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Nowadays, textbooks serve as tutor, tool and guide in the modern classrooms. Teachers worldwide use them to guide their instructions in class. Therefore, the textbooks enormously influence the content delivery. The standard-based change progress in education has created numerous broadly accepted sets of learning goals in a large amount of the key content areas. While publishers have created many textbooks, each claiming that its instructional approach will significantly advance the skills of the learners, most of the textbooks suffer from the lack of focus and coherence. This paper provides an evaluation of two mathematics textbooks used in the sixth grade, namely Math 6: Workbook and Answer Key and Everyday Mathematics Grade 6.
To make the highest and most effective use of these mathematics textbooks, the teachers need to decide which of them is appropriate for their needs and those of their students (Lappan & Li, 2014). The teacher must determine the degree of a textbook’s focus and its alignment with a coherent set of essential and age-suitable student learning objectives that the district school or teacher has recognized as fundamental to the understanding and progress in the particular mathematics (Hickman & Porfilio, 2012). In addition, she must assess the degree and that a textbook’s instructional design efficiently supports the realization of those particular learning goals. The only appropriate way to gain this insight is through vigilant evaluations of the textbooks.
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While both, Math 6: Workbook and Answer Key and Everyday Mathematics Grade 6 are used in the sixth grade for learning of students and include teachers’ instructions, they have different strengths and weaknesses to the students and teachers. Both have the six-quality-goals of learning in mathematics and the ten mathematical standards and contents as identified by the NCTM.
Strengths and Weakness of Everyday Mathematics Grade Six
Everyday Mathematics provides a variety of student experiences designed to rally the needs of different learning populations. Such experiences permit to apply deep levels of mathematics conceptualization to the students (Lappan & Li, 2014). Regarding the approach to computational confidence, Everyday Mathematics Grade 6 provides instructions that allow students to comprehend an operation before bringing in an algorithm. The book also helps students to formulate and clarify their computational procedures (Hickman & Porfilio, 2012). Everyday Mathematics Grade 6 allows students to explore a range of standard algorithms and obliges them to master spotlight algorithms (Hickman & Porfilio, 2012).
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Focusing on teacher’s support, the Everyday Mathematics’ ancillary materials and teacher’s guides offer an elevated support to the math teachers (Lappan & Li, 2014). A Teacher’s Reference Manual is a particularly useful resource as it reviews numerous mathematical ideas that the teachers easily understand. The textbook has a detailed assessment as it offers diverse assessment methods and tools that provide teachers with detailed information about students’ learning of the subject (Schimidt, 2012). Everyday Mathematics facilitates students to construct computational fluency, conceptual understanding and genuine world problem-solving proficiency.
Despite the numerous strengths, Everyday Mathematics, the sixth-grade textbook, has a variety of weaknesses. According to Fairfax County Public Schools (2003), the book introduces certain math concepts earlier than outlined in the Virginia Standards of Learning, and this is a setback for various school districts (Schimidt, 2012). The textbook also provides limited student self-assessment options. This is likely to get students bored if the teachers decide to use them for each unit or all of them (Lappan & Li, 2014). Moreover, the text has an enormous fragmentation of the lesson for the teacher and the students. Everyday Math lessons have many parts. For example, “Mental Math and Reflexes”, “Math Message”, “Math Boxes”, “Study-Link Follow-Up”, “Math Message Follow-Up”, “Teaching the Lesson”, “Study Link”, and “Ongoing Learning and Exercise” that might also include games. This is complex for a teacher to manage all these pieces in one sitting. The lessons may thus become detached while time is an issue. The text also has yearlong projects that have no meaning since all the lessons are taught in class (Hickman & Porfilio, 2012).
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Strengths and Weaknesses of Math6: Workbook and Answer Key
The Math 6: Workbook and Answer Key has a variety of strengths. First, it provides great students’ experience in mathematical conceptualization (Schimidt, 2012). The book is enormously bright, highly sequential and logical, with a significant focus on “mental math.” Secondly, it provides students with corresponding quantity of practice with reduced repetition. Thirdly, the book has a creatively designed computational confidence that provides students with a creative approach to algorithm and numerical computation (Lappan & Li, 2014). It gives the students an opportunity to formulate and solve their calculation methods before they get any instructions from the teacher and obligates the students to gain confidence in mathematical computation (Schimidt, 2012).
Fourthly, the text provides a carefully crafted teacher support in both teacher’s guide and ancillary materials. The teacher’s guidebook identifies the students’ goals and provides the teacher with an elaborate instructional procedure applicable to the students. Math Six Workbook and Answer Key provides a detailed assessment system which ensures that the students are assessed in all the areas covered in the unit and entire course book. Lastly, the book has challenging word problems that build students’ thinking skills which make them apply math in a range of situations (Hickman & Porfilio, 2012).
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The students who use Math Six Workbook and Answer Key textbook require more evaluation and drill as compared to those using other texts. Teachers must thus use supplementary materials to enhance students’ understanding of mathematics. The textbook does not completely follow the standard concepts as specified by the NCMT (Schimidt, 2012).