On this objective portion of the EdReports review, our high scores reflect that Big Ideas Math: Modeling Real Life is a standards-aligned program that fully covers the required content, the major work focus, and the progressions for each grade level.
Contrary to the EdReports review, we believe that Grade 4 does satisfy the requirements of focus and coherence. The percent of lessons devoted to major work and the percent of days devoted to major work are at least 65%. View a spreadsheet to see how the Grade 4 materials satisfy the 65% focus requirement using EdReports’ criteria and evaluation mechanism. Go here to see detailed responses to the EdReports criticisms about coherence in Grade 4.
"Last year, we implemented Big Ideas Math: Modeling Real Life. My students loved the combined approach of using the workbook along with the technology component on chrome books. The greatest success I have seen were the SC Ready test results. 87% of my class scored approaching, meets, or exceeds!"
Grade 4 Teacher
Florence, South Carolina
EdReports’ review of this gateway is not consistent across grades, revealing that there is a level of subjectivity to evaluating heavily embedded practices and rigor elements. Big Ideas Math's single authorship provides a cohesive structure and scaffolding for rigor and mathematical practices across grade levels.
A truly rigorous program offers a balance of the three aspects of rigor: conceptual understanding (discovering why), procedural fluency (learning how), and application (knowing when to apply).
In Gateway 2, the program was reviewed against a narrow expectation of how conceptual understanding should be developed in a curriculum. Big Ideas Learning highly values conceptual development, placing it at the forefront of every section with a discovery exploration.
In these explorations, students explore, question, explain, and persevere as they seek to answer questions that encourage concrete to abstract thought. The explorations provide rich opportunities for students to develop deep conceptual understanding of topics across a grade level. Each exploration was thoughtfully written to get students thinking conceptually, and while on the surface an exploration may appear quite simple, it is here that students often discover foundational concepts that are central to the learning target of the section.
As concepts are solidified in the lesson, every section provides opportunities for students to independently demonstrate conceptual understanding in the in-class self-assessment exercises and in the homework practice exercises. Every lesson and homework set intentionally includes conceptual questions to reinforce the learning.
Every exploration is followed by a lesson where students are presented with precise definitions, examples, and self-assessment opportunities. Here students begin to shift their conceptual understanding into procedural fluency.
Big Ideas Math exposes students to real-life application examples within every lesson and then follows with additional application problems for in-class problem solving practice. The homework contains a variety of application problems to strengthen and deepen students’ problem-solving skills.
Exposing students to problem solving in class allows them to move with confidence to deeper problem solving in the homework. While some proficient or advanced learners may move to independent problem solving easily, emerging learners benefit from examples. In either case, our curriculum provides teachers with a versatile program to use with every student.
"We were very overwhelmed at the rigor and pace of Big Ideas in the beginning. ....We continued on with the pace suggested, and were AMAZED when we gave the test after unit 2. Our students, as a whole, went from 46% proficient after Chapter 1, to 81% proficient after Chapter 2! This goes to show that if you stick with the pace and level of rigor, you WILL see results. Big ideas is challenging us and our students to achieve more than ever before!"
Putnam City, Oklahoma
The Ed Reports review of Big Ideas Math discounts explicit teaching instruction as a proven teaching strategy. EdReports’ focus maximizes the effect of the materials on students’ learning and minimizes the effect of the teacher; Big Ideas Learning believes the opposite.
We believe in the teacher’s role in instructing, cultivating, and measuring the math practices within daily instruction. The teacher creates a productive and conducive environment in which students are supported in exploration and discussion with their peers. The teaching edition notes opportunities for teachers to encourage expert mathematical thinking in students during group work or in-class discussions. Fostering that thinking in class encourages these mindsets in students as they work independently.
The authors thoughtfully considered how students can develop mathematical proficiency throughout the program. The student and teaching editions regularly identify and encourage the mathematical practices throughout the curriculum.
To strengthen the connection between the textbook labels and the eight Standards for Mathematical Practice we have created correlation documents:
"Big Ideas Math: Modeling Real Life is building mathematical understanding with our students. It is not just about algorithms, but about how to be mathematical thinkers. In our district we are seeing success in how the students think about math. I hear from teachers regularly how not only their students but themselves are truly understanding math."
Grades K-6 Math Curriculum Director
Putnam City Schools, Oklahoma
Usability is one of the hallmarks of the program that, regretfully, was not even reviewed by EdReports. Student learning is our highest goal and our student materials are widely known for being clear and understandable. Similarly, the teacher materials are known for their depth and usability. Every component of the versatile teacher package was specifically targeted to help teachers in a practical way as they plan, teach, and assess for student learning.
"For me, the most valuable thing about Laurie’s Notes in the Big Ideas Math Program is the background information. By understanding why we are teaching a skill a certain way, I realize the importance of how the lessons/concepts build on one another."
4th grade teacher
Florence, South Carolina
View the Big Ideas Math Program Overview PDFs:
Written by renowned authors Dr. Ron Larson and Dr. Laurie Boswell, this series uses an exploratory approach to engage students’ inquiring minds through rich explorations and in-class problem solving. With one voice from Grade K through Grade 8, students make connections through cohesive progressions and consistent, dependable instruction. The pedagogical approach used in this program follows the best practices outlined in the most prominent and widely accepted educational research including John Hattie’s Visible Learning, NCTM’s Principles to Actions, Jo Boaler’s Mathematical Mindsets, Wiggins and McTighe’s Understanding by Design, and others.
Podcast Interview with Big Ideas Math 3rd Grade Teacher, Debbie S.
FLORENCE, SOUTH CAROLINA
"With Big Ideas Math, I use the Dig in to get my students excited about whatever concept we’re learning about that day. The Dig in always incorporates multiple different learning modalities so each of my students can learn whatever way is best for them, whether it be visually, orally, or kinesthetically. It’s a fun way to begin on learning experience!"
First Grade Teacher
"I use the Big Ideas Math Math Musicals…………… to engage my students and help them remember some of the concepts with a cool, catchy little tune. The students love these Math Musical videos."
Grade K Teacher
"One of the greatest successes we have seen so far with Big Ideas Math: Modeling Real Life is an increase in understanding of number sense in our kindergarten students. Our teachers have shared with me that their students know their numbers this year better than they ever have before just from using Big Ideas Math for one nine weeks! We have also seen a huge increase in first grade with our students mastering their basic addition and subtraction facts which we contribute to the scope and sequence of Big Ideas Math."
The EdReports review of Big Ideas Math: Modeling Real Life, regretfully, did not acknowledge some overarching, intentional features of the program which would have contributed to higher scores in Gateway 2. In response, Big Ideas Learning promptly submitted comprehensive and convincing counter-evidence documents to EdReports, but with little to no effect. Those counter-evidence documents are provided here for your reference.