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  • Teachers, Textbooks, and Big Ideas in Math

    Posted By John Woodward, Ph.D. | Jun 07, 2017
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    American educators have a well-honed way of thinking about curriculum. Typically, district committees compare and then adopt a curriculum to meet specific goals or guidelines. More recently, curriculum adoption in math has been driven by state or national standards.

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  • Site-Based Math Professional Development: Where to Begin?

    Posted By John Woodward, Ph.D. | May 24, 2017
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    Rita Bean’s and Diane DeFord’s article about instructional coaching offers a highly sensible list of dos and don’ts for working with teachers in their classrooms. Crafted from what is clearly a great depth of experience, Bean and DeFord apprise the reader immediately of the highly political nature of coaching. For example, if coaches communicate explicitly or implicitly that they are there to “fix them and their classrooms,” then the chances of a successful working relationship plummet dramatically.

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  • How Should Principals Take the Lead on Math Professional Development?

    Posted By John Woodward, Ph.D. | May 10, 2017
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    Professional development researchers have told us for a long time principals need to be instructional leaders. That prescription entails visible support for new instructional strategies as well as the need for persistence, follow-up, and even the use of data to sustain or refine new practices. Unquestionably, all of this is important. But where does a principal start today in a world awash with new teachers, many of whom struggle to teach to state or national standards? As co-authors of the K-8 mathematics professional development program, NUMBERS, Michele Douglass, Mary Stroh and I have done a lot of thinking about how principals can orchestrate successful change.

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  • The Future of Work: Robots, Artificial Intelligence, and What They Mean for Math Education Today

    Posted By John Woodward, Ph.D. | Mar 01, 2017
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    Much has been said about the state of American manufacturing in the last year, and a series of recent reports present an intricate picture that takes us beyond some of the confusion and common misconceptions. Except for the understandable decline in manufacturing during the recent recession, manufacturing productivity since 2000 has been surprisingly robust. Ball State University’s report even suggests that growth in manufacturing going forward is steady and on an upward path. With all of the news of outsourcing in areas such as textiles, furniture, and apparel, how can this be?

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  • The Kids Do Care: The Importance of Student Input on Testing

    Posted By Michelle George | Feb 01, 2017
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    We are barely into the second semester, and at my school, we are well into planning our state-mandated testing. We have a leadership team that works collaboratively to plan our academic goals, and testing is inevitably on the short list of priorities. It’s been a journey getting to the place where we have an administrator who sees the value in working with all of the staff to problem-solve. I must say it’s been worth the trip. A common complaint about standardized assessments in this time of high-stakes testing is that while teachers and administrators are held accountable, students are not. Of course, teachers must be responsible, but by leaving learners out of the conversation, students often are not vested in the process.

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  • Exploring Formative Assessment in the Mathematics Classroom

    Posted By Bea Moore Luchin | Sep 14, 2016
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    Formative assessment is an important tool to take full advantage of, especially in this transitional era of implementing more rigorous standards.

    When correctly incorporated into classroom practice, the formative assessment process provides information needed to adjust teaching and learning while they are happening. The process serves as practice for the student and a check for understanding during the learning process. The formative assessment process guides teachers in making decisions about future instruction. 

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  • What did you learn today?

    Posted By Bea Moore Luchin | Apr 20, 2016
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    As we implement higher standards across the country, it has become increasingly important that we identify and use a variety of strategies to assess student learning so that the appropriate interventions may be provided. 

    One strategy is to encourage students to reflect on their reasoning and justify their work.  The idea of justifying your work in mathematics has to go beyond the use of inverse operations to “prove” that the calculation was correct. This way of checking is not justification since it does not address the student’s use of metacognition—the thinking about thinking—that goes beyond the use of an algorithm and takes you into their decision-making processes.

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  • Punish or Empower? A Case for a Shift in Academic Systems

    Posted By Michelle George | Apr 12, 2016
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    Recent conversations in my faculty lounge have drifted to the sentencing of educators in Georgia who were convicted of tampering with test materials. How did people who presumably care deeply about children end up breaking laws and serving prison time? We as educators are trained to look beyond the results of a failure and analyze the cause. So what happened in Georgia, and is threatening to happen all over the country? Perhaps the problem is that an assessment is being used for purposes beyond its scope. I contend that if we as educators want to improve our discipline’s professionals, we need to use tools that are proven to do just that.

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  • How to Unlock the Language of Math for Your Students

    Posted By Bea Moore Luchin | Mar 30, 2016
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    I’d like to take you on another journey along the road of the language of mathematics with a stop at the intersection of “math concepts and symbolic notations.”

    Sometimes the mathematics conversation is just as confusing to students as this collection of signs is to a driver in an unfamiliar situation. There appears to be a variety of symbols used to identify the different types of roads in the area, just as we have a variety of concepts, operations, and relations that are conveyed through symbolic notations. 

    To further complicate the issue, in math we sometimes have a variety of symbols used to convey the same concept or idea. Imagine the student’s dismay when he or she is not familiar with a new symbolic notation that is being used but is familiar (and perhaps proficient) with a different notation. This can certainly be a blow to some students’ math confidence.

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  • Put Thoughtful Research into Practice for Struggling Math Learners

    Posted By John Woodward, Ph.D. | Mar 23, 2016
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    In my previous blog, I argued for a dual topic approach to curriculum design. The framework outlined in that blog is based on a variety of research. Some of this research is drawn from psychology and studies of human learning. These involve the development of automaticity and controlling cognitive load. Other design elements are associated with what we have learned over the years from international research, particularly the way successful countries focus on fewer topics with greater depth in their math curricula. Still other research is a synthesis of what we believe are best instructional practices in remedial and special education.

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