The CRDG mathematics team has developed A Modeling Approach to Algebra, a curriculum created to support ninth-grade students’ learning algebra with understanding. Created under a contract with the Hawai‘i Department of Education, the materials support struggling learners by emphasizing modeling both as a practice and as mathematics content as described in the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.
In 2012, nine mathematics teachers at six high schools in the state are piloting the materials in their classes. The teachers received professional development training to prepare for teaching the new course and then met quarterly to focus on implementation practices and students’ progress in the course. In addition, curriculum researchers visited all piloting classes to learn more about how students interact with the materials. While out in the schools, researchers were able to talk with teachers and students about their experiences learning mathematics with a modeling approach.
Teachers took a survey as they completed each unit. The information will help with development of the next version of the program. Teachers’ feedback—such as, “ I found Insights to Student Thinking/Possible Responses in the Notes section to be of greatest support,” and, “Students need help with learning how to write a report”— helps the curriculum developers better understand what worked well and what needs revision.