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# Public school math is confusing...

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I watch my neighbor's daughter a couple days a week. She's in the same grade as my daughter, but goes to a private school which does the exact same curriculum as the public schools around us. I was having her do her homework when we got home since my daughter still wasn't finished with her school work. She finished realtively quickly so I checked her math over - not a single answer right.  It took me at least 20 minutes before I figured out what they were even doing before I realized she hadn't answered anything correctly! I asked her what they were doing in math and she had no clue.

It turns out they're working on mental math apparently and they're trying to have the kids write out what their brains should be doing.

43 = ____ + 3
+67 = _____+__
___ = _____+____+_____
That's an example of what they were doing, but there were no directions. So unless the kids knew what they were supposed to do, the parents were kinda out of luck with helping... But there was more to just that.....
What they wanted you to do on the next part was take it to the next level:

43 + 67
+__   -__
45 + ____= _____
I had a really hard time trying to explain this to her... I think they're still working on it for the rest of this week. The worst part is, they were working on multiplication just a few days ago and it seems like they're back tracking.

Any suggestions how I can help explain this to her?
I've tried showing her on the marker board and with blocks and then having her try using those.  She said she understood, but her face looked so confused.
My neighbor is constantly calling and asking what they're supposed to be doing in math since they never tell the parents what they're doing or what they're expecting

I meant to add this in before, but my daughter had finished up her math lesson while I was typing this earlier this morning and I forgot and just posted it...

43 = 40 + 3
+67 = 60 +7
___ = _____+____
But then you would solve the extended version first:
40 + 3
60 + 7

100+10
Then mentally you have to know that 10 can't be in the 1's column and 100 can't be in the ten and you'd put the correct answer in the correct spot of 110.
For the second part it would be:
43 + 67
+ 2
45 + 65= 110

Sadly, it wasn't until I just typed this up when I realized they were trying to show mental math in 2 different ways...
Still, I have run out of ways to try and explain the concept to her.
Any suggestions??

by on Oct. 10, 2012 at 11:33 AM
Replies (21-30):
by Sonja on Oct. 10, 2012 at 6:59 PM

Me too Me too Please? lol :)

Quoting No_Difference:

can he explain the concept to me ?? LOL  What is the point behind it other than to confuse the parents/gaurdians?? LOL

Quoting cowboygal:

My son brought that home last week and I looked at it and thought, what the hell is this? Asked son what he had to do and he gave the same answer she did, "no idea mom." Needless to say, my brother helped ds and I with homework that night. He is a teacher.

by on Oct. 10, 2012 at 7:39 PM
1 mom liked this
I get it but I really dont understand how it makes things easier for kids. Its really not that hard to just line up the numbers and do it the old way with borrowing. The other way takes alot more thinking.
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by on Oct. 10, 2012 at 10:16 PM

oops mistyped the last figures, I meant 50 + 60.... not 40 + 60...

family was waiting for me to get out the door to church!

by on Oct. 10, 2012 at 10:21 PM
1 mom liked this

That is the point, actually, to make them think... their brains are still developing and can grasp some pretty amazing mathematical concepts if they can start doing serious mental math.

I doubted the mental math that some of our curriculum's taught my daughter, too... but I've seen some terrific mathematical ability from her.

However, that being said, some kids don't have that level of capacity for math, so it's hard to push stuff like that in a public school setting.

Quoting calimom1123:

I get it but I really dont understand how it makes things easier for kids. Its really not that hard to just line up the numbers and do it the old way with borrowing. The other way takes alot more thinking.

by on Oct. 11, 2012 at 7:02 AM

Note:  Knowing new math is helpful when doing very large numbers.  But all children should first learn the old math , and then learn concepts (new math)....not the reverse. Math U See teaches the old math, and their first series that uses manipulative's gives children a very important understanding of math that is omitted in public schools now.

However, the children have to learn new math in order to pass the standardized tests, and move on to the next grade...they can pass the tests, but can't do basic math when they get to college. Since your child is in P.S. ,  I would recommend your child learn both new and old math.  Using Math U See's beginning manipulative's are a simple way to do that.

As for parents learning the new math, many teachers give parents after school classes on on this math so that you can teach your child.  Ask your school principle about this, and if they don't have one, help him organize one.

by on Oct. 11, 2012 at 7:40 AM

My brother has two boys in public school...they are doing poorly in math as the whole state has changed curriculum this year. The division is VERY confusing and they are trying something called "zip zap zero" and another way to do division. When one could not do either, the teacher told him he could use the traditional way. What is going on with our schools? What is wrong with the old way of doing division?!??!?!!?

by Silver Member on Oct. 11, 2012 at 7:56 AM

I use Math U See with my daughter and she is flying through it, so I see where you're coming from.
It's my neighbor's daughter that is having the hard time with the public school math and I only see her a few days a week after school so unfortunatly I have no time to sit down and teach both concepts with her. I actually popped in some of our videos for her, but I think those confused her even more, especially since I'm not even sure where this type of assignment would fall into one of the videos...(Another neighbor of mine has the videos before Gamma, and she let us borrow hers and recommended certain ones) My neighbor tries helping her, but becomes so frustrated. I've offered to have her daughter come over when they work on math and I'll help, but I've yet to have it happen. I'd like them both here actually so maybe my neighbor can also see what it is they want the kids to do... I'm just at an impass with explaining the hows of the assignment to her :/

We did make a slight breakthrough last night. When she was supposed to be writing out the expanded form, say: 439= 400 + 30 + 9. She couldn't even do that. She would have numbers from who knows where... 439 = 40 + 394 + 990.  She had no idea the numbers she was supposed to be using was right there in front of her even. I told her to say the number out loud at first but she wrote 439=4+3+9.  We were close! I then told her to write EXACTLY what she was saying and she finally got two of those on her own. She can add and subtract and even multiply amazingly quick so I think she has a good foundation at least there, but she can not apply the math at all. I'm almost positive she never grasped what they were supposed to be doing in class when they were first explained to about it, and they're now left to their own devices.

My neighor has written a letter to the school, teacher and principal, about not being able to really help with homework because she has no clue what they're supposed to be doing, and has gotten nothing back from them. I wrote up one last night for her to...I just need to edit it (it was late last night when I typed it) and submit it yet this morning (its all electronic so kids can't "forget" to give stuff to the teachers).

Quoting romacox:

Note:  Knowing new math is helpful when doing very large numbers.  But all children should first learn the old math , and then learn concepts (new math)....not the reverse. Math U See teaches the old math, and their first series that uses manipulative's gives children a very important understanding of math that is omitted in public schools now.

However, the children have to learn new math in order to pass the standardized tests, and move on to the next grade...they can pass the tests, but can't do basic math when they get to college. Since your child is in P.S. ,  I would recommend your child learn both new and old math.  Using Math U See's beginning manipulative's are a simple way to do that.

As for parents learning the new math, many teachers give parents after school classes on on this math so that you can teach your child.  Ask your school principle about this, and if they don't have one, help him organize one.

by on Oct. 11, 2012 at 7:57 AM

This is what is going on as explained by a neurologist: She also explains new and traditional math.

Quoting Crowsnest5:

My brother has two boys in public school...they are doing poorly in math as the whole state has changed curriculum this year. The division is VERY confusing and they are trying something called "zip zap zero" and another way to do division. When one could not do either, the teacher told him he could use the traditional way. What is going on with our schools? What is wrong with the old way of doing division?!??!?!!?

by on Oct. 11, 2012 at 8:33 AM
1 mom liked this
When I had a PS'er staying with us, I taught this concept by saying you're breaking numbers up into place values. It helps if you say the words for each number, 439 is 400 and 30, 9. That's how we say it right? So write what you say, the numbers broken up. It's just breaking them up into their place values. Then it's less scary to add. How? Friends like to party together, right? So all the hundreds gets together for an addition party, and all the tens get together for an addition party and all the ones get together for an addition party. Then the result of the parties, tired, cranky numbers who've had too much sugar, have to get picked up by their families and mushed back to real numbers... So 439 + 78, 400 is too big, so it has a party by itself. 30 and 70 are the same place values so they party together, and 8 and 9 party together. When we add them, after a rockin party, we realize the 70 and 30 musta felt bad for the 400 partying alone because they decided to combine and make 100 so they could party with 400, the 8 and 9 have parties together making 17. So when we put things back together, we have 400 + 100 + 17, which is much easier to handle. All you have to change is the 4 to a 5. So the answer is 517...... Does that explain it better?

The point is, when moving from concrete math (maths dealing with specific values) and try transitioning to more advanced maths which deal with a lot more variables, it can be a huge leap. The New Math is a means of trying to make lower maths a little less concrete. It's just terrible at it...lol...
by Platinum Member on Oct. 11, 2012 at 8:40 AM

OMGosh that's horrific! LOL