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Reform mathematics: my thoughts

Are you enrolled in a school that uses a reform mathematics curriculum such as Contemporary Mathematics in Context, Connected Mathematics Project, or Everyday Math? Are you struggling with the material and can’t find support to help you through? Do you teach from a reform curriculum and struggle to make it work? If so, I promise you are not alone.

A reform curriculum, such as Contemporary Mathematics in Context (CMIC), also known as Integrated Mathematics or Core Plus, looks different than a traditional mathematics class. A traditional mathematics class separates the strands (Algebra, Geometry, Statistics, etc..) into different courses and focuses on just that area of mathematics for the entire course. While it may incorporate other strands, most of the emphasis is on only one. In a reform curriculum, all strands of mathematics are integrated throughout the course. In addition, the mathematics is embedded in real world situations that students can often easily relate to in hopes that they will develop an understanding of the mathematics themselves by making sense of the situation.

While I am passionate about teaching from a reform curriculum and feel that it is powerful for the learner, I understand that there are many road blocks for students. I’ll discuss the road blocks another time, as I think it is important for students to be able to identify why they are struggling with the material in order to find a solution. I started tutoring in my free time in order to help those students who are struggling to access the mathematics because of these road blocks.

I believe there is a delicate balance between the implementation of “traditional mathematics” and “reform mathematics” which is different for each student. When I tutor one-on-one, I get a chance to find that appropriate balance necessary for each of my students. In my class of 30 students, this is a daunting task. Tutoring allows me to use the reform curriculum the way it was intended and supplement it as needed in order to meet the needs of my students. If you are struggling with a reform curriculum, as a student or a teacher, I’d be happy to share my knowledge and experiences that have helped students learn during my last 8 years of teaching. I welcome any comments, but please be professional. I understand that some people do not share my belief in the reform materials, but please do not attack me for it.