Skip to Content

Mathworks Guiding Principles

guiding principles image


The focus of Mathworks curriculum project is to engage all students in doing mathematics at a high level, and to ensure that the needs of all students are addressed. The Mathworks curriculum project has been established on a foundation of research-based guiding principles that are critical for successful implementation.  The bibliography that follows provides links to the underlying research. Research has shown that student success depends on an integrated approach that supports student learning in each of these domains.

Doing mathematics is about making sense of and thinking deeply about fundamental concepts.  Students should learn to “think deeply of simple things,”  (Arnold Ross).  Students need to:

  • Build on prior knowledge
  • Promote a deep understanding for all students using hands-on and visual models
  • Focus on the problem and not on the answer
  • Reflect on what students have learned and what they know to make sense of mathematics
  • Use vocabulary clues to help English Language Learners (ELL) connect to what they are learning

Teachers need to establish a classroom culture that develops students’ curiosity and imagination. The keys to establishing this culture are to:

  • Make math interesting, fun and relevant
  • Support productive struggle
  • Allow sufficient time
  • Balance individual and group work
  • Use techniques to engage all students, e.g. ELL and GT students

Persistence is critical to success in problem solving and doing mathematics.  Students need to:

  • Develop a growth mindset
  • Be willing to take risks
  • Take ownership of one’s learning
  • Develop confidence and persistence


Communication between students and teachers is critical for learning.  To facilitate this, teachers should:

  • Ask probing questions
  • Expect students to present and justify their work and reasoning
  • Take student attempts seriously
  • Expect students to articulate and explain concepts
  • Learn how to work with special populations, e.g. Special Education, ELL, etc.

What Makes the Mathworks Curriculum Project Unique?

The Mathworks curriculum project is an integrated approach that supports student learning in multiple ways that address the needs of all students.  The unique part of the program is its insistence on careful, rigorous attention to each of the areas below:

    • The program has administrative support at all levels, including the school-board, superintendent, principal, curriculum specialist, math coach (if present), and teachers, ensuring that there is a consistent program for the students.
    • The administration and teachers are all committed to providing an environment that supports student learning, both during the day and after or before school as needed.
    • The curriculum weaves in algebra throughout in a careful way.
    • There is a coherent use of visual models to deepen student understanding.
    • Math is transparent in all activities, with a focus on the big ideas.
    • The curriculum addresses Texas and national standards in a coherent way.
  • Parents are an integral part of the program, participating in family math nights, as well as encouraging their own children at home to take an active part in their own learning. 

    • Teachers need to be aware of their own pre-conceived notions that might impact their teaching.
    • Teacher training addresses both content and other factors that impact student learning.
    • Teacher noticing is a critical element of effective teaching.
    • Teachers themselves develop as active learners as part of a professional learning community, with common planning times that support collaboration. 

Mathworks has published a series of middle school math textbooks for the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. We encourage you to learn more about this series, Math Explorations, and see if it could be of help in your classroom, as self-study materials, or simply as an extra mathematics resource.