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Q&A #963

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Chicago Math program

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From: brian ouellette <bouellet@accn.org>
To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2001051815:50:30
Subject: Re: What is chicago math? and what are the pros and cons of its use?


I read your post because I am so unhappy with the Chicago math series
and was looking for other opinions.  I can give you mine.  I teach
second grade currently and spent four years teaching Everyday math at
the first grade level.  At each I found Chicago math to be ill-suited
for our students.  I could list 20 things I hate about it, but here
are the most troubling.  
1.  There is no time for teaching or learning math facts and the
traditional algorithms that go with them.  They have eliminated any
rote aspect to the lessons which leaves many of my students (including
the ones who need it most) without the repetative practice that
sharpens their skills.  For example, in the first grade series, math
facts are not even introduced until after Christmas.  The kids are
expected to learn their math facts not by practice, but by playing
obtuse "games" which apparantly are designed to teach math facts by
osmosis.  
2.  It is way too hard for the kids who are average and below.  It is
a wonderful series for the few very high math students in every class,
but completely leaves behind the bottom two thirds.  One reason for
this is the series' reliance on reading.  Nice concept, but my
struggling readers are learning one lesson loud and clear; math is too
hard.   In first grade, one math assessment has the kids counting
$1.14 in change.  Is this a first grade skill in your district?  Other
skills involve a "function machine".  This model involves putting in a
number and following the machine's rule to find what comes out.  This
is a fine skill, but commonly the rule is like this: the machine
subtracts 2, but the sheet only gives the number that comes out. 
Imagine trying to explain to six year olds how you have to shove the
"out" number back through the subtraction machine, then add two back
on, then....blah, blah, blah.

I could go on and on.  In first grade, the kids learn pennies on Mon,
nickels on Tues, and so on until Fri when they are expected to know
how to buy things at a store.  It's a joke.

I would love to hear other opinions or suggestions for other math
series.

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