Curriculum Details for
Practitioner Expert Background
This practitioner has a bachelor of science in mathematics. He has taught afterschool math and literacy classes for several years in an urban middle school through Princeton Review. He has taught a diverse student body, the majority of whom were African American and Latino, with a significant ELL population. He also works as a private tutor.
- Would be useful to have curriculum modeled before teaching.
- Important that instructors buy in to the curriculum. It uses a very different approach from the classical method of teaching math. Teachers who have taught math in a more traditional way for a long time may not want to start teaching a new way.
- May take time to get to know new approach.
- More prep time needed for pre-K and kindergarten curricula since there are more manipulatives and activities.
- For older students, prep time could consist just of reading over lesson.
- Lots of materials, it would take time to decide what to use.
- As long as teacher can manage behavioral issues, can do with larger group (although ideally no more than 20). Includes work in small groups and pairs.
- Little technology required. CD component can be purchased, but is not necessary. Music player helpful for many of the activities.
- More engaging activities for younger kids, can bring music into the lessons. For upper elementary students, lessons are more about content, with fewer activities.
- New, more intuitive methods of doing math may be fun and motivating for kids.
- The instruction is engaging and fast-paced.
- The curriculum consistently reinforces various topics in a variety of different ways.
- Stresses interconnectedness and overlap between different areas of math.
- Uses real-world applications of math, establishing routines to help students see math in many different contexts. For example, students can study daily attendance as a representation of math.
- Includes materials to bring home and activities to do with families (although parents/guardians may be wary of the new methods of teaching math, that are probably quite different from what they learned in school).
Adaptability to instructor needs
General skills taught
- Teacher friendly and well organized.
- Notes which activities are core and which are supplemental. This allows instructor to decide which activities/lessons to include, can pick and choose while still covering essential content.
- Includes calendar laying out different strands. Gives top-down view of you need to cover.
- Can choose to follow curriculum exactly if instructor feels uncomfortable making own decisions, or can just make use of exercises, activities, and strategies if instructor is experienced teacher.
Addressing diverse student needs
- Covers a wide range of math skills.
- Emphasizes interconnectedness and pattern recognition. Teaches how to organize information in representations.
- Sets a strong foundation, teaching skills that older kids often struggle with (such as pattern recognition).
- Curriculum is rooted in connecting math to the real world. It does not, however, teach students how to think abstractly, which students will eventually have to learn to do to be successful in higher levels of math.
- Includes manipulatives, music, painting, connections to art. Uses many different strategies to engage different types of learners, especially in the younger grades.
- Many group and pair activities
- Deliberate efforts to reach out to ELL students, sprinkled throughout (i.e. notes to write vocabulary in “Math Word Bank”)
- Includes suggestions for differentiation for different skill levels.
- Includes “Informing Instruction” notes that anticipate and recognize common errors and misconceptions in children’s thinking or alert teacher to multiple solution strategies or unique insights children may offer.
- Could be difficult with students with behavioral issues if teacher does not have strong behavior management skills.
- Avoids cultural biases.
Strengths and Challenges
- Instructor could have little background in math and still adequately deliver material if he or she follow curriculum.
- Covers breadth of material; sets strong foundation in math.
- Addresses multiple learning styles with younger grades, comes at material from different angles.
- Connects math to real world.
- May sacrifice classical learning and fundamentals such as memorization of times tables.
- Does not teach abstract thinking, which students will need for higher math.