When I started my teaching career, I was very traditional. Students sat in rows, I lectured for 40 minutes every day, and problems had to be done using the methods I outlined. When the nearby school district began using the CPM materials, I made as much noise as possible in the community against the program. Two years later when I took a job in the district I had no intention of using the materials, even though my principal indicated during my interview that it was the mandate. I attended the teacher training with a chip on my shoulder and a closed mind.
My attitude changed after the first math problem was posed to the participants. I raced to solve it as fast as I could using all of the traditional algorithms that I'd learned in high school. I was shocked when the person next to me finished first by drawing a picture and using the "guess and check" problem solving strategy! From that moment on, I realized that using alternate methods can actually improve student accuracy and efficiency. I now make as much noise as possible in the community FOR the program.
Likewise, my students are much more receptive to learning math. A student in my Informal Geometry class made the following comment: "I'm so glad this book teaches us the math first and the shortcut later. I remember things so much better." Another Informal Geometry student was repeating the class for a third time and told the class, "I wish we'd used these materials the first time I took this course!"
-Seth, South Dakota