Canadian Mathematics Works in a Multi-graded Classroom

When we go to the grocery store, many of us have to check ingredients to meet such dietary restrictions such as diabetes and gluten allergies. As multi-graded classroom teachers, we also need to check the resources we’re looking at to see how they will work in our different world.

Rational Publications’ Canadian Mathematics has been my junior-high math resource for nearly 20 years. Canadian Mathematics gets the multi-graded classroom stamp of approval.

Top 10 Reasons I Use This Resource:

1. Ample Worksheets for Each Topic

Some textbooks introduce a topic, give students two pages of practice, and then move to the next topic. With Rational Publications, there are more than enough practice worksheets so that students can solidify the skills.

In my school, I assign the even-numbered questions to students. If they do fine, we move on. If they struggle, we re-teach the concept and there are still enough worksheets left that they can continue to practice the material.

2. Page Content is Student Friendly

Each page’s content is focused on developing one (or two) skills. Math skills are built sequentially. With some resources, the skill development and work assignments cover too many topics. In Canadian Mathematics, students learn related skills and go on to additional skills in step-by-step order. As stated in #1, the textbook provides more questions than we ever get around to doing. Rather than skimming to the next skill (even if they are related), this resource gives students space and time to master one skill before moving up a step.

3. Textbook Instructions Help Create Independent Learners

I realize that every textbook tries to demonstrate how to do the skills. [Blunt question: Some resources confuse me, so how can they help students?]

The instructions in Rational Publications help students learn. The examples are clear enough that often the students can look at the examples and begin the work without teacher help.

In our multi-graded math colony classroom, we need to train our students to become independent learners. Canadian Mathematics’ instructions are specific and clear enough that most students can learn the new concepts with minimal teacher help. In our multi-graded classrooms, we don’t have time to be everywhere at once.  This math book can help create independent math learners.

4. Answer Book is Teacher and Student Friendly

The answer key is in the same format as the textbook, so when you’re marking students’ work, the pages are set out in the same way and easy to follow.

This allows students to mark their own work if the teacher chooses to allow it. Some years, my students have done their math work and then checked the answers to see how they are doing. “Why did I get this wrong?” students would ask. This question indicates the highest level of student engagement. They weren’t happy with 80 per cent or 70 per cent; they wanted to know why something was wrong—they wanted to learn the material.

Is there any higher compliment for a teaching resource?

5. Chapter Tests are Included

The teachers’ resource has tests for each chapter, and answer keys for those tests. The answer keys are condensed into a few pages at the back of the textbook. I make a copy of each test and put the answers on those pages for easier reference.

There are more test questions than I need. Because of this, I have been able to develop two tests for each chapter using the exams that are provided.

Yes, I could write my own math tests if I wanted to. But in more than 20 years of using this resource, I’ve never had to create a math test from scratch.

6. Covers the Curriculum

After the most recent curriculum changes, I asked Ernie for a form that shows when and where the various curriculum objectives are covered. He readily provided me with that information.

As a colony teacher, I’m responsible for 8 math programs plus about 20 other curriculum programs. Knowing this resource covers the curriculum means there’s one less adaptation or planning task that I have to do.

7. Cost-effective Student Book

Each student gets a well-bound textbook for about $30. Spending that $30 means I don’t have to photocopy worksheets. The books last the school year, and the spiral binding doesn’t come unbound. The teachers’ answer book is bound in the same way. My current teachers’ answers books are now in their fifth year of service.

8. Ernie, I Have a Question

About once a year, students have a question that I can’t explain the answer to. The answer book appears to be wrong as far as I understand the material. When such a question comes up, we fax Ernie. Within a day, we have an answer from the author himself. (Usually the answer book is right.) I keep those Ernie updates because I have come to realize that, next year, I’ll likely get stumped by that question again.

9. Thematically Organized

With a bit of planning, you can keep your Math 7 & 8 students on the same topic at the same time.  The Math 8 course has more difficult assignments, but the basics are the same. The better we are at organizing our math chapters so that students are studying similar themes, the more time we can have to spend with these groups. At the end of this article, you’ll find my attempt at synchronizing the Math 7 and Math 8 chapters.

10. Ernie, Please Teach Elementary Math

“Ernie, now that you’re retired, can you go back to teaching Math 4, 5, &  6?” I asked him (more than once). In previous conversations, Ernie has said he couldn’t write a math program for the lower grades because he wasn’t teaching in that area. Once Ernie retired, my fondest wish was that he would un-retire and teach the lower math so he could create this type of excellent resource for those grades as well.

Organizing Canadian Mathematics for a multi-graded classroom setting: Canadian Mathematics for Multi-Graded Classrooms
View more posts in the Colony Educators series.

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