Example Math Blocks

Public school textbook based instruction tends to be reductionist and task-oriented. Because public school testbooks are designed to meet the requirements of state standards, they tend to focus on specific facts and skills rather than the big picture. Such textbooks often contain task-orented chapter titles, such as "Solving Linear Equations" or "Polynomials and Factoring". The weakness of this approach is that students see often little relevance in what they are learning. Because this approach assumes no internal motivation among the students, it strong external motivators are usually required for student success, such as fear of failure and the loss of college entranc options.

An alternative model teaches from the whole to the parts, and from questions to answers, which then lead to better questions. Specific mathematical facts and skills are taught within the context of larger problems. This approach also has it's weaknesses. If a teacher is not careful, specific skills may not be sufficiently practiced. Perhaps the best approach uses a creative blend of both. The following blocks are tought from the whole to the parts, i.e., from careful observations and important questions to specific skills and concepts.