Monday, May 20, 2013
School District Educates Parents on ‘Everyday Math’
In order to bridge the learning gap, the district has brought the classroom to the public to teach the Everyday Math curriculum to the community.
We all know that two times two equals four, and four times four equals 16—it's pretty simple math.
But in Anchorage classrooms, math is being taught in a totally different way.
It’s called Everyday Math and the new method has drawn complaints from parents who say they can't help their kids with their homework because they don't understand it. In order to bridge the learning gap, the district has brought the classroom to the public to teach the Everyday Math curriculum to the community.
For a generation of parents who learned addition and subtraction largely on the principles of memorization, this new method is unfamiliar territory. Gerry Welsh came to the community math night with his son Arthur to learn how his son is expected to work math problems.
“We get a lot of homework routinely. Like, we barely have a day off so it challenges me a lot,” said Arthur, a student at Goldenview Middle School.
Mastering the Everyday Math program is key for both adults and kids to move beyond memorization into complete understanding.
“The definition of mathematics is a science of pattern and order that's all on the right side of your brain,” said Penny Williams, a math instruction specialist for the district.
“You and I learned math on the left side of our brain, which is memorizing.”
But only a few dozen parents showed up for the latest community math night, despite widespread frustration among parents. “The school district can only invite; [it] can't compel people to attend,” said Gerry Welsh.
Using formats like math nights, parent workshops and parent universities, the goal is to improve the district's math proficiency, which currently stands at 70 percent.
As part of a national audit, the school district received 77 recommendations on improving Everyday Math in kindergarten through eighth grade.
The school district will only focus on three of those recommendations: communication with parents, staff development, and designing the curriculum so students are more math-proficient.