Everyday Mathematics

Everyday Mathematics

Everyday Mathematics is a pre-kindergarten through 6th grade standards-based mathematics curriculum developed by the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project, and published by Wright Group/McGraw-Hill. Over 175,000 classrooms and 2.8 million students are currently using "Everyday Mathematics", and it is being adopted by a steadily increasing number of schools each year.Fact|date=February 2008


Curriculum development for "Everyday Mathematics" started in 1983. Max Bell was Project Director for the 1st edition, released in 1998. James McBride was Project Director for the 2nd edition, released in 2002. A third edition was released in 2007.

Description of the program

cope and sequence

"Everyday Mathematics" is based on a spiral curriculum, where each of the core topics are treated throughout the school year. There are seven conceptual strands which highlight core topics such as Algebra and Measurement. Mastery of a strand is not required to move on to concepts of another strand. It relies on the notion that reinforcement of important skills is necessary, that skills should be practiced regularly. The key principle in regards to spiraling and distributed practice is that mastery and fluency in basic skills are goals that should be achieved long after they are first introduced (Braams 2003).

This is contrasted to seeing an obvious progression of skill build-up occur (student masters one digit addition and moves on to two digit addition) In opposition to this view, however, “…Everyday Mathematics was designed to take advantage of the spacing effect…” (Braams 2003).


The EM program uses six principles to guide each stage of the curriculum. Like other curriculum systems, it employs multiple practice methods such as review problems, flash cards, games, homework, etc. As much as possible it bases the math problems in real-world examples. Students are asked to explain their problem solving and to listen to other students' strategies, promoting communication and verbal understanding. Students also work in a variety of settings, from individual work to small groups. Class work includes long-term projects and open-ended questions. There is also information sheets that are sent to parents to encourage participation and help them work with their children; homework is structured so that students are meant to rework problems from previous lessons with adults in the home.

In 2007, the Texas Board of Education rejected the proposal to add the third grade textbook of the "Everyday Mathematics" series to its approved list of textbooks [cite web
title =State Board of Education Summary of Action Items Nov. 16, 2007
publisher =Texas State Board of Education
date =2007-11-16
url =http://www.tea.state.tx.us/sboe/summary/2007/nov07sum.pdf
format =PDF
accessdate =2007-11-28
] , stating that EM encouraged a reliance on calculators. [cite news
last =Robison
first =Clay
title =Rejected math book raises brows
work =Houston Chronicle
publisher =Hearst Newspapers
date =2007-11-25
url =http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/robison/5327819.html
accessdate =2007-11-28
] While EM includes calculators among its tools, it tries to use them in a way that encourages learning rather than replacing learning.

Application in the classroom

Below is an outline of the components of EM as they are generally seen throughout the curriculum.


A typical lesson [http://everydaymath.uchicago.edu/samplelessons/2nd/index.html (sample)] outlined in one of the teacher’s manuals includes three parts.

# "Teaching the Lesson"—This is where the new content is introduced.
# "Ongoing Learning and Practice"—In this section, material is reviewed for maintenance purposes.
# "Options for Individualizing"—Here is where options for extending or reteaching concepts are presented.

Daily Routines:

Every day, there are certain things that each EM lesson requires the student to do routinely. These components can be dispersed throughout the day or they can be part of the main math lesson.

* "Math Messages"—These are problems, displayed in a manner chosen by the teacher, that students complete before the lesson and then discuss as an opener to the main lesson.
* "Mental Math and Reflexes"—These are brief (no longer than 5 min) sessions “…designed to strengthen children's number sense and to review and advance essential basic skills…” (Program Components 2003).
* "Math Boxes"—These are pages intended to have students routinely practice problems independently.
* "Home Links/Study Links"—Everyday homework is sent home. Grades K-3 they are called Home Links and 4-6 they are Study Links. They are meant to reinforce instruction as well as connect home to the work at school.

Supplemental Aspects

Beyond the components already listed, there are supplemental resources to the program. The two most common are games and explorations.

* "Games" —These are counted as an essential part of the EM curriculum. “…Everyday Mathematics sees games as enjoyable ways to practice number skills, especially those that help children develop fact power…” (Program Components 2003). Therefore, authors of the series have interwoven games throughout daily lessons and activities.
* "Explorations"—One could, perhaps, best describe these as mini-projects completed in small groups. They are intended to extend upon concepts taught throughout the year.

Implementing all of these components is a challenge, as it requires time, and a change of attitudes from students and teachers, can also be a problem. “…Instead of fostering a competitive environment and teaching students through logical deduction, Everyday Mathematics uses a collaborative milieu and allows students to draw their own conclusions after seeing recurring math patterns. Teachers facilitate the process instead of teaching it…" (Knight 2005). Teachers must also have faith in the spiral curriculum in order to implement and assess student work. Teachers who have been trained on grading for mastery, may become frustrated in application of EM.

Critics and their rationale

Criticism of EM has come from all directions. Many internet sitesweal and web pages and even internet videos have been dedicated to countering the position of many school districts and education professionals that EM is an effective mathematics program. Many claim that EM, rather than being innovative, is a severely deficient and radical approach to math that should be abandoned.Fact|date=February 2008

On the other hand, the What Works Clearinghouse (the official research clearinghouse for the U.S. Department of Education) has analyzed research for five elementary school mathematics programs and found that only Everyday Mathematics has scientific research-based "evidence of a positive effect with no overriding contrary evidence." [ [http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/WWC/reports/topic.aspx?tid=04 Everyday Mathematics in the What Works Clearinghouse] ]

One direction from which criticism comes is from parents. “.. [S] uch programs as Everyday Mathematics raise the eyebrows and sometimes the ire of parents simply because they don’t use the traditional methods parents are accustomed to…” (Knight 2005). It is difficult for some to trust EM because it seems to differ so much from the math they grew up with. Parents complain that the methods used in homework are so different from traditional methods, they are unable to assist in homework assignments.Fact|date=February 2008 They also claim that their children are unable to master simple arithemetic problems. Methods such as the "lattice" multiplication method are far more tedious, and require more drawing and effort with no real advantage over traditional methods.Fact|date=February 2008 By 2007, school districts that were considering adopting EM were encountering very negative reactions from parents when asked about the choice of EM [ [http://www.issaquah.wednet.edu/documents/math/parentsurvey.pdf Issaquah School District Survey] ]

Many professional mathematiciansweal consider EM to be an inferior curriculum. Like many parentsweal, they believe that overlooks or underplays basics. It does not promote the use of standard algorithms that have been tested and used for a long time by professionals who use math every day.Fact|date=February 2008

However, Wertheimer (2002) points out that “… [t] he mathematicians are among the few survivors of the traditional mathematics program. They are trying to apply what they know to the entire population”. He also has a great deal of reservations about the ability of these mathematicians to evaluate the complexity of educational methodology that can help everyone achieve.

Beyond parents and professional mathematicians, even teachers have joined in the argument. Teachers who have encountered problems with such a radical approach have also dissented.Fact|date=February 2008

A common argument is that the program was not the problem, but implementation was. Criticsweal claimed that the content was difficult for teachers to teach without a great deal of training. Much of the content in geometry and statistics goes far beyond the traditional 5th grade math most parents and elementary teachers are proficient in, because of the belief that students in early grades should be studying advanced math concepts rather than only basic facts and methods.Fact|date=February 2008

The Texas Board of Education's rejection of the third grade textbook, in addition to its criticism of calculator use, also included their decision that it provided insufficient preparation in multiplication. [cite news
last =Robison
first =Clay
title =Rejected math book raises brows
work =Houston Chronicle
publisher =Hearst Newspapers
date =2007-11-25
url =http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/robison/5327819.html
accessdate =2007-11-28


External links

[http://everydaymath.uchicago.edu Everyday Mathematics Center Website]


About Everyday Mathematics: Research & Development. (2003) http://everydaymath.uchicago.edu/about.shtml#scope. Retrieved June 27, 2006.

Bas, Braams. (2003) Spiraling Through UCSMP Everyday Mathematics. http://www.nychold.com/em-spiral.html. Retrieved June 27, 2006.

Current Curriculum: About Everyday Mathematics. (2002) http://www.ashlandhs.org/Curriculum/currprojects.html. Retrieved June 27, 2006.

Knight, Michelle. (2005) Everyday Math Has Its Proponents. http://www.toacorn.com/News/2005/0331/Community/018.html Retrieved June 27, 2006.

Johnson, Jerry. (2000) Teaching and Learning Mathematics: Using Research to Shift from “Yesterday” Mind to “Tomorrow” Mind. http://www.k12.wa.us/research/pubdocs/pdf/MathBook.pdf. Retrieved June 27, 2006.

Program Components for Grades 1-6 (2003) http://everydaymath.uchicago.edu/samplelessons/lessonbackground.html#part1. Retrieved June 27, 2006.

University of Chicago School Mathematics Project. (2005) http://everydaymath.uchicago.edu/educators/em_research_summary_8.pdf. Retrieved June 29, 2006.

Wertheimer, Richard. (2002) Forum: Making It All Add Up. http://www.post-gazette.com/forum/comm/20021110edwert1110p3.asp. Retrieved June 29, 2006.

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