"Everyday Mathematics" program at grade 3 rejected by Texas

In this Education Week article, we find out that the State Board of Education in Texas turned down the 3rd grade level of Everyday Mathematics. There's a good debate here. We all know how Texas and California book-buying decisions affect the rest of the country. The boards are making decisions educators may wonder about. And the consequences can be far-reaching.
Apparently the 3rd grade edition doesn't rely heavily enough on having kids memorize the multiplication tables through 12X12. From the article, "Board member Terri Leo said the book called for students to spend too much time 'inventing algorithms'--procedures or steps for solving problems--'instead of actually doing them.'" Also questioned is whether too much emphasis is placed on the use of calculators.
So, what do you think? Third-grade teachers (and fourth, and on--math teachers for all ages), what do you think about this? Is memorization of the multiplication tables so essential that a conceptually-oriented math program should be rejected "because students are not sufficiently grounded" in memorized multiplication?
This debate runs parallel to one going on at our school. We're looking over a whole lot of texts lately, thinking about what will best serve our student population.
Anyone use Everyday Mathematics?
Anyone have a text series they love?
Anyone wonder why a state board of education can influence math teaching across the country, based on something like this?

BTW, I'm a 4th/5th grade teacher, and I'll put out front my opinion: it's more important for students to understand the meaning and application of multiplication--the concept of it, the "education for understanding" (a Project Zero term) of it. When the kids are ready, they'll learn the multiplication tables fairly quickly, if the right scaffolding of concepts, metacognitive study skills, and developmental levels are right--and these vary, kid by kid. It's like the debate over long division. You can teach it for three years, trying to jam it into the kids' heads, or ten minutes if you get everything else right.
But go ahead and disagree with me; I'm curious to see what CR2.0 people have to say on the topic.

Tags: Education+Week, Texas, mathematics

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I have been tutoring 2nd and 3rd grade students on Everyday Math techniques and have a daughter now in the 4th grade, in a school using Everyday Math.

I can appreciate the struggle. in third grade basic math facts are an important acquisition. However, this, I believe, is also when children begin forming a belief that they are "not good" at math and form math-phobias.

I believe that Everyday Math is a great method for keeping children intersted in math and for avoiding strong math-phobias. It also provides a rational for learning basic math facts (more complext algorithms are easier with basic computations memorized). Our school focuses on Everyday Math in the classroom, parents taking responsibility for drilling students on the basic facts, and the school testing and reporting on the basic math facts. This has work extreemly well for this group of students.
It sounds like you've found a good balance of conceptual work and "basics." Does the book provide a good basis, and then you add in from there?
Heading off that feeling of not being good in math is so important. I wonder why kids get math phobias? Guess we need to foster the "active mindset" that Carol Dweck promotes, but it's not as easy as it sounds...
Thanks for the reply!
I agree with you about the "by 5th grade" for sure; it seems that anywhere in the 3rd/4th range is fine. I wonder why this can't be a little more flexible, student by student... Can kids switch into memorization when they're ready over that two year period? I suppose they wouldn't be quick enough on the math tests, maybe that's it. The tail that wags the dog.
Wade,
You're right--I've never thought of that, how parents and others will say "I'm not good at math" but wouldn't say that about reading. It's fostering an entirely wrong mindset. I can hear Carol Dweck's response to that: praise kids for putting in the effort, for trying, for showing interest. Broaden the view: make it problem-solving, get kids actively involved. I think we need to reconceptualize what math "is" anyway... it's not just memorization and computation. It probably has to do with the parents themselves being taught with methods that promoted disengagement.
Thanks for the comment--
Hi Connie -

My former school where my third grade daughter attends is using Everyday Math. The program was developed nearby on the U of C campus and a few of the teachers I believe were consulted along the way. My new set of schools also uses Everyday Math. My general impression is that professional development is key to a successful implementation and also parents need to be educated about the philosophy of the program. I think many parents don't understand it because they are using their own frame of reference from when THEY were in school.

As far as fact memorization goes, my daughter is not fluent in her facts and I have to spend time with reviewing basics like that. I don't know if it's because of Everyday Math, the debatable issue of whether some instruction has been meeting her needs, or the fact that she's got a mild LD. At any rate, I don't know mind helping her with basics like this. And incidentally, she says that math is her favorite subject!!!
Hi Lucy,
I agree with you that professional development is the key to successful implementation, and also education of parents. Gosh, there's always such a lot of communicating to be done.
For me, no program is truly adequate in itself, and I don't go at all with the idea that a program should try to be "teacher proof," that is, practically automatic. I think of a good program as a launch pad from which to start, then you see how kids are doing, what they want and need more of, jump into other programs and materials, and then back around again to the launch pad, which would likely be at new place. So for me, new programs are of interest, but I never think of them as Total. I add in lots of games and exercises to teach the basics, and like a program that keeps a strong conceptual orientation--mostly because they're far more motivating and interesting to the children, also because they tend to focus on problem-solving and application of math in the real world. I like the programs that are heavily connected to internet use.
For learning the "facts," the "basics," I try to attune kids to the metacognitive side of learning. We have kids talk about various ways to learn the facts, point out that people learn things in different ways, and that part of the job of being a learner is trying a variety of methods to learn something until you find something that works for you. So kids will share things they are trying, from dancing out the tables, to singing, writing, using those cute plastic wraparound string things, those cute giant plastic tables with doors that slide open to the answers, even the old fashioned flash-cards. This way it's not "drill and kill" but share methods as a learning community.
It's great that your daughter says math is her favorite. They must be doing something right... I'd be interested in knowing what about math she likes--that would be a reflection of her vantage point on the subject; how she's approaching it, and that must at least in part be due to the way it's presented and the learning atmosphere for math.
I also like the idea of math blending into all the other subject areas. That takes a lot of thinking through, planning, and communicating... Again, so much to do!
Thanks for your comments.
As a teacher and a parent of a 4th grader I have always been amazed by board of educations "All or Nothing" philosophies, Everyday Math or Chicago Math as it is often refered to around here ,has some great benefits for kids , but it is not the total answer. If we take into account the diverse learning styles of our student populayion. I am not sure that any one curriculum is a one size fits all program. I believe that is why we have teachers.. Remember those people who know their kids and actually create differentited lessons?

My middle child thrived in Chicago Math. She loved the stories problems and the emphasis on real life solutions. My older son HATED it with a passion.. He used to finished his Everyday Math Problems quickly so he could work in a "Real Math Book. That book was the from the old more traditional series. His teacher recognized his learning style and so he was able to be successful in Math.

My youngest now in 4th grade is lucky. He has a teacher who used Everyday math but also supplements with computation praction .

Count me in for a blended approach!
Hi Kelly,

thanks for your comments--particularly valuable to know how your own children reacted to programs, and particularly valuable to see how kids are different!

Yes, I wholeheartedly agree: "I am not sure that any one curriculum is a one size fits all program. I believe that is why we have teachers.. Remember those people who know their kids and actually create differentiated lessons?"

So true.

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