New Math. Parents hate it. They don’t get it. It’s not the way they were taught and they can’t understand why learning so many strategies and taking more steps to solve 52-18 actually helps their child.

She responded with concern about federal control of education and “new math,” which created a perfect opportunity for me to educate this individual. We exchanged several respectful comments back and forth about her concerns and my perspective as an elementary teacher using Common Core every day.

^{rd}grade math journals, particularly exciting to me since I have taught 3

^{rd}grade for the past 5 years.

Nope! If you look at the bottom of my old math journal, there is a note about the history of lattice multiplication. “New Math” really isn’t new math. It’s actually REALLY REALLY OLD MATH. Moreover, this illustrates nicely that the Common Core standards didn’t create these methods, since they were obviously being taught in the United States decades ago. If you’re not fond with a particular math strategy, that’s perfectly fine, but don’t blame the Common Core.

Finally, for those still worried that Common Core requires students to use only use specific methods to solve math problems, I want to reiterate that this is not true. Students are still learning the traditional algorithms and formulas as some of the strategies students can choose to solve problems, demonstrated by the assignment below from the Common Core-aligned math journal. It lists various multiplication problems, but the directions state that the students can choose any algorithm they would like to solve them. Having multiple strategies at their disposal helps students choose which works best in various situations, or what makes them most successful in solving problem.

WOW!

I actually couldn’t believe it. Maybe taking a few minutes to interact with this person helped change one individual’s perspective. If we all take a minute to educate just one person on what Common Core actually is, would those against Common Core really still despise it?

To read my post, along with others written by teachers in support of Common Core, you can visit http://www.educatorsforhighstandards.org

CaseyJane Cooper says

Interesting to see the journal from 20 years ago! I'm not sure what to make of that!!!

CaseyJane

WigglingScholars

Alyssha Swanson says

Great!! I can't wait to share this on my page. So many people just don't get it!

Teaching and Tapas: 2nd Grade in Spain

Natalie says

I'm so sharing this on my FB page! Great post 🙂

Natalie

Teachery Tidbits

Thrills in Third Grade says

I can't believe you had this same book 21 years ago!! I thought EDM was new in 2000! I love that your mom still had your journal. Awesome.

Thank you so much for sharing.

Jamie

Thrills in Third Grade

Melissa says

I know, Casey! I would have thought there would be some differences. 🙂

Melissa says

Thanks, Alyssha! I've been saying this for the past couple of years. The math hasn't changed. Now I found the proof. 🙂

Melissa says

When I student taught, I was actually in 3rd grade in a school that used EDM. I was honestly shocked that they still did lattice. It was so easy for me to teach because I really had fun with it when I was younger. It's more like a puzzle to me than a practical way of solving a math problem.

Mme Aiello says

I think this is simply fascinating. Very interesting to see! What a find – thanks to your mom for saving stuff! 🙂

Tammy @ Teaching FSL

Crewton says

http://crewtonramoneshouseofmath.blogspot.com/2014/10/my-two-cents-on-common-core.html

PS Everyday Math is CRAP IMO. Quite a few of the teachers I've met dislike using it. You might search Crewton Ramone in the classroom…every one of those teachers was supposed to be using Everyday Math and their students told me directly the book was confusing and made math HARD and NO FUN. You are an experienced teacher and as that one person says you obviously want your students to learn. This doesn't change the fact that Everyday Math is poorly implemented in schools I've visited and the students who are not being taught by you dislike it…we have serious problems when it comes down to the ability of individual teachers, instead of having a system with tools and methodology that any teacher can plug into and become decent at purveying mathematics understanding to students.

James says

Hi Melissa,

My district also uses Everyday Math for our elementary classes. I believe we're using the updated CCSS aligned version. I'm finding that the majority of pages are the same as in past editions. It looks like the CCSS pages were added with letters attached. So journal page 49 is the same but there is also a 49a and 49b that are specifically aligned with the CCSS. My only issue is that the pages were added and nothing was taken away. So in reality, some of the older third grade Everyday Math content is aligned with other grade levels (since it was created pre-CCSS), but it also addresses the CCSS. I'm finding that the only difference between the CCSS edition and the journals that were used 10 years ago are the added pages with letters attached.

James

Melissa says

Maybe I don't have any problem with it because that is the way I was taught. Staff development is important. Before I taught it, my school sent me to a 3-day training where we went over each lesson and learned the best ways to implement them. The key to the success of any curriculum is education. If you give a teacher a bunch of teacher manuals and never instruct them on the ways to use it, of course those teachers will fail. Everyday Math is challenging, yes, but it is also fun. The Game Kit, which districts have to purchase separately, contain engaging games that help reinforce concepts taught in class. Students love these and oftentimes seek to play them during indoor recess. Additionally, the hands-on use of manipulatives (also a separate purchase) help students make their learning concrete. Perhaps the district you are referring you did not want to spend the additional money to properly train its teachers or to have the games that go along with each unit.

I know of many teachers, including myself, that can find things in any curriculum that they dislike. My main concern with Everyday Math is the lack of fact practice, which I supplement with other resources, but I do think the spiraling concepts and emphasis on place value really help students in the long run. If you ask any teacher how they like their math curriculum, they'll probably respond with aspects they like as well as aspects they don't like. There will never be a curriculum that is perfect and that is liked by everyone.

Melissa says

Hi James,

Can I ask what grade you teach? I know that Everyday Math came up with an updated CCSS version for grades K-2 this year. I believe they are rolling out grades 3 and higher next year. If you are in the upper elementary grades, not much should have changed from their journals. I saw a copy of the anticipated 3rd grade Table of Contents for the new version (coming out next year) and it looks totally different! Many of the lessons have been moved around, some have been taken out, and others have been added to.

Melissa

Holly says

We were told {and I don't know how much truth there is to this} that several large textbook companies are "slapping" the common core symbol on the front of their textbooks but they aren't necessarily aligned well with the CCSS. We use Bridges math, and I can assure you that the way I'm teaching today, is vastly different from how I taught uses HBJ. Honestly, I don't know if it's simply the company we're using or if it's due to the CCSS. The jury is still out for me with "what's what". Very interesting that the two workbooks are so similar…not sure if that validates the point that was made to us at staff development {that the CCSS label is simply placed on the front of textbooks} or if, like you're implying, CCSS really aren't that different. Great post!

Anonymous says

Well before 1993, New Math was deemed a failure. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Math It is regurgitated by the curriculum companies every decade or so…as an engineer, it pains me to see children taught math using this method. I purchased a traditional math curriculum and I use it to teach my own children at home. New Math does not provide the proper foundation for higher-level mathematics. If it is what you learned, I understand where you may not see this. Every.single.one of my engineering school classmates has purchased or is in the process of purchasing a traditional math curriculum to use with their children outside of school. That alone should tell you something. It's not just that it's not the way that we learned it. I think that this sums it up well

And for what it's worth, I'm not against Common Core. Common Core is a set of standards, nothing more. The standards on their own are rigorous. It's the curriculum that we are being sold that is the issue…and as you show, this curriculum existed long before this current wave that we call Common Core.

Anonymous says

My apologies…this should be between the 2 paragraphs above! It is from this article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Math

In 1973, Morris Kline published his critical book Why Johnny Can't Add: the Failure of the New Math. It explains the desire to be relevant with mathematics representing something more modern than traditional topics. He says certain advocates of the new topics "ignored completely the fact that mathematics is a cumulative development and that it is practically impossible to learn the newer creations if one does not know the older ones" (p. 17). Furthermore, noting the trend to abstraction in New Math, Kline says "abstraction is not the first stage but the last stage in a mathematical development" (p. 98).

Melissa says

Yes, I definitely think some companies slap CCSS on their resources. I think the point of my post was to show people that these strategies that they're seeing out there aren't new strategies and aren't dictated by Common Core. The CCSS doesn't tell you HOW to teach, it is a guide for WHAT to teach.

Melissa says

Thank you for your post! I agree that the method I showed above is not practical. I actually tell my student's it's a multiplication puzzle. In high school they're not going to be drawing boxes all over their paper with diagonal lines to solve a problem. I showed this strategy to reinforce that these math concepts have been around for decades and are not a product of the CCSS.

I first teach the Partial Products method of multiplying to my third grade students. Like much of EDM, it emphasizes place value to give the students a better understanding of what they are doing. Here is a video on how it works. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7Ult0p-uGU

To help ease your mind, I believe that by 4th grade students are expected to master and use the "standard multiplication algorithm" that you prefer. 🙂

Anonymous says

Well that is good to know at least! The thing that bothers me the most about this latest iteration of EDM (I guess we're just calling it Common Core math?) is that it is very, very slow. What used to be be early 3rd grade math (memorization of multiplication facts) is now required by the end of 4th grade. Fractional mathematics isn't even introduced until later in grade 4 when it used to be taught in grade 3. Everything is being slowed down so no child is left behind I guess…very frustrating for parents AND teachers also I'm sure.

I like your blog by the way…interesting reading for sure. You seem to love what you do which is great also.

Melissa says

Thank you for your compliment! I just to ease your mind and let you know that fractions are i the Common Core standards for 3rd grade (they are actually heavily emphasized) as well as in EDM. In fact, it is covered in all of unit 8. http://everydaymath.uchicago.edu/parents/3rd-grade/em-at-home/unit_8/

Memorization of multiplication facts is also emphasized in the third grade EDM curriculum. There is actually an entire lesson I remember teaching where the students identify the facts they already know and determine which facts they have left to learn. What EDM doesn't have, which I would appreciate, is a fact fluency program. Sometimes students need rote practice. I tell my students that once they start more difficult math problems (those with multiple steps, pre-algebra, algebra) the last thing they want to do is make one silly multiplication mistake and get the answer wrong. 🙂

Holly says

You are right, and thanks for saying that, CCSS are STANDARDS for WHAT to teach not HOW to teach. I do, however, think we've replaced what's developmentally appropriate with a more rigorous curriculum – and I don't always see this as a good thing.

I pulled this from the Mazano Common Core site:

"This shift [common core] basically says: We will no longer teach students to memorize by rote, to understand superficial facts and figures without more nuanced understanding, applicable to real-world problems. Rather, we will teach them to analyze, to generate and test hypotheses. We will ask them to think like mathematicians rather than just do math. We will ask them to think like writers rather than just scribble sentences. We will ask them to use complex cognitive skills to analyze the very complex problems they face as citizens in the 21st century. "

While this might sound good, and in many instances it is – I'm afraid that we've gone too far the other direction and we don't always pay attention to the need for memorizing certain facts, and knowing certain algorithms – "rotely". We are finding that some basic foundational skills aren't acquired because children are asked to think deeper than what they are developmentally ready for.

I'm not at all anti-CCSS – I'm just saying that I do see, along with the adoption of these standards, a shift in the way we are expected to teach, and what students are expected to learn and the level in which we expect them to apply their knowledge. I'm just not convinced that this is ALL good. {and I know it's not ALL bad}

Food for thought…

Anonymous says

Using Wikipedia as a source…well that sure gives your argument credit. That is like getting facts on Bigfoot from the Supermarket Tabloids.

Tamara V. Russell says

It never dawned on me how people would respond to your blog name! This was an insightful post! Thank you so much for shedding light on this! There is so much confusion on this topic and so much of it is by special interest groups that care nothing about children and everything about winning political arguments. So sad! I will certainly share this with my readers! Love it!!

Melissa says

Thank you, Tamara! When creating my blog 2 years ago, it didn't dawn on me either. I actually thought about changing it a few times to avoid all the spam I get, but I didn't want to confuse my followers. 🙂

Shannon Frey-Vera says

Hi Melissa and James,

My K-2 building is using EDM4 and I am loving it! My K students are developing number sense like I haven't seen before. They are verbal using and articulating their understanding too! EDM has some new tools to develop fact fluency. Check it out you might be pleasantly surprised!

Shannon

Tracee Orman says

I remember learning lattice math back in the 1970s. Teaching several ways to solve a problem is just smart. Sometimes shorter is not always better. If I ONLY taught students how to write short sentences, the written word would be incredibly boring. Like you said, practicing critical-thinking skills is not just about finding the answer in the quickest possible way. I seriously don't understand the critics. Keep up the good work, Melissa!

Mary McGough says

Great article! I think so many jump on the grumpy bandwagon.

Tchur8 says

My teaching partner and I will be piloting everyday Math for the remainder of the year as soon as materials arrive. No inservice as far as I know….ugh. Hope we survive the year. Would appreciate any advice teachers are willing to share. I'll be implementing 4th gr.

Jen Willis says

First off, I just found your blog and I love it! Second, a parent posted a very nasty message on FB tonight about a math assignment and claimed that it was awful because of Common Core…um it was a standard algorithm that we learned as kids.

I really appreciated your insightful thoughts to the hater and LOVE that in the end the person changed their perspective. Way to go! It takes people like you to make a change.

Jen @ http://www.thegototeacher.blogspot.com

Richi Reynolds says

I was a victim of "new math" in 1967. The teachers didn't understand it. They couldn't teach it. They didn't want to teach it. Therefore, many students fell by the wayside, never to recover. It really doesn't matter what the approach is. If the teachers are not on board, for whatever reason, the program will not work and students will suffer.