I am not going to pass judgment here on any of the programs until they have been “piloted”, evaluated, and discussed district wide. I would like to discuss some of the resources and features of each of the programs.
Yesterday we had the opportunity to see the EnVisions presentation by Kurt Whited. He is extremely knowledgeable about elementary mathematics teaching and the appropriate uses of technology as it relates to the classroom. Some of the key features of the EnVisions program include the Visual Learning Bridge. The Visual Learning Bridge acts as a connector or a bridge between the conceptual and the abstract. You can find the “VLB” at the top fo every lesson and I think it may help students “see” the connection between the concept and the practical use of mathematics.
Another feature, for the teachers, is the unit design. There isn’t one or two large, cumbersome teacher editions that need to be lugged around. There are 20 individualized units that come in a box and can be easily reordered to meet the needs of each classroom (also to meet the NYS Standards). There is also an on-line edition for the teachers (and students) which means in theory a teacher no longer needs to take anything home to create a lesson plan (although we know an excellent teacher adds to any lesson, unit, and/or program to tailor to the needs of the students in his/her class). All new programs that we are piloting have this feature.
EnVisions also has a podcast feature that I am curious to learn more about. I love the idea of have professional development, student materials right at your finger tips. I hope this piece lives up to what is running around in my head.
The etools that are available for students is a nice feature that can be used at school and at home. One piece that I find interesting is the counter tool (must have username and password from pilot program to access right now). When you choose the array workspace and use the counters, you can see the the multiplication fact in array form with the answer at the bottom. You can click and drag and make different arrays to work on developing different facts.
Last week we had the opportunity to learn more about the ins and outs of the Harcourt math program, HSP. Harcourt is a K-6 program. One interesting feature is the leveled concept readers. There is one title for each of the 8 units. Each unit has the same title which is leveled to meet a range of learners. The teacher editions come in 2 volumes. At the primary level, the student edition comes in either one big book or one per unit.
The technology piece has some age appropriate games that will enhance student learning. It is simple to use. You can choose a grade level and then the site will redirect you to the games that are categorized by concept. The “Show me” activities provide students with some direct instruction, which can be helpful to reinforce concepts.
The on-line teacher planner is another nice feature that will make it easier to do planning at home. You have access to all parts of the program from the actual lessons to student worksheets (re-teach, practice, and enrichment types). Lessons can be printed as needed or kept on-line for future reference.
Coming up next will be the middle school programs McDougal-Littell and Holt.