An Open Textbook for “Mathematics for Elementary Teachers” courses

This is a guest blog post by Michelle Manes, grant recipient and project lead developing OER for the MATH 112 & 112 undergraduate courses at UHM.

Students planning to major in elementary education at UH Manoa are required to take a one-year sequence of mathematics content courses: Math 111 and 112 (“Mathematics for Elementary Teachers I and II”). The goal of these courses is to help students begin to develop what education researchers call “profound understanding of fundamental mathematics.” That means that they understand not just the mechanics of standard K–5 mathematics topics (place value, the four standard arithmetic operations, fractions, decimals, geometry) but also know how the ideas connect to each other, and why things work the way they do. They can create examples and diagnose student errors. They can explore unfamiliar problems and convince themselves of their own solutions.

Another major goal is that we develop in students a growth mindset and a positive disposition towards mathematics. We hope that students who complete these courses believe that everyone (including themselves and their future students) can learn mathematics, that learning mathematics is worth doing, and that mathematics can be joyful and fun.

Sample content from the Math 111 OER textbook

Standard textbooks for these courses vary dramatically in quality. After extensive searching, UH Manoa faculty found all of them wanting in terms of the needs of our students. Furthermore, the books from mainstream publishers often cost $200 or more. Several years ago, Professor Manes collaborated with several graduate students in the department to create eBooks for these two courses, which have since been used by all faculty teaching the courses. These books are available for free to our students (either iBook or PDF format).

The current project is inspired by three recent developments:

  • The UH system move from the FS (symbolic reasoning) to the FQ (quantitative reasoning) foundations requirement means that we need to revisit and update the Math 112 class to meet the FQ benchmarks.
  • We have received inquiries from faculty at other institutions about using our materials with their students. We therefore plan to provide these materials in a format that is more easily modified by others.
  • We wish to make the updated text available under a Creative Commons CC-BY-SA license. This will require careful editing of pictures and some of the text so that we avoid issues of copyright infringement. Complete drafts of eight chapters already exist in iBook and PDF format, but these do not make it easy for other faculty to take, alter, and use the materials for their own purposes. We plan to move the materials to Pressbooks.

The outcome of the project will be a Mathematics for Elementary Teachers textbook, free to all of our students, meeting the UH quantitative reasoning foundations requirement, and available for faculty at other institutions to adapt and use for their students as well.

Project Leads

Michelle Manes

Dr. Michelle Manes

Michelle Manes is an Associate Professor in the Departement of Mathematics. Before earning her Ph.D. in Mathematics, she spent over 10 years working in K–12 mathematics education, including curriculum development and teacher professional development. She also worked as a 3rd – 5th grade mathematics specialist at a private school in the Boston area. She has been recognized for outstanding teaching by both the University of Hawaii (with the 2017 Board of Regents Medal for Excellence in Teaching) and the Mathematical Association of American (with the 2015 MAA Golden Section Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics). She is the co-founder of the Math Teachers’ Circle of Hawaii and an Ambassador for the Global Math Project.

Tristan Holmes

Dr. Tristan Holmes

Tristan Holmes is an Instructor in the Department of Mathematics. He earned his Ph.D. in Mathematics in 2015 for his work in the area of the study of partially ordered sets. Since then he has taught Mathematics for Elementary Teachers I every semester, in addition to other courses. While a graduate student at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa he was a fellow in the Department of Mathematics K-12 project SUPER-M.

Posted by Billy Meinke