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Building Partnerships for Curriculum Reform

Number of students directly affected: 300
Partners: Yerba Buena High School; Evergreen Valley College; San Joe State University; IBM; and Parsons Main.
Directors: Randy Charles, Professor, San Jose State University; Paula Schineller, Math Teacher, Yerba Buena High School, San Jose, CA

Recognizing the growing demand for higher skilled graduates, Yerba Buena High School this year eliminated all mathematics courses below the level of beginning algebra.

Faculty form San Jose State University collaborated with teachers at the school to make algebra more interesting and accessible to all freshman.

Teamwork, using small groups of students working together, replaced individualized drill-and-practice memorization.

The graphing calculator was introduced for the first time this year and students learned to use it to investigate real-life problems. One problem, for example - predicting the distance a frog would jump - required the students to: collect data, use the graphing calculator to plot their data, and predict the distance of the jumps. When the problem was completed, group members explained how they worked out their solutions and how they came to their conclusions.

This exciting way of learning and using mathematical concepts helps students develop communication skills as well as traditional math skills.

A Parent Night each semester involved the whole family in the new approach to algebra. Stations were set up at the school where parents could work with the graphing calculator and try various mathematical approaches to problem solving. Each station included people fluent in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese to work with parents in their own language. There were also areas for the younger children to play math games.

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