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New Math Methods Teach Students "Why"

Hockinson School District implemented a new math curriculum in grades 6-12 last fall. Now, several months into using the CPM curriculum, HMS teacher Mariah Maudlin offers a glimpse of what math now looks like for today’s sixth graders. 

“So much has changed since we learned math 10 or more years ago!” Maudlin says, recalling how math classes of past decades focused on memorizing and practicing formulas. 

With the CPM curriculum, students are learning to piece formulas together themselves—recently using e-tools on the CPM eBook and hands-on shape manipulatives to explore and discover the areas of parallelograms, triangles and trapezoids. 

“It was exciting to see the students making connections with the formulas,” she says. 

This strategy deepens their understanding of the shapes and formulas, so if they forget a formula in the future, they will be better able to figure it out on their own. 

With the CPM curriculum, Maudlin says, teachers are helping students discover the “why” of these formulas—making math more meaningful. 

Now Maudlin is challenging her students to bring math home and explain what they have learned about formulas to their families. 

“Have fun with it,” she says. “Your students should be able to explain what they experienced in class, and I know some are eager for the chance to teach their families a thing or two!” 

Note: These photos from Maudlin’s class show the results of student collaboration and problem-solving. Using an e-tool, they broke shapes apart and rearranged them in a way that made problems easier to solve. They also worked to find the area of paper trapezoids by cutting, coloring and rearranging them into a rectangle. 

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