kitchen table math, the sequel: CSMP

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

CSMP

I think our district used this curriculum for a time. I assume this is the same one.

A friend of mine told me that his child had CSMP in 2nd grade. Six students in the class went on to take BC calculus in high school, a very high proportion. (A couple of years ago we had 12 students taking BC calculus out of a class of perhaps 150. In other years I believe we've had as many as 20 students in BC.) There were no more than 23 students altogether in the class, which was not tracked.

13 comments:

Forty-two said...

I'm planning on incorporating elements of CSMP when hs'ing my kids (along with Miquon, Singapore Challenging Word Problems, and MEP, which is a free British program that is based on Hungarian math).

It seems to be an interesting mix between the original New Math and the 'new' new math. It is very much focused on truly understanding math and exploring various ways to arrive at the answer. It places a strong emphasis on set theory (through its "languages of strings and arrows") and exploring other bases to better understand place value (through the Papy minicomputer), both of which are hallmarks of New Math. It is spiral and a constructivist program - it is very much "trust the spiral" and not teaching to mastery.

I think it is what Everyday Math wants to be: progressive philosophy, teaching for mathematical understanding, but CSMP has the serious math content needed to challenge top students. From what I've read, CSMP was most successful g/t programs.

Like EM, CSMP really *needs* a knowledgeable teacher. And just like EM, CSMP suffered from the lack of knowledgeable teachers - I found a blog entry by a former student just dripping with hatred for CSMP, even 25 years later.

SteveH said...

"Six students in the class went on to take BC calculus in high school, a very high proportion."

Wow! I'm convinced. It must be time to shut down KTM. I guess I just didn't understand the difference between math and arithmetic.

Ari said...

"It is spiral and a constructivist program - it is very much "trust the spiral" and not teaching to mastery."

IOW everything that doesn't work. And don't forget the calculators and cooperative learning!

Judy Jacob said...

I have been following your blog for sometime... though this is my first comment here.

Thought would drop by and send you this site for your opinion before I start using it with my class.

SteveH said...

"you this site for your opinion"

I don't like how I have to search to find anything that would fit my needs. It's not clear what's in the flashcards and what level they are at. The only way to review the cards is to go through them one by one and answer the questions. If you are covering specific material, then you should provide students with carefully selected links.

I'm also not a big fan of the format. it's too slow. I think it would be better to print out (if you can) the good ones and just use paper. In fact, I just tried a few more sets and found it quite annoying.

If you are having kids create flashcards on the site as a way to learn math, then I think it's very inefficient. You won't have time for other important topics.

Lsquared said...

Thanks for sharing this site--it looks like there's a lot of cool ideas in this! (I really like the arrow pictures)

Nikita said...

I used chunks of the CSMP materials with my two children while we were homeschooling. They both really enjoyed the "strings" lessons, which are basically games set up using venn diagrams, ie, they are logic puzzles. I would put the strings games in the same category as commercial games like Set and Logix (both of which we own and enjoy too).

We also used the arrow games and the Papy minicomputer a little bit, which are both kind of fun ways of doing lots of mental arithmetic. My son, who was naturally very agile at mental arithmetic, really enjoyed that. My daughter, who needed to be taught the logic of mental arithmetic first, found it all unnecessarily cumbersome.

Neither of my kids (who are very different in natural abilities and personality, btw) felt like they were learning real math, and I have to say that the ideas didn't really transfer to better arithmetic skills. It was also pretty hard to teach because of the spiraling - we couldn't skip around very easily, and I hated the fact that it was so scripted.

Both of my kids were much more successful at moving ahead with traditional arithmetic concepts when we switched to using Singapore Math almost exclusively, supplemented with drills from Spirit of Math and Kumon. It seems that games and fun approaches simply don't hold a candle to good old-fashioned step-by-step teaching and lots of practice. That was a good lesson for an idealistic homeschooler, and I'm glad I learned it pretty early on in their homeschooling lives. With Singapore, they enjoyed the success of mastering challenging work that looked like real math, and not a game.

I still think the CSMP approach is interesting, in that it taught me as an adult to see some patterns in arithmetic that I had never noticed before. But for teaching children, CSMP is cumbersome and, just like Miquon, I believe it actually makes it harder for kids to learn the arithmetic because what they are being taught is one or two steps removed from the actual arithmetic content - ie, the arithmetic is hidden inside the abstractions of language and symbols that are not those used in standard math.

I think CSMP has been successful in gifted classrooms because those are kids that are going to grab those concepts intuitively, and who will also grab the traditional algorithms quite easily without needing a lot of reteaching. In other words, if children who are taught using CSMP are later on successful in higher math classes, I would guess that those kids would have been successful anyway and I wouldn't attribute their success to CSMP.

Nikita

RMD said...

Nikita said: " I would guess that those kids would have been successful anyway and I wouldn't attribute their success to CSMP."

This got me thinking . . . the "acid test" for a curriculum should be whether it works with lower performers, and not gifted kids. Gifted kids will learn even in environments with poor teaching. They may not learn as much as they would have otherwise, but they'll still survive bad teaching.

Catherine Johnson said...

Wow! I'm convinced. It must be time to shut down KTM. I guess I just didn't understand the difference between math and arithmetic.

lollll....

My friend also said CSMP drove parents nuts because they couldn't understand it & couldn't teach it.

(I'm pretty sure he said 'couldn't teach it' as well as 'couldn't understand it.')

Catherine Johnson said...

The class definitely wasn't gifted ---- it was a regular, heterogeneous class.

otoh, this is a high-SES community, and most or all of the kids would have had educated parents who were paying attention, trying to help with homework, etc.

In other words, I would imagine a second grade class here would be the ideal environment to teach CSMP to a mixed group.

kcab said...

Gifted kids will learn even in environments with poor teaching. They may not learn as much as they would have otherwise, but they'll still survive bad teaching.
Couldn't let this pass - this is not true. GT kids may learn the material anyway, but poor teaching is a good way to turn them off from school altogether.

I thought the CSMP material looked interesting, I hadn't previously seen it. The bit I saw looked geared toward conceptual understanding, which I think would make it lovely for GT kids. Seems you'd need to provide a bridge to the standard maths presentation too though.

Crimson Wife said...

For the longest time, I'd gotten CSMP confused with the UCSMP aka "Every Day Math" and just dismissed the positive information I'd heard about it. But today a friend whose opinion about math I value highly set the record straight.

CSMP actually looks really interesting for math enrichment for my DD. I'm happy with Singapore as our main curriculum but I think some of the CSMP lessons might make a great supplement.

Catherine Johnson said...

I saw this friend last night again. He said that CSMP taught arithmetic via the binomial theorem.