Case Study for Education Assignment Questions
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The Constructivist Math Curriculum
Connie teaches fourth grade in a middle-SES school district. Her district has adopted a new K–6 math curriculum for this year, based on constructivist principles. In attending the in-service devoted to training teachers in implementing the new curriculum, Connie discovers that many differences exist between what she has been teaching for the past twenty years and this new curriculum. The new curriculum focuses on the use of math in “real life.” Instead of endless speed drills, the problems ask the students to think and make connections between their lives at home and what they are doing in math. What drill and practice there is takes place in the context of various games the children play together. Students are allowed and even taught to approach problems in a variety of ways rather than focusing on a single algorithm for a particular type of problem. Many of these approaches are completely alien to Connie and, she guesses, to other teachers and parents. “This is going to be a lot of work,” she thinks. “I’m going to have to relearn math myself in order to teach this way.”
As the school year begins, other teachers begin expressing their concerns over the new curriculum. It is just so different from anything they have ever done in the past. Most of the teachers are managing to stay just a lesson or two ahead of the students. The children in first and second grade seem to love the new math program. They are actively involved during math period and many of them have said that math is fun. The students in fourth through sixth grade don’t appear to be as enthusiastic about the new curriculum, however. Many of them are unable to complete their homework. They can’t seem to grasp how to complete problems using the techniques taught in the new curriculum. They constantly fall back on the old algorithms they were taught when they were younger. This is frustrating Connie and her colleagues, as they have worked very hard to master the alternate ways of approaching problems themselves.
To make matters worse, parents are complaining. They can’t help their children with their homework because they don’t know how to use the new approaches, either. This has caused many parents to become angry. Several have threatened to remove their children from the school and take them “somewhere where they teach normal math.” A group of parents will be addressing the board of education regarding this at their next meeting.
Adding fuel to the fire is one of the middle school math teachers, who insists that this new curriculum won’t give the students the foundation they need for algebra. “They need to develop automatically with their math facts. That just isn’t going to happen with this program. It takes them in too many directions. They’ll never make it back to normal in time for algebra.”
Proponents answer the middle school teacher by indicating that the new curriculum will actually better prepare the students for higher math because they will have a better conceptual understanding of why they are doing things and how the traditional algorithms work. Connie feels caught in the middle. She understands what the curriculum is supposed to do. She even believes it might actually benefit the students in the long run. However, every day she has students in tears in her class because they don’t understand what she is asking them to do. She has fielded her share of phone calls from angry parents as well.
1. What are the issues in this case?
Ans -Read through thoroughly to look into all aspects of the case.
-When analysing the issue, look into perspectives of change curriculum, algebra teacher’s perspective, student’s relation as well as teacher’s related points.
-Based on all such aspects define the main case based issue.
2.The students in first and second grade seem to be flourishing in this curriculum, while the older students are struggling. Why might this be? Tie your answer to a constructivist principle.
Ans-Firstly try elucidating the constructivist approach.
– Relate scenario to the issues of learning and unlearning.
-Present an analysis to reach to a conclusion that answers why the first and second grade students seem to be flourishing, while the older students are struggling.
3.How should the teachers address parental concerns regarding the new curriculum?
Ans-Talk a little on why there are parental concerns.
-Then talk whether teachers can resolve/ or what would be impact of teacher parent’s interaction in the scenario. Whether it would be fruitful or not.
-Present ways of addressing like personally, face to face, over call, informal meetings.
-Also suggest techniques that can be used to address concern like by giving presentation, one to one interaction and other appropriate ways. Try justifying your choice that you prefer.
4. How should they address the concerns of the algebra teacher?
Ans-As the algebra teacher is part of the institution, try suggesting documented ways like written orders and justification notes from head of organization.
-Try relating subject teaching based benefits and also benefits to students based on new curriculum.
5. What can the teachers do to help their students at this point?
Ans- Mention ways other than meetings, presentation as you may be mentioning in the previous answers.