Monday, January 19, 2015

Math Monday - My Relationship with a Math Textbook

Welcome and thank you for stopping by Math Monday, 
I hope you will consider joining the conversation.

Oh, math textbook
I'm giving you a look

I didn't think it was fair
To sit and glare

You deserve a chance
Before I take a stance

I'm trying 
But then I'm almost crying

For now,
a rest is best

@Mandy E Robek, 2015

Last Thursday night I was wrestling with my journey using a resource provided by my district to teach our math curriculum.  After writing this poem and revising it a bit, I shared it by joining Poetry Friday.  When I reread the poem, I knew I wanted to say more because these feelings/this poem could be saying no to textbooks, consider the textbook, no to textbooks and I didn't want my thinking to end like this.

Teachers need help teaching.  Teachers need resources to help guide their instruction.  Our job is hard enough day to day to have to reinvent the wheel from scratch each day in all subject areas.  I have never been against textbooks/resources.  I am younger than Math Their Way but loved using that when I began my teaching.  If you are old enough to remember Mathland, I was a huge fan of this program.  I was a trained facilitator for my school district when we adopted Everyday Math from the University of Chicago.  I wasn't thrilled we went with this program but realized not everyone is comfortable with teaching math and we need those colleagues to have some support.  There were/are some great ideas in this program and then came the Common Core.  The reactive response could be to buy one of the first resources available and that is what my current district did.  

I've written earlier this year about my discovering and realizing the resource isn't working for one reason or another.  I have had moments this year when I do cry or my stomach hurts over things in my current math textbook and I find myself taking a break and then I go back to it.  Let's talk about why I take a break and why I go back.

Why I take a break from a math textbook/resource.  

1.  The activities or problems DO NOT match the curriculum.
2.  The order of the content doesn't match a natural math learning progression.
3.  The lessons are heavy in paper pencil learning.
4.  The presentation of a concept is awkward as it is worded in the textbook.
5.  The lessons are lecture format.
6.  The lessons are limited in using manipulatives. 
7.  The pacing is too fast!

Why I will return to a math textbook resource.

1.  There are some good ideas and the authors had good intentions.  
             No one writes a math textbook to do harm and be evil.
2.  There are new words for old things.  For example, fact families are now number bonds.
3.  There are ideas for reteaching, extra practice, and extending students.
4.  I can adjust ideas presented in the textbook.
5.  It gives me common ground for talking with colleagues.
6.  It's making me do a lot of thinking about teaching math.

Right now I need to take a break from the math textbook because my frustration is high.  A small break will let me return to it with fresh eyes.  I plan on continuing this year by looking at the textbook first but giving myself a bit more freedom to adjust and pull from my extensive Math Solutions personal library until I have my feet fully immersed in second grade math.  I've decided it's okay to need a little bit of help while learning new standards to teach and it's okay to find moments to do what I know to be best for students.

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  1. Two thumbs up for your thinking about using (and taking a break from) the math text book. Thank goodness in our district it is a RESOURCE and not THE PROGRAM.

    I'm in today with some personal math favorites.

    1. Thanks for joining. We've received mixed messages about whether this is a resource or the program. Never before did we have a program and I think there is room to wiggle as I hear others in my building talk this year. I just want to make sure I am informed before I completely wiggle free!