More of the Same, Dept.

traditional math

A recent article in “Smart Brief” argues that if you change parents’ attitudes about math, you will change the childrens’. This makes sense, but the devil is in the details as they say. The study the author describes (and which she conducted) to substantiate this, views the changing of parents’ attitudes as educating them in the alternative strategies that students are forced to learn in lieu of the standard math algorithms, that are now delayed until 4th, 5th and 6th grades per the prevailing interpretation of Common Core–and the textbooks that put this interpretation into practice.

The starting thesis for the article is as follows:

“Many parents’ beliefs about effective mathematics instruction are inconsistent with current research.”

Depends what “current research” you’re looking at I guess. I wouldn’t know reading this article, because the author doesn’t cite any. She refers to parents’ attitudes toward the Common Core math standards as…

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New Boss Old Boss, Dept. (Covid 19 edition)

traditional math

In light of the rapidly approaching school year, there have been a host of articles about how teaching must change. And so I was not terribly surprised to see that National Council of Mathematics Teachers (NCTM) and the National Council of Mathematics Supervisors (NCSM),have jumped on this bandwagon and announced that math teaching must change in their latest report.

An article summarizing NCTM’s report states: “According to the NCTM and NCSM, during the pandemic, the urgency to change the way mathematics is taught has become apparent. According to both agencies, math instruction needs to be more equitable, so it is essential to plan what math classes will look like before returning to school in the coming months.”

Reading through the article, as well as the NCTM/NCSM document itself, other than the fact that online teaching by its nature is different than in-class teaching, it is not apparent how mathematics…

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“Problem solve” Dept

traditional math

A recent article announced that the National Science Foundation funded a grant for West Virginia University College of Education and Human Services The grant is to help educate math teachers on a new way of teaching math to teachers. For those of you new to all this, NSF spent billions of dollars in grant money in the early 90’s to fund (in my opinion and the opinion of many others) ineffective and damaging math programs including Investigations in Number, Data and Space; Everyday Math; Connected Math Program; Core Plus; and Interactive Math Program.

Of particular interest to me was this sentence: “The hope was for math teachers to find ways to teach students how to problem-solve.”

It used to be that students solved problems. But now in today’s era of math reform, they “problem-solve”. Popular use of this rather irritating verb form harkens back to NCTM’s 1989 standards which downplayed…

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Cheerleaders for Common Core, Dept.

traditional math

Because of school closings due to Covid 19, there has been a flurry of articles about distance learning, and the difficulties that parents face when having to explain “Common Core” math. The articles take the opportunity to show that parents are just not “with it” and that the new way is actually better because it confers “deeper understanding” rather than rote memorization.

This article is typical as is the following quote from it:

“Amberlee Honsaker remembers learning only one way to add or subtract in elementary school. It was the standard algorithm: stack numbers vertically, add the digits in columns, and carry the ones where necessary. For her daughter, Raegan, math instruction extends far beyond that. In first grade, Raegan is using number bonds, making place-value charts, drawing out 10s and ones — illustrating multiple methods for solving simple addition problems.”

Actually, in my elementary school as well as for…

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[GUEST BLOG] Generic Skills: A Dangerous Myth — 3-Star learning experiences

This blog was originally posted in Dutch on Didactiefonline by Fred Janssen Translated by Mirjam Neelen & Paul A. Kirschner Almost every curriculum document emphasises that learners must learn to solve problems, do research, reflect, self-regulate, acquire information, think creatively, and think critically. Often, it’s incorrectly assumed that we’re dealing with broad, generic skills here, […]

[GUEST BLOG] Generic Skills: A Dangerous Myth — 3-Star learning experiences

Good grief! Dept.

traditional math

Conrad Wolfram is a brilliant mathematician. He has written a book which argues that math education should not focus on how to compute various things, but on the thinking behind the computation. This article describes in breathless wonder Wolfram’s equally breathless idea to change how math is taught in order to keep up with the real world.

Wolfram makes the case that computation thinking is required in all fields and in everyday living—and that no one does calculations by hand. We’re living in what Wolfram calls a “computational knowledge economy” where the education question is, “How to prepare young people for a hybrid human-machine world?” In this new age, it’s not what you know, “it’s what you can compute from knowledge,” argues Wolfram.

It is a brave new world that Wolfram envisions, getting away from what he views as rote memorization and to the actual solving of real-world problems.


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Having it Both Ways, Dept.

traditional math

From the Algebra I section of the Mathematics Framework for California Public Schools: Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve:

“Modeling problems have an element of being genuine problems, in the sense that students care about answering the question under consideration. In modeling, mathematics is used as a tool to answer questions that students really want answered. Students examine a problem and formulate a mathematical model (an equation, table, graph, etc.), compute an answer or rewrite their expression to reveal new information, interpret and validate the results, and report out. This is a new approach for many teachers and may be challenging to implement, but the effort should show students that mathematics is relevant to their lives. From a pedagogical perspective, modeling gives a concrete basis from which to abstract the mathematics and often serves to motivate students to become independent learners.”

(I can’t be sure, but the above passage sounds as if…

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Ask A Researcher #4 – Dr. Katie Wissman — The Effortful Educator

There is a gap between those researching practices in education and those implementing that research (teachers). This gap doesn’t really serve anyone and only adds to the disconnect between researchers and classroom teachers. Both ‘sides’ would greatly benefit from listening to the other. A teacher is a veritable treasure trove of expertise. Why would those…

Ask A Researcher #4 – Dr. Katie Wissman — The Effortful Educator

New boss, old boss, Dept.

traditional math

Ontario’s math program for K-12 has come under fire the past few years. So much so that the current Premier of the province (Doug Ford) ran on a platform that included a “back to basics” math program.

The new math program was unveiled last week. A glance at its features showed that aside from the requirement that students know their multiplication facts, it appears to be the same mix of rhetoric for achieving “deeper understanding” of math.

A recent article talks about how a key aspect of the new standards is the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) component.

Educators say the key innovation in the new curriculum involves teaching “social-emotional learning skills” throughout math. According to Ministry of Education documents, this means helping students to “develop confidence, cope with challenges and think critically.”For example, students will learn how to “use strategies to be resourceful in working through challenging problems,” says…

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