Program demonstrates more than one way to solve a math problem
New math. Scary words for parents raised on long division and memorization of times tables. Even educator Paige Bergin, who had spent two years teaching fifth-grade math out of a traditional textbook, wasn’t so sure when she was introduced to a new program 13 years ago.
So Bergin started researching the algorithms taught in Everyday Mathematics¬Æ from McGraw-Hill and learned two important things. This so-called “new math” wasn’t actually new.
“Lattice multiplication had existed for hundreds of years” Bergin says. “It taught kids more than one way to solve math problems.”
Everyday Mathematics, developed by the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project, presents different algorithms to solve problems as it reinforces abstract concepts through real-world applications. It revisits content over time and also provides activities for differentiation.
“Everyday Mathematics really brought to light the process and not just the end result” Bergin says. “I could show one way to solve a problem and reach some students, and five minutes later show another way and get different kids understanding different algorithms.”
Today Bergin is an instructional coach for Union Public Schools in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Everyday Mathematics is the primary math resource in 14 elementary schools. It was adopted districtwide in 2003, when it was implemented in grades K through 3 before expanding to fourth and fifth the following year.
Unified approach to math
Immediately before implementing the program, each elementary school could select its own math textbook. But times were changing in the district that now has eight Title I elementary schools and a growing ELL population. “We were noticing a huge increase in mobility throughout our district, which has a 28-square-mile boundary” Bergin says. “When we adopted Everyday Mathematics, it came out of wanting to see test scores improve, of course, and also to ensure that if a student moved from one area of our district to another, they could pick up relatively easily where they left off in math.”
Every seven years the district goes through a math adoption process, and Everyday Mathematics has been readopted every time.
“From the beginning, the district liked the alternative algorithms, the open-endedness, the problem-solving and games” Bergin says. “Everyday Mathematics helped me, as a teacher, give kids options. I didn’t want them to get hung up with having to be an expert in a certain algorithm. I just wanted to know if they could do these types of math problems. It got them thinking, and I loved the spiraling because the concepts come back.”
Teachers helping teachers
Bergin says McGraw-Hill Education’s continued support, as well as its approach to training, sets it apart. “People who use the program are the ones to train you and teach you how to play the games, use the assessments, understand the practicality of the program” she says.
And the curriculum remains current. “It’s gone through some really big changes, not only in the program, but in the teacher-friendliness of the teacher guide and materials. The online portion has changed incredibly, adding what kids can do at home and what teachers can do from home without taking all their resources with them.
“Our kids are much better problem-solvers than they were before” Bergin says. “They have better number sense than they had a long time ago.”
For more information, visit www.everydaymath.com