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Authentic Tasks in a Standards-Based World

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Mathematics Teacher Volume 106, Number 5, ISSN 0025-5769


Curriculum standards provide classroom teachers with frameworks to guide instruction during the academic year and throughout a student's schooling. Unfortunately, standards are misconstrued as all-encompassing--as a compendium of all mathematics content that can and should be taught to students. Such a view is unfortunate. Mathematics teachers should use standards to guide instruction, but they also need to understand that standards do not represent the be-all and end-all of school mathematics. The view that standards are not all-encompassing is particularly important for teachers who embrace an inquiry-oriented approach to mathematics instruction. In this article, the authors will illustrate the importance of interpreting curriculum standards in a way that provides students with opportunities to learn significant, personally meaningful mathematics, even when the specific concept under consideration is not addressed in content standards. Through an examination of the Meeting for Lunch problem, the authors note that inquiry-oriented explorations--particularly, those that make use of technology--lead students in unanticipated directions. These directions should be embraced in standards-based classrooms. (Contains 7 figures and 1 table.)


Edwards, M.T., Harper, S.R. & Cox, D.C. (2012). Authentic Tasks in a Standards-Based World. Mathematics Teacher, 106(5), 346-353. Retrieved February 18, 2020 from .

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