Well, yes, but, Dept.

From Madison, Wisconsin comes this report about yet another parent math night, this time to introduce parents to the new math curriculum Bridges in Mathematics.  The math night consisted of math games that were actually used as part of the new curriculum so that the kids could guide their parents through them

Emerson teachers were on hand to speak with parents about the lessons and provide guidance as needed. Maria Cavicchio, a kindergarten teacher at Emerson, said students build on concepts taught in games like Spill Five Beans throughout the year. Although Hannah used the game to learn about number recognition, number writing and counting, the game also teaches the fundamentals of addition, subtraction and probability. “They do these sorts of games and they learn (the concepts,)” she said. “It’s not rote memorization, students really like (the activities) and learning is more meaningful.”

Yes, God forbid anyone memorize anything; that would be rote and would eclipse any “understanding”. Because math is about learning to problem solve (as opposed to learning how to solve problems–sorry for the digression but I still fail to understand how problem solve became an infinitive verb with a life of its own) and of course “explain your answer.”  Everyone knows if you can’t explain your answer, you lack understanding. I mean everyone:

“(Bridges) focuses on developing the students’ understanding of math concepts,” Davis said. “It is not about how students can memorize certain skills, but really around their ability to problem solve and look at math in more complex ways…and explain their reasoning to their teachers and peers.”

Never mind that understanding is many layered and true understanding can ONLY be built on mastery of skills. As my friend and frequent commenter here, SteveH, has said:

“If students can do problems without words, that is meaningless and rote? It’s all rubbish. There are too many skills to learn and understanding first is clearly not necessary or sufficient. However, true understanding is not possible without mastery of skills. Conceptual understanding (what they are talking about) is at best only the motivating baby steps of proper understanding.”


2 thoughts on “Well, yes, but, Dept.

  1. This is all part of their big rote lie. I guess their job isn’t important enough if all they do is to ensure mastery of skills. If they claim ownership of “understanding”, then they can get away with low expectations and put the onus on students and parents.

    “Bridges in Mathematics is a comprehensive K–5 curriculum that equips teachers to fully implement the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics in a manner that is rigorous, coherent, engaging, and accessible to all learners.”

    “The curriculum focuses on developing students’ deep understandings of mathematical concepts, proficiency with key skills, and ability to solve complex and novel problems. Bridges blends direct instruction, structured investigation, and open exploration. It taps into the intelligence and strengths of all students by presenting material that is as linguistically, visually, and kinesthetically rich as it is mathematically powerful.”

    “Rigorous” and “deep”, but not STEM level. You can get to the community college with no remediation in math. Whoopie!


  2. Bridges in Mathematics – 3rd grade questions –

    telling time to the minute.
    Add 86 cents to $1.23 and show your work. What if you do it in your head?
    “Story” multiplication problems of the difficulty of 6 X 2.
    15 – 8 = ?
    3 X 9 = ?
    And this is a classic:
    “Keiko has 7 coins in her pocket that add up to 48 cents. What coins does she have. Show your work.

    Do their methods work? How do they know? Our school showed a marginal improvement with they changed from MathLand to Everyday Math. Is the goal small relative improvements when they change from old fuzzy math to new fuzzy math … and they have to get parents involved to practice “math facts” at home?


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