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Introduction and Implementation Strategies for the Interactive Mathematics Program: A Guide for Teacher-Leaders and Administrators

Appendix D:
Beginning the Change Process

The suggestions outlined below represent some of the ways in which a teacher, a school, and a district can prepare for implementation of the Interactive Mathematics Program curriculum.

  • The Common Core State Standards: The Interactive Mathematics Program aligns with the Common Core State Standards. Download the Common Core correlation (PDF) to learn how the Interactive Mathematics Program addresses the High School Mathematics Content Standards as well as the Standards for Mathematical Practice.
  • Mathematics Conferences: Attend local, state, and national mathematics conferences held throughout the school year. These are outstanding conferences where thousands of educators gather to attend sessions on mathematics reform and to network with one another.
  • Graphing Calculators: Buy several classroom sets of graphing calculators and begin to use them in your classrooms. (Mini-grants are a good source of funding.) The College Board has approved use of these calculators on the AP Calculus exams; all the new high school mathematics curriculum projects funded by the National Science Foundation have incorporated graphing calculators as an integral part of their programs.
  • Visit IMP Schools: The IMP curriculum is being taught at schools throughout the country. Visit one of these schools and be sure to sit with students as they work. Also look at student portfolios to see past work.
  • Student-Centered Classrooms: Traditionally, high school mathematics classrooms are teacher-centered. There are many strategies to begin making mathematics classrooms more student-centered. One step is for you to move to the opposite side of the classroom from the chalkboard. When students present and explain their work, make sure that their classmates, and not you, are the primary audience.
  • Group Learning: Let students talk to each other, focusing on interesting problems as they work collaboratively. Arranging students' desks into groups is a physical and psychological beginning for both students and teachers.
  • Learning for Understanding: NCTM's Standards talks about focusing on problem solving and understanding of mathematics. Try to eliminate worksheets that force students to do repetitive, dull drill work. Let students create their own understanding of mathematics by working on more complex problems and asking thought-provoking questions.
  • Extended Problems: Begin assigning a Problem of the Week every few weeks to your students. When students understand that they are being asked to solve problems in a variety of ways and to explain their thinking, they will produce impressive work. Have students make presentations of their work to the class. Problems of the Week can be obtained from a variety of commercial sources, as well as from the centerfold each month of NCTM's Mathematics Teacher.
  • Students as Writers: Require students to explain in writing both their thinking processes and their solutions to all types of problems. This will help clarify student understanding.
  • Students as Risk-Takers: Praise students for asking questions and give respect to unexpected responses. When students realize that risk-taking is valued, they will be encouraged to do more.
  • Question the Textbook: Unless you begin to question why you are teaching what you are, the change process cannot even begin. Begin to skip some topics and spend extra time on others. See NCTM's Standards for suggestions.
  • Visit Feeder Schools: Visit mathematics classes at your feeder schools and meet with their mathematics departments to talk about secondary mathematics education reform and its future in your district and region.
  • Develop Support Within Your Own School: Invite and encourage your colleagues to visit your classroom. Ask them to focus on one or two techniques you are interested in. Meet to discuss observations. Work with your colleagues to create an atmosphere of trust and support.
  • Teachers as Learners: Consider the possibility of learning not only new ways to approach mathematical topics that you have studied in the past, but also some mathematics topics that may be new to you. Learning along with your students is a powerful experience. Once we get over the need to know everything in advance, we free ourselves to be able to explore and question and to delve more deeply into mathematics. One of the goals is to make life-long learners not only of the students but also of the teachers.
  • Parent Night: Invite parents to an evening of learning about changes currently taking place at your school. Discuss the direction that mathematics education is taking and have parents participate in some mathematics learning. You will find that parents will become strong supporters for change.
  • Assessment and Grading: You are assessing your students' work and participation in class all the time. Giving weekly mathematics tests takes 20% of learning time away from your students. Try grading student work holistically. Measuring What Counts (National Research Council, 1993) stresses the need for assessment to enhance mathematics learning and not to be a separate activity.
  • Talk with Administrators: Sit down with administrators and share concerns. Talk about the direction in which the mathematics department would like to go. Everybody Counts (National Research Council, 1989) is excellent reading for administrators and can help to get discussions going.

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