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Teaching Mathematics to All Students, Grades 6-8

By John Drag Jr. - Posted May 1, 2005
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REPORT CARD
Overall Rating:5 Stars
Installation:A
Content/Features:A
Ease of Use:A
Product Support:A

Company: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 10801 N. MoPac Expressway, Austin, TX 78759; Phone: 800/992-1726; Internet: http://www.hrw.com/.

Price: $200, price per teacher. Volume discounts available.

Audience: Mathematics teachers, grades 6-8.

Format: Two Mac/Win hybrid CD-ROMs and an Internet-based component (username and password required).

Minimum System Requirements:  

Windows systems: 233 MHz, 64-MB RAM (128 MB recommended), 33.6 Kbps modem, 8x CD-ROM drive, Internet Explorer 5.5, Windows Media Player 6.4, Macromedia Flash 6 Player, and printer. 

Macintosh systems: 233 MHz, 96-MB RAM (128 MB recommended), 33.6 Kbps modem, 8x CD-ROM drive, Netscape 7, QuickTime 6, Macro­media Flash 6 Player, and printer.

Description: Teaching Mathematics to All Students is a professional development course that combines Internet-based training content with CD-ROM video elements. The program includes five modules that cover differentiation strategies, fundamentals of math and algebra, use of data to inform instruction, building competency and confidence in students, and the use of multiple representations including manipulatives. This package helps teachers develop teaching strategies for promoting mathematical fluency in their students, especially those who are at risk of failing algebra.      

Reviewer Comments:

Installation: I reviewed Teaching Mathematics to All Students on a Dell Latitude/D505 laptop computer with a Pentium M processor (1500 MHz) and Windows XP. The program started as soon as the CD-ROM booted up. I also tried the program on a Mac G3, and the process was equally as easy. My Mac required an updated version of Net­scape; the program prompted me to the Netscape site, and I was up and running in no time. Installation Rating: A

Content/Features: Course participants must first choose between Content-Knowledge Topics and the five modules. The Content-Knowledge Topics include 58 PowerPoint presentations in nine topic areas. All topics prepare teachers for Praxis-type assessments. The topic areas are Fractions, Decimals, and Percents; Integers, Exponents, and Order of Operations; Ratios, Rates, and Proportions; Equations; Graph­ing Lines; Plane Geometry; Perimeter, Area, and Volume; Probability; and Sequences and Functions. These PowerPoint presentations are available either in Win or Mac format. A link to a free viewer is also available.

The five modules consist of 25 lessons and are grouped as follows: Module 1:  Managing Interventions to Differentiate Instruction, Module 2: Linking Familiar Mathematics to Algebra Fundamentals, Module 3: Using Data and Assessment to Inform Instruction, Module 4: Building Competence and Confidence in Problem Solving, and Module 5: Making Sense of Multiple Representations. Each module is supported by additional resources that can be downloaded. The resources include everything from sample family involvement letters to sample practice sheets. Module 1, for example, has 16 different resources.

Each module contains research-based commentary, video clips of proven teaching practices, opportunities for application, opportunities for discussion board participation, and the ability to receive progress-tracking reports for individual teachers.

Two interesting features of the course are the portfolio section and the online discussion group. The portfolio section contains thought-provoking questions for each module. Teachers can use these questions to stimulate their own thoughts on specific areas contained in the module and may respond to them as part of their own journals (not available through the course).

The questions are helpful because some in-service and continuing education courses require teachers to respond to coursework in order to receive credit. The best things about these questions are that they directly relate to the course content and are extremely beneficial in helping teachers better understand their current methods of teaching. This reinforces good practices and stimulates new ones.

The online discussion feature allows teachers to reflect and dialogue with colleagues and mentors. The advantage of sharing with others while learning is priceless. I found this aspect of the course most appealing. 

The glossary is accessed by clicking on the Glossary button at the left of the screen. It includes 69 definitions, from achievement test to scaffolding and working backward. I found the list quite extensive, and the definitions very specific.

Additional resources are provided for each module and can be accessed by clicking on the Resources button at the left of the screen. Topics include a Sample Rubric and Teaching Mathematics to English Lan­­guage Learners. Content/Features Rating: A

Ease of Use: Teaching Mathematics to All is extremely easy to use. I had no trouble moving through the modules on the Internet or accessing the video on the CD-ROMs. A Help section is available while navigating through the modules. Users may pause the video content at any time to write down information or to take a break.

The modules are self-paced and can be worked at the speed directed by a trainer (if this method is used). I had no problems downloading content such as the PowerPoint presentations. All parts of the course are designed with the teacher in mind and accommodate all types of learners, their time restraints, and their levels of expertise with both the content and technology. Ease of Use Rating: A

Product Support: The program is very user-friendly. All registered users have free telephone technical support, available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Cen­tral Time at 800/323-9239. A Technical Support Center is available online at http://www.hrwtechsupport.com or via e-mail at tschrw@hrwtechsupport.com. Product Support Rating: A

Recommendation: Teaching Mathematics to All Students offers an excellent opportunity for teachers to study at their own pace. Each module fits perfectly within a planning period or may be used on a teacher planning day. The content is of the highest quality, and the program is designed with the professional development standards recommended by the National Staff Development Council. Reports about a teacher's progress are perfect for administrative oversight and for in-service or continuing education credit. Highly Recommended.

Reviewer: John Drag, Jr., Principal, Broward Community Charter School, 201 University Drive, Coral Springs, FL 33071; 954/341-0082; Jpdrag@aol.com.


 
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