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