Viewpoints,
Outlook

Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

Math
curriculum adds up

Regarding the Chronicle's March 3 article
"Follow curriculum, says HISD consultant / Focus on testing won't produce
college readiness, the board hears": I am compelled to challenge the
statement that "nearly a third of

Every teacher has access to the TEKS, the
public school curriculum in

CLEAR helped bring national accolades to HISD,
such as the Broad Prize for Urban Education. The National Staff Development
Council recognized HISD's Algebra Initiative, aligned
to CLEAR, as one of the top two professional development programs in
mathematics in the

Since HISD is accountable for its students'
performance on high-stakes tests, all schools must implement CLEAR. To
accomplish this, HISD must (1) simplify access to the online version of CLEAR,
and (2) eliminate alternative mathematics curricula that have proliferated in
HISD due to decentralization. Some of these curricula do not align with CLEAR.
I applaud HISD for its decision to permit scrutiny of its curriculum. If
teachers receive support and time to implement CLEAR, their students will be
well-prepared for the obligatory high-stakes testing as well as for
postsecondary education.

ANNE PAPAKONSTANTINOU
mathematics professor,

**Algebra teacher in digital age**

As an algebra teacher at

But I found the implementation of the lessons
time-consuming because there was no online support.

It is not a "one-size-fits-all"
program, given the diversity of math backgrounds of the students.

To teach CLEAR requires prerequisite
knowledge, and there is no time allocated for that in the pace of the
curriculum. Double-blocked time needs to be given to beginning algebra classes
to give time for modeling and for using programming as a teaching aid.

Added to the time problem is the turnover of
math teachers. Of the eight who taught algebra with me last year, only one is
teaching algebra this year.

There will never be enough qualified,
experienced algebra teachers, so a solution is to use the computer to
individualize instruction.

The

The cost savings would add up, too, as
preventive medicine, seeing as how many students have problems with algebraic
computation.

KAREN NORTH Houston

ORIGINAL LETTER:

It is not one-size fits all
with the diversity of math backgrounds of students. To teach CLEAR requires
pre-requisite knowledge; that time is not built into the pace of CLEAR
curriculum. Double-blocked time needs to
be allocated to algebra I classes. That
gives time for modeling, such as using programming to teach algebra.

Add to the time problem, the
change-over in math teachers. Of the eight
teachers who taught algebra at

The solution is to use the computer,
which can individualize instruction.
HISD can be a leader into math education by moving algebra into the
digital age. The cost saving would add-up as preventative medicine, given the
large number of students who have problems with algebraic computation.

I am a state certified Master Technology Teacher and Computer Science teacher with a Masters in Math Education. I have been researching math education for the last 20 years.

**The language of mathematics **

REGARDING the March 11
letter from Anne Papakonstantinou, "Math
curriculum adds up": I want to remind teachers and students that algebra
is a language. Its operational signs are the verbs, parentheses and equal signs
are conjunctions and everything else is nouns. Once a student grasps these
language rules and how they are applied, they can do well in algebra.

Students who attempt to memorize all algebra
combinations the way they memorized multiplication tables in the lower grades
will find algebra very difficult. Teaching algebra as a language improves
algebra skills.

WILLIAM H. (BILL) OSBORNE Houston