Monday, November 24, 2014

How To Bring Students' Real Needs Into the Classroom

It may seem on the surface that this week's blog post does not directly connect to mathematics education, but I would argue that it does. Although all three of the following articles have the underlying theme of understanding students' non-academic needs, they link these needs to student learning and Common Core State Standards.  These resources focus on the importance of collecting input from students and serving the 'whole' child.

Our first article has been referred to a lot throughout Massachusetts over the past week.  There is a buzz about the connection between social emotional learning and Common Core. Social Emotional Skills Can Boost Common Core Implementation highlights 5 social emotional learning skills that  students need to develop in order to succeed in college and beyond.  I urge you to read this article by Maurice J. Elias and to consider explicitly teaching social emotional skills in conjunction with the Common Core State Standards.

Our next resource follows chief academic officer, Jenna Ogudipe through her own struggle of connecting equity and the Common Core State Standards. She recognizes that these two foci may be perceived as completely unrelated, but has linked them together in At the Crossroad of Equity and Common Core by shifting her our mindset.

I recently came across a fantastic KQED article that explicitly addresses race and cultural competency as a factor in student learning.  It speaks to students' desire to feel that their teachers know who they are on an individual basis and provides 6 practical tips on how to address race issues in the classroom.  Facing Race Issues In the Classroom: How To Connect With Students acknowledges the achievement gap and offers ways to combat the distressing trend.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Title II-B: Massachusetts Mathematics and Science Partnership Program

Are you from Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Framingham, Malden, Saugus, Somerville or Waltham?  If so, you are eligible for the new Massachusetts Mathematics and Science Partnership Competitive Grant!
The purpose of the program is to improve student achievement in science, technology/engineering, and mathematics (STEM) particularly in the middle school level through intensive, effective professional development activities that focus on deepening educator's knowledge of subject matter standards, disciplinary practices and student learning. This grant program is also intended to promote the advancement of District Determined Measures (DDMs) to assess student growth and inform educator development.

The Proposal due date is Monday January 26, 2015.  Feel free to check out the link for the Title II-B Grant for additional information. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

High School Mathematics

This week’s blog post is devoted to secondary mathematics.  Although the blog has centered around early numeracy in the past, higher level math has never been a specific focus.  As a former high school math teacher myself, I am always looking for relevant high school level math news and resources. 

I run a network called the Greater Boston High School Math Leaders Network.  Many of our districts have multiple elementary and middle schools where teachers and leaders can communicate with each other across schools.   Districts tend to have only one high school, and for this reason collaboration becomes much more difficult at the secondary level.  If you are interested in joining our high school network, please feel free to email me at
The majority of high schools across the state still stick to the traditional sequence of Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II.  Some high schools are starting to see the value behind a more integrated approach to teaching mathematics.  Education Week has explored this very topic in today’s article titled, In Transition to Common Core, Some High Schools Turn to 'Integrated' Math.  If you're looking for specific modules that utilize the integrated approach, check out the Mathematics Vision Project.

Although MCAS is still being administered at the high school level, many secondary educators have been requesting PARCC resources to continue the process of shifting their instruction.  PARCC recently released a Tutorial Version of PARCC High School Mathematics Test Booklet.  The
test booklet is paper based and provides hints for every question.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Next Generation Assessment Practice

Readers seemed to appreciate the last time I blogged about a website that organized information on next generation assessments.  An even better website has recently surfaced!  I highly recommend you check out Assessments: The Next Generation.  This website is broken down into 3-5th grade resources, 6-8th grade resources and 9-12th grade resources.  Additionally, each grade level category includes: 1) Sample Assessment Items 2) Resources by Tool 3) Resources by Topic 4) General Interactive Resource Sites 5) General Assessment Sites.

As you may already know, DESE has been organizing PARCC Practice Test Regional Sessions.  Because the first set of dates proved to be so popular, DESE has gone ahead and added two additional sessions.  One of the new sessions will be held at Revere High School on December 3rd.  This session still has space, but they are filling up quickly.  I urge you to sign up soon!

Finally, if you haven't already registered on PARCC's Educator Leader Cadre website, I highly recommend you do so.  I recently facilitated a workshop at the Curriculum and Instruction Summit and used an activity from this website.  The activity was well received by math directors, superintendents and teachers.   Very few people had heard of this valuable resource which prompted me to reference the Educator Leader Cadre website in this week's blog post.