>Your community passion must be commended. Yes, it is fuzzy math…to adults. When taught in its entirety, students get it. So is this about us as adults and what we know or about student achievement?
Visit What Work Clearinghouse, www.w-w-c.org and justforkids.org. See what successful schools are doing to improve student achievement. EM is being used in quite a few places.
The big problem with EM is the sprial. It makes all of us uncomfortable because it is outside of what we know. We are uncomfortable because WE have to change our way of thinking that has served us well for decades. It goes to the very heart of what we know about school. So does using the Internet, IPODs, PDAs, or the fact that children are extremely disruptive at school and even at home. It is a difficult shift for teachers, parents, and the community.
But are they not worth making a change? Mathematics is not just arithmetic, even at the kindergarten level. In kindergarten, students visit concepts in all mathematical strands: numbers and operations, geometry, algebra, data analysis and statistics, and probability. That’s real mathematics that they learn.
No, they don’t know the facts like we would like them to know them. If you look at the standardized assessments, it doesn’t seem to be a priority either. But they have strategies for performing operations mentally and/or using tools that are amazing.
Before you condemn a program, learn about it. We were ready to give up on it, too. What we realized is that this program, this type of program is not going anywhere. NCLB has ensured us that not only will spiraling programs stay, there will be more. So we decided to accept and embrace it fully, then we would decide for ourselves. The results: we made 14% growth in mathematics scores!
The more we learned, using program and the Teacher Reference Book, the more we realized we did not understand at a deeper level. We memorized information when we were in school! We have a cohort of teachers from this school earning endorsements in Middle School Mathematics. Even the Pre-K teacher is going! The classes are not about EM but about mathematical concepts and the teaching and learning of mathematics. Our grade level meeting discussions are deeper and our conversations are always peppered with questions and things we have learned.
With parent workshops, our parents are starting to learn about mathematics, not just the program. We are honest about our struggles. It sometimes difficult to understand the point of some lessons. We use the EM website, email EM for clarity and talk about it. Most of the time, it is a topic we learned by memorizing years ago and now we need to understand it conceptually.
Ask a second grader with a teacher who is fully implementing EM what it means to multiply. The depth of their explanation and the ways they can prove it are amazing.
With FULL, UNSUPPLEMENTED, and SUPPORTED implementation you will get the results you are looking for from this program. Teachers will not do well with this program without intense professional development in their first two years of use.
Take the time and really find out what this type of program does for learning. Understand it has it draw backs, but so does NCLB. For all of the problems with it, the good outways the bad in working towards a quality education for all students.