three of those blocks make … [one of the next bigger block,] and so on.
With fraction cakes, children can see that three-fourths is bigger than two-thirds and they can put the pieces on a whole circle, the “1,” until the same space is filled. . . .
“Ninety percent of kindergarten through sixth-grade teachers’ strength is in language arts’ Shoecraft said. “What I wanted to do is capitalize on that.” He went on to say that previously, when teachers got past story time in their rooms, smiles dimmed on teachers as well as children as the paper-and-pencil task of addition came around.
“We don’t improve on the same old same old,” said Shoecraft. “We blow it out of the water and push the standard curriculum right out the front door.”
After first graders learn the same kind of thinking that goes into the tedious math of higher grades, he explained, they are ready for something more advanced when they reach those grades.
He stressed the program be pursued into the higher grades so children aren’t repeating anything.
Since the program has been taught, which is only for about two years tops in any classroom, according to Shoecraft, some students are able to do math at least two grade levels higher. “They’re just doing everything above grade level.”
Fay Gilzow, first-grade math teacher at Pierce Elementary, said she is just starting her students with the new program. “They enjoy it. They think it’s great they can add so many numbers and get the right answer.” She said she thinks it will be a big help especially when they find out they can do the math and are not afraid of math.
An elementary teacher at Linnie Roberts said one of her students, whose performance was very poor in math, has come up to excellent scores with the new math concept and his confidence and new thinking has spilled over into other of his classes. “All of a sudden this child has really come to life,” she said.
Other teachers said it was a “no-fail” type of learning and now children can hardly wait to get to math class. And while youth of today learn math the fun way, teachers who learned through the old system are being taught “add” some pizazz to math and “subtract” the pencil and paper approach. “You’re not going to anywhere else and find anything like this,” Shoecraft said.
There was a day that ciphering was the most dreaded part of book-learning to the majority of children in elementary classrooms. But like everything else, that’s changing.
One college professor is teaching kindergarten through sixth grade Bay City teachers that children don’t have to just look at an inundation of numerals on a page that have to be added together (sometimes several times) to get the correct sum and then go on to the next set of numbers.
Dr. Paul Shoecraft, education teacher at the University of Houston’s Victoria campus, for 19 years has been working on a new way to look at math — a program called Move It.
Each Thursday night at the Bay City High School library this semester he has been “moving it” into the curriculum of the city’s elementary school math classes.
Mary Brown, math coordinator for the Bay City Independent School District, pointed out that the United States has been far behind many other countries in their math and sciences education.
“I wanted him (Shoecraft) here for an awareness that math and science is important,” Brown said. She explained how the program uses “the concrete” for smaller children so they can understand by seeing what the older students have been learning on paper in the “abstract” sense.
“The kids are probably a lot more interested,” Brown said. “We’ll just have to wait and see about results.”
“It’s just another crutch to get them to learn to add,” Brown said. “Problem solving is hard because children have to think and they have to be taught to think.”
The district coordinator of 11 years said recent changes in math-teaching techniques have been the biggest and she predicts that by the time textbooks for 1995 and 1996 are chosen there will be even greater changes.
Part of Shoecraft’s program is called “touch math” or “tap and tally.” The students have points on a number that they tap out with their fingers and count in such a way that it makes it easy for first- and second-graders to add several large numbers called “monster math.”
Shoecraft uses pictures, games and stories, some of the things the younger students enjoy in teaching the math.
In Fairlands, one of the games, blocks make a hands-on experience with … [the structure of a place value number system]. For example, [in Three Land or base three,] three of one block equals one of … [the next bigger block, and xxx
New Math of ’60s Now “MOVE IT” in the ’90s
Janet L. Whitehead, Staff Reporter
The Daily Tribune, Bay City, Texas, November 9, 1990
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