Pin it!
Google Plus

The Role of Textbooks in Implementing the Curriculum Principle and the Learning Principle

Using a Journal Article as a Professional Development Experience


Title:            The Role of Textbooks in Implementing the Curriculum Principle and the Learning Principle
Authors:       Barbara J Reys & Jennifer M. Bay-Williams
Journal:       Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School
Issue:          October 2003, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 120 - 124

Rationale/ Suggestions for Use  

The article discusses the Curriculum Principle (NCTM 2000) and highlights the intended curriculum (a set of standards or learning experiences compiled by the educational community) and the enacted curriculum (the lessons and materials used in the classroom).

The article displays lessons from two distinct two textbooks for teachers to compare and contrast.   The lessons focus on the same content but each outlines different approaches to developing the topics.


  1. The Curriculum Principle outlines three criteria for high quality curriculum standards as follows:
    • A mathematics curriculum should be coherent
    • A mathematics curriculum should focus on important mathematics
    • A mathematics curriculum should be well articulated across the grades
      • Which of the criteria above does your curriculum address well?  In what ways?
      • Which of the criteria above is weakest in your curriculum? In what ways?
  2. Middle grades teachers count on certain prior knowledge and skills as they work to extend this knowledge and prepare students for high school.  A well-articulated curriculum helps avoid a duplication of effort and redundancy.  Often the largest duplication of effort in the middle school curriculum is rational numbers.  Examine if your curriculum has such duplication of effort? What changes do you suggest?
  3. As referenced in the article top of page 122, it is often the case that curriculum materials are equated with the textbook, but the way the content is presented must be considered.  Have your group break into two groups.  One group will examine Figure 1 (Volume of Cylinders and Cones) and the other group will examine Figure 2 (Comparing Cones and Cylinders).  Each group should report out on their findings.
    • How does the textbook influence how students connect mathematical ideas?
    • How does the textbook influence the way the mathematics is taught?

Next Steps/ Extensions 

In most cases, other curriculum resources are used more than the textbook.  Select a curriculum strand and have teachers share sources of supplemental materials that they use.

  • Why is the supplement being used?
  • How does it help student learning?
  • What advantages do they have over the textbook?

If your school or district is thinking about selecting a textbook, discuss the five major steps in choosing a high quality textbook as outlined on page 124. 

Connections to other NCTM Publications 

Your feedback is important! Comments or concerns regarding the content of this page may be sent to Thank you.