In their book, Methods that Matter, Daniels and Bizar state, ". . .we increasingly realize that the separate-subject approach too often leaves students with a disconnected view of knowledge and fails to reflect the way that real people attack real problems in the real world. In school, knowledge and learning are typically compartmentalized, offering no view of how it all comes together to reveal the big picture." This observation has revealed to teachers that "life is holistic," and that solutions to real-life problems require not simple retrieval of single-sphere knowledge, but a complex collation of multiple domains. With this in mind, education reformers advocate integration of curricula, to provide holistic, realistic, and relevant educational experiences.
Such diverse groups as the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics and the Center for the Study of Reading have endorsed "more experiential, inductive, hands-on learning, active learning in the classroom. . ., emphasis on higher-order thinking,. . . and cooperative, collaborative activity." (Daniels & Bizar) In conjunction with cross-curricular integration, the use of project-based learning "can motivate students by engaging them in their own learning. . . .PBL helps make learning relevant and useful to students by establishing connections to life outside the classroom, addressing real world concerns, and developing real world skills. . . .Students apply and integrate the content of different subject areas at authentic moments in the production process, instead of in isolation or in an artificial setting" (The Challenge 2000 Multimedia Project).
Dave Moursund also asserts that "collaborative math and science projects can teach students to use generic technology tools as they prepare for the workplace of the future." Silver reinforces that idea, noting that "experiences in algebra in the early grades and in middle school should be supported with appropriate manipulatives, technology, or other concrete materials, to increase students' abilities to think algebraically" (Silver).
Oosterum and Rojano further strengthen this position by stating that "technology-based instruction has the potential to enrich students' understanding of mathematics." The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development Curriculum Handbook also says, "Computer programs and more advanced calculators can provide students with visual images to accompany mathematical expressions, equations, or word problems. . . .Software allows the students at all grade levels to interact with the computer and mathematics in ways that foster learning. When allowed to explore mathematics with proper instruction and the aid of a computer, students can develop the disposition to question and investigate mathematics more deeply." The National Council for Teachers of Mathematics' publication, Principles and Standards for School Mathematics claims "that when used appropriately, technology can make the mathematics more accessible to the students."
Association for Supervision and Curriculum. Curriculum Handbook. http://www.ascd.org/handbook/demo/math/section3.html
Challenge 2000 Multimedia Project: Project-Based Learning with Multimedia Page. San Mateo County Office of Education. 1997-1999. http://pblmm.k12.ca.us/PBLGuide/WhyPBL.html
Daniels, H., & Bizar, M. Methods That Matter: Six Structures for Best Practice Classrooms. York, Maine: Stenhouse Publications, 1998.
Moursund, D. (1995-96). Effective Practices (Part 2): Productivity Tools. Learning and Leading With Technology, 23(4), 5-6.
Moursund, D. (1996). Effective Practices (Part 3): Technology-Enhanced Learning. Learning and Leading With Technology, 23(5), 5-6.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). (1998). Principles and Standards for School Mathematics: Discussion Draft. Reston, VA: Author.
Silver, E. A. 1997. Algebra for all: Increasing students' access to algebraic ideas, not just algebra courses. Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, 2(4), 204-207.
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