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Teaching Low-SES Students Mathematics Through Problem Solving: Tough Issues, Promising Strategies and Lingering Dilemmas

By Sarah Theule Lubienski and Jean Stilwell


Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress indicate that students of low socioeconomic status (SES) are in particular need of opportunities to increase both their understanding of mathematical concepts and problem solving skills. (Strutchens and Silver, 2000; Lubienski, 2001a; 2001b). 1 This book proposes teaching mathematics through problem solving as a means of addressing this need. Previous chapters have discussed the general benefits of, and strategies for, teaching mathematics through problem solving. Additionally, Boaler, Stein and Silver (this volume) discuss the benefits such an approach can have for poor and minority students, in particular. This chapter assumes that such benefits can occur, but also acknowledges that teachers of low-SES students can face special challenges when teaching mathematics through problem solving. We believe teachers are better positioned to help students learn important mathematical concepts and skills if they are aware of the special strengths and needs of their students, and possess strategies for meeting their students needs. However, discussing the strengths and needs of particular student groups is difficult, even controversial, because characterizing

Year: 2011
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