Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Define Balance

In an article done by the The Lake Sun Leader today at , Dr. Overlander was quoted as looking for balance...just like us. However, our question is how does he plan to make sure there is the balance we are looking for as parents? We are looking for supplements from outside of the curriculum as a quick rescue for our kids . We want that done now. However, when anyone asks teachers, or even board members asked the administrators the other night exactly what supplements we would be using no one could decisively answer that question. What EXACTLY are our supplements? I am sorry, but supplements within the program from everything we have been told about those "supplements" are not what we are talking about. That is just more of the same kind of teaching and that will not satisfy us. Our children need so much more. According to so many teachers, and administrators who use Investigations from all over our state, Investigations requires much more than it alone can offer. According to almost every single person I have talked to (and I have done my homework and talked to many) "It has way too many gaps."

Why is it so hard to answer that question, and make sure all of the teachers are on the same page of understanding as all of the parents? At this point that is not happening. That is why we are all so frustrated. Supplements need to be what the Eldon School District did....bring something additional in from outside of the program because they believe as so many of us do...this program is not capable of teaching our kids their GLEs (grade level expectations). The article below illustrates why so many of us are so frustrated. I know Dr. Overlander is trying to ease our concerns by ordering us a supplement handbook from the curriculum, but that is not going to make any of us feel any better about what our kids are learning.

We are looking for a rich balance of the basic skills being taught such things as simple multiplication tables and standard algorithms such as this:




...worked in a vertical fashion and carrying the numbers, working RIGHT TO LEFT. This is not what is being taught to our children.

For those of you who are looking for clarification on what in the world is going on and why we are so upset...yes, you read the above right. Here are some facts about Investigations:

(By the way...TERC and Investigations are the same thing)


1) TERC removes teaching the times tables to children.
2) No valid math study has ever been performed showing the effectiveness of Investigations Math.
3) California and Michigan implemented programs identical to TERC and forced enrollment in college freshmen remedial math classes more than doubled over just a few years.
4) "Children tend not to learn what they are not taught." Dr. Ralph Raimi (wrote article comparing TERC to Singapore Math) TERC doesn't teach, it lets children do “discovery learning.”
5) Hundreds of university leading math professors and Nobel Laureates condemn Investigations Math.
6) TERC recommends a text for teachers called "Beyond Arithmetic". In this book it says traditional elementary math must be discarded because:
Was "developed to meet the needs of the 19th century." BA, Page 2

Requires that students "memorize many facts, procedures, definitions, and formulas." BA, Page 2 (and how is this bad?)

"Focuses on learning a particular set of procedures for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of whole numbers, fractions, and decimals." BA, Page 2 (and how is this bad?)

Results in "overpracticed students." BA, Page 3 (is there such a thing?)

Ignores the fact that "today's students have an important tool available to them: the calculator." BA, Page 77 (this is why they do not believe in memorizing the multiplication tables.)

Let me reiterate... the above is taken directly from an Investigations teachers guide in explaining why math the way we know it should not be taught any longer.

By Deanna Wheeler
Lake Sun Leader
Tue Dec 09, 2008, 10:00 PM CST
Excerpts taken from the Lake Sun's article today:

Balance is just the word Superintendent Maurice Overlander used as well. Two changes have been enacted since the November special board meeting that examined the growing controversy. The first was that the district purchased numerous supplemental handbooks for students. Parents are being encouraged to use them as well.

The guides give examples on how to work through problems.Overlander said he hopes the move will be the first large step to ease parents’ concerns when attempting to help their child with nightly homework.

Overlander described the guides as the piece that was missing when the new Investigations program was implemented.

So many of you have asked for an example of how the new math is different from the old. Here is a look at what the kids would have brought home last year in the third grade.

Notice that there is that balance we are asking for. There is both word problems with the teaching of the basic skills. This is the same book that Eldon just purchased to offer their children the Balance that we so desperately desire. It has BOTH the investigations and the basic skills that build our childrens foundation of knowledge. Why did we get rid of these?

Below is what that same third grade homework looks like today. However, know this...that if these questions are answered with a simple standard algorithm they are counted WRONG. That is not allowed by the curriculum. And realize this...there are NO when your child brings home his/her homework at night this is what you see.

And now realize that they cannot use the standard algorithm(as I illlustrated above in 398 +562) to solve these problems. They are solved by drawing pictures...estimating...working everything left to right in a horizontal fashion. And there is no practice at school of any basic skills. They may send some home to us at night to make us feel better, but is there really "practice" at school? When I said that my third grader brought ONE problem home the other night for his practice, I was not kidding. It was ONE word problem that was a simple 2 digit addition problem. That is what we are seeing for our children when they bring their work home from school, thus the reason for the questions: Yes, they are getting As and Bs, but what are they really learning? That is the question.

We are NOT saying that there is no place for this way of teaching...we know that because of our MAP Tests we have to expose our children to it, but this should never be our core. This should ONLY be a supplement. That is all we are asking for.