Don’t Tell Jo Boaler, Dept.

traditional math

A group of students in Lake Charles, Louisiana is promoting knowing the multiplication facts.

Those who think that the traditional ways of teaching mathematics have been shown to be harmful for all students, will find this quote from the article to be heresy:

“The ability of an individual of any age to be able to multiply consistently and effectively can build confidence in other areas of life,” Nonnette said. “We as an organization will succeed in our mission to enhance the awareness of math education through one multiplication chart at a time.”

Now, if only we can find some way to make the progressives think they came up with this!

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Reactions to Barbara Oakley’s op-ed: Revisited

traditional math

I’ve noticed a spike in traffic at this site, looking at a post I wrote over a year ago. The piece I wrote addressed a blog post that criticized an op-ed on math education written by Barbara Oakley.

The blog post is here but comments have long been closed. I recall there was some flap with the blogger who wrote it, when I said that comments from Barbara Oakley and myself hadn’t been published.  She did publish Barbara’s comment, but I notice that my comment is still “awaiting moderation”.  Meaning she forgot about it, or didn’t want to publish it. I have no idea which may be true, but if you’re curious, here is what the comment:

In your post you state: “It is true that traditional ways of teaching mathematics have been shown to be harmful for all students, and even more harmful for non-dominant populations, including girls. This…

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Strategic Partnerships: the end of independent viewpoints in education policy — Truth in American Education

“Strategic Partnerships” represent an unfortunate trend of the past few decades in US education policy. I learned about them directly when I worked at ACT (2007-2009). I was supposed to be the one writing their policy reports–the big, heavily promoted reports they used to make their claim to be a player in US education policy…

via Strategic Partnerships: the end of independent viewpoints in education policy — Truth in American Education

Conjecture; ‘Thinking like a mathematician’ is a confused concept — Fair schooling & assessment

Conjecture. ‘Thinking like a mathematician’ is a concept confusing cognition of the individual (student, academic, mathematician) and the fruits of centuries of mathematical and scientific research. This blog is based on a Twitter thread Teaching students to ‘think like a mathematician’ is a huge waste of effort. This quote from Whitehead (1911, p. 8) […]

via Conjecture; ‘Thinking like a mathematician’ is a confused concept — Fair schooling & assessment

Have they learnt something? — 3-Star learning experiences

Mirjam Neelen & Paul A. Kirschner We want people to learn better. To this end schools are implementing new curricula, lesson plans, learning management systems and so forth. Companies are delivering new trainings, using virtual reality, or coaching trajectories. And researchers are carrying out cutting edge research where children or adults discuss more, think more […]

via Have they learnt something? — 3-Star learning experiences

In Defense of Knowledge — ACADEME BLOG

BY HANK REICHMAN Today the AAUP released a statement, In Defense of Knowledge and Higher Education, prepared by the association’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure in October and approved by the AAUP Council a month later. An email signed by me was sent to all AAUP members announcing the release this morning. The…

via In Defense of Knowledge — ACADEME BLOG

Please put that away — Catherine & Katharine

Katie and I were talking yesterday about cell phones in the classroom. She reminded me that she’d recently listened to a recording of a college class in which, every couple of minutes, the professor interrupted himself to say “Please put that away.” It was striking, Katie said, hearing the words “Please put that away” without […]

via Please put that away — Catherine & Katharine

Ch 13 of “Out on Good Behavior”

traditional math

For those following the continuing series Ch. 13 is now up at Truth in American Education.

In planning my future classes during the summer before the upcoming school year I proceed from an undying faith in my expectations of how things will be. During the actual school year, I then deal with the reality. In the end, it is always astounding to me how some intuitions turn out surprisingly well.

My Math 7 class at Cypress my second year was the non-accelerated version. I had taught accelerated Math 7 the year before, but was now faced with a challenging group of students who I knew were disheartened about math and likely dreading the next year. While planning my lessons during the summer using the JUMP Math teacher’s manual, I had a vision that the students would upon succeeding and getting good grades on tests and quizzes, eventually discover that the…

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Extended metaphor, Dept.

traditional math

We frequently hear about how in math education we should engage students in “productive struggle”. While there is some value in having students synthesize prior knowledge from worked examples and scaffolded problems, this is generally not what is meant by “productive struggle”. Generally it means having students solve problems that are usually one-off types that do not generalize. What prior knowledge students may have to draw upon is in most cases very small and lacking in sufficient practice for students to be able to apply it efficiently. And if prior knowledge is absent, students are expected to obtain it via “just in time” learning, which would arrive without sufficient practice and mastery.

Students are expected to collaborate with fellow students, and dissuaded from asking the teacher for help. If the teacher is asked to help, the teacher is usually instructed to not give answers to students questions but to facilitate…

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PBL: A guide to the hype

traditional math

Edutopia has advice for those math teachers who believe that Problem (Project) Based Learning (PBL) actually has something of value to offer.

I offer a brief commentary on their suggestions.

Address math myths: “Some teachers worry that PBL will take away time needed to practice math skills. Others insist that they need to “front-load” concepts before students can apply them, or worry about students encountering concepts out of the order outlined in their math curriculum.”

Those are my concerns as well. What the author calls “front-loading” concepts is what the rest of us call teaching. Many of us teach using direct and explicit instruction with worked examples and pratice problems.  We do this so that students can then put to use what they learn–with guidance.  The alternative is what I call  “just in time teaching”.  This is similar to throwing a kid in the deep end of the pool and instructing…

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