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Preparing for success in algebra and beyond

Mathematics success in grades 3 through 6—especially fractions—determines students’ access to algebra classes. Without algebra, college and careers are blocked for vast numbers of kids.

GopherMath was created to support students in grades 3 through 5 to learn this challenging content. In partnership with Minneapolis Public Schools and Generation Next, GopherMath became a one-year project that drew upon the expertise of faculty in four distinct areas: fraction learning, whole number assessments and interventions, teacher development, and parent involvement.

It built on a tested research and curriculum-development program called the Rational Number Project. Kathleen Cramer, associate professor and director of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Center in CEHD, brought her expertise with that project to lead GopherMath.

Robin Codding in educational psychology and Michele Mazzocco in child development brought expertise in ways to help students master basic facts, in particular whole numbers, which are foundational for fraction learning.

The project also addressed factors in and out of classrooms that may influence students’ learning. For example, Keisha Varma in educational psychology designed programs to increase parent involvement for minority and immigrant families. That included promoting positive mindsets about math, such as dealing with anxiety. She experimented with parent meetings and adding text messages to support interactions between parents and teachers and encourage math activities at home.

Funding may have ended, but teachers and U faculty identified next steps to continue their work through parent videos, new fraction games, and supplemental materials for teachers.

Learn more about the Rational Number Project and STEM Education Center.

Return to “What we’re learning about gaps.”

Story by Gayla Marty  | Spring/Summer 2018