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Education Reporter

Does Everyday Math Add Up?
(Excerpts from published materials)

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"Everyday Math" is the title of the elementary school curriculum of the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project (UCSM) -- dubbed "Chicago Math." The curriculum states that it is based on the philosophy that:

* Children come to school knowing more than they currently get credit for.

* Mathematics means more when it is connected to real-life problems.

* Schools should take advantage of the teaching tools technology presents.

The curriculum also states that "manipulation of numbers is not the prime object. " It then claims: "Real life is not doing rows and rows of computation!"

Everyday math uses various strategies "to help students develop an understanding of basic math facts." The major components are:

Math Messages -- These "may consist of problems to solve, directions to follow, tasks to complete, notes to copy, or brief quizzes." A 4th grade math message could include: " of me is 15. Who am I?"

Math Boxes -- "Unlike traditional worksheets that have 10 to 20 versions of the same problem, math boxes may have from 4 to 8 math activities." Some examples of 4th grade math boxes: "5 gal. = ___ qts.; write a number story for 593/12, then solve the problem; find the area of a 4" x 7" rectangle."

Journals -- "These are workbooks with a different twist. Not only are students required to solve problems, but often are encouraged to write math. "

Games -- "Games are an integral part of this program. They are a great alternative way of practicing number facts (kill and drill)." Games can include "Beat the Calculator." Players add or multiply numbers on cards. One student is the "caller," a second is the "calculator," and a third is the "brain." A deck of number cards is shuffled and placed face down. The caller turns over the top two cards from the deck. These are the numbers to be added or multiplied. The calculator finds the sum or quotient electronically, while the brain solves it without a calculator. The caller decides who got the answer first. Players trade roles every 10 turns or so.

Home Links -- "These are short activities students bring home to complete with the help of a family member. They are designed to reflect classroom activities. In class, students are encouraged to look for many ways to solve problems. Parents need to learn to accept open-ended questions and many correct answers instead of only one." An example of a 3rd grade Home Link: "Look for very large numbers and very small numbers. Bring them to school to add to your collection. Write about the numbers. Remember to include any labels, units, or symbols that go with them. Tell where you found each number."

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