This project plans to use the problem-centered Connected Mathematics3 curriculum. The Connected Mathematics Project (CMP) has worked over 25 years to design, develop, field-test, evaluate, and disseminate student and teacher materials for a middle school math curriculum. CMP focuses on the investigation of mathematical ideas embedded in problem situations, explored through inquiry, classroom discourse, and collaboration. Results of peer-reviewed studies into use of the materials show that, compared to their peers using traditional math curricula, students in CMP classrooms typically do as well on assessments of procedures and skills, and score significantly higher on problems requiring modeling, mathematical reasoning, and/or articulating their thinking.
Connected Mathematics3 is clearly having an impact on middle school mathematics, but it can be made even better. Right now, it makes use of the student notebook, which isn’t always the most efficient way to store, access, and share information. This makes it the perfect curriculum to try to go all digital. Researchers have chosen seventh grade as their focus because the students have had at least one year of inquiry-based instruction, and because eighth grade poses issues of tracking when students are transitioning to high school courses.
The project plans to use the following units: Comparing and Scaling: Proportional Reasoning, Stretching and Shrinking: Understanding Similarity, and Moving Straight Ahead: Linear Relationships. Each unit has three or four investigations, each of which contains 2-5 problems. A unit is typically enacted in 4-6 calendar weeks. The units were chosen because proportional reasoning is a connective theme in all of them.
The teachers participating in this research already have experience implementing the Connected Mathematics3 curriculum in non-digital form. This means that they are already familiar with its philosophy and learning goals, which will remain unaltered by this project. They have also attended professional development activities related to implementing the curriculum or have experience facilitating teacher professional development activities at the regional and national level. Their knowledge of the curriculum makes them an asset to the development of the digital tools, and no time will have to be spent training new teachers to implement the curriculum.
This project makes use of an existing full-format digital platform designed specifically for educational research purposes. The Concord Consortium’s Lightweight Activity Runtime and Authoring (LARA) environment and its associated teacher portal were developed under funding from prior NSF-supported projects. The Inscriptions Math Project will use and extend this existing portal environment to develop inscriptional tools and enable students to access both individual and shared spaces. This platform provides a firm foundation for the development work of the project, so researchers can focus on extending the functionality to meet their needs. Because the portal is housed on Concord Consortium’s website, the materials will be widely accessible to students and teachers across the nation.