New mathematics curricula serve middle grades students well when they provide students with richer and more accessible introductions to a wide range of mathematical content. New curricula also serve teachers well when they lead us to examine and reflect on what and how we teach. When these curricula enter our working lives and conversations, we are often forced to question exactly what is “new” about them and how this “newness” may affect our students' learning. To address this issue and, we hope, to support further reflection and discussion, we take a closer and more careful look at what is new in one middle school curriculum's approach to algebra. The curriculum we examine is the Connected Mathematics Project (CMP) (Lappan et al. 1998), particularly the eighth-grade units, but the issue of what is new in algebra is relevant to many other innovative middle school curricula, as well.
All three are former middle school or high school teachers.
Edited by ROBERT E. REYS, firstname.lastname@example.org, who is a professor of mathematics education at the University of Missouri—Columbia, Columbia, MO 65211. His research interests include calculators, mental computation, estimation, and number sense.