Students Take an Alternative Route to Algebra 1 Success

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Many 14-year-olds inadvertently narrow their college options before they’ve settled into high school. They do so by failing the gateway course for all college-preparatory high school mathematics: algebra 1.

Why? K–12 mathematics instruction often over-focuses on following computation rules to solve problems and not enough on understanding how the mathematics work. 

The Aim for Algebra curriculum, developed by WestEd, has shown impressive results—not only with secondary students, but also with ones in middle school.

The curriculum modules focus on common trouble spots for students—such as exponents, the coordinate plane, and signed number operations—and are designed to be flexible so teachers can use them as needed to supplement comprehensive mathematics textbooks.

Each of the 12 lessons has three sections:

  • Launch: The warm-up section, emphasizing ways to connect the new content to prior learning
  • Explore: Engaging students in rich discussions of the ideas behind mathematics, and choreographing the activities to foster the active construction of knowledge
  • Summarize: Ensuring that students grasp how the experience in the classroom connects to the purpose of the lesson, and encouraging them to apply this understanding to new problems via in-class discussion and homework