Does the instruction in Middle
School Math provide an opportunity for students to learn the benchmark ideas and
skills?Numerous sightings were analyzed to determine the instructional
criteria ratings for TYPICAL SIGHTING CHART (Adobe PDF document) The graph below depicts major strengths and weaknesses in the overall instructional
guidance provided by Middle School Math received on each of the 24 instructional criteria, across
all six of the benchmarks used for the evaluation.INSTRUCTION HIGHLIGHTS CHART (Adobe PDF document)
Overall, analysts rated
The "Where are we now?" questions and the Lesson Links statements found at the beginning of each lesson are not explicit enough to be very helpful in addressing prerequisite knowledge or skills. The notes that remind students of prior knowledge are not sufficient to determine if students actually have that knowledge. A few relevant misconceptions are mentioned in the text in the Error Prevention and Meeting Individual Needs sections, but the hints and suggestions are inconsistent in alerting the teacher and helping to address commonly held ideas.
The material engages students with a variety of contexts and firsthand experiences. For the number concept ideas, the text uses grid models, drawings of shaded rectangles and circles, measuring tools, rulers, and polygon blocks. A smaller variety of contexts are used in developing the ideas in the number skills benchmark. The geometry activities include computer applications (drawing), geoboards, grid paper, measuring, and building of geometric models. There are a variety of firsthand activities and applications for algebra graphing, including writing stories to accompany graphs, plotting points on a coordinate plane of a classroom, and performing experiments. There are fewer activities of this type for the algebra equation benchmark.
The material presents a reason for learning benchmark ideas with an exploration activity found at the beginning of each lesson. Terms and procedures are introduced in conjunction with experiences and with symbolic, pictorial, and graphical examples that are accurate and, for the most part, comprehensible to students. The algebra equation ideas are somewhat abstract and lack connection with informal activities. Connections among benchmark ideas are mainly at the topic level or only implied in general activities under the heading "Check Your Understanding." The sequence of activities, examples, and questions provide for clear demonstration of procedures and skills; however, commentary on these is not provided. Practice and application are appropriate except for the algebra equations, which provide skill-based practice that is not focused on benchmark concepts
Instructional Category V
Instructional Category VI
Assessment items are aligned with the benchmark ideas; however, the tasks for algebra benchmarks miss the mark and are mainly focused on skills rather than concepts. The chapter assessments do provide applications in addition to simple use of computation, but more applications are provided for number ideas than for geometry or algebra ideas. Embedded assessments are found in Practice and Check Your Understanding questions, but there are few suggestions for modifying instruction based on the results of these assessments.
Instructional Category VII
Teacher Talks and In-Service Workshops sections attempt to contribute to teacher content
learning but are too general to be very helpful. The chapter projects provide the only
opportunities for students to be creative. These projects are somewhat separated from the
day-to-day work and are stronger in chapters dealing with geometry ideas than with number
or algebra ideas. |