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Every Day Math- WHY NOT?


Full Member

I teach 5th grade and we are presently using HARCOURT BRACE for our math program. I HATE IT and desperately want my district to look at EVERY DAY MATH! I want to present to my school board because I feel so passionate about changing our present math program. I have a personal investment in this, too. I have a first grade daughter in my school system and another daughter and son on the way. My loathing for Harcourt was confirmed at a conference when a reputable speaker talked about "HB" being "one of the worst texts out there" - I later confirmed with her that she was, in fact, speaking of Harcourt Brace. HARCOURT teaches the algorithms which kids perform like robots without a deeper understanding. Once a concept is taught, that's pretty much it except for a few review problems on the practice masters.

I've read many articles supporting and bashing EM in the Proteacher archives. Do people mostly bash EM bc. it's different. I know the spiraling curriculum freaks people out. Please help me shed some light on this math program. Does it fail becasue there is not enough teacher and parent training. I know it's difficult to introduce the program at the upper elementary level to kids who have a traditional math foundation.

I have used some of EM's "math boxes" and the games since 1993 but after 12 hours of training and having a better understanding of program, I absolutely LOVE IT! Also Rachel McAnallen, a.k.a Ms. Math, recently inspired me at a keynote speech in Vermont. PLEASE visit her at mathchannel.com, sign up for a 10-day trial, and listen to her "keynote" on "Mathematical Understanding." It will change the way you think about math.

EM's rubrics force teachers to get to really know their students as mathematicians. It truly is a program where "sense-making" occurs.
I love EM's "partial sums." If someone threw lots of money down on the table (ones, tens, and hundreds) wouldn't you grab the hundreds and count them first? That's what partial sums does.
ex. 858 + 453
First add the hundreds- 1,200
tens 100
ones 11
SUM is 1,311
With the partial lessons for PRODUCTS, I never have to worry about the kids forgetting to put the stupid zeros down below when they solve 26 x 34. With partial products, the digit three keeps its name, 30, and is RESPECTED for it true place value! I used to think my M&M trick was so great- "Kids, now you multiply 26 times 30 so cover the 4 with an M&M and make it a zero bc. it's really a 40 and then put an M&M down below to keep the place value consistent." This is fine but AFTER they have deep understanding that they are multiplying 4 pairs of numbers and their place value names are respected! (ex. 30 x 20 = 600, 30 x 6 = 180, 4 x 20 = 80, 4 x 6 = 24. Add it all up and get 884! Lattice multiplication is taught too which deepens understanding. Trades-First, too! WOW - kids learn 3 strategies!

EM's cooperative games promote skill-building, mathematical reasoning, and discussions of strategies amongst students in the classroom. The games ARE the bulk of the skills practice! In our society don't we already have enough tv, computers, computer games, and worksheets to further weaken kids' language skills. We learn to talk through talking and there's not enough of it happening within our own families. Think about the discussion between a parent and child as they play an EM math game together. There is a new EM "Skills Link" and "Operations Handbook" for teachers who don't find the "math boxes" to be enough "skill & drill" worksheet practice.

Every town that surrounds my affluent town uses EM. People move to my town because of the "great schools" and I cringe as most teachers dish out workbook pages for each and every subject. I researched on the internet and found that most of the top schools in our country are using EM. I know many districts feel that EM is too rigorous for students and teachers,too, for that matter. Yes, it is a spiraling curriculum but skills are clearly labeled "Beginning, Developing, and Secure." Skills and concepts are revisited and kids that didn't get it the first time often pick it up later. I've seen classrooms with clearly marked posters for each unit clarifying which skills are "B, D, or S" and parents regularly receive letters as well. Why can't you just label the "math boxes "B, D, and S?" The data is out there- Hampton, NH has all of EM's "Math Masters" on a spreadsheet for each grade level and all boxes are labeled according to its expected level of understanding. Then kids can feel good when they can answer the "Secure" problems and not worry too much when they miss problems that are "Developing" and "Beginning" skills.

Parents who balk at EM– I wonder, did they have good math experiences in school? Do they have a deep understanding of mathematical concepts or did they memorize the rote procedure? They say, "I learned the traditional way and it worked for me. Why change?" Do they realize when American companies hire their math people they often hire people from India and Singapore (Singapore - now there's another cool math program!), people who have strong number sense, the ability to "play with numbers" and solve problems in a variety of ways.

We teach children to use multiple reading strategies to make meaning of text: visualize, predict, infer, visualize, summarize, reread, etc.
Children also need a “tool belt” of math strategies, not just traditional textbook step by step, linear methods to solve algorithms that mostly benefit kids who have good memories. EM encourages estimating before figuring out exact answers and using mental math. These kids will be the ones correctly making change in their heads in stores versus the traditionally taught kids who wants the scrap paper so they can subtract $8.49 from $10.00 by "killing" the 1 and changing the 3 zeroes into 9's and 10's and if they get a crazy answer like $2.51 or $2.49 they don't even bat an eyelash.

I always taught kids how to compare fractions by finding common denominators the rote way and too soon I showed them how to magically cross-multiply to see which fraction was larger. It wasn't until I taught them benchmark fractions and showed them how to find common denominators by using manipulatives such as fraction circles, Cuisenaire rods, and fraction bars that they truly understood what they were doing. And then we talked about when in their lives they would need to use this skill. EM uses lot of manipulatives to enhance discovery, engagement, and understanding.

Is this "New Math" scary because it's new? Chicago Every Day Math started after companies hired University of Chicago mathematicans to find out why Americans continued to do so poorly in math compared to other countries. After a 10-year study of math programs ALL OVER THE WORLD, Every Day Math came to be.

Do you want the some of the same doctoral procedures done on you today that were performed 50 years ago?

Wow! Excuse me for rambling on! And my school district does use the 6+1 Trait program (we do do some great things!) so excuse me for not going back and checking the trait of organization. I did try to check for most convention mistakes.

Tell me why my district should not adopt EM as their math program?
What can I say to my school board to convince them that EM is the way to go?

Thank you, in advance, for your responses!


Senior Member
Everyday Mathematics

The school where I worked last year abandoned Saxon Math in favor of EM because EM uses critical thinking and spiral curriculum. I personally did not teach math, so I don't know all the details, but from what I've seen it really forced the kids to use their knowledge and apply it. The only "bad" thing I heard was that it was "too hard." I think it was hard because they were so used to just rote memorization with Saxon that they had difficulty applying knowledge during the first year.



My advice is to present your information to the board and ask if you can pilot the program with your class. Give them a realistic gain for your students on the NRT and CRT. I have used EM before and I love parts of it. I think part of it has its place in my class. A teacher has to be comfortable with her math skills when using this program. I think if a teacher is uncomfortable with the program then the students will suffer. Although you are very enthusiastic about the program does not mean it is for every teacher to use. I use a textbook but I aslo use manipulatives, journal writing, weekly graphs, weekly venn diagrams, my own daily math ( spiral reivew), games, contest, art, apply math, literature. go shopping and many other activites related to math. So do not think because a teacher is not using this program they are not doing an awesome job.
I do love your passion for the program and I hope you get to pilot the program. Be careful not to put down teachers who are not imspired or passionate the way you are.


Full Member
EM Advice

Be sure if you adopt the program that you receive the necessary training for teachers. The pacing and spiral are crucial to the success of the program. Also, be sure to educate the parents. They have a difficult time understanding why many of the skills and concepts are not taught to mastery when first introduced. Finally, be sure your students are given the reference text which goes with the program. My system thought they would save money by leaving this out. It was only when parents begged for some support to understand what their kids were learning and how they were learning did we get the reference text.
I have been using the program for 3 years. I am not a Math person but I feel comfortable with the program. I actually think teaching this program has made me a better math student.
Again be sure you have the proper training and that the teachers are all on the same page.
The only thing I supplement in the program is problem solving. I do think children need more practice with the more complicated problems which you find on the testing.
Good luck with your venture!


Junior Member
We use Everyday Math. I'm a new teacher so I really have nothing to compare it to, but the other teachers I work with who are familiar with other programs praise EM for its superiority over other programs.

I personally love it. When I compare my 4th graders to their local public school counterparts (the local public district doesn't use EM) our kids are far more prepared for advanced math through their experience with Everyday Math. It's the differentiation of strategies that really gives EM an edge over other programs. Not every kid can "get" just one way of doing something. It's great to have multiple strategies to teach to them, so they're not relying completely on one way of doing things. I think the work is challenging without being completely overbearing and frustrating to my kiddos.

For the record, I jumped right into the program without any major training. I just spent the summer reviewing the teacher's guide and the became familiar with some of the EM "things"---math boxes, in and out boxes, etc---it was a breeze to begin teaching.


Junior Member

I have used Everyday Math for the past 9 years - 8 years in 4th grade, and this year in a departmentalized setting in 5th - teaching Everyday Math to 3 different classes!

Can I say I am biased? I really enjoy teaching with this program! My district spent the money and purchased the Student Resource Books - one per child - and these are a must. Parents need them at home to help with homework and preparing for tests. Also, my district purchased the "Tool Kits" for each teacher - a series of 4-5 bins full of gadgets and hands on tools needed for teaching...again, a definite must.

I will say that my first couple years were a bit rocky. All the teachers were trained by EM people - we were desperate when we saw how different this curriculum was from the old Addison Wesley we had been using! It was taught by a teacher, who helped us with lots of management issues, some of which I continue to use 9 years later!

There are drawbacks, in my opinion. The chapter tests are not set up with a point system, so if left alone, you would weight each item in a similar way. Frustrating, as each item should be worth different points because some items on the test are secure, while others are simply developing. If left to their own, teachers each grade differently, and that frustrates parents.

Assumptions - this program assumes kids will master their basic multiplication facts...without a tremendous amount of work in class. There is a lot of fact practice/games/3 min. tests in 4th grade, but I have noticed that 5th just assumes this knowledge and moves on. Many of my 5th graders DO NOT know their facts, and this slows us way down. I teach in an upper middle class district - parents work with their kids intensely here, as they want to move their child into an honors class in 6th grade -

I don't like partial products that much. It confuses kids and parents and is a major flaw, in my opinion. It does teach the concept behind how we multiply, but I dislike forcing kids to use this method. Most of my kids came in with the "old fashioned" method already learned...which is much more efficient....and faster.....doing partial products just confused them. I now show it, but don't teach it or expect kids to learn it.

I remember my first couple years - how difficult it was when the kids didn't know the program. Once everyone knew the program, and was using it, it made teaching with it easier. I will say that this program stinks for low kids........nowhere near enough practice....and if their parents don't work at home with them, these kids struggle. High kids do exceptionally well.


Good Points

AmyK I love your prespective about the program. We do not have all of the and most of my students are at risk so that explains the difficulty they were having when I used it. Thanks


Full Member
thank you

Thanks so much for allof your advice. I know their are flaws with every program, including EM. I just want a program that builds number sense and allows students to paly with numbers. I have tons of supplemental resources that I pull from but I find bc. my kids didn't have too many "sense-making" mathematical experiences in previous years, it's hard to eek it out of them. I try and I'm not perfect. That's what I love about my job- the thrill of making it make sense for kids in an engaging and meaningful way!


Senior Member
Long term effects of Every Day Math

I teach in a middle school and the feeding elementary schools use Every Day Math. I hate it! My sixth graders come in not knowing the basic multiplication facts or even how to do long division. Why can't they do long division? Because they do not know their multiplication facts. The repeated subtraction works for them because they do not know their multiplication facts. The skills they do learn in Every Day Math are more time consuming and a lot more work. I recently had my principal come to me for materials to help his elementary school aged child with her Every Day Math. And he has the endorsement to teach math! I would love to make a presentation to my school board to get them to STOP using Every Day Math!


Senior Member

It sounds like the program will work if it is continued through middle school. I agree children need to know basic facts and they should know how to do long division in middle school. Does EM teach multiplication facts and does it have a component for long division?


Full Member
I absolutely loath E.M.

I teach first grade, and while EM would be great if it started each unit with teaching the concrete fundamentals, then the activities would be great tools for enrichment because it does allow students the opportunity to sharpen their H.O.T.S. Yes, it is a spiraling curriculum, but I don't think EM is effective for students who are academically behind and lack a firm foundation in Math. For each lesson, the rules for each activity changes slightly with no check for mastery of the previous concept. Because my district is so "geeked" over EM, I have to use supplemental tools, such as Saxon. I love Saxon Math (and Saxon Phonics) because it gives students concise, systematic approaches for learning each skill, and each skill is taught in isolation, so that the teacher can integrate those skills into other lessons later on.


Full Member
I absolutely loathe EM

I teach first grade, and I find students who are unable to recognize that numbers are in a series of patterns, can be written/spoken/quantified, and have values that can be increased or decreased will have MAJOR PROBLEMS!

EM would be great if it started each unit with teaching the fundamentals, then the activities would be great tools for enrichment because it does allow students the opportunity to sharpen their H.O.T.S. Yes, it is a spiraling curriculum, but I don't think EM is effective for students who are academically behind and lack a firm foundation in Math. For each lesson, the rules for each activity changes slightly with no check for mastery of the previous concept. Because my district is so "geeked" over EM, I have to use supplemental tools, such as Saxon. I love Saxon Math (and Saxon Phonics) because it gives students concise, systematic approaches for learning each skill, and each skill is taught in isolation, so that the teacher can integrate those skills into other lessons later on.


Junior Member
Not so hot on EM

Last year when I taught 3rd, the program worked for me because the children had developed a decent number sense. The spiraling curriculum was a plus because it was like a constant review. According to my math coach, children are not required to master concepts the first time around, and that is supposedly the beauty of it - repeated exposure and practice.
I have to say that this year in first I am not following it. As a first grade teacher (and I've been here before) I cannot fathom teaching money and especially not time until the kids have solid skip counting and a better number sense. So I am supplementing with some other materials and presenting concepts when they children are ready. Some may disagree, but I've seen very negative results when following EM to the letter on the first grade level.


5th grade

I used to teach all subjects to my fifth grade class, including EM, at a Title I school. Math was THE MOST DIFFICULT part of the day. Our hands were being forced to use this curriculum with kids who had no mastery of multiplication facts and little (if any) support at home. The few (3-4)who did have support did not fair much better becuase of the algorithms used. The lack of basic knowledge hampered their succes in division and made teaching fractions virutally impossible at the pacing they suggested. The few kids who managed to pick up anything out of the program were then lost again in 6th grade when their middle school teachers didn't use the same methods because the program was only adopted through5th grade.
With this program the parents and students no longer speak the same mathmatical language and when you are working with low income families it was a disaster. We ended up creating our own curriculum with left over pieces in order to pass our state accrediation tests. I would never recommend this curriculum to anyone and will do my best to never have to work with it again!


Senior Member
everyday math

I taught with Everyday Math in the 2nd and the 4th grade and switched to 6th grade middle school. The kids did very well. I think maybe your problem is the curriculum you use in Middle school and not EM. What program do use use? When you teach with the old "drill and kill" methods and/or curriculum that requires no thinking the kids will be turned off because they are used to learning Math from EM. My district used Connected Math. Maybe your district just needs to find a similar curriculum-one that's based on the NCTM standards. Then there would be less of a problem and the kids would continue to learn as they did with EM. I'm licensed to teach elementary grades as well as Middle School Math and Science.
By the way, students are shown different algorithms to learn how to solve division such as repeated subtraction. It doesn't mean they don't know their multiplication facts. It means they understand what division means. Students using EM are not taught to be a calculator spitting out numbers and not knowing what they mean. I would suggest that you take some workshops and read up more on EM and/or Math Education courses. Then you would realize how great of a program EM really is.


New Member
New to EM

I am a student teacher and the school I am placed in uses EM. This program will be completely new to me, but I am trying to be optimistic. However, there is one thing I think all teachers should keep in mind. NO program, for any subject area, is perfect. All programs must be supplemented with other materials. Therefore, if I see that my students are not getting the basic math facts that they need from EM, I will provide them with some practice from traditional programs. I know that I am new to the profession, but I really think that this is the only way to make these types of programs work.

Frank Barber

Concerned parent

I have a first grader taking everyday math. So far he's doing OK. But I have heard/read alot of negative things about this program and I'm concerned he won't know how to divide or multiply large numbers, or work with different bases or do hard core algebra if he does not learn traditional algorithms. Reading these comments they range form I hate it to I love it. Is anyone out there aware of a longitudinal study comparing similar mainstream kids who have had Progressive Math programs for 10 years versus traditional programs and how they do on their Math SATs? or how they fare in engineering school? All I see are opinions. Aren't there studies to determine which is best?