Curriculum Review: The Math: Getting It Project Co-Directors: Jeff Loupas and Annette Holmstrom
Do your students need more opportunities to build background knowledge? Do they need additional support before moving onto the next lesson? Does math become more challenging for your students as they grow older? The Math: Getting It Project provides students with the tools and skills they need to build conceptual understanding that they will apply across grade levels. When math gets challenging, students are able to draw upon conceptual frameworks they have built since Kindergarten. Loupas and Holmstrom (2013), co-directors of The Math: Getting It Project, state,
The Math: Getting It Project addresses a troubling problem in mathematics education: Students frequently do not ‘get it’ when they progress beyond 4th grade into fraction concepts, and later when they reach pre-algebra and higher mathematics courses. Why? Compelling research points to the persistent absence of instructional strategies designed to deeply embed core mathematical structures in student thinking, primarily when students first learn fractions but also throughout K-12 math learning programs. These strategies, however, are crucial to the improvement of math achievement at every level” (Homepage, 2013, para. 2).
Research in mathematics education, effective instruction, neuroscience, and learning disabilities were used to support key components of The Math: Getting It Project (Loupas & Holmstrom, 2013). Patricia Wolfe (2010), author of Brain Matters: Translating Research into Classroom Practice (2nd ed.), states,
“Brain-compatible instruction emphasizes concepts over individual facts. Concepts that generalize from one era to the next might be called enduring knowledge. Only when we teach information within the context of larger concepts does it become enduring knowledge that can be used throughout the course of our students’ lives” (p. 222).
The Math: Getting It Project is designed to develop conceptual frameworks that will endure as they progress to higher mathematics. The Math: Getting It Project focuses on the conceptual understanding of the number system by using multiple representations to teach the value of each number. Students also develop a strong understanding of place value prior to learning operations. Loupas and Holmstrom (2013) state,
“Without the understanding of place value, students may not know why they need to regroup, or why there is a tens column and a ones column. When they learn to reference their mathematical understanding to place value, they embed powerful mathematical reference points in memory, which will serve them later when they learn higher math concepts” (Research, para. 2).
Dean, Hubble, Pitler, & Stone (2012) states, “Nonlinguistic representations provide students with useful tools that merge knowledge presented in the classroom with mechanisms for understanding and remembering that knowledge (p.63). The Math: Getting It Project incorporates non-linguistic representations such as place value mats, place value blocks, hundreds charts, fraction pieces, and number cards to help develop conceptual understanding. “When teachers use nonlinguistic representation strategies, they help students represent knowledge as imagery. These strategies are powerful because they tap into students’ natural tendency for visual image procession, which helps them construct meaning of relevant content and skills and have a better capacity to recall it later” (Dean, Hubble, Pitler, & Stone, 2012, p.64).
Since this curriculum focuses on developing conceptual understanding over time, the concepts are separated into units with multiple objectives rather than specific day-by-day lessons. The goal is to focus on each concept over time and then continue to reference and reinforce them when introducing new concepts. The concepts and corresponding units include:
Units 1-3: Understanding Value- beginning addition and subtraction
Units 4-5: Place Value and Regrouping- simple addition, subtraction, and regrouping
Unit 6-14: Problem Types and Part-Whole Thinking- advanced addition, subtraction, and regrouping
Units 15-19: Meaning of Multiplication-multiplication operations
Unit 20: Meaning of Division: division operations
These units are designed to support K-3 mathematic concepts. The curriculum website provides links to available resources, instructional materials, and lesson guides. This provides teachers and parents with access to materials they can use to support their students at home. Parents also have access to additional parent-child connection lessons and virtual math manipulatives. School districts do need professional development training and permission to access curriculum and materials. Copyright information includes:
Copyright 2009 University Place School District. All rights reserved. The Math Getting It Project is a Mathematics and Science (MSP) Partnership funded by the Department of Education. Partners: University Place School District (lead partner), Peninsula School District, and Fife School District; the University of Washington/Tacoma; and the Pierce County Staff Development Consortium. Pierce County, Washington.
Ceri B. , D., Hubbell, E.R., Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom Instruction that Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement (2nd ed.). Denver: Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning
Loupas, J., & Holmstrom, A. (2013). University Place School District. The Math: Getting It Project. Retrieved March 10, 2013, from http://www.upsd.wednet.edu/domain/57
Wolfe, P. (2010). Brain Matters: Translating Research into Classroom Practice (2nd ed.). Alexandria: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.