Teaching Mathematics Using Standards-Based and Traditional Curricula: A Case of Variable Ideas
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Mathematics Curriculum in School Education
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This chapter discusses approaches to teaching algebraic concepts like variables that are embedded in a Standards-based mathematics curriculum (CMP) and in a traditional mathematics curriculum (Glencoe Mathematics). Neither the CMP curriculum nor Glencoe Mathematics clearly distinguishes among the various uses of variables. Overall, the CMP curriculum uses a functional approach to teach equation solving, while Glencoe Mathematics uses a structural approach to teach equation solving. The functional approach emphasizes the important ideas of change and variation in situations and contexts. The structural approach, on the other hand, avoids contextual problems in order to concentrate on developing the abilities to generalize, work abstractly with symbols, and follow procedures in a systematic way. This chapter reports part of the findings from the larger LieCal research project. The LieCal Project is designed to investigate longitudinally the impact of a Standards-based curriculum like CMP on teachers’ classroom instruction and student learning. This chapter tells part of the story by showing the value of a detailed curriculum analysis in characterizing curriculum as a pedagogical event.