\doc\web\2003\02\leastcom.txt
Hi, Arthur here.
LAKE WASHINGTON SCHOOL BOARD DETERMINES THAT OUR KIDS WILL NO LONGER BE
TAUGHT HOW TO COMPUTE AVERAGE OR LEAST COMMON DENOMINATOR.
Hi, Arthur here.
I got a quick glance at the fractions and decimal book during the
ethnic fair, and Eric's homework. I'm absolutely floored at the 50
pages of seeming every possible way to compare add and subtract
fractions with every possible aid and table that I've never seen
before in the adopted Investigations textbooks. Fraction lines,
fraction table (you're not supposed to memorize the multiplication
table but you've got a fraction table 1/8=.125 2/8 = .25 3/8
=....??).
But just about every adult who's made it past 5th grade knows about
using the least common denominator, certainly anyone who's gotten
their high school diploma. This mathematical concept is so important
that it is a figure of speech in the english language. This concept
is also neccesary to solve many of the original so-called 4th grade
WASL problems which were originally released in 1997 such as the
black and white marbles and lemonade strength problems.
Guess which method isn't covered? I couldn't find least common
denominator anywhere, and I'll bet if it's in there it will be in a
"if they walk in knowing how to do this, it's a bad method and
discourage it" like it is for every other standard method. All it
takes in most 5th grade textbooks is 3 or 4 pages or a couple of
worksheets. Eric covered it with me in one night. Your kids already
spent (or maybe wasted) a third of the year learning everything there
is to know about factors and primes, but they're not going to use
that to construct common denominators?
On a similar note, I'm pretty sure I spotted the section in
Investigations which states that whatever you do, don't ever teach
that the formula for average is the sum of the items divided by the
number of items, or for that matter don't even teach them the
definition of the terms average or arithmetic mean. Guess what was on
two WASL items?? You had to know the formula for computing the
average.
So to you folks on the school board, you've approved a mathematics
system that doesn't teach how to compute an average, or least common
denominator, two of the most crucial elementary math concepts. This
should only prove my point that the entire philosiphy of Dale Seymour
Investigations, which it unfortunately it is successful in, is try to
teach mathematics without teaching ANY of the mathematical concepts
currently being used by any of the adult population in any job or
academic field outside of mathematics education. It does not teach
division, it does not teach multiplication, it uses coloring in
charts instead of teaching decimal math, it is just completely
ridiculous if not for the fact that everyone is so clueless that
they're buying into it just because it's fashionable.
Most kids will learn math easier and quicker with the quick
explanation and do 2 pages of examples approach rather than the let's
spend a month of exploring, cutting pasting and coloring approach
which won't have any application to the math they'll need to do on
the jobs or in pre-college work.
How are you going to have a generation of kids ready for the 21st
century when they won't even be as well equipped as kids of the 19th
century who at least were taught how to compute an average, least
common denominator, and decimal arithmetic?? You're going to have a
lost generation like the kids in China after the Red Guards decided
that, like our math, they should destroy education as they knew it.
Arthur Hu Parent of 5th grader AG Bell
Oh yeah, forgot to restate the bottom line...
Could you at least spend 2 days on least common denominator? That's why
I bought the books for your use.
If you're going to spend two months on Dale Seymour, the least
you could do is spend a little bit of time on the basics as well.
Not everybody gets it in 2 to 4 days, but most kids will.
The basics should be more than just arithmetic but the other concepts
as well.