The New York Times highlighted an elementary curricular innovation today. It was my first encounter with Jump. The authors of the materials are reporting phenomenal success with students. They attribute the success to “breaking down math to its component parts”. At first blush, this sounds like the Saxon drill and skill rhetoric.
But then the example suggests otherwise:
Take the example of positive and negative integers, which confuse many kids. Given a seemingly straightforward question like, “What is -7 + 5?”, many will end up guessing. One way to break it down, explains [Jump math founder] Mighton, would be to say: “Imagine you’re playing a game for money and you lost seven dollars and gained five. Don’t give me a number. Just tell me: Is that a good day or a bad day?”
There is a subtle but important difference between this example and a standard classroom technique. It’s the directive, “Don’t give me a number.” If this example is representative of the spirit of the materials, then sense-making is an important part of the curriculum. More to the point, using students’ intuitions about their lived experience in the real world to draw mathematical conclusions seems to be important.
I’m eager to learn more.