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How is your child’s school teaching math?

Chances are your child’s math class is different than what you remember. Here’s our guide to some of the popular math curricula in schools today.

By Jessica Kelmon

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Saxon Math

This popular, effective math curriculum blends conceptual thinking, hands-on activities, and real-world problem solving with more old-school methods like lectures and “drill and kill” rote practice. Using a “spiral approach,” Saxon builds on skills gradually over time by returning to a skill repeatedly, rather than teaching discrete skill-based lessons and moving on.

Grades covered: K-12

What it looks like: In class, teachers give scripted lectures, which means two second grade teachers in different states teaching lesson three will cover pretty much the same thing. In early elementary school, for example, the class has five daily math activities sprinkled throughout the day: morning routines (typically student-led, whole-class activities focused on real-world problems.); fact practice (including practice drills, flashcards, worksheets); lecture (introducing a new concept); guided class practice (often worksheets); and homework. On every fifth day, the teacher gives the kids a quiz or an oral exam to assess what they’ve learned that week.

Homework: You’ll see nightly homework that ranges from rote drills to conceptual homework (say, drawing a house floor plan that requires calculations) to real-world problems tailored to your child’s age. Students are encouraged to try many different problem-solving strategies, so don’t be surprised if your child’s homework involves guess-and-check strategies, drawing, building models, working backwards, making lists, or even acting out a problem.

is an associate editor at GreatSchools.org.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

04/24/2012:
"Last weekend my child is 7 grade in school public(good school) receive 40 question of Math on Algebra, geometric. She has Asperges and answer it in 30 minuts but my husband and I check her answer and we taken 2 days chech all this. She had write correctly 80% and only 20% she had mistake but as near her answer. I must said that my old math was easy now is complicated, but quality on Math is very complicated and hard. When she will study high school hasn't any problem with math. "
04/16/2012:
"What is your opinion on Connected Math? "
04/16/2012:
"My son did Saxon math up to 6th grade in private school. When we switched to public school for 7th grade we were told by the new school that Saxon wasnt satisfactory in their view since it didn't comply with California state standards. "
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