Gerald - I have been reading and learning from your postings for quite a while. They are a breath of common sense and courtesy. I am a high school teacher who has taught either a fifth or sixth grade math class for six or seven years. My sense, unfortunately, is that, to the extent that the "curriculum" is defined by a text book, teachers and their students will be at the mercy of the swings, fads and political power-plays of those who have axes to grind about math education. I believe that what elementary school math education needs is teachers who are well trained in mathematics and who care as passionately about it as so many elementary school teachers care about literature. Such teachers can take any text and any curriculum and enrich it and the students they teach. To address your question specifically, I loved using a rather older series called "MathQuest" - an Addison-Wesley Canadian series in 5th and 6th grades. This series has a splendid balance of skills and problem solving materials, encourages kids to estimate all the time ("only do the problems in the following set whose answers will be greater than 150" for instance), weaves geometric *thinking* (not merely geometric vocabulary) through all work, includes "data-base" problems, ones in which there is not enough information given - students are referred to a "data-base" index where they look up references to the needed information and are referred to other pages in the book, teaches kids a whole lot about Canada, has problems that kids find really interesting (what animal needs the least sleep of all animals?). No reference to calculators or other technology - but a knowledgeable teacher can easily bring all sorts of calculator materials into this otherwise rich mix. But it's not flashy or new so probably no system would look at it.
Joan Reinthaler Sidwell Friends School
On Fri, 28 Jan 2000, Gerald Von Korff wrote:
> For some time, my participation on this group has largely consisted of > engaging in philosophical discussions regarding grouping practices, and > on other broad educational issues. At times I have felt perhaps I was > intruding to some extent on the realm of math educators (although I > plowed on nonetheless). Recently, I posted a real life request for > assistance in the area of curriculum, and was somewhat disappointed with > the response. I am actually involved in a real effort, in collaboration > with leaders inside the school district, to improve the quality of math > education K-8 by providing additional challenge for kids who are ready > for that challenge. A number of parents are pulling out of the > district, or threatening to do so, because they believe that private > schools will offer greater level of math challenge. The district > genuinely wants to respond to that challenge, and I'm trying to help, > along with some teachers and university people. > > My inquiry was directed to suggestions about materials which might > assist in that endeavor. For those of you who are concerned about a > threat to elitism, the district intends to retain heterogenous grouping, > so hopefully that will not be a concern. I received one response, for > which I am appreciative. But I am left to wonder, "Is that all there > is." Is there really nothing available to a school district that wants > to provide a consistent program of challenging math for its pre-algebra > students? Is the answer that every elementary teacher is on her own to > come up with ideas. Surely that can't be the case. Anybody out there > holding back? > > >