Philosophy - MathScape


The MathScape curriculum builds upon the central theme of mathematics in the human experience. This was conveyed in the opening paragraph to our proposal:

To be human is to seek to understand. Mathematics, along with science, has made possible dramatic advances in our understanding of the physical universe. To be human is to explore. Throughout history, mathematics has been essential for exploration, from navigating by the stars to travel into space. To be human is to participate in a society. Societies require mathematics to keep records, allocate resources, and make decisions. To be human is to build, and mathematics is essential for the design and construction of everything from tents to temples to skyscrapers. To be human is to look to the future. Mathematics enables us to analyze what has been, predict what might be, and evaluate our options. To be human is to play, and mathematics is part of our games and our sports. To be human is to think, to create, and to communicate. Mathematics provides a vehicle for thinking, a medium for creating, and a language for communicating. Indeed, to be human is to develop mathematics. Mathematics has been developed in every culture for the purposes of counting, locating, measuring, designing, playing, and explaining.

Throughout the curriculum, students experience mathematics as it is used for planning, predicting, designing, exploring, explaining, coordinating, comparing, deciding and for other activities fundamental to human endeavors throughout the world and throughout history.

The content of the curriculum includes processes of mathematical investigation (e.g., abstracting, representing, generalizing, proving, creating, applying, and communicating); four central mathematical ideas (proportional reasoning, multiple representations, patterns/functional relationships, and modeling); and specific concepts, skills, and language in the areas of algebra, estimation/computation, discrete mathematics, functions, geometry/visual reasoning, measurement, number, probability, and statistics.

The pedagogy of the curriculum reflects a view of learning as a process of constructing one's own knowledge and emphasizes the importance of the social context of learning for middle school students.

Assessment is integrated with learning activities. We select challenges that seem to provide particularly good windows into what students know and don't know and provide teachers with suggested scoring rubrics. Opportunities to use and develop portfolio assessment are provided by investigations that students explore and projects in which students write, design, and build models.

Technology is integrated throughout the curriculum. In addition to working with calculators, students use a set of general-purpose software tools such as spreadsheet software and dynamic geometry software. They also use software designed to accompany specific units (e.g., a probability lab).