I like that the homework is both "review and preview" because I know I will be able to do it on my own at home. I also know that my teammates in class can work together to understand something new that we are learning.
It's harder to work through the problem than being given the answer. But when I was looking at my required college curriculum, I realized that this work helped me prepare better for college. You understand the methods for solving the problem, instead of a teacher handing you the formula. You understand why it works that way.
My daughter has always struggled with mathematics. But with CPM she began to like math and really understands what she is learning. All of the hands-on learning tools, like the Algebra tiles, have really helped her to finally succeed in math class.
Having the chance to talk about the math with other students in her study team has been valuable for my daughter. This helps her see other students' struggles and how they think about the ideas. It helps reinforce her own skills as she explains her work out loud to others.
Students are organized into study teams and work on problem-based applications, team strategies and real-world applications. Many algebra teachers feel reenergized and are having more fun teaching math with the CPM approach. Algebra classes focus on both basic skills and problem solving strategies that are used to help students relate to and understand the concepts behind the problems.
One of the main things I've heard from the teachers is that the structure of the lessons gives them the ability to quickly identify how individuals, small groups and the entire class are doing during a lesson. As a result the teachers are able to interact with students or facilitate activities to provide immediate responses. Students are less likely to fall through the cracks and students continue to progress at a productive pace.
We have students who have taken our traditional honors course sequence (algebra, geometry, algebra 2, pre-calculus) and students who have taken the same subjects using the CPM curriculum together in one AP Calculus class. The skills of the non-honors CPM students are not only competitive with those of the honor students but often the CPM students are more confident when applying their skills to new situations.
I feel that when students have to explain themselves mathematically it helps them transition to becoming more independent learners in science. Because of CPM, I no longer teach math to my physics students, I simply review some ideas. I only wish that someone would start rewriting science texts with the same philosophy that the CPM folks have integrated into their materials.
The CPM program helps students see multiple ways of solving the same problem so they have a broad array of strategies for solving mathematics problems. This also helps students feel confident that they can solve challenging problems.
CPM requires students to be actively involved in learning. They do not just sit and take notes while the teacher does the problems. Teachers need to circulate among the student study teams to ask good questions to provoke thought and to assess what the students know. Now that I have used CPM for four years, we see more students taking more math courses at the high school level.
I taught mathematics using traditional texts for 19 years before I saw a sample of CPM. It was the curriculum I had been looking for. Many in my department were frustrated with the lack of problem solving ability of our students at all levels of math using traditional books, especially with our upper level pre-calculus and calculus students. While they could manipulate the problems well enough, they did not understand the underlying concepts and could not solve many basic applications.
Our school district is a small, low-income district. A few years ago, our math scores were really low and we felt a lot of pressure. We adopted Everyday Math in Elementary school and CPM's Foundations for Algebra 1 and 2 in the middle school. This last school year (2008-2009), our 7th grade was at more than 90% advanced/proficient and our 8th grade was more than 80% advanced/proficient on the state test.
I would describe the CPM curriculum as simply "refreshing." I have just finished my 20th year of teaching, and my first year of teaching Geometry Connections. As I prepared for my geometry classes, I was often amazed at the approach CPM used for concepts.
For years students would say to me, "When are we ever gonna use this stuff?", and in a CPM classroom, I never hear this any more. Lessons are built around applications rather than drill. These are activities that stick with students, and help develop understanding.
When Inverness evaluators came to my school to evaluate the effect a grant had had on math teaching in our district, the evaluators were impressed by the level of interaction among the students. They interviewed random students to see what the students thought about CPM and the inquiry approach.
This is the first year for the CPM program in our school. I am seeing student results and hearing comments that I have never seen or heard in my 35 years of teaching. For example, when I was introducing arithmetic sequences, a student automatically volunteered that a sequence was linear. It automatically followed that geometric sequences were exponential.
Two of my students this year told me that they never knew math could be this much fun. They both were excellent, bright and gifted mathematicians. I love being able to present them the opportunity to think about math differently.
I have just completed observing a CPM Algebra Connections classroom. The particular lesson that I thought was amazing occurred at the end of Chapter 4 (4.2.4). It was a summary of slope, intercepts, and graphing done through contextual problems. The students worked in well-managed, self-directed study teams facilitated by an instructor using superior questioning techniques.
I was taught math in high school using CPM and those experiences are why I chose teaching as a career. I remember being in college and being able to explain the "why" a concept works while other students were trying to memorize material.
I have been a math educator for over 14 years. I was hired as a math instructional coach to help math teachers improve their instruction. The same year I was hired the district started implementation of the CPM math courses. I can still remember the day I was sitting in a class observing a teacher as he was teaching a lesson about completing the square.
It is so wonderful to be able to step back and listen to my math classroom and hear all of the "math talk." Students become very passionate about their method of solving a problem a specific way. The students are defending their method and are proving why their method works. It is GREAT to hear these conversations on a daily basis.
As a middle school teacher of 23 years, I have spent many hours searching for rich mathematical problems with multiple solutions or multiple pathways to the solution. This type of problem is embedded in the lessons in the CPM curriculum.
I have used CPM in the classroom for seven years now. The change in understanding and knowledge that my students have of mathematics using CPM is remarkable. My students are thinking and understanding math, not just doing math procedures.
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.
With CPM my students are involved in the lessons and willing to work for the full class period. Even though they sometimes complain that "this math makes my head hurt," they continue to work on the math and make significant gains.