The math curriculum and department of my dreams
About 5 years ago, I got to spend a day visiting the Park School Math Department. At the time, they were just beginning a project to develop a math curriculum from scratch, based around 14 Habits of Mathematical Thinking. (I’ve written about these habits before, and even tried to create my own set of habits of scientific thinking). The parts of the curriculum I saw at the time were outstanding—organizing a curriculum around 14 habits of mind—Tinker, Visualize, Prove—seemed like a genius move, seeing them atop every blackboard in the department, and hearing students actively refer to these habits throughout the day convinced me that the were on to something big.
In the intervening five years, the teachers of the Park Math department have developed a complete 4-year high school math curriculum, and they are willing to share it with anyone who asks for it. You can read more about the curriculum and see sample lessons from the curriculum on the Park Math Blog (another awesome math blog you should be reading), and if you want to see the whole thing (you do), you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not only is this curriculum filled with outstanding math thinking and problems, it looks like a similar amount of care was taken with its appearance (it was designed by a teacher in the department, Anand Thakker). The text is beautiful. Here are just a few images to whet your appetite and get you to send the email for your own copy.
The most amazing thing about this curriculum isn’t contained in the the pages of these pdfs, it’s in the collaboration itself. Just read their acknowledgements:
This curriculum was written by members (past and present) of the upper school math department at the Park School of Baltimore. This was possible thanks to Park School’s F. Parvin Sharpless Faculty and Curricular Advancement (FACA) program, which supports faculty every summer in major curricular projects. In addition to the support of FACA by the Nathan L. Cohen Faculty Enhancement fund and the Joseph Meyerhoff FACA fund, this project was also funded by grants from the E. E. Ford Foundation, the Benedict Foundation, Josh and Genine Fidler, and an anonymous donor.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/).
© 2006-2010 Tony Asdourian, Arnaldo Cohen, Mimi Cukier, Angela Doyle, Rina Foygel, Tim Howell, Bill Tabrisky, Anand Thakker, members of the mathematics faculty of the Park School of Baltimore, Inc. 2006- 2010.
When I visited, teachers were literally writing this curriculum as they were teaching; I think they were only a few units ahead of the students. It seemed like an amazing collaboration—everyone in the department was enthusiastic and on-board with the biggest project any department could take on—rewriting the entire 9-12 curriculum from scratch. Can you imagine your department doing this? Can you imagine everyone in the department devoting summers and free time to this task? It gets even better—now the department is now co-authoring articles for the Mathematics Teacher.
So that’s what I want a copy of—how you create a collaboration between half a dozen or more teachers—how you get them to open up everything they do to the scrutiny of the department, to be willing to throw everything out, and then to fully invest themselves in writing and testing a new curriculum. Something tells me you can’t put that in a pdf.
But if you are a math teacher, you can join the team—they’re looking for a math teacher.