Marta Civil -
Department of Mathematics - University of Arizona

STCH 250 - Introduction to Teaching Mathematics

Course Description

When:  Tu & Th from 9:30 to 10:45, August 26 – December 9, 2003
Where:  Math East 141

Instructor: Marta Civil
Office:  Math 202   Phone: 621-6873 e-mail:
Office Hours:  Tu from 1 to 1:50; We from 4 to 4:50; Th from 11 to 11:50; other times /days available by appointment.

Adjunct instructor: Carolyn Jones
Office: Math 513  Phone: 621-1771 e-mail:
Office Hours: We from 12 to 12:50; Fr from 1 to 1:50.

Course Description:
This is the first in a series of courses in teaching and learning mathematics for the new Secondary Education Program in the Department of Mathematics.  This course is designed for students who are exploring the possibility of becoming a mathematics teacher at the secondary level, as well as for those who have already made the decision to become a mathematics teacher.
This course will provide an introduction to secondary school mathematics teaching and will address (1) an overview of current approaches and issues in the teaching of mathematics including an international perspective; (2) the use of technology in the teaching of mathematics; (3) equity issues in the teaching and learning of mathematics. The emphasis will be on teaching for understanding and hands on learning. To this end, the course will emphasize a problem-solving approach and students will work on a variety of problems ranging over different topics that are relevant to the mathematics content in the secondary school.  Furthermore, students will have many opportunities to experience and discuss actual issues related to the teaching of mathematics through (1) discussion of written cases that take place in secondary classroom; (2) viewing of video tapes that illustrate several aspects of reform-based mathematics; (3) focused classroom visits in local schools to see currently practicing middle and high school mathematics teachers in action.

Required Texts:
Merseth, K.K. (2003). Windows on teaching math: Cases of middle and secondary classrooms. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Secada, W. (2000). Changing the faces of mathematics: Perspectives on multiculturalism and gender equity.  Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
Reading Packet for STCH 250 Section 2, available at Arizona Print/Copy, 1033 N. Park Ave., Phone number: 882-3995

Course Requirements and Grading:
1) Regular Homework Assignments (including, in some cases, in-class presentations of HW) (20%)
2) In-class participation (short in-class written assignments based on the readings and class discussions / quiz-type; in-class presentations) (15%)
3) Midterm Exam (format to be discussed in class) (10%)
4) School Observation tasks (40%) – Described below
5) Final Project: this will be your final exam.  You can work with a partner and you will be presenting your project in a poster format the day of the final exam (Dec 17).  The general idea will be to take a topic from secondary school mathematics and explore it from an instructional point of view.  Your project will have to illustrate how students would be using technology to explore some of the mathematical ideas and needs to be grounded on readings from journals in the field of teaching mathematics (references for journals and web-based resources will be given in class). (15%)

School Observation Tasks:
You are required to complete 16 hours of classroom observation.  Eight of those hours will be at a middle school and the other eight will be at a high school.  You will complete these classroom observations in pairs to allow for interaction (but we ask that you do not sit together during the actual observation) (If your schedule is such that working in pairs is not feasible, we will of course accommodate and allow you to do the observations individually.) We will assign you a school / teacher but you will be responsible for transportation to and from the school sites (we will help you out with some of the logistics involved). More specifics on logistics, professional attire, etc, will be discussed in class. Notice that the syllabus has some days in which regular class will not be held to help you out with the in-school observation part of this course.  You will need to spend additional time, however, outside of those “no class / observation” days in order to complete the observations. During the semester, you will have a series of Classroom Observation Tasks that you will be turning in for a grade.  Details on these will be given in class.  You will be keeping a journal for your classroom observations.  Some of the entries will be specific observation tasks, while others will be more open ended.  We strongly suggest that you keep this journal as you move through the several courses in your teaching degree, particularly the courses that have field experiences associated (e.g., STCH 310; Math 406 A and B; Student Teaching).

Class Attendance:
Your attendance to class is expected.  Attendance will be taken daily and excessive absences (over 3) can cause your grade to be lowered or cause you to be dropped from the course.  There will be no make-up for anything that you may have missed by not coming to class (e.g., short in-class written assignments, quiz-type exercises)
Withdrawal from the course:
A student may withdraw from the course without a grade (class will not appear on transcript) through Friday September 19, 2003.  A student may withdraw from the course with a grade of W through Friday October 17, 2003.

HW policy:
Homework is due at the beginning of class the day it is due.  You are responsible for putting it in a space that we will agree on in class.  In general, no Late Homework will be accepted, and in the event that I do accept late homework, keep in mind that some points may be deducted for being late. HW should be clearly and neatly written.  Use standard sheets (8 1/2 by 11), not torn out of spiral notebooks.  Leave space between problems / questions.

About the Final Exam:


Week of





August 25

 Becoming a Mathematics Teacher

Thinking about being a mathematics teacher (RP)

September 1

Getting ready for Observations -Video Case

Becoming a Mathematics Teacher / Beliefs about mathematics and teaching and learning


Thinking about being a mathematics teacher (RP)


September 8

Using technology in teaching mathematics – Geometer’s Sketchpad
Class meets in Math 102 – Sept 9

Equity in Mathematics Education


Chapter 1 in Secada

September 15

Content specific cases (pre-algebra/algebra)

Observation – No class Sept 18

Merseth, Case 1

September 22

Observation – No Class Sept 23

 International Comparisons -TIMSS


Stigler & Hiebert (chpt. 3) (RP)

September 29

Geometer’s Sketchpad – Math 102- Sept 30

International comparisons - TIMSS

Stigler & Hiebert (chpt. 3) (RP)

October 6

 Teaching as a cultural activity

Stigler & Hiebert (chpt. 6) (RP)

October 13


Observation – No class Oct 16


October 20

Excel or GSketchpad - Math 102 Oct 21

Library - Oct 23

October 27

Excel or GSketchpad - Math 102 - Oct 28

Content specific cases (algebra)

Merseth, Case 5


November 3

Observation  - No class Nov. 4

Technology / equity


Chapter 3 in Secada

November 10

NOVEMBER 11: VETERANS DAY Content specific cases (Geometry)

Merseth, Case 3 or 4 (TBA)

November 17

Teaching mathematics to diverse learners

Chapters 9 and 13 in Secada

November 24

Graphing Calculators / CBRS in Teaching Mathematics



December 1

Content specific cases (TBA)


December 8

Using Technology in teaching Mathematics (TBA)



The Final Exam will be on Thursday December 18, from 8 to 10 am, in Math East 141 (regular classroom)

Key for readings:
Merseth --> Merseth, K.K. (2003). Windows on teaching math: Cases of middle and secondary classrooms. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Secada --> Secada, W. (2000). Changing the faces of mathematics: Perspectives on multiculturalism and gender equity.  Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

RP --> Reading Packet for STCH 250 Section 2, available at Arizona Print/Copy, 1033 N. Park Ave., Phone number: 882-3995

Email:   Marta Civil

This page was last updated on:
August 2003