October 12, 2006
To Whom It May Concern:
My name is Robyn Rosenthal and I have been a math teacher at Paradise Valley High School for 23 years. In addition, I have taught community college math courses, Dual Enrollment math courses and have been the Math Department chair for a number of years. Having taught every course from General Math up through AP Calculus BC, I have seen a huge change in the students over the years.
I am writing this letter in applause of the new curriculum we are using in our Pre-Algebra classes this year. We had to add Pre-Algebra to our course offerings because we were getting students in high school who lacked the pre-requisite skills ( ie. multiplication facts, negative number sense, etc. indicated by a score of 30 or less out of 150 on a algebra placement assessment). The Making Math Make Sense program does exactly that, it makes math make sense. I have students who tell me they have NEVER been successful in math finally understanding concepts and “enjoying” the class. The use of dots as something tangible helps the students to conceptualize what we are talking about. For example, my students can now simplify -2(3+ -5) + 3(-7 + 4) rather quickly whereas in the past, they did not know where to begin. They are also solving algebraic equations, although they don’t necessarily see it that way. Yesterday they solved the problem: W= 16d, W= 2g, g= ___d, g = h + I, h = 3d, i = ___d
With this new approach, students are able to think “out of the box”. They have confidence in their mathematical ability where there was none before.
To quote Tracy, one of my students who wrote me a note, “Before this class, I never understood or liked math and now I am really enjoying learning new things in math.”
Dr. MacDuff and Dr. Hewko (a member of his team) are in constant contact with the teachers at my school and myself. This close working relationship facilitates the curriculum development necessary to meet the needs of these students and our own understanding of both the content and pedagogy.
I have seen many “new approaches” come and go in the past 23 years. Nothing comes close to this new curriculum, new conceptualization of mathematics and new pedagogical approaches. A skeptic at heart, I love this program and know the students are finally learning and understanding mathematical concepts.
Instructional Division Leader – Mathematics
Paradise Valley High School
Paradise Valley Unified School District