I have 3 other teachers on my first grade team. Our school requires that we collaborate and align EVERYTHING together. We have to pace our lessons together, give the exact same quizzes, give the exact same homework, give the exact same morning work.

It's 3 first grade teachers versus me now. They want to include double-digit addition on Friday's quiz. I said that it was too soon to start teaching double-digit addition (4th week of school in first grade...seriously??) and we should take it off. Their response was, "Your students should already know their sums to 18 so we really need to push them. We really believe your students can do it. Our students already have been doing double-digit addition and majority of them get them correct so you need to start teaching it to your children too."

These are the 6 addition problems on the quiz:
1. 4 + 2 =
2. 5 + 3 =
3. 8 + 7 =
4. 9 + 4 =
5. 29 + 3 =
6. 37 + 8 =

My argument: just because you give them a bunch of computation problems (no story problems, no pictures, no talk of place-value) and they write the correct answer, does not mean they have truly mastered the concept of addition. I think their "results" and just giving a bunch of computation problems is giving a false appearance of understanding.

I also said my students aren't ready because I noticed 5 students needed a lot of teacher-support to complete sums to 10. I noticed 14 students could complete sums to 10 but made a lot of errors (4-5 wrong out of 12 problems). I noticed 2 students completed sums to 10 quickly without any errors. So using these observations to drive and differentiate my lessons, I taught in whole-group for about 15 minutes over the days last week different additions strategies: part-part-whole mat, connecting cubes, number line and number bonds. Then to differentiate, I pulled the 5 students who didn't understand to reteach. The 14 students I gave math problems but allowed them to use any of the math manipulatives/stategies to solve and check their answers for accuracy. The 2 students that had their sums to 10 solid I gave them sums to 18 and also "find the missing part" for sums up to 10--that was challenging for them and pushed them to think harder. This is what I've always done to differentiate. We are all as a class still in the same concept--single-digit addition, but everyone has different activities to challenge them at their level.

I'm against moving to double-digit addition because I want the students to have a firm understanding of single-digit addition first using number stories, finding missing parts (so when we get to subtraction they can easily see how it relates to addition) and using different addition strategies. Then my last step would be drilling and memorizing single-digit addition facts. Then I would move onto numbers larger than 20 and make sure they have a firm grasp on what those numbers really mean...place value, estimation, reasonableness, etc. Once that is firm, I can start the process of moving onto double-digit addition.

This is my sixth year teaching 1st grade and based on my previous experiences, I know it takes time to develop and conceptualize ideas. I usually don't teach double-digit addition until April or May depending on the readiness of my students. The other 3 teachers have 1-3 years experience...not saying I know better simply because I've been teaching longer but...

I don't know how to handle this. The quiz is this coming Friday and if I teach based on my students' needs then they'll all fail the quiz. If I want them to perform well on the quiz, then I need to give a crash-course on place value and then start drilling and killing the process for double-digit addition. I just dread questions like, "Why do we carry the one?" or "Why do I have to line up my numbers?"

My team keeps interpreting my apprehension as an unwillingness to try, no matter how many approaches I take in trying to explain my reasoning.

What should I do? I need advice ASAP before Monday. I'm so frustrated and concerned that I have to teach without integrity.

I am not sure how you might deal with your fellow teachers however I want to say I agree with you. Your fellow teachers are clueless if they think the children have mastered the concept of addition to the point of doing double digit equations well. You might do it as a "I want to see how you will do, skip it if you can't do it" or a "give it your best guess". I would be worried that your nutty co workers will fudge the test results or the presentation of the test since the likelihood of their whole class doing well is not likely.

You might say I am fine with using this but only if this and this are also added in. Put in other stuff which is more investigative.

You also might pull out the common core standards if your state is doing them and say "we need to move towards the common core standards and unfortunately algorithmic equations by themselves do not fulfill that." You also if really frustrated go to the principal about the lack of implementing common core.

I would be inclined if your fellow teachers are steam rolling you to go and do "for the good of the children I will need to modify my lock step with my fellow first grade teachers"

First of all, I would be very frustrated teaching in a school where everyone had to give the same stuff every day in every subject. Our school expects us to reteach if the class doesn't get it the first time. How can you do that if you're running to keep up with the class across the hall.
Secondly, I agree that you shouldn't be expecting first graders to do double digit addition this early in the year. I've taught first grade for many years, and we never get to double digits before the second semester.

That is just awful! Double digit addition the fourth week of school?!?! Sums to 18?!?!?! Good Lord! Those poor kids. I would NOT want my child in their classes.

I'd have to go against what they are doing and think about my students' needs (clearly they aren't thinking about their students' needs unless they have classrooms full of geniuses and we know that's not possible).

I'd probably have a talk with my principal as well. Do you have a curriculum? What about following common core?

The only way I would have double digit addition on a test this early would be a +1 problem. We have been working on +1 and they should be able to do ANY number with +1 because we taught the strategies.

Your team teachers are CRAZY! 37+8 ~ Are they nuts? That's a base ten skill that I won't get to for a long time! Try to do what's best for your kids.

I really appreciate all of your comments. I've had so much anxiety over this issue.

We do have a curriculum, Everyday Math, but our principal said it's not rigorous enough so we should only pull what we need from it...seems like we're pulling nothing from it.

I'm at a public charter school so the first graders arrive at 7:45 and leave at 4:15 (blah). With the extended school day, my principal expects that the students grow 1.5 years academically so that when they leave first grade, their reading and math levels should be at a mid-year second grade level. So when presented with our plans, she seems very impressed by our level of rigor.

I'm beginning to hate that word rigor.

I'm meeting with her on Monday, so I wanted other professional advice. EarthMonkey...I think you hit the nail right on the head with your advice. If my principal sides with the other three teachers (which I think she will) I will suggest that we had more investigative questions. Then in my classroom, I'm going to teach addition based on the children's needs and tell them to try their best with the tricky addition problems or skip them.

I also really like the advise of bringing in state standards and making sure what we're doing in the classroom aligns with the standards. A former colleague I just spoke to said to bring in data to support my claim that majority of the children are not ready. She said I should also bring in the students' work to show that I am differentiating so that there's evidence of the high-rigor that I'm supposedly lacking according to the other three teachers.

My team is just killing my spirit, making me feel like I'm being a lazy, unwilling teacher. So thanks to all of you for your support and comments. It's really comforting to know that I'm not the only one who thinks this method of teaching is crazy.

We teach math using Saxon math. Right or wrong Saxon introduces doubles to 10 in lesson 23 and doubles to 18 in lesson 27. I will be introducing doubles at the end of this week. We are in the 5th week of school. My kids love doing the doubles rap and usually pick up the concept pretty easily. It is a stepping stone to more difficult concepts. It helps with doubles plus one that will be introduced next semester. While I don't expect my students to know that 15+3 =18 they are able to tell me and show me that 9+9=18. Look up the doubles rap on you tube and teacher tube.

While I wouldn't like being told what and when to teach....don't doubt your students. Rise with them and you both may be amazed.

The last two problems your team selected are rediculous! Best I would tell my students is to show me. Draw your answer. But those problems are not doubles.

I taught first grade and K for 30 years and we never taught those sort of problems until the spring.( My school had the highest test scores in 5 counties and was a National Blue Ribbon School, too.) Some parents taught the kids at home, but it was never in any math series we used, and we used at least 5 series over the years. Check your state standards, common core, everything. The children are not developmentally ready to understand what they're doing. I am sorry you have to fight for what is right for the kids. Hopefully you will succeed. Bless you for trying!

While counting on is a great strategy and if I drill them enough this week, they will be able to produce those numbers on the quiz. However, I don't feel like they have been given adequate time to fully understand and explore addition. We as a team haven't even introduced number stories yet. We've only been drilling numbers, numbers, numbers without tying the numbers to real-life problems. I don't think they understand what they are doing with the numbers. They are just systematically cranking out numbers without understanding what and why they are doing it.

I personally believe that to teach addition, you should introduce a number story about joining. Using the problem posed so they can make sense of what the numbers mean. Developmentally, 6 year old children typically see numbers as ideas but through these word problems they begin to see that the numbers are representations. The concept of addition is introduced with sums to 10 because they developed a good sense of these numbers as representations in kindergarten and reviewed at the beginning of first grade (this development takes t-i-m-e.) Once they have mastered the concept of addition (and addition vocabulary) then we can work on sums to 10 fact fluency (drilling and memorization.) I then repeat the process beginning with number stories for 18. Then when we get to numbers larger than 20, I want them to first move from numbers larger than 20 from being an idea to being a representation. I achieve this by having them show these larger numbers using pictures, tallies, number lines, base-10 blocks, etc. I then move to place value and comparing numbers. This usually takes me to end of winter/early spring. THEN I introduce double-digit addition (38 + 7). They can count on to solve this problem or use other addition strategies they have learned along the way. I'm more comfortable with them adding larger numbers at this time because they have had adequate time to explore what these numbers really mean (ie. 38 is 3 groups of ten and 8 leftover, 3 tens and 8 ones, etc.) They also have developed better fine motor skills and by this time have had the opportunities to use their number lines and number grids properly and accurately. They can then easily transition to double-digit addition without regrouping (41 + 21) and they understand that the "tens" and "ones" columns are not just merely labels for lining up numbers, but seeing them as digits that need to be lined up according to place value. Then they move to double-digit addition with or without regrouping. These are second grade standards in Minnesota but my school is pushing to have them at this level when they leave first grade. I'm fine with that, but I think its place is in the spring. I don't see why we need to push second grade standards in week 4 of first grade.

Additionally, if you read my original post, I have 19 out of my 21 who are not adding (counting on) sums to 10 accurately (getting 4 or more problems out of 12 wrong), you're saying that I should still push them to add (count on) with numbers in the 20s and 30s? I know they can do more...eventually. I want to them to feel confident with addition fluency by scaffolding. Master sums to 10 and then master sums to 18 and then move onto larger numbers.

I absolutely agree with you that children are not given enough time in math today to explore, internalize, and relate concepts to each other.

Because I bounce from grade to grade in subbing, I see kids all the time who seem to be missing a piece of background for a new concept when I know that piece was taught in an earlier grade (because I just did it last week.)

Yes, we can find clever ways to teach kids to do things earlier and earlier, but we cannot make them understand before they are ready.

As for your students just learning to "count on" with the smaller problems, have you tried a jumping line? Make a big number line on the floor (use masking tape, write numbers on carpet squares with thick sharpie, whatever you have on hand). Have the children start on the first number in the problem, jump the second number of times, and see where they land. Sometimes the large physical movement gets it through better.

Well, as suspected, my principal agreed with my colleagues and said that we need to keep pushing this "high-level of rigor." I guess I have to agree to disagree.

To survive the year, I will have to strike a balance between what I feel is best and what my colleagues feel is best as long as I keep responding effectively to my children's needs, there's not much else I can do.

And then I'll politely bow out in June...

Whether you agreed or disagreed, I really appreciate all the thoughtful comments that were posted on this thread.

It absolutely sucks to be in a position in which you are neither respected nor trusted. My advice is to do what you know is right (when no one is looking) and pretend when they are. It puts you in the position of having to create 2 lesson plans, but you know you are doing what's best for your students...
If you give them the mathematical foundation they need, this will be a moot point in a few months, anyway...
Stick (albeit quietly) to your convictions!

Last edited by jcflies; 09-24-2013 at 06:03 PM..
Reason: mistake

I am sooooo very sorry that your principal and colleagues are so clueless and so in lockstep! I teach first grade and 24 days in, my kids have no clue about place value and adding 2 digit numbers. We are still introducing basic addition. None of our kids know any facts yet. Common Core says narrow the curriculum and go deeper into the concepts. Clearly your colleagues have no understanding of that. What state are you in (besides frustration??)

I think you need to have a team meeting with your admin and team and be honest with them about how you feel. You can't spend the whole year in this clearly uncomfortable position and there is no reason to pretend that its working.

As long as all of your children are able to use the EDM number grid counting on shouldn't be a problem. If the other teachers are expecting them to add without the use of the number grid well that's another story!