CMM researchers adapted successful Japanese method to Chilean school textbooks

CMM researchers adapted successful Japanese method to Chilean school textbooks

In the 2021 edition of school textbooks, the Ministry of Education and researchers from the Center for Mathematical Modeling of the University of Chile adopted a model that invites to improve students’ learning, even in remote learning.

Within the framework of the Sumo Primero plan, promoted by the Ministry of Education to support mathematics learning, researchers from the Education Laboratory of the Center for Mathematical Modeling (CMM) translated and adapted school texts from the Japanese publisher Gakko Tosho Co, developed by Misami Isoda, PhD in Education from the University of Tsukuba. These texts adopt a problem-solving model of mathematics teaching, which has the potential to develop fundamental skills and knowledge to engage in the world using mathematics.

The Japanese model of mathematics teaching is widely recognized and uses problem solving as a methodology for generating tools to develop mathematical thinking. This provides tools that enable students to “learn how to learn”.

To address the challenge of improving the performance and mathematical problem solving skills of the country’s students, the national coordinator of the Curriculum and Evaluation Unit of the Ministry of Education, María Isabel Baeza, convened a group of researchers from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso and the Universidad de Chile. In the latter case, a team from the Education Laboratory of the Center for Mathematical Modeling, led by the academic Salomé Martínez, was in charge of carrying out this work on the mathematics textbooks for 2021.

More specifically, Paula Olguín and Ricardo Salinas, both CMM researchers, led a team in charge of adapting and complementing the proposal of the Japanese texts to the Chilean curriculum for the 4th, 5th and 6th grade levels. In order to appropriate the model, teachers have didactic guides for teachers, which guide classroom management of the activities proposed in the text, as well as other resources that allow them to monitor and provide constant feedback on student learning.

The director of the CMM Education Laboratory, Salomé Martínez, points out that these texts “facilitate student-centered teaching, with a focus on learning mathematics. This is vital for children to acquire a solid foundation that allows them to advance steadily in learning this discipline, which is so important for their lives,” she said.

Paula Olguín affirms that “one of the most relevant characteristics of these texts is that they prepare future learning. In each of the levels, special attention is given to the progression of the topics from a mathematical and didactic point of view and how these influence what is studied later on”.

Likewise, Ricardo Salinas explains that “Japan has a long tradition of using and refining the problem-solving approach in its school textbooks. The Class Study methodology has played a fundamental role in perfecting the model, based on the analysis of public classroom teachers. In addition, the researcher added that international evaluations place Japan among the best mathematics education systems.

According to the national coordinator of the Curriculum and Evaluation Unit of the Ministry of Education, María Isabel Baeza, this program aims to improve the academic performance of 4th, 5th and 6th grade students. “Sumo Primero is adapted under parameters that promise to improve the quality of learning, and we hope to see it reflected in the next Simce test results,” she said.

The Sumo Primero program already had school textbooks for 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade, which were developed and successfully implemented during 2020. The Mineduc’s commitment to adapt the 4th, 5th and 6th grade levels allows for the continuity of the implementation of this teaching model and to ensure the development of mathematical skills in the country’s children.


Remote training and access

In times of pandemic, it has become more complex to monitor the results and learning of each student. That is why, in addition to the Student Textbook, each student has an Activity Notebook to exercise what has been learned. It also has a booklet with “Exit Tickets”, with brief questions where the teacher can evaluate and provide feedback on the progress of each class.

“The texts always provide a problematic situation that drives the learning of new contents, capsules where the main ideas are systematized and also activities for the student to practice what has been learned,” adds Olguín. To improve access to these texts, the Ministry of Education set up a portal to download all the books of the Sumo Primero program free of charge.

The CMM researcher, Ricardo Salinas, also explained that this year they will complement this program with training for teachers, “in order to support them to achieve a successful implementation, without differentiating the modality of classes”. In this model there is “a design that guides students’ inquiry, helping them to give meaning to mathematical concepts and procedures“, explained Salomé Martínez. The Sumo Primero textbook collection will help maintain this teaching approach during the first six years of schooling.

Posted on Apr 16, 2021 in Frontpage, News