Research and Development Feed Innovation in Mathematics

The innovative Measure Up elementary mathematics program employs reading, writing, speaking, and critical thinking to develop students’ conceptual understanding of mathematics concepts.

While innovation may be said to be the watchword for CRDG in general, no section exemplified this approach more in 2008 than mathematics. From the teaching of mathematics through inquiry, to placing all students in a rigorous program that presents algebra in eighth grade and includes mathematics in every grade throughout high school, to continuing to develop the Measure Up program, which uses measurement experiences to help students develop ideas about equality and inequality that are key to continued success in developing mathematical thinking, the work of the CRDG Mathematics section has truly been ground-breaking. Their research in 2008 continued work on curriculum development and added an emphasis on technology in the classroom as a way of deepening understanding and improving student achievement.

The Mathematics section engaged in a National Science Foundation-funded research project to study the effects of formative assessment in a networked classroom on student learning of algebraic concepts in grade seven. Using the TI-Navigator system to create networked classrooms, this project aimed to advance mathematics learning for all students by researching ways for teachers to employ formative assessment strategies efficiently and effectively.

Technology in the classroom was also the focus of a project funded by the Texas Instruments Company to study applications of the TI-NSpire technology to improve learning of twelfth grade pre-calculus concepts.

A second National Science Foundation grant funded a study of the role of gender in language used by children and their parents working on mathematical tasks. In addition to students in the Laboratory School, this research included student and parent teams from six public elementary schools in Hawai‘i. Researchers Judith and Melfreid Olson were interviewed for a feature story that was part of “The Sounds of Progress: The Changing Role of Girls and Women in Science and Engineering,” an award-winning National Public Radio series.

In 2008, the Mathematics section also continued to provide professional development throughout the state, working with schools, complexes, or districts depending on the need. This year they worked with Lanakila Elementary, Blanche Pope Elementary, and Stevenson Middle schools; the Nanakuli, Pearl City, Waipahu Complex; and the Honolulu District.

Measure Up

Based on a program created in Russia, Measure Up dates to 2000 when mathematics researchers at CRDG began adapting the concepts of the program for a contemporary audience. Measure Up’s unique approach to learning mathematics not only includes reading, writing, speaking, and critical thinking, but also stresses multiple representations and connectivity. Dr. Barbara Dougherty, a member of the original Measure Up team, believes that, because of the unique way mathematics is taught in the program, by the end of sixth grade students will have completed the equivalent of a rigorous algebra course.

Four characteristics guide the work in Measure Up to help young children become mathematical thinkers:

1. Students’ experiences with continuous quantities of volume, mass, length, and area introduce them to mathematical ideas, laying the foundation for algebraic thinking.

2. An emphasis on communication engages students in talking about, listening to, and writing about mathematical ideas.

3. Students represent the mathematics with continuous quantities pictorially and symbolically. These representations are used interchangeably rather than sequentially.

4. Physical actions with continuous quantities allow students to make links to mathematical concepts being investigated.