Inspired by the notion that mathematics is a universal language, ELM aims to:
- Increase the proportion of students who can select and use appropriate mathematical tools as well as understand information presented in mathematical terms;
- Increase the number of students achieving a high level of numeracy proficiency level, thus making them more likely to choose a career in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics;
- Decrease the proportion of students who experience mathematics anxiety, thus helping them to become intrinsically motivated, feel competent and be likely to self-regulate their learning of mathematics;
- Prepare students for advanced studies in math by focusing on the precursors to ideas in higher mathematics, yet remaining firmly rooted in the curriculum of Grade 1 mathematics.
When using ELM, students first select among four themes, and then work on sections (called Ideas) with different activities addressing specific mathematical concepts.
Each theme in ELM is associated with a different world region.
1. Number Concept: North America
This theme develops a fundamental sense of numbers as a count of objects and includes addition, subtraction, comparison of numbers, decomposition of numbers, and place value.
2. Additive Triads: Marine Friends
This theme explores the relationships between three numbers, a, b and c, where a + b = c, and focuses on the development of strategic thinking.
3. Number Line: Australian Friends
This theme explores the notion that numbers not only represent a count of objects in a set, but also can represent a number of steps taken along a line.
4. Mathematical Language: South American Friends
This theme allows students to think in a concrete way about situations that forces them to count, and perform repeated additions and subtractions. During this process student must at all times remember a "running total" value.
Under Ideas, different mathematical concepts are addressed through activities that provide an increasing level of both difficulty and the complexity of conceptual understanding needed to complete them.
The interactive activities are designed to engage students and develop specific mathematical skills.
As students work through the activities, they are shown a puzzle with missing pieces. Each missing piece represents a number of repetitions (called a set) of that activity. By completing the necessary repetitions, students earn the pieces needed to complete the puzzle.
Once they have completed all activities within an Ideas sectio students can return to any activity for further practice.