CPMP Classrooms

This page contains a description of CPMP classrooms, tips for getting organized, and the teacher's role. These describe the general situation. Your child's teacher works in a particular social and academic context and may adapt the program to be appropriate for that setting.

The mathematical concepts developed in CPMP overlap with those concepts parents are familiar with from their own school days. There are some additional mathematical topics and skills, and more overt connections between topics. In the classroom, there is typically more collaboration during learning than you, as a parent, likely experienced.

Noticeable Attributes of a CPMP Classroom
  • Students are actively engaged in and talking to each other about the mathematics they are learning. This student talk is the medium through which mathematical concepts make their way from the printed page into students' brains. There are times when the teacher may be leading a large group discussion, or helping a class refine and summarize a developing concept, but most of the time students will be collaborating with each other as they investigate problem situations. (See Research on Learning.)

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  • The investigation questions are structured to take advantage of what students already know, to push them to think about what they still need to know in order to solve a problem, and to identify obstacles to a complete solution. Sometimes students can develop a strategy completely independent of further help, and sometimes the text or teacher provides additional information or hints to keep students progressing.

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  • Students are expected to collaborate in these investigations, make notes, and be prepared to share a summary with the teacher and with the rest of the class.

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  • Good communication skills, and positive group dynamics are as essential to this classroom scenario as they are to successful teamwork in business and industry. CPMP actually develops both of these as a by-product of the main goal, which is to help students learn a set of challenging mathematical concepts and skills. (See Research on Communication.)

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Getting Organized
Your student's teacher may have some specific requirements about keeping a notebook, so a good place to start to help your student stay organized is by inquiring about expectations. Many students need initial assistance in maintaining the "Math Toolkit." (See Using the Math Toolkit.) This is their primary resource for all algorithms, concepts, procedures, formulae, sample problems, and summaries of what was learned in class. Whenever a student needs help outside of school hours, or is studying for a quiz or test, this toolkit is the starting point.

Teacher's Role
Teachers choose their profession because they want to help young people achieve their maximum potential. The urge to tell students everything they need to know, and to repeat this information as often as necessary, is a strong one. However, when the goal is to have students develop as independent learners, a better strategy is to engage the natural curiosity of students, and to encourage them with questions rather than show them methods. This may initially be frustrating for those students who have found learning mathematical procedures rather easy. This frustration should be seen as a sign that students are being challenged to think. One of the main findings of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study was that U.S. teachers spend less time helping students develop mathematical ideas, and more time demonstrating with procedures than teachers in countries where students are more successful. As with teachers in the high-performing international classrooms, CPMP teachers are likely to be found:

  • monitoring several groups to ensure they are all working efficiently,
  • sitting with one group to ask in-depth questions for the purpose of assessing each student's understanding,
  • assessing what all students are learning and responding to student difficulties and frustration with scaffolding questions and hints,
  • leading the entire class in an investigation or in reviewing skills, and
  • helping the entire class make an accurate summary of the mathematics learned.
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