Everyday Mathematics (EM) is a popular Pre-K through 6th grade mathematics curriculum developed by the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project. The program is reportedly used in over 185,000 classrooms in all 50 states, by almost three million students. In its third edition, the text is printed in English and Spanish.
They describe their own program on their website as “… distinguished by its focus on real-life problem solving, balance between whole-class and self-directed learning, emphasis on communication, facilitation of school-family cooperation, and appropriate use of technology.”
Despite its many strengths, the lack of rote drill is what many teachers still say is perhaps the weakest aspect of the program. So we say, go ahead and incorporate your own rote drill practice, if you choose. Rote drill can be an effective instruction enhancement for many learners. After all, you know your students better than anyone.
EM defines its computation procedure: “Instead of requiring all students to learn the same computation procedure, by rote, at the same time, [EM] aims to make students active participants in the development of algorithms…they are encouraged to invent and share their own ways for doing operations.”
Research from the University of Chicago points to the benefits of students inventing and sharing their own operational procedures:
- Children are more motivated to solve problems when they have to come up with their own strategy instead of just following a rote procedure.
- Children with different learning styles are given problem solving options. They may choose to use manipulatives, drawings, oral and written words or symbols to represent and solve problems.
- When children explain and discuss their own algorithms with other children, they internalize what the operations mean and learn from each other.
The University of Chicago School Mathematics Project Everyday Mathematics website gives some good, solid advice to teachers, from teachers, for achieving success with Everyday Math.
Here are our top five:
1). Get together with your grade level teachers and plan your math year together. You’ll appreciate the moral support, and will find it easier to keep up with pacing.
2). Don’t try to teach every lesson to mastery. All students will not master the same content at the same time. One of the great features of Everyday Math is the “spiral” design that informally introduces topics for two years before actual, formal study. Students have opportunities over time—sometimes over several grade levels— to access concepts and skills.
3). Use a Math Word Wall to enhance daily vocabulary. Everyday Mathematics is language rich.
4). For older children, set up a Math Message Board so that students can find out what they need to do as they enter the room each morning. The message board will keep you on schedule, too, since it forces you to make a plan.
5). Allow your students to experiment—set aside one hour of math game time per week, to practice, practice, practice! Mornings are ideal, as it primes students for math learning later on. Try not to control game time—let students work problems out with each other.
For more excellent resources and ideas on how to facilitate Everyday Mathematics, go to the For Educators page, and check out the right-hand bar.
Share your math literacy best practices with us on our Linky Party on mathematics literacy, today! What has worked for you?