Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What does a Common Core-aligned lesson look like?

Achieve The Core
The Instructional Practice Guide tools support educators in planning and reflecting on lessons that capture students’ attention while helping them to meet the expectations of the Common Core State Standards.
We’re excited to announce two new, free, interactive web applications created in response to your feedback:
Instructional Practice Guide: Coaching
The coaching tool facilitates instructional coaching conversations and builds understanding and experience with Common Core-aligned instruction. Also available in a print version.
Instructional Practice Guide: Lesson Planning (BETA)
The lesson planning tool helps teachers prepare Common Core-aligned lessons. It references the Core Actions and indicators found in the coaching tool to allow clear connections to be made between what a teacher is planning and what may be observed during classroom instruction. We’re releasing this tool now (in beta) so that you can try it out, share your feedback, and help us make improvements to better meet your back-to-school needs!
Please share with your colleagues and networks, and email us with any feedback!
Student Achievement Partners

Thursday, July 3, 2014

VCTM Seeking Proposals for Fall Conference

VCTM is accepting proposals through July 15th. The program will be created over the summer, after the July 15th proposal deadline, and speakers will be notified by August 15th of whether they have been accepted or not.

The application is fairly simple (in my opinion) and can be found here:
Thank you for helping to make this conference a success!

Contacts: Christine Latulippe Christine  Latulippe clatulip@norwich.edu and Sue Abrams sue.r.abrams@gmail.com

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Final Reflection from Leadership II (2008)

 Years ago when a first grade classroom teacher consulted me about a child in her class whose parents are concerned that their child is bored and doesn’t enjoy math at school, but loves to talk about numbers before bed instead of reading a story! I agreed to meet with the teacher and parents, after having spent some time with the child, and talk about a course of action.  Well, the teacher was sick the day we were scheduled to meet, so I met with the parents.  At the end of the forty minutes, I felt like a mathematics specialist!  We discussed NCTM standards and focal points, depth not breadth, classroom discourse, multiple strategies, encouraging their son’s curiosity without pressure to understand, conceptual vs. procedural, and a plan for me to enrich  (through multiple strategies and discourse) a small group of students once a week.  The mom left with a smile, but the dad left with questions about my course of study, so I was pleasantly surprised to
receive an email from the dad later that day…
I said that I would be frustrated by having to explain the thought process behind getting the answer to 29+12.  I was regretting having said that, especially after it became clear to me how it is so central to what you do.  So I thought about it.  I think the reason that I would find it frustrating is because it is hard, indeed, harder than actually doing the math.  Because it is hard that probably means it is very much worth doing!  This idea of explaining the thought process, sharing it with people, and learning and incorporating new ways to approach the same problem is interesting.  I grew up having ease with math and working things out in my head with pictures. But I never learned how to share that or teach it to other people. I also liked the idea that traditional "technique" driven teaching is yielding somewhat to concept-driven.  I consider math to be ultimately about exploration, and thus the teaching must be about how to explore. That in turn requires confidence and curiosity. Both Elizabeth and I *loved* that you said you have spent the last couple of years learning how to ask the right questions.  It sounds like a very simple way to express something very complex and nuanced.
Best Regards,
When my daughter asked what I was writing about I told her that this email is a defining moment in my mathematics specialist career..  I feel confident, energized, and ready to continue my studies because I was articulate in expressing almost three years of reading, discussing, reflecting, researching, and experiencing mathematics and it caused someone to think differently about mathematics!  That conference was a pivotal moment in my assimilating tons of information, and I am proud of my new found abilities. 
And now six years later, I see how naive I was back then, and how much more I still have to learn!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Reducing Math Anxiety: What Can Teachers Do?

Check out this blog and share your thoughts on the following three points emphasized in this EdWeek blog by Liana Heitin, June 10, 2014:

1. Focus math teacher training on pedagogy rather than concepts. "Researchers have found that a course on how to teach math concepts was more effective in addressing math anxiety among pre-service teachers than a course focused directly on the math concepts themselves," write Beilock and Willingham.  
2. Stop giving timed math tests. "There are likely several reasons why alleviating time pressure makes math anxiety less of a problem, from reducing worries about not finishing in time, to giving students the time and space to work through their answers."
3. Be careful when consoling students who are struggling. "[S]aying, for example, 'It's OK, not everyone can be good at these types of problems'... sends a subtle message that validates a student's opinion that he's not good at math, and can lower a student's motivations and expectations for future performances," they write. Instead, say to students, "Yes, this work is challenging, but I know that with hard work you can do it!"

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Apps for Problem-Based Math Games

Marshall Memo 539   June 3, 2014
            In this Edutopia article, Patrick Feeney recommends a number of tablet-based apps derived from classic thinking games, puzzles, and recreational math problems. “Puzzle apps are fantastic tools for training students to be creative mathematical thinkers,” says Feeney. “In addition, well-designed puzzle apps align perfectly with the following Common Core Standards: make sense of problems; persevere in solving them; reason abstractly and quantitatively; use appropriate tools strategically; look for and make use of structure; and look for regularity in repeated reasoning. Feeney recommends the following apps:
-    Engel’s Enigma
-    Tower of Hanoi
-    Master Mind Code Breaker
-    Set Pro
-    Cut the Block
-    Move the Turtle
-    Slice It!
-    3b3b
-    KenKen
-    Nine Gaps
-    Rubik’s Cube
Here are Feeney’s criteria for selecting good puzzle apps:
            • Depth of underlying mathematics – The game should have a rich math structure. Rubik’s Cube, for example, involves group theory and permutations.
            • Interactive and fun – “A lot of math apps are quite static,” says Feeney, “and no more exciting than pen-and-paper versions of the same puzzle.” The best apps are inherently interactive and have colorful animated graphics.
            • Visual – The patterns and structures within the game should be visually apparent. Rubik’s Cube brings the abstract math of permutations to a concrete level appropriate for young children.
            • Easy to learn, hard to master – The best games ramp players up so they can achieve basic proficiency quite quickly, but then challenge them to apply those skills to solve harder and harder problems. “Avoid puzzles that get too hard too fast or don’t provide enough opportunities for intuitive breakthroughs,” says Feeney.
            • Multiple levels – The best puzzles contain more than one math principle and can be used for different age levels, with older students going deeper and deeper into the mathematical content.
“Games in the Mathematics Classroom: There’s an App for That!” by Patrick Feeney in Edutopia, May 7, 2014,http://www.edutopia.org/blog/game-apps-in-math-class-patrick-feeney

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fifth Grade Field Trip

What an incredible day we had at St. Mike's last Friday. Having seen the "Penny Arcade" in the local media, Joni Pecor, one of the the fifth grade teachers at Flynn Elementary School  in Burlington decided she wanted to bring the three fifth grade classes on a day-long  field trip to learn more. We started the day as a large group, 50 students and 10 adults, setting a focus for what they would be experiencing. I wanted to make sure that the students were learning the math embodied in the display and not just looking at pennies all day.

So the theme for the day was "seeing patterns and making connections". I had asked two incredible math teachers to help me out, Karyn Vogel, a BSD Math Coach, and Laura Sommariva,  a Colchester High School math teacher who had been a student in my grad maths course last semester.

Laura developed a one-hour class on fractals beginning with a virtual visit to the Fractal Foundation site. The students then went o to complete their own Sierpinski triangles using isometric graph paper or dividing up a a simple equilateral triangle on a piece of paper. They finished the activity making Sierpinski triangles out of pennies.

Karyn's class focused on number patterns such as the Fibonacci sequence and began with a Vi Hart video.  She then had them explore fir cones and various other natural things to explore the occurrence of the Fibonacci sequence in the natural world.

For my part, I held class in the hallway next to the "Penny Arcade" and explored the many different fractals and number patterns illustrated through the use of pennies stuck to the wall. The three fifth grade classes circulated around the three activities with a break in the morning and a break for lunch. We had planned for the students to spend their lunch break in the Teaching Gardens but a rainy day meant inside recess.

All in all it seems to have been a great day in which the students got to see how wonderfully creative and joyful learning about math can be. There were times we found it difficult to get the students to disengage from what they were doing so that they could move on.

Isn't that the way learning should be?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

NCSM Newsletter, Summer 2014, Number 4

Did you know that Illustrative Matheamatics offers TASK TALKS every Tuesday night at 7PM? These virtual community discussions are free and open to the public.  Find out more on p. 5.

Did you know that the SBAC states unanimously approved the Usability, Accessibility and Accommodations Guidelines this past September?  Read more about it on p. 14.

Did you know there is a great way to teach CCSS and develop strong mental mathematics skills, good number sense, and algebraic thinking skills? Greg Tang will show you how on p. 16.

Enjoy the latest edition for the NCSM newsletter!