TEACHING ALGEBRA TO 5TH GRADERS
\doc\web\99\03\alg5.txt
Wait a minute, this is the first time I've seen somebody claim that
it is reasonable for a 4th grader to use algebra, not guess and check
to solve this equation. Considering that half of 9th graders don't
even have their basic arithmetic proficient enough to start algebra,
and that in a normal sequence of 9th grade algebra 1, you don't start
solving equations until you've spent 2/3 of the year going over the
15 or 16 properties and operations one by one before you can apply
them all (yes, I found where it explains the solution at the END of
algebra one - only geometry problems and polynomials was after that),
what' s the point of basing "higher standards" so that _ALL_ students
are expected to master these problems? What's wrong with a
traditional sequence? I didn't take calculus until I started MIT, and
I turned out just fine.
Why force all students on a track where all are expected to master
solving equations by grade 5 instead of traditional = half of
students learn to master it by grade 9, and perhaps up to 65%
including those who pick it up in college?
The rigorous California math standards go out on a limb by saying
students should be _ready_ for algebra by grade 8. Heck, I'm sure we
can teach some 4th graders what the derivative of x^2 is too. Does
that mean we teach them calculus and linear algebra?
My 7 yr old can hack intermediate piano, two staff , two hands and
accidentals. Do we then set a standard that all students should be
"expected" to know and be able to play piano at such a standard?
I don't think so, but that is what new new "higher" standards set in
math and reading.
Expected is no longer a range centered around 50th percentile
performance. Required is now ALL students above something above the
75th percentile. That is madness.
BTW, this is what the NAEP says high school seniors can do:
\clip\98\01\mathform.txt LOS ANGELES TIMES Jan. 5, 1996 Formulas for
Math Problems RICHARD LEE COLVIN (New math, math reform backlash
against "fantasy lunch")
http://www.math.uic.edu/~cpmp/archive9701.html This fall, the
National Assessment of Educational Progress said 17-year-olds are no
stronger in math than 20 years ago. Only six of 10 high school
seniors can compute with decimals, fractions and percentages. Fewer
than one in 10 can use beginning algebra.
According to this, only the 60% who have mastered middle
school math are qualified to even think about taking algebra.
Yet the new standards are effectively forcing algebra down to the
4th grade in the name of "problem solving" when WA's commision
on Student Learning has approved such problems for our 4th
graders.
You know, isn't the whole idea of leapfrogging over current standards
like when the Bolsheviks promised that socialism would allow Russa
and China to leapfrog over capitalism? How can we get 100% of kids
to master algebra when we can't even get beyond 60% mastering
arithmetic?
Yeah, the system will stink for a while, but we'll make steady
progress until the socialist paradise arrives.
From: "Dave Cole"
To: "ClearingHouse"
Subject: [education-consumers] Re: Do your own thing, or, how to solve a problem the hard way
Date sent: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 09:16:16 -0600
Send reply to: "Dave Cole"
> =====================================================================
>
>
> I think Ken is underestimating his son.
>
> >There are 14 pieces of fruit in a bowl. There are twice as many apples as
> >oranges, and half as many pears as oranges. How many of each type of fruit
> >are in the bowl?
> >
> >Oh, and then my son really made me proud. I quickly showed him how the
> >problem was solved using algebra. Not surprisingly, he didn't understand
> >it. But he looked at me with a smile and said, "I guess that's why I need
> >to stay in school, huh?" Can't teach that kind of comon sense.
>
> Last summer, I taught a 6 week mathematics class to 4th and 5th grade
> students (actually they were just entering these grades so they would have
> been 3rd and 4th grade students). The class met for 2 hours every Saturday
> and covered a number of "fun" mathematical subjects, including an
> introduction to algebra concepts, fibonacci numbers, mental math skills, and
> an introduction to the game of Equations. I gave this problem to my
> daughter (a 4th grader now) and she solved the problem in about 2 minutes -
> using Algebra. The problem is, she won't see algebra again in our school
> district for 4 years, so now what does she do.
>
> By the way, although my daughter has been identified as gifted, this class
> was not geared toward gifted children, nor were most of the 12 students
> identified as gifted.
>
> Dave Cole
>
>
>
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