SRA Connecting Math Concepts

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Team Members
: Ashley Erickson, Chelsea Marandola, Kerri O'Rourke
*Note: Neither of the group members use this program at their school and therefore did not have access to the program and opportunity to speak to anyone who uses it at the school
Publisher: McGraw Hill 2003
Website: SRA Official Website
Grade Level: K-8
Cost: Approximately $25-$75 per student per year, depending on grade level

Description of Program


LADY.jpg"Connecting Math Concepts introduces ideas gradually and teaches students the connections between concepts. Focusing on the big ideas of mathematics, Connecting Math Concepts teaches explicit strategies that enable students to master difficult ideas such as ratios, proportions, probability, functions, and data analysis. Detailed explanations and guided practice move students toward independent work, ensuring that students gain success and confidence as mathematical thinkers.This highly successful program makes it easier than ever to teach students to become capable problem solvers, able to think and communicate mathematically. Through a unique pedagogical approach, Connecting Math Concepts provides a thorough understanding of basic skills, shows how mathematical concepts are linked together, and builds sophisticated problem-solving strategies. Within this program, the content of the problems enables students to make real-life connections, expanding their knowledge and keeping students actively engaged. This strengthen their awareness of the world around them. With Connecting Math Concepts, all concepts are learned and assimilated through use. New concepts are presented incrementally and extended into subsequent lessons. Students move forward in small steps, learning and applying many topics in each lesson. Students learn in less time, remember more, and develop a depth of understanding needed for advanced mathematics."
Source: SRA Connecting Math Concepts Products

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Objectives:
  • Teaches every student to discover and use math patterns
  • Ideas are introduced at a carefully controlled rate with systematic, continuous review.
  • Takes the mystery out of story problem
  • Meets individual's needs of ability levels and learning styles

Materials:

Student Workbook (Level A-E)
  • Provides challenging application activities
  • Workbooks give each student extra practice so students master the basics as they expand their understanding of mathematics
  • Correspond to each lesson so students get the most out of each concept
Student Hardcover Textbook (Level D-F)
  • Provide challenging application activities
  • Clear and concise directions for each activity
  • Independent work perfect for seat work or take home activities
  • Mathematical rules and examples for easy recall
Teacher Materials Packages include: 1 or 2 Presentation Books; Teacher's Guide; and Answer Key
  • Presentation Books provide fully scripted lesson plans that make teaching efficient and highly effective
  • Feature instructional strategies, teaching tips, and a Scope and Sequence in the Teacher Guide
  • Clearly labeled answer keys, making it easy to check independent work
Additional Teacher's Guides
  • Feature instructional strategies, teaching tips, and a Scope and Sequence, reproducible Placement Test
Additional Answer Key
  • Clearly labeled answer keys, making it easy to check independent work
Lesson Sampler
  • Includes sample lessons, reproducible placement tests, and scope and sequence charts for all levels of the program
Math Facts Blackline Masters (Level A-D)
  • Provide extra worksheets for students who require extra practice in math facts
  • Test pages for teachers to assess student's mastery of the facts
Independent Worksheets Blackline Masters (Levels A-F)
  • Additional practice for skill and mastery maintenance
  • Ideal for homework activities or for independent use in the classroom

Source: SRA Official Website


Theoretical Framework:

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SRA Connecting Math Concepts is based upon the idea of direct instruction. Within direction instruction, the teacher explicitly explains and lectures on a particular skill or concept. The teacher then demonstrates the necessary steps for mastering the skill. Next, the teacher conducts guided practice with the students. Finally, the students are given sample problems to complete independently.

SRA Direct Instruction Video
(requires download and windows media player to view)

This video demonstrates what direction instruction is, how to use this method of teaching, and the benefits through showing direction instruction in use.
*Note: Although this video is not about mathematics, it represents SRA's Direction Instruction approach

Math Skills used in SRA Connecting Math Concepts:
The program is designed to assess the "big ideas" of mathematics which is broken up into 4-6 units throughout the year. Within these ideas, the four basic operations, ratios, proportion, probability, functions, and data analysis are covered. The structure of a lesson consists of three parts: warm-up, teach, and wrap-up. In the warm-up stage (5 minutes), a problem of the day is given to the students to foster a class discussion of how they solved the problem. Then, in the teach stage, the teacher utilizes direction instruction which incorporates detailed explanations and guided practice that leads to independent work. Finally, in the wrap-up stage, the lesson is summarized and students are asked to explain and reflect on their independent work to check for their understanding. In addition, the teachers introduce advanced level math concepts such as algebra, geometry, and multiplication earlier into the curriculum which helps students develop a more profound understanding of mathematics.

How SRA Math Concepts Helps Students with Mild/moderate Disabilities:
This program uses a variety of instructional tools through workbooks, textbooks, games, and various manipulatives to incorporate hands-on activities so that all types of learners may benefit. The lesson is broken into small steps so that students can achieve success to master the bigger concept. Also, this program provides a lot of practice through the use of worksheets and games, needed for these students to achieve proficiency. This program also requires reinforcement and review to assess the students' understanding in addition to activating their prior knowledge.

Journal Article Review of Research SRA Connecting Math Conncepts:
This paper provides a summary and some examples of research that has been done dealing with the use of Direct Instruction within math programs. During this study, a comparison of the constructivist approach to the direct approach of math instruction was conducted. Included in this article are overviews and ways in which Direct Instruction meets the six principles for improving math instruction that were provided by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Also, the NCTM includes five mathematical goals that teachers should include in their curricular in order to meet the six principles. The five goals are as follows: (1) learning to value mathematics,(2) becoming confident in one’s own mathematical ability, (3) becoming a mathematical problem solver, (4) learning to communicate mathematically, and (5) learning to reason mathematically. These six principles that these goals help students meet within the curriculum are the Equity Principle, the Curriculum Principle, the Teaching, the Learning Principle, the Assessment Principle, and the Technology Principle. (all explained in depth in the article Finally, there are many research and reviews of different studies that have been done with Direct Instruction in this article. There are seven of twelve studies in this article that compare other math programs to Direct Instruction. Four of the studies investigated the efficacy of Direct Instruction without comparison to other programs. In some of the studies there are investigations of study characteristic examined such as participants, research design, measures, and results included. Lastly, eleven of the twelve studies showed positive results for Direct Instruction math program.
Article:
Title: Direct Instruction Mathematics Program: An Overview and Research Summary
Authors: Angela M. Przychodzin, Nancy E. Marchand- Martella, Ronald C. Martella, and Diane Azim,
Eastern Washington University
Publication: Journal of Direct Instruction Vol. 4 No. 1 pp. 53-84 Winter 2004

*Link is located below

Helpful Websites/Resources:

Analysis of Program
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  • SRA math is a comprehensive research-based program integrated into math instruction.
  • For professional development, there are teacher guides that include lessons, teaching tips, strategies, Scope and Sequence list, detailed answer keys, and multimedia tools such as CD-roms and instructional videos to aid in training for the program.
  • SRA Math could definitely be implemented in inclusive classrooms, because the content is divided into levels (A-F), typically depending on grade level, which could also be applicable to students with disabilities who may be at various stages of learning. It also is taught in steps and broken down into parts which could benefit students in an inclusive classrooms due to the various developmental levels.
  • SRA Math is more of a teacher-directed approach with less of an emphasis on self regulation/metacognitive skills. Although there are problem solving components during independent work, the class does not discover the way to solve the problem on their own. Rather, the teacher provides the foundation for solving the problem through a direct instruction model. This approach is directly applicable to general education math curriculum and “big ideas” of mathematics, leading to higher level skills.
  • Due to the fact that we do not have access to the program, based upon what we have read, teachers could use it in an inclusion setting due to the direct instruction approach. However, we feel it would be the most beneficial in small group work and/or a resource setting, because the lessons are broken down into smaller steps and can focus better on the needs of the children. It breaks down certain skills necessary to effectively grasp the concept.
  • There are placement tests for levels A-E as well as one for a bridge level (6-8) to determine where the student falls in regards to mathematics placement area based on their current abilities and stage of development. There is explicit instruction in a detailed answer key for scoring the placement test to determine the correct stage to begin instruction with the student based upon their results.
    • PDF versions of the placement tests for each level are available in the placement test tab on the main website

Strengths:
  • The use of manipulatives and games for the students
  • The students get much needed practice and repetition of skills which provided students with reinforcement
  • It applies the concepts and skills to real life situations
  • It introduces advanced math skills in earlier grades so that the students can start getting accustomed to them
  • It is taught in a direct and guided manner
  • The lessons are broken down into smaller steps for the students to understand and master the overall skill

Weaknesses:
  • Costly depending on demographic location and depending on the grade level the resources get more expensive
  • Students primarily work independently, decreasing discussion between students and group work for cooperative learning
  • Heavily reliant on workbooks and textbooks
  • Instruction is teacher-based and does not encourage inquiry-based learning in which the students discover, think, question, and analyze
  • Assessment is used as a formal evaluation as opposed to collecting student information to make instructional decisions based upon results
  • Teachers are less interactive with individual students, because it is taught in lecture form to whole-class

Quotes:


"It states that every child can learn, if we teach him or her carefully, and all teachers can be successful when given effective programs and instruction delivery techniques." -Dr. Mowfaq Mustafa (Center Director of a Special Needs Center)

"My grandson is 11 years old and will be going to 6th grade in Sep 2009. He's been lagging in math and the school has been using Everyday Math Program. HIs performance level varies and is between 2nd-4th grade; really deficient in knowing basic math facts. Everyday Math jumps around too much and the material is just glossed over so my grandson doesn't seem to grasp the basic math facts or seem to make sense of or understand math. I've requested a change in curriculum via his IEPand they will use SRA Connecting Math Conepts Program to help him gain mastery and develop an understanding of math. Does anyone have experience with this program and can offer any information, guidance, tips, etc. ? Thanks" -June 23, 2009 posted by grandmother of student who uses program on Great Schools Parent Community

"Would you use this program as a first year special education teacher?"

Overall, we would use this math program as first year special education teachers for various reasons. First, it is organized, easy to use, and all of the materials are provided as well as helpful teacher guidelines. This is especially beneficial for a first year teacher who may not be as familiar with the math curriculum as opposed to other teachers to serve as a foundation for creating instructional opportunities.
The lessons are also broken down into component parts that could benefit a special education teacher and special needs students. In addition, there are different levels (A-F, including a bridge level for grades 6-8) to meet the various developmental levels of students so that teachers may modify instruction. As a teacher this program helps create awareness of the skills that students are working on and how to assess their needs in these specific skill areas. As we gain more experience teaching, we could also add our own creative ideas to this program, because it could become repetive and disengaging for both the teacher and the students, if they are using this program throughout their elementary/middle school career.