Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Long Division

Dd9 is learning long division. I love how her math worktext (BJU Math 3) breaks it up into itty-bitty steps so it's clear what she's doing. The first lesson was "long division with facts," i.e., 3 into 15, 4 into 24, 4 into 20, etc. The second lesson uses larger dividends so that the quotients have 2 digits, i.e., 2 into 84, 3 into 96, etc. The third lesson uses 3 digit-quotients, i.e., 3 into 369, 2 into 846, etc. The fourth and fifth lesson review the first three lessons and apply them to money problems. In all of these lessons, the students do the problems in grids that help them see the place values and keep them straight. The next two lessons introduce remainders in 2-digit and 3-digit quotient problems. Then there is a lesson to help the students understand what the remainder means. The last lesson of the unit is on 1-digit quotients with remainders, and it teaches how to use the multiplication facts (already used in long division in the first lesson) when there are remainders.

The lessons are so straightforward that she is almost (but not quite) teaching herself long division. I do not understand why current US pedagogy is so enamored of Everyday Mathematics, which apparently can't bring itself to teach such an efficient, clear algorithm. Seriously, follow the last link, and you'll find you can't even view the claimed Everyday Math sample lessons on long division. (For a detailed explanation of the value of the long division algorithm, I recommend this paper.)

My daughter's charter school (chartered through the school district, which uses Everyday Math) will not give up Everyday Math, and I'll never send my children to it full-time if the administration can't realize the waste of time and confusion created by such an inefficient, needlessly-complicated math program. Arithmetic is conceptually very different from higher mathematics, and it should be taught clearly and simply instead of with expectations of "higher order" thinking. (Afterwards some mental math tricks are fine, too, if the kids know why they work.) I love the school's director, but I am so disappointed in the school's continuing use of Everyday Math.  The school caters to gifted children, so they may not realize how inferior Everyday Math is for years. After all, gifted children whose parents drive them across town for a suitable school are also the type to figure out arithmetic for themselves or be "afterschooled" in math by those involved parents, meaning the school will get credit on state tests for arithmetic achievement it didn't actually cause.

A friend told me that a nearby regular elementary school has been sending home non-Everyday Mathematics units with her child recently, so maybe that is indicating a possible change in the district's math curriculum choices. I can hope.

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