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Topic: Still looking for curriculum ideas
Replies: 6   Last Post: Feb 2, 2000 3:23 PM

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Joan Reinthaler

Posts: 110
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: Still looking for curriculum ideas
Posted: Jan 28, 2000 7:46 PM
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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
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?

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