For more than thirty years, Paul Goldenberg has worked on the front lines of the “math wars,” watching as educators, researchers, and communities battle over the relative merits of competing approaches to mathematics education: Traditional “drill and practice” instruction versus “reform math”; back-to-basics versus “Standards-based” methods.
Most countries in the world have established a national curriculum framework whose content reflects the country’s unique values, traditions, and world view. The idea of an international curriculum seems like something of an oxymoron. How can a curriculum—particularly one dealing with such topic areas as history, ethics, and conflict—be relevant and adaptable to countries from every continent, given the differences in culture, politics, and education systems?
Faced with the challenge of designing a program that would bring current business issues into the high school classroom, a team of EDC curriculum writers and researchers began their work in an assembly plant.
Frustrated with the standard lecture approach to mathematics, teachers have developed a hands-on, interactive lesson that uses the relative heat of chili peppers to introduce and explore the mathematics concepts of properties and logarithms.
Funded by the International Committee of the Red Cross and developed by EDC, EHL is a rich investigation of International Humanitarian Law for secondary school students. It is currently in use in more than 55 countries worldwide, including those experiencing active conflicts, such as Israel, the Palestinian National Authority, Northern Ireland, and the former Yugoslavia.
Two days after September 11th, EDC Vice President Eric Jolly began talking to colleagues about what the organization could do to support teachers as they helped students make sense of the tragedy and its aftermath. Newspapers were beginning to carry reports of violence against Muslims and people who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent. Recalls Jolly, “Obviously, we couldn’t do anything about the violence that had already taken place, but we thought we could help prevent attacks against new groups of innocent victims—including Arab Americans.”
When students who will be entering the New Bedford Global Learning Charter School this fall sat down earlier this summer to have their literary skills assessed, they were providing information that will help shape curriculum and teachers’ professional development at this new school set to open its doors in September.
“The Game of Commerce” makes the realities of 19th century trade concrete for middle school students. Developed by senior EDC research associate Anne Shure of the Center for Educational Resources and Outreach, it continues an EDC tradition of using educational games to teach concepts in history and social studies.
While mammography and pap smears have demonstrated great success in identifying cancer in earlier, more treatable stages, these effective screening tools remain underused today. Too many women still die from breast and cervical cancer that could have been treated early as a result of timely detection.
Community service programs—when combined with curriculum—not only promote community values and good citizenship, they may also protect students from risky health behaviors during adolescence. When New York City middle school students’ community service work (three hours per week) was combined with health instruction, both their violent behavior and their high-risk sexual activity dropped significantly.
One spring day in 1975, as the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Lexington approached, Carol Pixton’s eighth grade history class decided to write a play about the battle. For inspiration, they turned to their innovative history curriculum, From Subject to Citizen, an EDC series that emphasized primary historical materials and experiential learning.
According to researchers in EDC’s Center for Mathematics Education, traditional mathematics curricula have neglected visual mathematics in favor of verbal and logical approaches that may not work as well for many students.
As the fourth largest state in the union, Montana extends to regions so sparsely populated students attend one-room schools staffed by teachers whose nearest colleague might be a hundred miles away. While news of education reforms may reach these rural teachers, opportunities to examine and discuss them with peers are rare. EDC’s Center for Science Education (CSE) wants to change that.
Once taught primarily to college-bound students, algebra is now recognized as a critical “gateway” course for all students. “It’s considered the entrée into higher math, the hard sciences, even into university study itself,” explains Peter Braunfeld, professor emeritus of mathematics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “It’s become the difference between getting in and being left out.”
One of the first principles of universal design is that it is
better to build flexible options into a curriculum at the outset
rather than trying to retrofit the program after it is published.
A corollary might be that even when you’ve built in flexibility,
you never stop retrofitting to meet the needs of an ever-expanding
universe of users.
Elegance. Culture. Habits of mind. Such phrases are usually reserved for literature, philosophy, or fine arts. But in the case of EDC’s newest curriculum, they describe geometry. While covering the basics of high school geometry, Connected Geometry discusses ways to build elegant bridges among mathematical ideas, create a lively culture of mathematical investigation, and develop students’ abilities to inquire and think.
The staff of EDC’s K-12 Mathematics Curriculum Center at EDC likes to think of their new book, Choosing a Standards-Based Mathematics Curriculum, as the “eyes, yardsticks, and noses” schools will use to evaluate and select a mathematics program that fits their needs.
Al Cuoco, director of EDC’s Mathematics Initiative, and EDC Vice President Wayne Harvey, a mathematics education researcher, emphasize that improving mathematics education goes beyond a simple choice between traditional mathematics and mathematics based on the NCTM standards.