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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The Prevailing Caricature of Traditional Math, Dept.

traditional math

In a recent article about math education that ballyhoos the “latest approach” in how to teach math, this statement was made:

“If the teachers are telling students how to solve a problem, and then that problem isn’t exactly what’s on the test, it creates this disequilibrium for a student,” said Beverly Velloff, the math and science curriculum coordinator for the University City School District.

There is nothing new about the so-called breakthrough ideas the article discusses. Moreover, this quote is representative of how traditionally taught math is mischaracterized.  The notion is that students are taught by rote, given a set of problems that are all exactly alike, and thus leaves them flummoxed when presented with a problem that is even slightly different. Such a caricature may be true for traditionally taught math done poorly, but it makes no allowance for it being done well.

Looking at an example from algebra:…

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Bad PD # 517

traditional math

At a six-hour PD I had the misfortune of having to attend, the moderator put this slide on the screen in a defense against the call for evidence that certain teaching practices are effective. It was a slide from a presentation by David Theriault, who teaches English and has a blog:

Research

Essentially, Mr. Theriault felt that the question about having research to back up a practice was irritating. What he calls research is what he sees in the classroom. I’ve heard it many times before in a “It works for me” type defense.

Well, traditionally taught math worked for me, but I’m fairly certain the moderator of the PD as well as Theriault and others would not find that acceptable.

The PD was full of the usual platitudes that “worksheets are bad, experiential learning is good”. As a final task of the day, we were asked to draw specific geometric…

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2019 In Review: Metrics and research assessment — Impact of Social Sciences

As governments increasingly look to national research systems as important inputs into the ‘knowledge economy’, developing ways to assess and understand their performance has become focus for policy and critique. This post brings together some of the top posts on research metrics and assessment that appeared on the LSE Impact Blog in 2019. Working to…

via 2019 In Review: Metrics and research assessment — Impact of Social Sciences

Rising number of pupils caught bringing phones into exams — Education | The Guardian

GCSE and A-level regulator says technology has increased opportunities to cheatCheating on mobile phones, cyber-attacks on schools and leaked or fake exam papers being shared on social media are among the problems that students and teachers now have to navigate, according to reports by England’s exam regulator.Data collected by Ofqual, which oversees GCSE and A-level…

via Rising number of pupils caught bringing phones into exams — Education | The Guardian

U.S. has world’s highest rate of children living in single-parent households — Schoolinfosystem.org

Stephanie Kraemer: For decades, the share of U.S. children living with a single parent has been rising, accompanied by a decline in marriage rates and a rise in births outside of marriage. A new Pew Research Center study of 130 countries and territories shows that the U.S. has the world’s highest rate of children living…

via U.S. has world’s highest rate of children living in single-parent households — Schoolinfosystem.org

In a Politically Polarized Era, Sharp Divides in Both Partisan Coalitions — Pew Research Center

Partisanship remains the strongest factor dividing the American public. Yet there are substantial divisions within both parties on fundamental political values, views of current issues and the severity of the problems facing the nation. The post In a Politically Polarized Era, Sharp Divides in Both Partisan Coalitions appeared first on Pew Research Center.

via In a Politically Polarized Era, Sharp Divides in Both Partisan Coalitions — Pew Research Center

Kentucky Tonight, as always, provides interesting food for thought Pt. 1

Did Kentucky education make great gains in the 1990s? It was my pleasure to be a part of the always interesting Kentucky Tonight show with Renee Shaw on December 16, 2019. There was a lot to discuss with the upcoming legislative session pending and a new, and controversially reconstituted, state board of education as part…

via Kentucky Tonight, as always, provides interesting food for thought Pt. 1 — The Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions