Home > Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Common Core, Geometry, Integrated Math > Mathematics Vision Project: Task Based Learning at its Best

Mathematics Vision Project: Task Based Learning at its Best

Recently our district has decided to pursue the Integrated Mathematics approach for high school math.  I am really excited about this transition.  Due to the lack of curriculum resources, we decided to use an online, free curriculum.  The Mathematics Vision Project is an integrated curriculum created by educators from Utah through a grant from the state.  I have looked at the curriculum online and love it, but it wasn’t until I went through their two day training that I realized it is truly the best math curriculum I have ever encountered.  Here is why I love their program:

1.  Task based learning focused on the learning cycle.

Task based learning is the rage right now with Common Core.  Our state, Tennessee, put teachers through intensive training on how to teach math using tasks.  The problem with this is teachers were left to create their own tasks or find random tasks.  In order for task based learning to work, the tasks must be sequenced appropriately and build on the previous learning.  MVP does this.  They have different types of tasks for different purposes and they are sequenced to build on each other.  The learning cycle involves Developing Understanding, Solidifying Understanding, and Practicing Understanding.  When you look at the tasks in a unit, the tasks are labeled as one of these.  This helps for both students and teachers to understand the purpose of the task.  Some tasks only develop the understanding.  Later, only after a teacher can guide a class discussion, are students expected to apply and practice the new learning.  This idea of different types of tasks for different stages of learning is critical.

MVP 1

2.  The have low threshold and high ceilings.

I was amazed with the multiple entry points for the tasks.  It felt as if any level of student could do something.  Often with tasks though, the mathematics is “dumbed down.”   This is not true for MVP.  The tasks are rich and have high ceilings.  If you have a group of student who finish early, there is always something in the task to stretch the learning.

3.  Story contexts throughout the module.

Take a look at Module 2 in Math 1.  It starts with a rich task about two children starting a pet sitting business.  The purpose of this first task is to start students down the pathway of thinking of multiple constraints on a variable (systems of equations).  Students will use this context throughout the entire module adding a little more information with each task.  Students should feel as if they are invested in a Problem Based Learning approach, broken into small, obtainable chunks.

4.  Not just what to teach, but how to teach it.

Most curriculum contain what a teacher should teach, but little about the best methods for teaching.  This is the first curriculum I have encountered that explicitly helps the teacher know how to teach the standards.   Each problem or exercise has a purpose:

  • Teach new knowledge
  • Bring misconceptions to the surface
  • Build skill of fluency
  • Engage students in Math Practices

5.  Meaning full homework and practice.

Practice is done by experts… Doctors practice medicine and Lawyers practice law.  Why would we send home practice when our students have not mastered the material?  This creates frustration and with Common Core, it leads to parents posting crazy math homework on Facebook.  MVP has amazing, thought out homework assignments.  They divide the homework into three categories:

  • Ready:  Things a student needs to review to be ready for upcoming work.
  • Set:  Things we did today in class that you need to practice to solidify understanding.
  • Go:  Things students should be “good to go on.”  This is review material.

Each assignment also has links to online videos to help review concepts students may not remember.  (I know in reality, that my students may not have done the homework, but I could use this as starters and exit tickets in my class.)

6.  Flexible Curriculum

Since the MVP curriculum is online, it can be updated at any time.  This means if something isn’t working or their are mistakes, they can easily be fixed.  This is not true of traditional text books.  The MVP team did hint that they are currently working to align the tasks and material to release them in a traditional math pathway.  This means that if your district does not do Integrated Math, you will still be able to use the MVP curriculum.

Overall, MVP offers a great curriculum and fantastic professional development.  I encourage you to attend an event and at the least, take some time to review the material.

 

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  1. July 1, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I am always looking to add to my task tools. It helps to have the tasks organized to build knowledge. My current school is going to an academy model, where there is an overall “story” project with the curriculum organized around it. I think this will allow the students in each academy to experience the project within the college/career setting of each academy type. I am glad to have examples of tasks organized within a project. I wish I could have attended that workshop/training!

  2. Kaitlyn Rudy
    July 10, 2014 at 2:26 am

    I am a student research assistant at Montana Tech of the University of Montana. Technology has created exciting ways to connect with others and form professional learning networks. As a part of an active member of a social media community made up of teachers, I wanted to contact you to ask you to participate in a study our research group is conducting.

    Research shows that face-to-face professional networks provide much needed professional and personal support to teachers. You and the community you belong to are providing these types of support using social media. We are interested in learning more about your experiences using social media to connect with other teachers and your opinions about online professional networks.

    The purpose of our study is to learn how professional learning networks created through social media are similar or different than face-to-face networks and what you feel are advantages of using social media to connect with other teachers. Our hope is that the results of this study will inform how professional networks for teachers are designed in the future. If you are interested in participating, please send an email to me at teacherblogPLN@gmail.com. I will send you a link to a short online survey and will set up time for a short skype interview.

    If you have any questions you would like to ask about the study, please do not hesitate to contact me.

    Sincerely,

    Kaitlyn Rudy
    Research Assistant
    Department of Mathematical Sciences
    Montana Tech of the University of Montana

  3. Jessi
    July 25, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    We are adopting the MVP curriculum this year and also on a block schedule. Do you have any advice on how to schedule our year? I obviously don’t want to skip any lessons and I’m hesitant to do more than one task in a day.

    • July 26, 2014 at 12:10 am

      This will be our first year with MVP, but I have created curriculm maps / pacing guides for Math 1 & 2. You are welcome to copies. Email me at ambercaldwell@gmail.com and I will send them to you. I hope this will help.

  4. August 10, 2014 at 4:37 am

    Our District used MVP for Math 1 last year and will use them for Math 1 and Math 2 this year…then Math 3 the next.

    I love the materials.

    We teach on an A/B block schedule so there is not even time to cover all the materials. However, once I got a feel for the tasks I soon got a handle on which tasks I could combine or eliminate.

    One more thing: This year I will be working in the district office as an academic coach…so I am so excited that I found you blog. I will be checking if often.

  5. September 3, 2014 at 4:24 am

    I like the structure of MVP, but I think their exercises/problems are way too easy. Comparing them to problems in equivalent courses in foreign countries shows that MVP problems (like those in most American math textbooks) are elementary and lack depth.

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