Is there no end to "new math?" Apparently not. I heard the term when I was a kid--what it meant I was never quite sure but whatever it was supposedly confused the heck out of old-school parents. Now, Seattle Public Schools is on the verge of adopting a new math program for elementary schools. This comes only seven years after the district implemented its last math program that was supposed to be cutting edge and conceptual, in line with the belief that students need to learn not only formulas but different methods for figuring those formulas out for themselves. At a briefing today for reporters at the John Stanford Center, district math program manager Rosalind Wise said that students under the current program might spend the day measuring each others' arm span and height. Eventually, they might plot the results on a graph, try to come up with a formula for the relationship and learn about the concept of slope. Such a drawn-out method proved controversial and difficult for some teachers, parents and students to grasp, said Chief Academic Officer Carla Santoro, who convened the briefing in order to explain the new math curriculum that district staff will present to the school board tomorrow night.
Hence, the new, new math--really a blend of two curricula, one called Everyday Math, the other Singapore Math -- which by her description presents a better balance of conceptual thinking and directive information based on formulas and facts. Which sounds good (although the district is bracing for controversy given warring factions on how math should be taught), but pity the poor teachers who will have only two days of training this summer to get ready for implementing the program in the fall. Santoro conceded that isn't much time, but says many schools will get onsite instructional coaches to help teachers throughout the year.