Dec 12, 2006

The Newest New Math. Does Not Compute.

When I was a kid we had "New Math." Every September we learned about sets, from elementary up through high school, it seems. Jack's school has started a new curriculum, Everyday Mathematics. The whole school is doing it. The main idea seems to be that they keep spiraling back around to repeat concepts or teach them in a new way, the idea being that if the children don't get it the first time around they may the next time, etc. Jack's teacher, like all of the teachers, is learning the system just a few steps ahead of the kids.

Now Jack loves math. He begs to learn more. John has taught him to carry, but we learned at the teacher conference that in the Everyday Math curriculum the kids don't learn to carry. "They have a new algorithm for that," says the teacher. "I don't know what it is yet, but don't teach Jack to carry. He may get confused." Oops, too late.

Now we are trying to hammer out a Gifted IEP for Jack, and his teacher is too busy learning the new curriculum and making sure most kids get it to meet Jack's needs. At least she was honest, and I really can't blame her. So it looks like we'll be leaning on the Gifted Coordinator to pull him out and give him extra instruction? His teacher doesn't like the idea of Jack missing "the games" and not knowing how to play them in future years. (So what will they do with the new kids?) The Gifted Coordinator told me at our GIEP meeting yesterday that most gifted enrichment is "in the classroom." So--now what?

In my web trolling I found the Education Program for Gifted Youth out of Stanford that kids can do at their schools. His school has a computer lab and he's good at computers, so what's not to like? My plan is to suggest he do that two class periods a week during his regular math class, so he is challenged. I'll volunteer to help monitor. And there must be other gifted kids in 1st or 2nd grades (before the pullout begins) who could use something like this. But how to get in touch with the other parents? The Gifted Coordinator isn't allowed to give me those names, of course. As Pooh says, "Think, think, think."

In my casual conversations with parents, I'm surprised at how little people know about Gifted IEPs. They think have to wait until the end of 2nd grade for testing. Not so! It's your right to have your child tested in any grade, even kindergarten, at least in Pennsylvania. And the school is required to meet the educational needs of your child. The thing is that the school will try to fit the child into the existing curriculum and it's really up to the parent to come up with other ideas/force them to go out of their way for your child. Or take it to mediation. That's just the way it is. I'm memorizing the email and phone number of the Gifted Coordinator, practicing my pushiness, and hardening my soul.


Anonymous said...

We had Bug Boy tested while they were doing the special education testing. We figured we may as well get it all done at the same time. His father and I were both in the gifted program when we were in school and were good students.
Bug Boy did indeed test well above where we thought he'd be. So at his IEP in October we met the gifted program coordinator and discussed his extra reading and math help. I told them I did NOT want him pulled out, the ASD makes it difficult enough for him to make friends, pulling out would just make it worse.
He is doing very well! He reads on a second grade level and is doing end of first grade/beginning of second grade math. He also has taught himself Times Tables and ROman Numerals. We are pretty sure he is smarter than both of us put together.
Now, if only we could get him some friends...

Anonymous said...

We are dealing with similar things with W. I have his first GIEP next week. I didn't have to push to hard to get testing, but I've had to push hard to find out what the hell they do in Gifted Support!

Keep pushing, Lauren. You know what's best for Jack.

Anjali said...

What a pain. Makes me want to do private school next year.

Rachel said...

I think something else to think about is what is going on in his math class. The Everyday Math is a good program, though it's always tough the first time through any new curriculum. A good teacher can find the enrichment activities in any curriculum and figure out ways to have some kids try them. Is he bored in class? And don't just base it on what he tells you - ask the teacher too and sit in on a few classes to see for yourself. The gifted support teacher might be willing to come into the classroom and work with some of the other top kids on some of the enrichment activities. Ours always was. Just some things to think about.

Betty said...

Keep on pushing, Lauren!
We went through this with both our children two decades ago. I'm aghast that the same thing is still going on.......

Don't let Jack get bored in school.

Something new in math (in my school) is Sexton math. Have you heard of it?

carol said...

i will be happy to tell you all there is to know about gifted education.Carol

concernedCTparent said...

Everyday Math is a slippery slope. It's really not that new either... been around for 20 years. Those districts that have been in for the long haul are full of regrets. It does not prepare children (gifted or not) for advanced math without loads of supplementation from other sources. Mathematicians hate it and have been quite vocal. You'll find loads of info if you google. If your school is using Everyday Math, build the traditional foundations at home (continue teaching your child to carry) or get a really good tutor!