I was blog hopping tonight and found a lot of people really disliking enVision math. I don't love it, but I have learned to embrace it after 3 years and make it something of my own. I don't go through the teacher's guide and do what they say. The TE tells me the lesson I am doing, and then I do it my own way and my kids have fun and I have fun teaching it.
We don't go in order. As a math committee, we decided to do it out of order, since many of the topics are lame and we need to get the meaty stuff covered before the lame stuff. And, we do some of the easier topics first (shapes and patterns) while waiting for others (Topic 2 - really...what in the heck does that even "teach"?) til later in the year.
This year, I have started to do cereal math. 3 or more times a week, we use cereal for math instruction in some way. For patterning, they used fruit loops to make different patterns. With shapes, we used the cereal to count the corners (vertices for all you enVision peeps) and for making 6, 7, 8 and 9, we have used different cereal. For 6 and 7, we used shredded wheat and used the frosted and not frosted sides to show the different ways of making the numbers. For 8 and 9, we used cheerios and just moved them around from side to side. The counters work, too, but the kids are all jazzed about the cereal and really seem to "get it" better than following the guide.
Luckily, I am at a school (and in a district) that met API and AYP. We aren't under the gun as many other schools and districts are. My principal is wonderful and knows that we as teachers know how to teach and she let's us do our job. We aren't all teaching it the same way and are able to have some freedom in what we do. We are allowed to teach the kids, rather than just follow a script or some moronic plan. I hope I never have to go back to teaching that way. It causes major burnout and it isn't why we all went to school. We went to school to be able to use our creativeness and teach the kids they way we see best. My way isn't for everyone, and I certainly don't want someone telling me how I must teach. Isn't that like telling a doctor how to perform surgery?
Last year, I started doing math journals. I would give me kids a problem solving type of question they would have to draw out and show the answer. They loved it and I was all excited to do it again this year. But something happened and I haven't been that gung ho. I think it's the beginning of the year and we are still figuring it all out. Yeah, it's been 6 weeks, but...
Last year we had to attend a 3 day training for enVision. I was very excited when it was over, but then the school year ended 2 weeks later and my excitement for all they showed us disappeared. I need to find it again. I didn't agree with everything they said, but there were some good points. I wish they had done it when we got the program, rather than wait til we had used it for 3 years. But it could be worse, we could be at training now like all the other grade levels!
I'm sorry there are so many people unhappy and frustrated with math. It took me a couple years to really embrace the program, but now that I have, I feel I am being much more effective with it than ever before. My scores are higher than in the past and the kids seem to enjoy math. Heck, they even make their parents do "cereal math" with them at home! I will try to post some of the things we do to help some people out, when I have the time and resources!