Thursday, April 23, 2015

Education Week – Liana Heitin

“It’s been a tough year for parents trying to keep up with their kids in math. Last March, a North Carolina father tried to help his son with a word problem and ended up writing a note to the teacher saying that, despite having a degree in engineering, he couldn’t figure it out. Both the note and problem went viral. Parents have also been taking to social media to complain about the “new” methods their children are learning for basic computation under the Common Core State Standards. Then last week, this high school problem from Singapore made the rounds on the Internet…The Singapore television host who posted the problem wrote that it was for students in the equivalent of 5th grade. That made some parents panic. It turns out that the problem actually came from a math competition known as the Singapore and Asian School Math Olympiad, which is aimed at the top 40 percent of high school students…Since the problem was posted, much has been made of the fact that Singapore scores well above the United States on the Program for International Student Assessment…”(more)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

NPR – Jenny Brundin

“The Soroco High agriculture shop is massive — a warehouse full of old motorcycles, tractors, various machines, even a greenhouse. On the concrete floor is the start of the feeder: an octagon of blue tape, laid down with the utmost precision, using the Pythagorean theorem. But getting those angles exactly right was the hardest part of the project. “Maybe somebody would not quite understand an equation,” says student Bailey Singer. “Sometimes you have to go back and redo some equations, redo some math, trying to make sure every angle is right.” Sometimes, the pursuit of perfection led to spirited, mathematical debate. “We all worked together pretty well but on some occasions we would somewhat argue — because one person would think something’s right and then one person would think it’s wrong,” says Harrison Ashley. Bruski says it’s important for students, especially those who traditionally struggle in math, to “sort out those difficulties and hopefully really see — because they’re able to touch the math, not just try to do the math on paper.” Though the project dovetailed with the kind of advanced work her upper-level students were doing, Bruski says Whaley’s shop students, most of them freshmen, eagerly tackled the trigonometry.”(more)

Monday, April 13, 2015

The L.A. Times – Howard Blume

“Providing computers to public school students is important to California voters, but not as crucial as other factors affecting education, including a more intense focus on math, science and the arts, according to a new poll. In the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times survey, voters were given a list of options and asked to select the top two that would have the most positive impact on improving public education in California. Nearly half, 49%, picked “increasing funding for math, science and technology instruction,” according to the poll. Nearly a third said funding should be increased for subjects like art and music education. About one in four voters said that most important was raising salaries for teachers and improving books and materials for students. The fifth most popular choice, at 20%, was providing technology, such as tablets and laptops, to students.”(more)

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Collegian – Maggie Stanton

“Let’s imagine you’re at a job interview and they ask the dreaded question “Can you tell me something unique about yourself?”…It turns out there’s a unique skill you can bring to the table, which will not only answer the question but make you more likely to get the job: being fluent in a foreign language…According to an Oct. 25, 2013 Montana Public Radio article…learning another language can improve students’ mental focus, reading and writing abilities and even improve math skills…Speaking a foreign language allows you to expand your horizons and will likely help you snag your dream job.”(more)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The San Francisco Examiner – Richard A. Carranza

” We want our students to learn a lot of things in school and one of them is math, a lot of math. But it can be a challenging subject to teach well. In an often-cited national poll, a thousand middle schoolers agreed with this statement: “I’d rather eat broccoli than do math.” Maybe you felt the same way back in the day. This sentiment is not about broccoli and it’s not even about math. It’s about how most of us have been taught math. We have a problem with math education in the United States. We are 36th out of 58 nations on a key mathematics assessment (Program for International Student Assessment). And we have a persistent gap in levels of math achievement between groups of students. Even our highest-achieving students are not keeping up with students from other countries. Frankly, if the current system of teaching math worked, we would see these statistics improving. Research shows that the way math is taught in U.S. classrooms leads students (including our highest-performing students) to not perform up to their potential in math. And contrary to what many may believe, grouping students by ability (tracking) actually lowers achievement in math for most students.”(more)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Education Week – David Ginsburg

“A key instructional shift called for by the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics is the dual emphasis on conceptual understanding and procedural fluency. NCTM draws a connection between these two areas in its position paper on procedural fluency (as I did in my post, Procedural Fluency: More Than Memorizing Math Facts):.”(more)

The New York Times – Jessica Lahey

“As I’m not a math teacher, I asked three experts on mathematics instruction to weigh in. They told me that this question perfectly illustrates what’s wrong with math education and why we need to change it. Much of what we teach kids during their first decade of math education relies on students’ blind compliance and memorization of rules and facts. We reward correct answers, but we do not not encourage students to think independently about what these rules and facts might mean in the bigger mathematical picture. Tracy Zager, a math-education specialist and the author of the forthcoming book “Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had,” explained in an email why this kind of math education fails students: “It was never a sensible idea to try to have students memorize first and understand later; this approach to mathematics instruction is structurally flawed. I really feel for these parents and this kid, but the frustration they face is inevitable. If we teach kids math without understanding, we build on a house of cards.” That house of cards will be fragile, and liable to collapse, when students move from elementary mathematics to complex problem-solving, said Steven Strogatz, an author and a professor of applied mathematics at Cornell University.”(more)

Friday, April 3, 2015

El Dorado Springs Sun – Staff Writer

“Getting a child interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) can have positive life impacts. It can even lead to college and career success according to Janice Emery, 4-H youth development specialist with University of Missouri Extension…The top 20 jobs on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ current list of highest-paying occupations value numerical literacy. “By the time our children enter the workforce, professions related to STEM are predicted to be even more predominant,” said Emery. Unfortunately, too many children struggle with STEM concepts…Emery says there are several ways to help make STEM subjects more exciting for children.”(more)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Forbes – Alexander Taub

“In 2013, Sidharth Kakkar and Alexandr Kurilin had the opportunity to watch children learning math in an inner-city Baltimore school. For a month, they attended to school every day and worked with students. At night, they programmed to make an application that could help the students learn. In September they launched their company, Front Row Education, with 3 teachers. Today there are over 80,000 teachers & 1.1 million students using Front Row across 19,000 US schools. Front Row develops a math program for students and teachers in Kindergarten through eighth grade classrooms. For students, Front Row personalizes practice and lets them work on math problems at their own pace. For example, in a third grade, students learn multiplication. But in every classroom, there are some students who are substantially ahead of their peers: they’re already great at multiplication, and are ready for exponents. On the other hand, there are students trail their peers: their previous teachers were weak and so they lacked a foundation for math. As a result, they still haven’t mastered basic addition. In fact, for most classrooms, 80% or more students fall into one of those two categories.”(more)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Education Week – Liana Heitin

“The optimal amount of homework for 13-year-old students is about an hour a day, a study published earlier this month in the Journal of Educational Psychology suggests. And spending too much time on homework is linked to a decrease in academic performance…The study does, of course, come with some caveats. As the researchers note, the results are not causal; they only show a correlation between homework and test scores. Also, the survey did not distinguish between math and science homework.”(more)