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Bryce Rector and Ellie Schaefer Curriculum Series Analysis November 26, 2013 Discovering Mathematics Series The

Context This series consists of multiple editions and for this review we looked at Second Edition of the text. The copyright date for this text is 2010 by Key Curriculum Press. This is a unique text that has a set of authors who met in the early 1990s. The authors of the Discovering Algebra text are Jerald Murdock, Ellen Kamischke, and Eric Kamischke. Murdock, who recently passed away on March 20, 2013, was a teacher at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan. Ellen Kamischke, who has a MAT from Michigan State University, is currently a graduate student at the Michigan Technological University for pure mathematics. Eric Kamischke is currently a math professor at Michigan Technological University. They all met in 1991 when a National Science Foundation grant allowed them to write the Graphing Calculator Enhanced Algebra Project1. It is clear that the authors all hold a firm belief in students discovering mathematics of their own accord, rather than being passive recipients. In every chapter students discover the content with the teacher as a facilitator and guide, rather than lecturer. The books moderately relate to the Common Core Standards for

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Mathematical Practice 2 but are based in the NCTM Principles and Standards for School Mathematics directly. The Key Curriculum Press is also the distributor of Geometers Sketchpad which is distributed throughout the entire world. The book set is used throughout the world as well, although not as widely, in places such as Australia, Canada and Europe3, but has received a range of ratings throughout the United States. The Washington State Board of Education found the books to be mathematically unsound4, while the Indiana Department of Education gave the books (Geometry in particular) an overall strongly positive rating5. They have the series for Algebra and Geometry, but they also have a series for younger students referred to as the Key to series, which contains areas such as the Key to Percents, Key to Decimals, Key to fractions and Key to Measurement that explain lower level concepts. We think that the mission of Key Curriculum indicates the authors philosophical beliefs about learning mathematics. The mission is listed below: It's our mission to... Engage students with effective, relevant, high-quality mathematics software and instructional materials that open their eyes to math in the world around them, develop both conceptual understanding and skills, and ignite their interest in learning. Support mathematics educators by partnering with them to promote an inclusive and compelling learning environment that facilitates their success in meeting the educational needs of all students.

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Advocate for research, ideas, strategies, and policies that lead to excellence and equity in education, as well as a better educational experience for all students. Provide a respectful, collaborative, and forward-thinking workplace that promotes open communication, values people, nurtures their ideas, and helps Key Curriculum achieve sustainable growth. The Content Discovering Algebra Series For the Discovering Mathematics series we reviewed, Bracken Library only had the teachers edition. However, it looks as though the student edition to the book provides selected answers at the back of the book. According to the Key Curriculum Response of the Indiana Review of the Discovering Algebra Series, the series also offers an ancillary More Practice Your Skills package that students can use as well as a CD to teachers that has a worksheet generator. With respect to the building of conceptual understanding in the text, I think Discovering Algebra and Discovering Advanced Algebra do a great job of helping to build a conceptual understanding of the material. Students build their own knowledge through explorations of mathematical concepts, which eventually allows them to arrive at the skills, procedures, theorems, etc., which we learn in a typical math class. Most of these explorations are all real world based so this too helps to build a conceptual understanding of the topics learned. With that being said, I do not know how great of a job the series does in building the necessary procedural knowledge we gain in Algebra. I believe there may be too much time spent on explorations to allow students to gain all of the procedural knowledge they need, especially if we are dealing with below grade-level readiness, ELL, or LD students.

In the two Discovering Algebra books in this series, almost all of the sections begin with word problems, or investigations. The teachers edition of the book provides teachers with the notes and directions they need to help students through these investigations. The text then typically provides students with a couple of examples that are similar to the explorations and are typically word problems addressing the same mathematical concepts. Then there is a Practice Your Skills section followed by a Reason and Apply section, and finally the section in the book typically ends with a review section. There are very few practice problems, or what I would call skill-builder problems, in the textbook, which I find to be a bit of an issue, but it looks as though Key Curriculum Press offers some supplemental material to make up for the lack of these problems. I feel that the books are a little bit wordy. From what I have read in the textbooks, almost every lesson begins with either a history of the concept, a story problem, or some other introduction that is at least a few large paragraphs. I even found myself not wanting to read all of it, so I think this is something that I would worry about with my students. This fact also really worries me if Im working with lowachieving students, ELL or LD students. However, the investigations are usually pretty interesting and fun, so it may be a situation where as a teacher you have to figure out how to get students to do the investigations without being intimidated by all of the words at the beginning of each section. The manner in which the mathematical concepts are presented in this book is a bit weird to me. Many of the concepts that I looked at are explained in a peculiar way, which at times were hard for me to understand, let alone my students. For example,

their explanation of transformations of functions on page 232 in Discovering Advanced Algebra is somewhat confusing and took me multiple times to read through to be able to understand it completely. The book also expects every single lesson to be done by investigation, which I believe in the typical classroom is almost completely unreasonable. I honestly feel that there is not enough time allotted in a year to complete everything that needs to be completed if we are doing an investigation everyday. Some of these investigations are quite difficult and will take up a lot of time. The book does offer a schedule of what your school year should look like (a curriculum map), but to me it seems unfair to think every lesson can be done this way, if we are to get students to a mastery level in an efficient manner. The Discovering Algebra books do a really good job of implementing the use of technology into their lessons. They use dynamic data software, graphing calculators, geometry software, motion sensors and much more in many of their lessons. For this series the technological tools are absolutely necessary in combination with the text, as each section is based off of an investigation that almost always uses some type of technology. Overall, I think the Discovering Algebra series does a phenomenal job of implementing the use of technology into nearly every lesson. Discovering Geometry Interestingly enough, the student edition of this text does not contain a glossary of terms or any solutions to problems. Select problems have hints in the back, but even those are infrequently. The students are supposed to discover the definitions and work through problems, individually and collaboratively, and then keep record of the definitions and any theorems that they discover. Conceptual understanding is the

foremost goal for this series. However, procedural knowledge is somewhat lacking. Since the problems are almost entirely open ended, real-world and discovery based, students develop a memorable and thorough conceptual understanding, but never gather a real understanding of any procedures. However, students build on understand learned from algebra in the Using Your Algebra Skills sections of the chapter. The problems included are rarely computational and for each chapter there is at least one optional project included, so the problems would be relatable and probably engaging for students. However, the wording of the problems is often wordy, complex and relies on deeper level thinking and understanding. The textbook is design to steadily build on knowledge as well as understanding of proof. It begins with chapters on reasoning and basic concepts and builds on these, starting with paragraph proofs and flow charts, formally proving only in really the last chapter. The lessons individually begin with a connections section in which they connect to prior understandings or relatable content, and proceeds through investigation sections to lead into the exercises, which are also discovery based. Then often times there is a small review section and an algebra connection section. The books would be large, typical of the high school math textbooks, and it contains 13 chapters (0-13) with several chapters being optional. There isnt a great deal of overlap between other textbooks and this textbook, as Geometry tends to be a topic on its own. However, while the topics may not overlap, the text is exceptional at making many connections to other content areas. This entire series, and the Discovering Geometry book in particular does an outstanding job of implementing technology in the classroom. Many of the

technologies are optional, but they are set out as an option for teachers to use in the classroom. The provide opportunities to use dynamic geometry software, Geometers sketchpad (including an Ipad app) and other such software in almost every lesson. Some of the lessons require technology while others provide options for technological or concrete examples that could enhance student learning. Supplemental Instruction Materials This series offers several supplemental options. The have a resource guide for parents6 that helps them to understand how to help their child through the course. However, the problems that they present for examples are often wordy and complex, preventing parents from thoroughly understanding the content and assisting their children with homework. For additional student resources they have workbooks available with solution manuals for students who may need more guidance. Also, as was stated in the section about the Discovering Algebra Series, there is a worksheet generator and a test generator to help teachers provide extra work. Along with these supplemental materials, the text also provides teachers with almost a direct guide on teaching every investigation for every section in the book, which is very helpful as we believe that sometimes teaching with investigations can be difficult if you have never done it before. NCTM Standards

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This textbook series is designed around the NCTM Principles and Standards for School Mathematics. Throughout the text there are charts indicating which process as well as content standards are met in the individual sections. Common Core According to the IDOE, the Discovering Geometry text has a strong alignment with the Common Core standards, but the Algebra texts provide only a moderate alignment. The Algebra texts correlate strongly to the Standards for Mathematical Content. However, some of the STEM (+) standards are absent, leading to its moderate rating. The Key Curriculum Press responded to the evaluation and rating by indicating that these standards are addressed in the Pre-Calculus and Trigonometry book.

Recommendation This text would be an outstanding book for an experienced teacher of gifted students, because it requires a significant amount of deeper level thinking problems. We can see how this text would be difficult to use for teachers who are inexperienced in facilitating discussion, as implementing full investigational learning is a practice that requires an abundance of skill as a teacher. It would also be difficult for ELL students and students of lower understanding levels, as these investigations require high level reasoning skills and often times fail to provide the correct level of scaffolding in developing some mathematical skills, which many of these students desperately need. Also, it is unrealistic to expect every lesson to be discovery based. As much as we as teachers hate it, there is a time constraint in the school year and each discovery takes

additional time than a normal lesson would take, so it is unrealistic for each one to be discovery based. For these reasons, we believe the Discovering Mathematics Series would be better to use as supplemental discovery resource in a regular classroom, rather than the everyday curriculum.

Recommendation specific for Gifted Learners

According to the National Association for Gifted Children there are four main ideas that embody good instruction for gifted children. Therefore, to address the viability of this curriculum for teaching gifted children I will address the extent to which it helps support teachers in these four points. Good teaching for gifted learners happens at a higher "degree of difficulty" than for many students their age In a high ability classroom the text could be much more useful than as standard use in a regular classroom, as it would provide challenge and would require deductive reasoning, thereby addressing the students need for a reasonable level of challenge in the everyday classroom. The discovery based learning opportunities present more demanding critical thinking opportunities and independence. The problems then are more open-ended and abstract which makes them more appropriate for the advanced leaner.

Good curriculum and instruction for gifted learners begins with good curriculum and instruction. The Discovering Geometry series seems to do a good job of covering all content necessary for the classes in a thorough manner, so the content of the

curriculum is sound. The books also provided details for teachers to help guide instruction so that students get the most out of the content, so I believe that the series does a very good job supporting teachers with a good curriculum as well as guidance for instruction.

Good teaching for gifted learners is paced in response to the student's individual needs. The discovery basis of the curriculum allows students to progress through individual sections to the depth of their own need. The sections almost always provide an extension section for even more advanced students. There are also several projects throughout each chapter providing potential enrichment to gifted students. However, Since each lesson requires a discovery they take longer than a typical lesson, even for gifted students so pacing may be difficult in relation to time. This leads me to believe the pacing set up in the curriculum supports gifted students for the most part, although there may be some weaknesses.

Good teaching for gifted learners requires an understanding of "supported risk." In my opinion these books do the best of any that I have seen to encourage students to take risks. With the discovery based lessons there is no exact answer that students have to find, leading them to investigate in any manner that they see fit. There are often times no instructions to even go by other than occasional teacher guidance. Also, the questions throughout all of the sections are open-ended, complex


and abstract which is exactly what the gifted students need in order to get the supported risk-taking. This book does a fantastic job of encouraging students to not know the exact answer. Technology and Gifted Students In order to investigate the technological applications for the gifted classroom I looked in to using Tinkerplots and Geometers Sketchpad in the classroom to enrich the learning experience. On the curriculum website they have learning modules that you can purchase that can help you to incorporate the technology in a more in-depth manner. When I went through some of the tutorials I saw several opportunities for students to work through problems independently as well as opportunities for flipped classrooms to engage students in discussion more in the classroom. They also have websites on-line that can link to lesson plans that use Tinkerplots and Geometer Sketchpad as discovery based lessons. However, if teachers are for some reason unable to use these programs (whether it be cost or another obstacle) then there is also the option of using the dynamic geometry software called Geogebra, which is free. Free resources comes with this as well on the Geogebra website as well as GeogebraTube that provides resource videos.