Does the instruction in Heath
Mathematics Connections 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 Heath Mathematics Connections 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
Prerequisite knowledge is only implied in the material, with the exception of lessons addressing the geometry skills and the algebra graph benchmarks. When prerequisites do occur in previous lessons, the text does not point out where they can be found. The Common Error sections in some lessons alert the teacher to possible misconceptions, but there are few instances in which a strategy is suggested for teachers to help students clarify or explain their ideas. The Math Log and Think sections attempt to stimulate students to think about the concepts, but they fall short of having students make predictions about or explain the concepts. Little support is provided for eliciting student ideas, and there are no probing questions to identify students’ preconceived ideas.
Most firsthand activities in this material are built in as alternate approaches, not as part of the structured lesson. There are a few meaningful activities in the main student text, and the Teacher’s Activity Bank is a source for firsthand experiences, but most are considered optional to the lesson. While there are some activities that provide real-world contexts such as those dealing with recipes, sales, and mileage, they are few in number and are not organized effectively so as to be integral to the other learning activities.
Each lesson begins with an effort to motivate students, but the justifications for the importance of the mathematics are often too general to be relevant or convincing to students and are not always developed further through the lesson. Vocabulary that is listed in the introduction is not always developed in the lesson. In some cases, terms are introduced without sufficient explanation of their meaning or a context with which to associate them. Representations of mathematical concepts, procedures, and relationships are accurate but sometimes confusing for students. There is inconsistent evidence of connections among benchmark ideas and development of those connections. Throughout the material, there are examples in the teacher commentary of modeling and demonstration of skills or the use of knowledge. The materials include good activities for practicing ideas and skills, but the activities are almost exclusively drill and offer virtually no context for the problems.
Instructional Category V
Providing students with opportunities to explain their reasoning appears to be a low
priority for
Instructional Category VI
There tend to be more assessment opportunities for skills benchmarks than for concepts
benchmarks. For the skills benchmarks there are a wealth of assessment tasks that are
closely content-matched to the benchmark ideas, but there are a very limited number of
assessment tasks that require application of skills or concepts. An exception is the
material addressing the algebra equation concepts benchmark. This material has a
sufficient number of assessment tasks that focus on knowledge, comprehension, and
application of benchmark ideas.
Instructional Category VII
The material does not provide information that will help teachers improve their understanding of mathematics and its applications. There is a bibliography of resources for each lesson, but it is not annotated. There are few opportunities for students to express curiosity or creativity. The In-Text Inservice section describes best practices for teaching, but most resources fail to identify strategies for challenging students’ ideas and assumptions. The material avoids offensive language and stereotypes and includes photos and pictures that show diverse cultural populations. Each chapter begins with an overview that includes general suggestions for working with various special populations such as those who speak limited English and those who are gifted and talented. |