Math Curricula Are Like Jelly Doughnuts

Odd analogy, I know. But hear me out.


creative commons licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Evelyn Saenz

Today the (grade) 3-5 teachers in my district met to look at available Math Curricula to adopt. We looked at 5 or 6 to begin with and narrowed it down to 2. We used the Math Toolkit (CCSS) in order to narrow our selection down. We focused on some of the basics – quality over bells and whistles.

We were then left with 2 programs. Neither one was all that great. This speaks to the crap that publishers are pushing out. After we narrowed our choices down, we then took a deeper look. Looking at standards, quality, focus, consistency, etc. Then it occurred to me, the two programs were like jelly doughnuts – in very different ways. [It could have also been that it was just before lunch when I had this thought.]

So here it goes. For reference a regular jelly doughnut is the perfect balance for all things that could be included in a math program.

Option 1: The over-stuffed jelly doughnut

This program offers an immense amount of information on a daily basis for a regular lesson. The heart of this program has so much crammed into it, that you walk away like you just had Thanksgiving dinner. Belly bulging, slightly cramped and sweaty. Simply -Waaaaaay too much!

Option 2: The overdecorated jelly doughnut.
creative commons licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Vegan Feast Catering

Unlike the previous one, this has a normal amount of jelly – content – for one lesson. A person/student can digest this without feeling like Violet (well, her demise) in Willy Wonka. However, this doughnut is covered with glaze, then deep fried, then has layers of frosting, sprinkles, nuts, and chocolate chips. In other words, Waaaaay too many ‘bells and whistles’. There was a book for: intervention, help for ELL’s, a video component, books to read, and so on. In the end, most of these items will be left to collect dust on a shelf.

In the end both leave you with a less than completely satisfied feeling.

Teachers & districts – WE need to demand better quality options. How? Refuse to buy the crap they are pushing. Prove to them that WE do know OUR business and can do it without them. Or be so vocal that they will have no choice but to listen to our expertise.

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