Tools for Schools - April 1998
Linking Home and School:
A BRIDGE to the Many Faces of Mathematics
What Is It?
The BRIDGE model is designed to address the following issues: the effects of mathematical study
groups on teachers' professional development and pedagogical practices; the mathematical potential
of students' households and activities outside of school; taking familial knowledge to an abstract
level with potential academic use; and the role of parents in changing teacher practices.
Why Did It Get Started?
For the past 10 years, the Community Literacy Project and the Funds of Knowledge for Teaching
Project carried out work based on the idea that household and community knowledge can provide
strategic resources for classroom practice. This approach analyzes the sociocultural history of the
households of language-minority children, as well as their labor history, which often reveals
accumulated bodies of knowledge and an array of skills, information, and strategies. In a
Southwestern context, for example, households of rural origin may know about farming and animal
management, whereas those with urban roots may know about construction and other matters such
as trade, business, and finance on both sides of the border.
How Does It Work?
BRIDGE focuses on developing communities of learners interested in furthering the teaching and
learning of mathematics. Three key components center around mathematics:
|Household ethnographic analysis,
|Teacher/researcher study groups, and
|Classroom implementation. |
A fourth component, parents as learning resources, directly involves parents in the
What Are The Costs?
BRIDGE is supported by a local school district and university cost-sharing.
How Is the Model Implemented in a School?
Following an intensive ethnographic training, which is further supported by readings,
teacher-researchers conduct fieldwork in the households of their students. A specific focus is on the
mathematical potential of everyday activities such as construction, sewing, budgeting, and
gardening. In addition to making household visits, teachers elicit information from their students on
the kinds of outside-school practices in their everyday life (e.g., bartering, household chores,
construction, mechanics, and infant care). Teachers look specifically for mathematics-related
activities and instances of mathematizing.
University-based researchers and teacher-researchers meet regularly in joint study groups to discuss
findings and develop an understanding of children's experiences in mathematics. The goal is to
develop mathematics learning modules that build on these experiences. These activity settings also
serve as a laboratory for developing communities of learners. They focus on teachers as learners of
mathematics themselves, engaged in mathematical activities and discussion, and on teachers as
agents for pedagogical innovation, engaged in the philosophical underpinnings of such innovation.
Another key aspect of BRIDGE is the connection to students' homes through the active involvement
of parents and other household members in the learning process. Parents provide not only household
and community knowledge, but information about their children's hobbies and activities that can be
used to create learning modules. Parents participate in the creation of learning modules based on
their personal expertise and in mathematical activities different from what they have seen in
What Is The Evidence That The Model Is Successful?
The work in the classroom develops communities of learners that reflect a two-way dialogue in
mathematics, between school and household. These communities are envisioned to have the
By doing and talking about mathematics in periodic workshops, BRIDGE shares its vision of a
mathematics learning community with teachers, parents, and children. Initially, these workshops
rely on external materials, eventually moving toward a format where parents bring in mathematical
activities based on their experiences. The workshops provide an arena for the discussion of
mathematics teaching and learning (and of schooling in general) where all participants share their
- Parents, students, and teachers participate in joint sociocultural activity;
- Mathematics is something to be discussed and developed;
- Students are engaged in academically challenging activities in mathematics;
- Students are encouraged to use and demonstrate their "informal" knowledge of mathematics; and
- Everyday household activity settings become academic contexts of mathematical learning.
Where Can I See It?
BRIDGE is in progress in various elementary and middle school classrooms in Tucson, Arizona.
Whom Do I Contact?
Marta Civil, Rosi Andrade, or Norma Gonzalez
University of Arizona
Linking Home and School: BRIDGE project
Department of Mathematics
617 North Santa Rita
Tucson, Arizona 85721
Telephone: 520-621-6282; Fax: 520-621-9608
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or neg@U.arizona.edu
The Research Base
Mathematics has been viewed by some as a gatekeeping mechanism serving to disenfranchise
language-minority children (especially Latino and African-American). Additionally, with respect to
achievement, non-Asian minority students begin to lag behind as early as age nine, with the gap
increasing further as students get older. Several factors have been identified as contributing to the
disparities in educational attainment of language and other minority children, among them, "poor
self-concept as a 'doer' of math or science; their negative perception of the utility of these subjects in
'real life'; the stereotyping of math and science as White male activities; and the influence of
significant others, such as parents, teachers, and peers, in discouraging participation in these
The BRIDGE project features collaborative work between teachers and researchers, and places the
emphasis on the sociocultural context for mathematics learning. The theory that thematic
integration of the curriculum enables students to encounter mathematical concepts within
socioculturally relevant problem-solving contexts that are more meaningful than the traditional
basal-text oriented approach serves as a partial basis for the model. In addition, BRIDGE includes
teacher investigation of the local knowledge of the community, as well as the involvement of parents
as learning resources of mathematics.
[Families and Schools Together]
[Talent Development Middle School]