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Applications/Reform in Secondary Education (ARISE)

We have to come to grips with the fact that the math curriculum for grades 9–12 has to work for the average student. This can only be accomplished by a long, hard, honest look at what "typical" high school graduates need to know about mathematics in the context of their school, work, effective citizenship, culture and daily lives. ARISE features a process of curriculum development that makes a conscious effort to markedly increase the number of young people engaged in the reform of mathematics education.

We make the assumption that the typical high school student will be required to take three years of mathematics, with those intending to go on to college recommended or required to take a fourth year. Thus, we view the materials for grades 9–12 as a core curriculum, with grade 12 as a bridge to college-level mathematics.

We believe that for students whose high school mathematics education ends at grade 11, it is crucial that they perceive and learn mathematics in the context of its contemporary use. We intend to introduce concepts as they are needed in problem-solving situations, rather than present parts of subdisciplines such as algebra, geometry, data analysis, etc. As a consequence, we envision the curriculum constructed for a series of units organized around modeling environments. These units will be structured so that necessary mathematical development can proceed from one to the next in a hierarchical rather than independent fashion.

The units must be designed to foster cooperative learning, be activities-based, encourage students to write across the curriculum, use computers and calculators in a meaningful way, and provide for portfolio-style assessment. Most importantly, it presents mathematics as we hope and intend students to use it after their school experience.

Mathematical modeling is the process of looking at a situation, formulating a problem, finding a mathematical core, working within that core, and coming back to see what mathematics tells us about the original problem. We do not know in advance what mathematics to apply. The mathematics we settle on may be a mix of geometry, algebra, trigonometry, data analysis and probability. We may need to use computers or graphing calculators, spreadsheets, or other utilities. The curriculum design will expose students to an important aspect of mathematics, namely that it is an experimental science. Each unit will contain student activities and "lab" work using the full range of available technology.

The end result of this project is the Mathematics: Modeling Our World (MMOW) curriculum. For more information click here.