This summer (and in the evenings now) I worked as a contributing author for CPM’s new Statistics textbook. This semester, while writing lessons for the second semester at night I’ve been piloting the first semester during the day. One quarter of the year in, this is my review and preview post!
For those who might not have explored CPM, this is what you need to know.
- It is a student-centered, problem-based, inquiry-driven curriculum; students most commonly work together in teams to solve problems that guide them toward understanding.
- Each lesson comes with detailed lesson notes with suggestions for how to run each class for maximum effect, though of course they are only suggestions
- “Math Notes” boxes at the end of each section provide the traditional “reference book” aspect of textbook.
- Suggested homework is included with each lesson – generally 5 to 6 problems for lesson, always spiraled and cumulative.
- The CPM ideology encourages spiraled and cumulative assessments as well, often lagged several days behind the completion of a chapter / section; indeed, many aspects of what I think of as the Make it Stick philosophy are embedded in CPM’s methodology and have been for years.
- CPM has a partnership with Desmos that is getting more thoroughly leveraged every year, especially for eBook users.
The gallery below shows some examples of a CPM-style sequence from chapter 2 of the AP Statistics pilot, which is about scatterplots and lines of best fit. You can see motivating problems, problems designed to help students “discover” important statitical formulae, “Math Notes” boxes, and review/preview homework problem examples in the gallery.
This style of curriculum is blowing me away in AP Statistics. I am without a doubt having my strongest AP year yet.
When I’ve used CPM sequences in geometry, I’ve found it be a strong style for increasing conceptual understanding (at least at first, retention is not always there) but problematic from a practice standpoint; there are times, in geometry, where students need to do 15 SOH-CAH-TOA problems and CPM’s style is not focused on that fluency. In AP Statistics, this is far less of a problem. The AP Statistics exam is extremely heavy on conceptual understanding; procedural fluency matters, but the number of important procedures is actually quite small compared to, say, algebra II or calculus. The exam, and the field, is primarily about interpretation, not calculation. And this style does better than anything I’ve encountered to really encourage students to engage in that interpretation every day, all day.
I gave essentially the same scatterplot / LSRL / association test I gave last year. My class average was 8 percentage points higher. Some of that is natural variance and the fact that this year many of my students are double-math seniors (calc and stat) rather than single-math seniors, but not all of it. They know the material better than last year.
Am I having a better year because of CPM or just because I’m a better teacher? Probably a little of both. What I can say for sure is that CPM is making it easier for me to be a better teacher. And that counts for something.