levels). This has led to an increasing number of accomodations being made for the gifted students in math with more than a few students doing ALEKS on their own. So this summer, the school apparently came to the realization that providing a homogensous class for the advanced students would limit the amount of students doing their own thing in math.

Typically, teachers are expected to cover chapters 1-9 in a school year. The thought is that the advanced math class will be able to proceed at a faster pace, compacting and skipping known sections. The extra time will be spent covering chapters 10-12 and then the class will move to the fifth level. Although no commitmenst are being made at this point, it is thought that three years of math will be able to be covered in two years of class time. A problem will arise next year in that the class will likely move into a sixth grade curriculum --this will mean moving into the sixth level of Everyday Math (which the school doesn't use in regular classrooms) or moving into the sixth level of CMP (which the district does use in the middle school) which I understand is largely a review of what students should have learned in elementary school but typically haven't (which shouldn't be a problem for advanced students).

(It's all academic for my son, I do Connecting Math Concepts with him at home and he'll complete the sixth level by next year sometime; he uses Everyday Math to practice in school what he already knows. This has another fortunate side-effect of minimizing the risk that he learns something incorrectly from Everyday Math. And, even if he learns nothing from Everyday math, it really doesn't matter. Though I am curious as to what the class is store for.)


SteveH said...

I don't understand. The whole point of EM is to keep moving, cover everything, and trust the spiral. It sounds like your school specifically doesn't cover everything. That's perhaps fine if they trade mastery for coverage, but you can't just stop after so many chapters. Some required material doesn't appear until late in the workbooks. You really can't stop early and then hope that the second pass through the spiral next year is a good place for many to get their first exposure to the material. Schools have to carefully pick and choose what material to cover. In other words, they should carefully pick and choose another curriculum.

So, they just want the advanced kids to go faster through EM? And then they end up in CMP? I suppose that's what you come up with if you don't have a clue.

My son could go faster through EM because I made sure he didn't trust the spiral. Homework had very few problems, so I had to add more. Going faster might be better for some kids, but it doesn't solve the underlying problem. If you don't get on the fast track by fourth grade, you're screwed.

Then you run into the CMP roadblock. They create the problem in the first place and then allow kids to get there faster. Our middle school finally (!) got rid of CMP, so there is now no curriculum gap going into high school, but it's still sink or swim going from EM to a real algebra course. Some kids make it, so it can't be a school problem, right?

TurbineGuy said...

Not sure what you were looking for, but my crappy district has a bunch of stuff here.

TurbineGuy said...

I am discovering one really big hazard to EM.

They force the students to learn and practice alternate algorithms, which then get all muddled up in their minds, and leads them to mix and match methods.

Yesterday my 4th grader learned "Partial Differences". Today when using the standard algorithm, she got all mixed up, even though she had it mastered two days ago.

I was half tempted to have her do all the work yesterday with the standard algorithm and write a note to the school telling them to FO.

Sorry... a little bit frustrated.

VickyS said...

Ken, these charts used to be available on the U of Chicago Everyday Math website, but no more. I think (not sure) that they still come with the teacher's editions. If I recall, they showed the multiple individual strands, topics within the strands, and the level of proficiency expected on that topic level for that grade. E.g., a topic could span several grade levels and be tagged "developing" at one grade level and maybe "proficient" at a grade level or 2 higher. In this way, the spiral was reflected. I may have printed these out at some point. If I find them, I'll get back to this thread.

And hey Rory, wait until your kid gets to the Egyptian method of multiplication (grade 5).

We actually had a bonfire in the back yard at the end of 5th grade and burned up the 5th grade EM book. No kidding. My son's idea. He even dug the pit.

concernedCTparent said...

I was half tempted to have her do all the work yesterday with the standard algorithm and write a note to the school telling them to FO.

That's pretty much what I did. I pointed out some passage in the EM literature that stressed how EM is designed to give the students options or some such, and said that I was opting for my child to use standard algorithms. Period.

KDeRosa said...

One of the argumenst I made in our meeting was that since EM used a spiral and these were all smart kids who were succeeding in EM, why not just cut out one of the spirals. Compare grade four to grade five and only teach the material in grade fout which doesn't get covered again in grade five. I got the "that sounds like a good idea" approval, but I'm sure it won't get done.

So, they just want the advanced kids to go faster through EM? And then they end up in CMP?

That's exactly right. I also made the argument that a problem with the traditional curriculum was surely that many kids still failed to learn math for whatever reason, but these kids at the top of the class are not those kids, so why not use the traditional curriculum with these kids?

Rory, thanks for those standards. Not quite what I was looking for, but closer than what I have.

VivkyS, I know the charts were once availabel for an older edition at UoC, but I've never seen them for the latest edition. And, yes, they are ridiculously wishy washy about what is taught and the mastery level.

VickyS said...

Ken, here's a chart of grade specific goals, does that help?

Our elementary school had advanced math sections in grades 4, 5 and 6. Imagine my surprise when I found out this was how it worked: Finish the grade level EM book by April (including even more work in the some EM problem book that the other classes didn't have to use!). Do extra stuff for the last 2 months of school. Then next year they started the grade level book for the next year (just like the rest of the kids), raced through it, and had more enrichment. The upshot: no acceleration at all, and more work.

Only in the last two months of 6th grade did they race ahead to prepare for junior high--the teacher tried hard to give them sufficient pre-algebra so they could place into algebra as 7th graders. Those last two months were brutal. What a goofy way to do it.

VickyS said...

In perusing the EM website I found the 2009 EM Catalog. Now I know where our tax money is going! Check out that meaty 18 MB of stuff you can buy. I want that 4th grade basic classroom manipulative kit for $594! Or a building subscription to the eSuite teacher pack for $2,760! Oh but I'm sure the price we'll pay really is lower because we got a good deal since we committed for 5-7 years...and maybe they threw in a discount on all the professional development we'll need.

Doug Sundseth said...

"I was half tempted to have her do all the work yesterday with the standard algorithm and write a note to the school telling them to FO."

'Dear [teacher]:

'After examination of the suggested methods for today's assignment, we have determined that they do not support our child's unique learning style. In future, given the learning styles information we now have about our child, we will use standard algorithms for all remaining work.

'Thank you for supporting [child]'s specific style of learning.'

There's no reason not to treat their rhetoric as if they actually mean it when it's to your advantage -- even when it's idiotic. Heck, maybe especially when it's idiotic.

KathyIggy said...

That letter is a great idea. I need to put my law degree to work to come up with one that borrows all their buzz words.

The "Family Letter" we just received for Unit 2 states, "Fortunately, we are no longer restricted to paper-and-pencil methods of computation" and goes on to state "Many of us were taught that there is just one way to do computations...We may not have realized that there are other ways of subtracting numbers." It goes on to show column addition, partial-differences subtraction, and partial sums addition.

This was distributed along with a study link where the student had to find 10 examples of numbers in their house. My 4th grader had her 4 year old sister dictate this one to her.

I don't think any of my kids have ever made it into Chapter 10 in any year of EM--the farthest I can recall is maybe Chapter 8 and at the end of the year they start speeding up frantically.

KDeRosa said...

I saw those, Vicky. Unfortunately they are too vague and don't really give the sequence nor the relevant chapters when the topics are taught.

SteveH said...

" why not use the traditional curriculum with these kids?"

Because they don't want to admit that EM is worse (for anyone) than a traditional approach. They believe that EM is better. (understanding, critical thinking, blah, blah, blah) That's probably why they might consider allowing some kids to go faster. However, the raison d'etre of EM is full inclusion and spiraling allows that to happen. Kids go at their own pace and everyone "trusts the spiral". If kids fail, it's their own fault because the spiral works. By definition.

As soon as you start tracking, however, everything changes. With homogeneous groupings, you can push more and not trust the spiral. You don't have to continually hop off to a new topic. I can't imagine a faster pace through the EM spiral. That's insane.

I remember my discussion about EM versus Singapore Math at my son's old private school with the head of curriculum. She realized that Singapore Math was more rigorous and jumped around less, but she would never admit that. She just said that EM was "better for our mix of students."

If you are going to track students, then there is no reason to stick with EM. Use Singapore Math. They can't pigeonhole Singapore Math, but they will find some excuse to reject it.

But this doesn't solve the problem. It's like some TAG programs. They let kids escape, but what about all of those who could escape if they are given a chance. The down-side of tracking (and I'm not saying I'm against tracking in K-6) is that it allows schools to ignore the real problem - Everyday Math.

Jo Anne C said...


I know a mom in my district who told her son's teacher that he would ONLY be using the standard algorithms. The multi-method approach of EM was confusing her child as well. Approaching the teacher seemed to work for her.

If you insist that the methods they are using are causing your child confusion, where he had mastered the problems before, they may be likely to heed your request.

I had taught my son the standard ways to write his letters and numbers before kindergarten. The kindergarten teachers, however, had opted to use a new way for children to form their 5's and 3's, and of course it was convoluted and caused my son to start writing the numbers 3 and 5 backwards. I went to the teacher and told her my son had no trouble with his numbers until the school started on him with their new convoluted approach. I told my son to ignore what the teacher told him and to continue to do it as I had showed him.

My son stopped having problems after those discussions. A decent teacher will hopefully do no harm when faced with the hard facts.