kitchen table math, the sequel: Everyday Math, an implementation

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Everyday Math, an implementation

Saint Paul public schools use Everyday Math for their curriculum in all elementary schools, regardless of type of school, including "city wide", magnets, or any flavor of "type" attached, be they self-designated Montessori, Core Knowledge, IB, or any other supposed program. I've been trying to understand how Everyday Math is implemented.

Recently, I was able to find a great number of resources on the Saint Paul public web site, including standards, frameworks, tools, curriculum planners, worksheets and other items that the district uses to support its teachers, coaches, admins with EM. I found these illuminating, if not encouraging. Perhaps they will enlighten others whose schools use Everyday Math as well.

Here is the K-6 Framework document for Mathematics. It sets out the overarching vision the district has and lists the standards they say they implement. It's a confusing document, poorly organized. I've excerpted some of it below, but to get a feel for it, it's best to read it.

The framework doc mentions that SPPS has been working with an organization called Institute for Learning, IFL, at the University of Pittsburgh. They help with the planning and execution of the curriculum. (anyone have an opinion of IFL?) The framework says "These principles guide not only administrative leadership, but curriculum, instruction, and assessment in an authentic standards-based model." Some of the IFL's nine principles of learning are excerpted below, mostly the lowlights. (I love how they service-marked one of them--AccountableTalkSM!

1. Organizing for Effort
An effort-based school replaces the assumption that aptitude determines what and how much students learn with the assumption that sustained and directed effort can yield high achievement for all students. Everything is organized to evoke and support this effort, to send the message that effort is expected and that tough problems yield to sustained work. High minimum standards are set and assessments are geared to the standards.All students are taught a rigorous curriculum, matched to the standards, along with as much time and expert instruction as they need to meet or exceed expectations.


5. Academic Rigor in a Thinking Curriculum
Thinking and problem solving will be the "new basics" of the 21st century. But the common idea that we can teach thinking without a solid foundation of knowledge must be abandoned. So must the idea that we can teach knowledge without engaging students in thinking. Knowledge and thinking are intimately joined. This implies a curriculum organized around major concepts that students are expected to know deeply. Teaching must engage students in active reasoning about these concepts. In every subject, at every grade level, instruction and learning must include commitment to a knowledge core, high thinking demand, and active use of knowledge.

Commitment to a Knowledge Core
�� An articulated curriculum that avoids needless repetition and progressively deepens understanding of core concepts.
�� Curriculum and instruction organized around major concepts.
�� Teaching and assessment focus on mastery of core concepts.
High Thinking Demand
�� Students expected to raise questions, to solve problems, to reason.
�� Challenging assignments in every subject.
�� Extended projects.
�� Explanations and justification expected.
�� Reflection on learning strategies.
Active Use of Knowledge
�� Synthesize several sources of information
�� Test understanding by applying and discussingconcepts.
�� Apply prior knowledge.
�� Interpret texts and construct solutions.

6. Accountable TalkSM
Talking with others about ideas and work is fundamental to learning. But not all talk sustains learning. For classroom talk to promote learning it must be accountable to the learning community, to accurate and appropriate knowledge, and to rigorous thinking.Accountable TalkSM seriously responds to and further develops what others in the group have said. It puts forth and demands knowledge that is accurate and relevant to the issue under discussion. Accountable TalkSM uses evidence appropriate to the discipline (e.g., proofs in mathematics, datafrom investigations in science, textual details in literature, documentary sources in history) and follows established norms of good reasoning.Teachers should intentionally create
the norms and skills of Accountable TalkSM in their classrooms.

Accountability to the Learning Community
�� Students actively participate in classroom talk.
�� Listen attentively.
�� Elaborate and build on each other's ideas.
�� Work to clarify or expand a proposition.
Accountability to Knowledge
�� Specific and accurate knowledge.
�� Appropriate evidence for claims and arguments.
�� Commitment to getting it right.
Accountability to Rigorous Thinking
�� Synthesize several sources of information.
�� Construct explanations and test understanding ofconcepts.
�� Formulate conjectures and hypotheses.
�� Employ generally accepted standards of reasoning.
�� Challenge the quality of evidence and reasoning.

7. Socializing Intelligence
Intelligence is much more than an innate ability to think quickly and stockpile bits of knowledge. Intelligence is a set of problem-solving and reasoning capabilities along with the habits of mind that lead one to use those capabilities regularly. Intelligence is equally a set of beliefs about one's right and obligation to understand and make sense of the world, and one's capacity to figure things out over time. Intelligent habits of mind are learned through the daily expectations placed on the learner. By calling on students to use the skills of intelligent thinking—and by holding them responsible for doing so—educators can "teach" intelligence. This is what teachers normally do with students they expect much from; it should be standard practice with all students.
�� I have the right and obligation to understand and make things work.
�� Problems can be analyzed and I am capable of that analysis.
�� A toolkit of problem-analysis skills (meta-cognitive strategies) and good intuition about when to use them.
�� Knowing how to ask questions, seek help, and get enough information to solve problems.


Eventually, they do get to the actual standards. Leaving aside whether NCTM or Minnesota standards are any good for now, you can read the standards, and then read what the framework says they need to do for instruction, and you'll see that it never says anything that would actually meet the standard.

Here's an example: For First Grade, the standard says (some pieces left out):

Teachers will:
�� Establish daily 60 minutes—or more—mathematics lessons.
�� Spend 35–40 minutes teaching Part 1 of the lesson,15–20 minutes on Part 2 (the practice and review), and 5 minutes on the closing.
�� Ensure that all students receive Part 1 of the lesson (no pull-outs).
�� Teach math to a heterogeneous group of students. Ability grouping is not recommended for Part 1 of the lesson.
�� Provide Flexible Group Lessons/Activities daily.
During Part 2, at least one or two flexible group lessons that are 5–7 minutes in length,are offered to a small group of students needing extra time/practice to learn an expected Secure skill/standard. (Pull-outs for support services could occur during Part 2 of the lesson.)

Provide students needing enrichment—in pairs or in a small group—activities to extend,enhance,and enrich their math learning, during all of Part 2. These activities must support the learning goals of the topic or strand of the current Everyday Math unit. If you determine they are demonstrating proficiency on the skill taught during Part 1, they may be excused from that as well. (Pullouts for support services could occur during Part 1 or 2 of the lesson.)
�� Teach, in sequence, all lessons in both Teacher Guides of Everyday Math,covering four to five lessons per week.
(Follow the pacing guide of the curriculum.)
�� Use the Everyday Math Games as part of the lesson, part of flexible groups, part of
homework, or at other review times. Students should play the games at school, up to four or five times per week.
�� Have students write their mathematical thinking/processes used to reach a solution, at least two times a week.
�� Create a classroom environment that recognizes and supports the strengths and abilities of diverse learners.
�� With students, create ongoing class charts, including vocabulary aids/graphic organizers.
�� Read Content Highlights at the beginning of each unit to support deeper mathematical knowledge and instruction.
�� Regularly analyze student work with their colleagues.
�� Provide multiple ways of presenting mathematical concepts.

�� Create a classroom environment where students take central roles in the math-talk
learning community.
This includes:
1) students listening in order to understand each other's thinking;
2) students reasoning, defending,and proving their math concepts to one another;
3) students using thelanguage of mathematics in order to engage in Math-Talk/Accountable Talk; (Refer to Principles of Learning #6.)

Read the rest of the document for more. Remember, those were for FIRST GRADE.

Other documents that shed light on how the district operates:

The Math Coaching Vision document is here. This appears to be how math coaches create accountability, at least at their quarterly coaching meetings.

Here is a document explaining what you would be seeing if you visited a District Model Classroom teaching Everyday Math.

This document is called Everyday Math Instruction Evidence . It lists standards and benchmarks of what is supposed to be happening in a classroom during instruction, presumably so the teacher or teacher evaluator can determine if such elements are occurring.

Here are some of the things they are looking for :
a. Creates a rich math classroom environment
- Number Line, Number Grid posted and used
- Student generated charts are available
- Word Wall is available for student use
- Math Literature is read by teacher to class and available to students
b. Provides Part 1, Part 2 and a Closing, including pacing
- All students participate in Part 1
- Students are placed in appropriate flexible groups, for reteaching and for enrichment
- A closing includes students sharing what they learned and/or what still confuses them
- The pacing expectations are closely followed
c. Uses open ended questions - Accountable Talk
- Encourages critical mathematical thinking
- Students use reasoning, defending, and proving skills
- Students use the language of mathematics
- Students and teacher are questioners
- Students take responsibility for their learning

Read the document for more.


concernedCTparent said...

"If you determine they are demonstrating proficiency on the skill taught during Part 1, they may be excused from that as well."

This is typical. For all the talk about differentiation and meeting the needs of each child, it boils down to this. Those who "demonstrate proficiency" must wait for everyone else to catch up. This is terribly frustrating for children who learn things quickly, walk in the classroom doors with foundational knowledge, or with advanced math ability. They will be excused, which in the case of my son meant running errands or helping another student out (second grade). Differentiation seems to only run in one direction.

SteveH said...

"Institute for Learning, IFL, at the University of Pittsburgh."

Ugh. They were the ones who pushed the NSRE (New Standards Reference Examinations) in our state. Now that NSRE is gone, I haven't been following what they've been up to.

... Just checked. Still the same. Still have the misleading "Principles of Learning" and "The Learning Walk" (sm).

They also still have this after all of these years: "Learning as Apprenticeship"

"For many centuries most people learned by working alongside an expert who modeled skilled practice and guided novices as they created authentic products or performances for interested and critical audiences."

In the education world, there is apparently little connection between what you say and what you do. By the way, what is an "authentic product"?

Education is a very big market. You can make some serious money if you have a good spiel.

SteveH said...

It's all repackaged NSRE nonsense. It all screams low expectations. It says nothing about what actually goes on in class. Teachers will continue to do what they do (some good, some bad), and kids will still not know their times table.

All this talk.

All this effort.

All this money.

Few results.

This is a top-down solution to a problem that screams for a bottom-up approach.

Anonymous said...

I think that these instructional frameworks exist in many states (like Georgia for example) and they can differ dramatically from the math content mandated by the state standards and likely tested on in some sort of end of course achievement test. Textbooks are picked out and lesson plans are modeled around inquiry frameworks instead of teaching, with examples, the math content on the state standards.

When this mismatch between the curriculum as implemented and the standards shows up in low achievement test scores, the state can then claim it's because of the rigor of the standards. The Fordham rankings of the quality of a state's standards then end up being a shield against actually achieving quality instruction.

The frameworks are in effect a stealth curriculum.

SteveH said...

"The frameworks are in effect a stealth curriculum."

Many of the frameworks I've seen (including our state) are very general and use meaningless words like "investigate". They are a waste of time.

However, now that our state is part of the NECAP testing group of states, they have gotten more specific. I can actually go online and see some sample test questions for different grade levels. Nothing like cutting through the crap and getting down to reality.

When I talk about a bottom-up approach, I mean looking at the actual state test questions and raw test scores to see exactly what skills and knowledge are required. Then you check to see if the teachers are covering the material and ensuring mastery. For some unknown reason, many educators think that this approach is equivalent to teaching to the test. Apparently, they think that education is some mysterious process that can't be quantified in any way, shape, or form. AND, apparently they think that doing poorly on this test is OK because it's not "authentic". I'm not talking about traditional math here. I'm talking about just the sort of things that educators love. Actually, the problem is not testing because most all teachers give test and quizzes in their classrooms. So, the problem must be that they don't like accoutability. I can completely understand that. I would hate to be a fifth grade teacher and be accountable for the failings (of any sort) that came before.

But that doesn't mean you should blame the test or say that some other sort of authentic evaluation is better. Fifth grade teachers should be yelling and screaming that these tests are easy. Just give them students who have passed the previous simple tests.

This is from the third grade state sample math test:

"Charlie had 15 pencils. Then he gave 8 pencils to Wendy. How many pencils does Charlie have now?

7, 9, 13, or 23?"

Don't tell me that teachers think this is not authentic. In fact, it's too simple.

Here's another:

"Look at these numbers.

175 178 172 170

Which number is greatest? Show your work or explain how you know."

How difficult is it to make sure that kids know how to solve these problems?

You don't need any sort of thing like "Accountable Talk" (sm). You need to cut through all of the crap and get to the real issues.

Why are kids going to the next grade without mastering these really, really simple skills? If you think that holding these kids back causes problems, what about the problems of passing them along? What about the problems it causes to all of the kids who have mastered the material. What about the kids who should have mastered the material versus those kids who truly have learning disabilities. Look at the actual questions and explain whether each child is capable of learning these skills and knowledge in 6+ hours a day and 180 days a year.

This isn't Singapore Math or Saxon Math. These are their questions, grade-selected and calibrated by real teachers. On top of the easy state test questions, the cut-off proficiency is very low.

I tried once to see how the NECAP raw test scores are translated into the proficiency index scale the state uses. I should try again, but if I recall correctly, it's all converted to a scale that goes from 0 to 80, with 40 being the proficiency cutoff point. The raw percent correct data (horrible results on a simple test) is transformed into a proficiency scale where the numbers for many schools are in the 90's. Nothing like a little bit of math to convert low raw score percents into high proficiency cut-off percents.

Nobody wants to answer basic questions, like why is a child in third grade that can't solve 15 - 8? Why is it better for this child and why is it better for all of the others?

Anonymous said...

Steve H-

Have you read Fordham's February 19, 2009 report The Accountability Illusion?

It makes the point you are making that the actual results looking at raw data show that the pass rates are frequently based on low numbers of correct responses being held to constitute "passing"?

How strong are your state math standards according to Fordham's 1998 and 2005 reports?

Anonymous said...

** Problems can be analyzed and I am capable of that analysis.I'm glad to see they are going to put less emphasis on "guess and check". ;)


SteveH said...

"How strong are your state math standards according to Fordham's 1998 and 2005 reports?"


"Weighted Score: 0.67 Final Grade: F
2000 Grade: F
1998 Grade: F"

I mentioned on another thread that I was at a gathering last night of the top educators in our state. One teacher of teachers couldn't seem to help herself when she was talking about all of the good things that are happening in our state. She said other states are coming to our state to see how things are done.

I didn't say a word. I'm not stupid.

Anonymous said...

What do Administrators Want???
Mrs. W says Professionalism.

I'm the teacher who wasn't reappointed. I did not want to teach CPM or Everyday Math. Is it unprofessional to stand up for what you believe in? I guess it is. If you go against them they will get rid of you. They do what they do.

I do what I think is right. The kid in the next classroom is happy to teach the fuzzy math and the teacher, the one everyone on this blog professes to want, loses the job. Nobody stands up for the teacher when Mrs. W says "professionalism". Isn't professionalism doing what is best based on professional opinion. The only thing that matters is AP testing and the state mandated NCLB testing. The AP teacher only wants the kids who are the superstars and the rest of the kids will get the fuzzy math program designed to teach to the lowest level kids.

Get the book by Siegfried Engelmann. Teach your kids to be "gifted" by teaching them to read and do math before kindergarten, otherwise, they will just languish at the bottom.

My kid won't be there with them. I'm teaching her myself, along with Singapore Math books, Kumon, Aloha Abacus and anything else this blog can tell me about.

SteveH said...

"...the pass rates are frequently based on low numbers of correct responses being held to constitute 'passing'"

Didn't we look at that once for the NY Regents math test? If you count all of the really, really, really easy questions and then add in a certain percent correct for randomly guessing on the rest of the questions, you could pass.

SteveH said...

"Teach your kids to be 'gifted' by teaching them to read and do math before kindergarten, otherwise, they will just languish at the bottom."

Perhaps we haven't mentioned this enough at KTM for those who pass through and want advice. This is what my wife and I did. Actually, it was natural because our son is such a sponge for knowledge, but we did talk about making sure he was always ahead of the class. This is particularly important for math. If they miss the skills in K-6, they will get on the math track to nowhere.

linsee said...

Ah yes, the Institute for Learning. The go-to-google name you need to know is Lauren Resnick, who was, as Zig Engelmann fans here will likely remember, a principal in one of the also-ran programs in Project Follow Through. Still preaching the same failed edutheology.

The ILF somehow got its hooks into the Denver school district when a new superintendent, Jerry Wartgow (who came from the community college system) took over. The district adopted an ILF-designed reading curriculum woefully unsuited to its majority-Hispanic population and one or another of the stupid math curriculums we read about here all the time. Poor Wartgow, a great guy, was doomed from the day he let them in the door. His successor, Michael Bennet, a very smart guy and a good administrator who came in with no background in education (now a Colorado senator), unwisely stuck with the mess Wartgow left him. And Bennet's replacement doesn't need any help doing dumb stuff. He told my former editor in Denver, "I'll take a great teacher with a mediocre curriculum any day over a mediocre teacher with a great curriculum." Yeah, but when most of your teachers are mediocre -- at best -- you'd better make sure the curriculum is great. They made sure it was awful.