Frequently Asked Questions
About the Core-Plus Mathematics Project

Last Updated: 28 January 2005


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In the Classroom

In the Classroom

Q Should the Core-Plus Mathematics Project curriculum be used with heterogeneous or homogeneous classroom groupings of students?

The CPMP curriculum is a flexible curriculum that can be used in a variety of ways with different groupings of students. Thus, each school should make the decision about grouping students that best fits their student body and community. In whatever configuration the school chooses, the availability of extension activities in the student text, and of maintenance tasks in the Teacher Resource materials, as well as different styles of practice problems, allows teachers to provide appropriate challenge or review for each student.

At this time, the CPMP curriculum is being successfully used in math/science magnet schools, in high schools with heterogeneous classrooms, with accelerated 8th graders, in accelerated tracks that move more quickly through the materials starting in 9th grade, and in schools that use several different curricula. In many schools, the CPMP materials are used successfully with all the students, whether they are tracked or untracked.

Q Can the Core-Plus Mathematics Project curriculum be used with students having limited English proficiency (LEP), or with English language learners (ELL)?

Bill Bokesch was a Core-Plus field-test teacher in a southern California high school. Over 70% of the students in his school did not have English as their first language. In a recent article in MathLink, Bill described the techniques he learned in a 45-hour Professional Development course required by the California legislature to help teachers teach LEP and ELL students who are assigned to regular instructional classes (as all California students are now). The course is called "Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English" (SDAIE). Bill compared the SDAIE recommendations with what he was already doing as a CMIC teacher.

SDAIE Recommends CMIC Incorporates
Vary the settings in which students learn. Bill's students work in groups of two, three, or four, or work individually, depending on the class activity. They also have whole-class discussions.
Call on students' existing knowledge, observations, and experience. The "Think About This Situation," which launches each CMIC lesson allows students to have informal verbal interaction during class. At this time they make connections between their everyday experiences, their previous knowledge, and the new mathematical concepts they are meeting.
Make the most of recurring problems and mathematical experiences. Problems that students encounter in CMIC lessons, such as finding rates of change, reappear in deeper and more complex forms as students progress through the curriculum. Because they are familiar with such problems, students have the vocabulary, confidence and past knowledge to discuss the problems at increasing levels of difficulty.
Require students to learn through hands-on investigation. Bill notes that the work his Course 4 students are doing with navigation uses authentic problems similar to those he handled in the U.S. Navy. Working with authentic tools and problems, and with peer interaction, helps students develop language skills as well as mathematical understanding.
Emphasize how students' mathematics and language skills will benefit them in the future. CMIC materials help Bill emphasize a key question "What is 'the real world'?" Career Day speakers from local businesses reinforce the idea that modern employers need workers who can think for themselves and work with others toward the goals of the company.
Work as a whole group to understand new concepts and vocabulary. By using whole class discussion for the "Think About This Situation" lesson introduction, CMIC students are able to gain the vocabulary and concepts they need to finish the investigations and MORE problems in groups or on their own.
Integrate technology. Use of the graphing calculator in CMIC lessons provides a bridge over language-related or cultural barriers. Calculators provide visual images that help students understand problems and express solutions.

Bill concludes: "By using appropriate settings, discussion, investigation, and tools, I help students in my CMIC classes learn mathematics in a way that strengthens their language skills and allows them to build on their existing mathematics knowledge." To read Bill Bokesch's entire article, download ELL-LEP.pdf (58 kb).


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