By Adriana Randolph. 3rd Grade Math. Published at Saturday, October 24th, 2020 - 22:46:33 PM.
I know that I seem pretty harsh on this young teacher, but his actions indicate a couple of character issues that make teaching a poor career choice for him. Having said that, his situation does point out the two major flaws of the UCSMP program. Because the series is so very different in terminology and methodology, two things need to happen every year. First, new math teachers need the same training all of the teachers received when the series was adopted. I can make a good guess at what happened here. When my district adopted the UCSMP series, we received a great deal of training in the philosophy of the series, lots of teaching help, and even training in teaching reading in a math class because UCSMP is very dependent upon student reading. But that only happened the first year. After that, it became the responsibility of each math department to train new teachers. Sometimes this new teacher training is too hurried or maybe even non-existent. And because we are such a mobile society, it is not at all unusual for the entire department to have completely changed within a very short time. I suspect that this young teacher got little if any instruction into the differences in UCSMP or why it was chosen. UCSMP requires yearly teacher in-servicing.
In his article, this brand new teacher--straight out of college--was hired by a school district to teach 3rd grade math. This school district was using the elementary school version of UCSMP--Everyday Mathematics. I cant remember whether he wrote the article in September or October (one of the facts I wanted to check), but the point is that it was very early in the school year. He had already run into some problems: his students didnt understand anything they were being taught and their parents were all mad. He decided that the problem was the textbook and its approach, so he made a unilateral decision (no discussion with the department head or Principal) to stop using the district-chosen series and, instead, teach his 3rd grade students the way he thought they should be taught. And not only that, but he was so proud of his decision that he put it on the internet. No discussion with his Principal, but he writes about it on the internet. The arrogance of youth!
Next. New Teachers Beware! The INTERNET is a living growing thing. What you write is there for everyone to see, and it is forever. Think long and hard before you put anything on the INTERNET. It can come back to bite you quickly or many years later. (How dumb do you have to be to secretly go against the desires of the school district and then brag about it online? Yet another reason he deserved to be fired.) Always remember that wherever you go and whatever you do, you are first and foremost a teacher. You are held to a higher standard. You have a responsibility to be a good role model for your students. Never forget that.
The second major problem deals with the parents. Because the series is so different, parents quickly find that what they are seeing in their childs textbook doesnt look like anything they ever called math. They quickly discover that they are unable to help their children with questions, and they dont understand the spiraling concept of UCSMP so it seems to them that their child is weak in basic skills. They dont know that their child will have better retention and understanding of mathematics at the end of the year than the students of a traditional text. They dont know because no one explained anything to them. UCSMP requires an enormous amount of explanation and training for the parents. (Im sure you can foresee the problems of having poorly prepared teachers trying to explain UCSMP to frustrated parents. Its not a pretty sight.) With the problematic issues surrounding UCSMP, does this young teacher deserve to be fired? Absolutely! He made very poor choices based on his own arrogance. He broke his contract with the school district and, thus with the students and parents. He used the internet for his own purposes. (I suspect to garner support for his decision.) And he was setting up his students for future failure. Unforgivable.
Prepare Kids For Higher Math Just as learning addition and subtraction get kids ready to grasp multiplication and division, the concepts introduced in 3rd grade math lay the foundations for even more complex ideas that will be introduced in future grades. Ensuring that kids have a clear understanding of math at the elementary level means that theyll be able to move on to math in middle school and high school without a problem. If kids pay attention in school and receive any extra help that they need, chances are good that they will understand and retain the concepts necessary to succeed with math. Including online math games as part of academic instruction offers extra insurance in the form of engaging learning tools that kids will remember as they progress through school. The use of online math games at home or in school helps to give kids the academic edge they need to succeed in 3rd grade math. Through interactive lessons, individualized pacing and visual reinforcement of math concepts, kids can literally see what theyre learning and gain a fuller understanding of skills that theyll be using both in school and in everyday life.
By the time kids reach 3rd grade, math has moved on from simple addition and subtraction to more difficult multiplication and division concepts that require a solid grasp of basic math facts and skills. Without this foundation, its hard for kids to make sense of the math problems theyre asked to do, leaving them frustrated and confused. Since math is one of the building blocks of academic success, additional tools such as online math games can help get kids on track. Reinforce Previous Concepts Its important to make sure that kids understand the building blocks of a subject before moving on to new ideas. 3rd grade math requires a grasp of far more than just numbers and the relationships between them. Kids need to know and fully understand addition and subtraction before being introduced to multiplication. A little review of these previously taught concepts never hurts, and thats where online math games can come in handy. Rather than sitting with a textbook and going back over an idea that theyve already learned, kids can receive the same overview in the form of an entertaining, interactive lesson.
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