Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Everyday Math

I wrote about Everyday Math on July 20th.  I ran into a fellow teacher in Mardels today and we were discussing how to color our thermometers and number grids.  That's when I realized I had not included that important information in the article!  So here is a repost of the previous article with information about the number grid and thermometer added.

Our district has adopted the Everyday Math curriculum for the next 4 years. I’ve just been to a couple trainings for EM, and it looks like a wonderful program. I’ve spent the summer reading through the EM books to get a feel for it. However I am in no way an expert!

Here’s what I like...

The spiraling method of teaching. EM continuously spirals back to reinforce previously learned concepts.

Students learn more than one way to solve a problem. Everyone thinks differently, so it just makes sense that one algorithm doesn’t fit all. Differentiation is built in.

EM encourages critical thinking and problem solving skills. From what I understand, that is the basis for how EM got started. A college professor noticed that his students could figure out all the straightforward math problems. However, these same students were unable to think critically and problem solve. So he went to the Chicago Public Schools to see what could be done. A partnership grew, extensive research was done, and now we have Everyday Math. Don’t quote me on the specifics there; the basic premise is correct though.

EM uses fewer worksheets and makes excellent use of manipulatives.

There is a wonderful online support system connected to EM. Students and parents can access it as well for math games, tutorials, their math book, and many other things.

An online planning calendar that automatically fills in lessons. Need I say more?

Introducing EM to parents

Everyday Math is different from the traditional math parents are used to. It will be important to discuss the highlights and address questions on Back to School Night. If you already have your books, you’ll notice a book called the “Home Connection Handbook”. This book is a wonderful resource for Back to School Night. Inside you’ll find everything you’ll need to explain EM to parents, plus a FAQ section to help you prepare for questions. Be sure to show your Content Strand Poster so parents can see how the content is spiraled.

Parents will be comforted to know that they will receive a Family Link letter with every unit. (These are found in the Math Masters book.) Each letter will explain what their child is learning, how it is being taught, math vocabulary, supporting home activities, and an answer key for the homework.

Teachers may want to consider having a Math Night for parents to explain things in more depth.


We all have those days when we are too sick to come to school and we are unable to secure a familiar substitute. Don’t panic… pull out your Differentiation Handbook and look at page 135 (2nd grade). There are some great options to print off for students to utilize on substitute days.  Another fantastic option is the Skills Link book that comes free with our order.  You're covered!

Classroom Management

I highly recommend reading the Teachers Reference Manual. The manual gives excellent explanations for the different activities in EM, as well as suggestions for classroom management.

Student Journals and My Reference Book

Daily work for students will be found in their Student Math Journal (although sometimes it will be in the Math Masters book). Please notice that these pages are not to be torn out. The journal is considered a work in progress. Within the journal are Math Boxes. Math boxes are not done for mastery, so don’t feel that students need to do all the problems. You may want to allocate about 20 minutes to spend on one page. For example, students could work 5 minutes alone, 5 minutes with a partner, then 10 minutes as a class. This is where you will see the spiraling. Students will also have aReference Book. Encourage students to look in their Reference Book for help before asking. The Reference Book also has instructions for the many games included in EM.


Weekly homework won’t work with Everyday Math. Homework will need to be sent home as the skills are taught. Homework is found in the Math Masters book. Parts 1 and 2 are considered ‘must do’. Part three is optional. If you have difficulty figuring out what is to be sent home, look in the upper right hand corner of each page. If there is a house there, it is supposed to go home.  Another homework option is the Skills Link book.  Pull work from there for remediation or differentiation.


There are many ongoing assessments throughout the year which can be referenced beginning on page 8 of the Assessment Handbook. The formal assessments and assessment overviews begin on page 51 (2nd Grade). There are only 10 formal assessments a year. These assessments have two parts (summative and formative) which you will see explained beginning on page 19 (2nd Grade). Check the back of the handbook for excellent charts to track student achievement.

Online Support

As I mentioned at the beginning, there is an eplanner to help with lesson plans. You can set up your first day of teaching, and move dates within the calendar. To see a detailed lesson plan for the day, just click ‘details’ by the date.

In the support section you will be able to print a parent letter with teacher instructions for accessing EM online. Student passwords are auto generated and can be printed on cards or labels.

An Educator Resources link brings up games by grade level range.

Wallcharts are my favorite. Pull up the Wallcharts on your smartboard, select your grade level and go. This is for daily use. I showed my students the wallcharts at the end of the year last year, and they loved it!

Preparing Your Classroom - Number grid and Thermometer

First the number grid.  If you teach Kindergarten or 1st grade, you will need to color your number grid.  (I teach 2nd grade, but I went ahead and colored my number grid like the 1st grade since this will be the first year students are exposed to Everyday Math.)  

Kindergarten:  Color numbers 10-19 the same color, then color 20-29 the same color, then 30-39 and so on to the end of the grid. 

1st grade:  Color numbers 10-11 the same color, then 20-21 the same color, then 30-31 and so on to the end of the grid.

Now for the thermometer.  If you look in your Teachers Reference Manual on page 48, there is a graphic showing what to color each section.  I'll go ahead and post the colors here also.  
0-20 degrees=purple
20-40 degrees=blue
40-60 degrees=green
60-80 degrees=yellow
80-100 degrees=orange
100-140 degrees=red

I colored both the number grid and thermometer with regular crayons then laminated them.  Don't forget to hang up your number line as well.

Some Final Comments

I’ve looked around the internet trying to get a feel for Everyday Math. I’ve found people either love it or hate it. In reading the comments posted by parents who didn’t like Everyday Math, I could see that the teachers were not using the program in the way it was meant to be used. So we need to be careful to implement the program appropriately. With that in mind… don’t forget to put your number grid and thermometers up!

It is very likely that I have left some things out. Please feel free to comment with any additional comments or suggestions.

Links of interest:

Here is a link to Everyday Math technology resources broken down by grade, unit, and lesson.


  1. I thought this was a very thorough and well thought out review. I am not a teacher (professionally at least), but come from a family where my mother, uncle, grandfather, and grandmother are/were all teachers. Needless to say teaching discussion happen frequently in my family and so I find the subject interesting and it's good to have something to interject into the conversation. I just wanted to say I thought your post was good and will be sending the link off to the teachers in my family.

  2. Thank you very much! I appreciate the positive feedback.

  3. great post, easy to read and understand which is great. Everyone learns and that's what it is all about. Thanks

  4. Great post. Kids just don't realize that math is indeed an everyday subject!

  5. I believe the spiraling method of teaching you so accurately describe could and should be extrapolated to other subjects, not just math. The reinforcement of previously learned information goes a long way toward solidifying a child's learning. Also, the fact that everyone thinks and solves problems differently points out the obvious need for diversity and differentiation, particularly in matters involving kids and their growing and maturing process. You may find Dr Dan Siegel's work interesting if you like exploring the brain and the mind. His site is

  6. Thank you for all the comments!
    Dr. Hanfileti, Thank you for the link. I am very much interested in how the brain processes information. I will check that out.

  7. I home schooled my son up until high school. We used Saxon math which also does the spiraling method. I agree with you that repeating and building are necessary.

    My son is now 24 married and has a great job. He graduated from college last year. He uses his math in his career as a traffic control tech for PBS.

  8. That's wonderful Lynn. I've heard great things about Saxon math.
    I did some homeschooling as well. Congratulations on your son graduating!

  9. I am also a teacher. Pls visit my blog

  10. I really really love math... It is the same whole throughout the world...

    The Rookie Blogger

  11. I found a message on blog catalog, and took a peak at your blog. As a math teacher, naturally was instantly curious. I look forward to reading more entries from you in the future.

  12. I found your blog through Blog Catalog. It's pretty neat! I liked math growing up, until I got to calculus, but I really feel I've forgotten it all now. My daughters will be in 1st grade & 5th grade this year & I'm kind of dreading helping the older one w/ her math!! Luckily, my husband is a math whiz - normally, I help w/ English, Social Studies, Science & some other subjects & he ends up helping with math! I have a blog if you're interested in checking it out -

  13. Hello Diane,

    Thanks for your invitation in "BlogCatolog. Your Blog is really interesting.

    I don't know the reality of education on U.S. but in Israel we have a great concern with learning.

    I carefully reading about "Everyday Math" and I think it important to involve all the major "actors" responsible in the upbringing of children.

    Great post!

    I wish you peace.

  14. I want to teach about Electronic Music Genres: