For my class this week, I was asked to watch a video and reflect on the use of reform based mathematics curricula.
Personally, my school does not have a "text" book or a given math curriculum. When I started teaching 3rd grade we were introduced to a program called KEMS through the National Training Network. KEMS started in the third grade and worked up. This program started with a pictorial representation and practice, then moved to concrete and then to abstract. I am now in 1st grade and we do not have a math program. Teachers develop their own lessons using ideas, each other, TPT, and of course Pinterest. Our 3-8 just started a new program that I am not familiar with all all. I know very little about this program, other than it is being referred to as "Project C3M."
Although I do not have a set curricula, I can see where these types would be an issue. If the standards state that students need to learn the algorithm, they will be tested on the algorithm. Not to say we need to teach to the test, but at this day in time the test is a HUGE deal.
If a program teaches students so many different methods, how does one have time to master that one method? I can see students getting confused and wasting time deciding which method they would like to use for that problem. Just like the standard algorithm, each of those other methods requires you to memorize a set of steps. I have always said it is important for students to understand the why, before they begin to use an algorithm. This is where the teacher before comes into play. If a student in third grade masters the basic concept of division and how it works using pictures or models then will then be ready for the algorithm. I would never take time in my day to day life to draw out a "lattice" in order to solve a division problem. I have the standard algorithm memorize and can usually see the numbers in my head enough to complete the division in that manner.
Another issue I see is the push for calculators! Is it important that a student know how to work a calculator? OF COURSE IT IS.. but should they be so dependent upon it they can't do anything else? NO! I remember in college taking a few math classes where calculators were not permitted? Allowing students to rely on a calculator is setting them up for failure!
What are your experiences, thoughts, ideas, loves, hates of this curriculum? Do you use it? Do you not?