Curriculum focal points in the States
In today's Straits times (16 Sept), there is an article on page 36 entitled: "Maths teaching in US moving back to basics." Here the article points out that "new ways of teaching maths, introduced in the US almost two decades ago have not added up much." These new ways refer to the constructivist approach where "children learn what they want to learn when they're ready to learn it". Instead, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics(NCTM) urge that the teaching of maths in kindergarten through eighth grade focus on a few core skills. These skills, which they term as the curriculum focal points, are classified under each level*:
• Pre-K (under 5 years old): Develop an understanding of whole numbers and how to count and compare them.
• Kindergarten(5-6 yrs old): Use numbers to solve quantitative problems, count numbers in a set, and create a set within a given number of objects.
• 2nd Grade(7-8 yrs old): Learn how to count in units and multiples of hundreds, tens, and ones; understand multi-digit numbers in terms of place-value, and how to compare and order numbers.
• 4th Grade(9-10 yrs old): Develop understanding of multiplication, including “quick recall” of multiplication and division facts; select correct methods to make mental estimations and calculations.
• 6th Grade(11-12 yrs old): Know the meanings of fractions, multiplication, and division; understand relationships between decimals and fractions, and how to multiply and divide them, using multistep problems.
• 8th Grade(13-14 yrs old): Use linear functions, linear equations, and their understanding of the slope of a line to solve problems; understand verbal and graphical representations of functions; describe how the slope of a line and the y-intercept appear in different verbal, graphical, and algebraic representations.
* Taken from NCTM website :http://www.nctm.org/news/ext_articles/2006_0912_edweek.htm
Read more about this math education reform via the above URL.
There is also an interesting article entitled the 10 myths of NCTM learning where university professors detail some problems that face math education in US. The URL is:
My final comment on the "10 myths": A very informative read and thought provoking. Any math teacher or anyone who is interested in mathematics reform should read it. The curriculum reform as stated above is actually in response to the "10 myth" article.