solving is a real life situation: If you had eight marbles and John had 10, how many marbles are there? They need to use no gimmicks to work these problems to show they can come up with the answer because we don’t (use gimmicks) in everyday life,” she said.
Mary Lester, director of mathematics for the Dallas Independent School District where 30 elementary schools have volunteered to use the program, disagrees. “I contend there is a lot of problem solving in MOVE IT Math,” she said. “You have to first decide what is a problem. ‘Mary had 75¢ and John gave her 25¢, how much is that?’ is not a problem.”
Problems involve more skills, Lester said. Her example: Mary has eight coins, and the value of the eight coins is 79¢. What types of coins does she have? “Then you have to do math first, you may use trial and error, you have to investigate, and you come up with one arrangement,” she said.
Lester said teachers in Dallas are enthusiastic about the program. They have told her that they especially enjoy having more control over tailoring their classes to their students’ needs. Students in the program learn far more than the arithmetic textbooks for their grades cover, she and Shoecraft said. To compensate, Shoecraft has developed a library and a database of lesson plans and activities tied to the state-mandated essential elements of mathematics.
Waelder third-grade teacher Doris Richards said being freed from the textbook is “the best thing that has ever happened in my career.” And because they can do math so well, the children have a view of themselves not often expressed outside of gifted and talented programs. It was summed up by Lionel Elias, a 10-year-old fifth-grader: “Everybody in our school is smart.” (Italics added.)
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