## Thursday, December 10, 2009

### Math R Us

People sometimes ask me, What goes into a math curriculum?

I reply, Do you mean what are the contents and how do we do it? If you've got a moment, I can tell you.
• We teach math concepts. Nearly 400 spread over 7 years. This coverage ensures our students can meet state's  standards. We cover a few things that aren't currently required, like Roman numerals.
• In lower grades we help students with tactile elements of math. They learn to write numbers and other math symbols, to set up problems on a page, to use counting sticks, blocks and so on.
• We create problems that illustrate math concepts and challenge students. There are thousands in each grade. We track them by concept, difficulty, grade level, subject matter, type of person mentioned in the problem, etc. And we provide the answers.

• One unique feature of Excel Math is the Checkanswer. We group 3-5 problems into sets. The sum of the answers is printed at the top of that set. Students add their own answers, then compare their sum with ours, to confirm the accuracy of their work.

• Excel Math spiraling arranges problems in an ascending path of difficulty over the years. Familiar concepts are placed in-between novel and challenging ones. This ensures no one has to learn everything the first time it's presented, and students don't forget or miss the fact that old concepts are a foundation for the new ones.
• In higher grades we provide Create A Problem pages that merge math and literacy. Students read a short story, solve problems and create a few story-based problems of their own.
• Activities involve students in active research - they interact with and report back on complex math issues.
• We give teachers ideas for classroom presentation. We offer suggestions in the Teacher Edition and we have the Projectable Lessons for putting content on the wall in front of a class.
• Ancillary materials support the main components of our curriculum. These include Glossary, Manipulatives, Mental Math, Training Videos, and In-Service presentations. The Scope and Sequence in the Teacher Edition outlines how concepts are presented in that grade.
• We solicit reviews by school boards, curriculum supervisors, teachers and parents. California's formal social content review ensures we fairly portray cultural and racial diversity in our problems and artwork; we mention the societal contributions of minorities, males and females; we show people in various positive contributing roles to help students view school constructively; and we refrain from using brand names, products or corporate logos.
In addition to what you'd definitely consider math (addition, geometry, etc.), we cover related elements that educators have decided should be taught in a math class. These include skills like:
• giving directions (to a locale, for a process)
• telling time, using calendars
• understanding coins, currency, money and foreign exchange
• strategies for responsible purchasing, saving, taxes, etc.
• dealing with probability (wagering, random chance, statistics)
Other than that, math curriculum is a piece of cake. It's all we do. No literacy, no history, no geography, no physical education - except as these fit within our math problems.

Math R Us.