Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Discovery Before Memorization



It is easier to teach students a formula than to have them discover the formula on their own.  But no one said teaching was supposed to be easy.

Facilitating students through the discovery process takes time, patience and collaboration.  Having parents, guardians, caregivers, tutors or afterschool educators on board with the importance of discovery is absolutely necessary.  It is imperative that the teaching of the standard algorithm does not interrupt the discovery process prematurely.  Deriving a formula and/or algorithm helps build number sense and critical conceptual understanding.

As usual, I have included three varying examples in the weekly blog.  The first example is self-created and includes the two images at the beginning of the post.  Teaching multiplication through the area model/arrays can be an excellent way to build conceptual understanding prior to the memorization of the standard multiplication algorithm.  The second resource is a video taken directly from the Teaching Channel. Challenging Students to Discover Pythagoras shows one teacher’s journey through the teaching and learning of this daunting 8th grade standard.  Our final example is an article from Business Insider.  In There's a New Way of Doing Subtraction-And it's So Much Better Than How You Learned in School, Joe Weisenthal demonstrates how CCSS and number lines turn math into a road map.  He argues that in this particular case, the discovery is simpler than the memorization.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The 'Consumer Reports' of CCSS Instructional Materials

EdReports.org, a new nonprofit launching in the fall of 2014 to publish Consumer Reports-style reviews of yearlong instructional materials, beginning with mathematics, is hoping for 10 minutes of your time to complete a short survey with these specific aims:

§  Listen for input on the criteria most important to educators when selecting instructional materials

§  Inform the development of the EdReports.org evaluation tool, instructional material review process and website

§  Validate EdReports.org’s vision, mission and 2014 goals

EdReports.org believes that educators need high-quality instructional materials to help students attain college- and career-ready standards. It seeks to be your trusted, independent source to review instructional materials on behalf of teachers, principals, school district purchasers, state adopters/recommenders, parents and publishers. Reviews will be conducted by expert educators from across the country and published on a public website. By producing such reviews, EdReports.org will help educators become more informed consumers of instructional materials, leading to improved quality of materials over time as educator needs are heard.

Please complete this survey by May 30, 2014.
To show EdReports.org’s appreciation for your time, your name will be entered into a raffle for a $15 gift card upon successfully submitting your completed survey. The drawing will take place the first week of June.
Simply click on the link below, or cut and paste the entire URL into your browser to access the survey:

Your input is very important and will be kept strictly confidential (used only for the purposes of research for EdReports.org and not to be shared externally). 

If you have any questions please email info@EdReports.org

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Math MCAS Perspectives and Pump-Ups

It is that time of year again; the time when April showers truly turn into May flowers and the time when we begin summatively assessing our 3rd-10th grade students in the math classroom.

Let’s start our weekly blog by acknowledging how far we have come with stakeholders’ perspectives on standardized testing. Catherine Gewertz, an assistant editor for Education Week, recently synthesized research and surveys that track educator, administrator and student attitudes towards assessment over time.   This fascinating article, Survey: More Teachers Think That 'Just the Right Amount' of Time Is Spent on Testing, offers many charts and graphs as quantitative evidence.

Looking for a way to pump up your students on the day of the MCAS exam?  Look no further.  These four activities offer quick ways for students to practice key math concepts from the year while simultaneously getting up, moving around and pumping blood to their brains!  The four sample activities include Function Foursquare, Pythagorean Hop Scotch, Justification Jump Rope and Rational Red Light/Green Light.  These activities are targeted to an 8th grade audience but can be changed and adapted as you see fit!  All activities have been placed in a public dropbox.

Good luck to all!