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Everyday Mathematics

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Everyday Mathematics
Teaching Math to Young Children
Spring 2010
Ashley Dismukes

I feel that this quote from Richard Wertheimer defines mathematics as well as describes how the majority of people view the subject, “Mathematics, the science studied and practiced by mathematicians, is a language that quantifies the world around us. In its applied form, it is used by workers in most walks of life. Unfortunately, most people see mathematics as cold, abstract, difficult and beyond their reach” (Post Gazette, 2002). Due to these feelings educators, administrators, and researchers are constantly working to develop new and improved ways to teach students mathematics. As a result there are many theories and curriculum sets available; one being Everyday Mathematics.
When one enters the teaching field they will become acutely aware of just how many curriculums are available to teach each subject. The school where you are employed will most likely have adopted a curriculum that they feel best suits their needs and the needs of their students. As a teacher it will be your responsibility to teach to and with the curriculum. Everyday Mathematics is a curriculum that is used across the country (Wright Group, 2010) with more than 3 million students. It is “a rigorous PreK-6 curriculum” (Wright Group, 2010) that is “scientifically research-based and proven to build students’ mathematical knowledge from the basics to higher-order thinking and critical problem solving” (Wright Group, 2010). The Everyday Mathematics program is a result of “20 years of research and development and was developed by the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project in conjunction with feedback from education specialists, administrators, and classroom teachers” (Wright Group, 2010). The goal of Everyday Mathematics is to “enable children in elementary grades to learn more mathematical content and become life-long mathematical thinkers” (Wright Group, 2010). McGraw- Hill partnered with the Wright Group and released a third edition in 2007 of the Everyday Mathematics curriculum with additional support and technology (Wright Group, 2010); it contains the following components: * A three-part lesson plan that focuses on lesson objectives, provides ongoing practice for students, and addresses individual student needs for a variety of populations. * Getting Started Activities with a daily math message used as a lesson opener; Mental Math and Reflexes offer mental-math opportunities. * Student Math Journals to facilitate Individual, Small Group, and Partner activities * Math Boxes containing short problems to practice and refine understanding of mathematical concepts. * Games that provide fact practice alternatives to worksheets and pencil and paper drills * Home Links or Study Links for home study. * Cross-curricular, theme-based activities that can be woven throughout the year * Lessons that allow students to investigate and discover mathematics by incorporating manipulative-based, hands-on group activities.
Everyday Mathematics is centered on the idea of “spiraling” and seven mathematical strands. “Spiraling” can be defined as a curriculum that begins with the assumption that children are not always ready to learn something. A spiral curriculum tries to expose students to a wide varies of ideas over and over again, and mastery is not required before the introduction of new topics. Everyday Mathematics was designed to take advantage of the spacing effect…”(Braams, 2003). It relies on the notion that regular reinforcement of important skills is necessary, emphasizing that skills should appear multiple times and throughout a course of study. The key principle in regards to spiraling and distributed practice is that mastery and fluency in basic skills are goals that should be achieved long after they are first introduced (Braams, 2003).
The seven strands that Everyday Mathematics focuses on are: * Algebra and Uses of Variables * Data and Chance * Geometry and Spatial Sense * Measures and Measurement * Numeration and Order * Patterns, Functions, and Sequences * Operations * Reference Frames
There is some opposition to this curriculum, as there is with any curriculum. The spiral curriculum, where mastery is not required, goes against one’s own experience of learning math. Many,therefore, do not see the validity of it. They feel more comfortable seeing an obvious progression of skill build-up (WikEd, 2010).
In conclusion I feel that Everyday Mathematics is a strong curriculum that approaches educating students in a “unique” and “new” manner that is effective. The old saying “if something isn’t broke, don’t fix it” does not ring true in this case. There are many different ways that students can learn. Everyday Mathematics is a revamped system that has proven itself in the recent years as an effective way to teach math.

References
About Everyday Mathematics: Research & Development/Wright Group. (2003) http://everydaymath.uchicago.edu/about.shtml#scope. Retrieved April 18, 2010.
Bas, Braams. (2003) Spiraling Through UCSMP Everyday Mathematics. http://www.nychold.com/em-spiral.html. Retrieved April 19, 2010.
Wertheimer, Richard. (2002) Forum: Making It All Add Up. http://www.post-gazette.com/forum/comm/20021110edwert1110p3.asp. Retrieved April 18, 2010
.

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