AERA Philadelphia and NCTM New Orleans: Forty Sessions

Forty sessions. Forty. You see, I'm one of those people who really try to get my money's worth out of a conference, and when it's somebody else's money (thanks, National Science Foundation!) I try even harder. My 10-day conference marathon started with a rough day of travel, but in the remaining nine days I went to just about everything I could. I just made the conference my one and only priority — I didn't go sighseeing on "company time," I ate only when necessary (I lost 7 pounds in 10 days, despite being in the lands of cheesesteaks and bignets), and I only skipped a few sessions to give myself time to prepare for my own presentations.

New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center

I don't know if 40 sessions is some kind of record, but if it is I'm not sure I ever want to break it. It was against all good advice to attend both AERA and NCTM in the first place. I set a precedent for myself last year when I recapped 21 sessions from the NCTM Research Presession and Annual Meeting in Denver. That effort took several days of binge-recapping, something I'd rather not do this year. I'm thinking about aiming for one recap per day; if that works out I could be done before June, but not by much. Before the recaps begin, however, I needed to put together an accurate accounting of the sessions I attended. Due to NCTM's overlapping sessions at the Annual Meeting, there are a few in this list that I did not see in their entirety. I can still recap what I can and make sure to point to whatever resources that might have been made available. If you see anything in the list below that you'd rather not wait to hear about, leave a comment or otherwise let me know and I'll try to get you information sooner rather than later.

AERA: Friday, April 4

1. Enriching Research and Innovation Through the Specification of Professional Practice: The Core Practice Consortium (AERA Presidential Session)

Chair: Pamela L. Grossman, Stanford University
Deborah Lowenberg Ball, University of MichiganBradley Fogo, Stanford University
Francesca Forzani, University of MichiganHala N. Ghousseini, University of Wisconsin - Madison
Megan L. Franke, University of California - Los AngelesSarah Schneider Kavanagh, University of Washington
Magdalene Lampert, Boston Teacher ResidencyMatthew J. Kloser, University of Notre Dame
Pamela L. Grossman, Stanford UniversityJamie O'Keeffe, Stanford University
Morva McDonald, University of WashingtonJessica J. Thompson, University of Washington
Elham Kazemi, University of Washington
Mark A. Windschitl, University of Washington
Discussant: Anthony S. Bryk, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

2. Division C Early Career Award Lecture
Chair: Gale M. Sinatra, University of Southern California
Leveraging Social Media to Create Opportunities for Learning and Scholarship - Christine M. Greenhow, Michigan State University
Participant: Barbara A. Greene, University of Oklahoma

3. Teacher Quality, Teaching Quality, and Student Outcomes in Mathematics: Putting the Puzzle Together
Chair: Heather C. Hill, Harvard University

  • Teacher Knowledge and Student Learning: Bringing Together Two Different Conceptualizations of Teacher Knowledge - Charalambos Y. Charalambous, University of Cyprus; Heather C. Hill, Harvard University; Daniel McGinn, Harvard University
  • Explaining Teacher Effects: Results From the National Center on Teacher Effectiveness Main Study - Heather Hill, Harvard University; Douglas Staiger, Dartmouth College; Mark Chin, Harvard University; Andrew Bacher-Hicks, Harvard University
  • Predictors of Teachers' Instructional Practices - David Blazar, Harvard University; Claire Gogolen, Harvard University; Heather Hill, Harvard University; Andrea Humez, Boston College; Kathleen Lynch, Harvard University
  • The Meaning of "High" and "Low" Value-Added Teaching: Observing Differences in Instructional Quality Across Districts - David Blazar, Harvard University; Erica Litke, Harvard University; Johanna Barmore, Harvard University
Discussants: Bridget Kathleen Hamre, University of Virginia; John Papay, Brown University

4. Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and Mathematics Teacher Education Programs: Current and Future Directions
Chair: Yukiko Maeda, Purdue University

  • Identifying Common Core State Standards for Math Challenges to Inform the Preparation of Preservice Teachers - Jeffrey M. Choppin, University of Rochester; Jon D. Davis, Western Michigan University; Corey Drake, Michigan State University; Amy M. Roth McDuffie, Washington State University
  • Reported Changes in Secondary Mathematics Teacher Education Programs due to the Common Core State Standards - Jeffrey Craig, Michigan State University; Jai He, Michigan State University; Sharon L. Senk, Michigan State University; Yukiko Maeda, Purdue University; Vivian Gregory Alexander, Purdue University
  • Goals of Mathematics Teacher Educators for Prospective Teachers and the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics - Marcy B. Wood, The University of Arizona; Jill Annette Newton, Purdue University; Patricia S. Wilson, University of Georgia; Denise A. Spangler, University of Georgia; Corey Drake, Michigan State University; Sara E. Kasten
  • Priorities for the Improvement of Secondary Mathematics Teacher Preparation for the Common Core Era - W. Gary Martin, Auburn University; Marilyn E. Strutchens, Auburn University
Discussant: Robert Floden, Michigan State University

AERA: Saturday, April 5

5. The Video Mosaic Collaborative: An Online Professional Development Resource for Mathematics Education and the Learning Sciences
Chair: Sharon Derry, University of North Carolina

  • The Video Mosaic Collaborative Repository: A Historical Perspective - Marjory Fan Palius, Rutgers University
  • VMCAnalytic Tool: A Demonstration - Robert Sigley, Rutgers University
  • Validating an Evolving Video Mosaic Collaborative Design by Seeking Evidence of Teachers' Growth in Reasoning and Related Shifts in Beliefs - Carolyn Alexander Maher, Rutgers University; James A. Maher; Marjory Fan Palius, Rutgers University; Robert Sigley, Rutgers University; Cindy E. Hmelo-Silver, Indiana University
  • Making Thinking Visible Through Multimedia Artifacts - Cindy E. Hmelo-Silver, Indiana University; Carolyn Alexander Maher, Rutgers University; Marjory Fan Palius, Rutgers University; Robert Sigley, Rutgers University; Alice S. Alston, Rutgers University
  • Design Research With Video Mosaic Collaborative-Based Instructional Activities for Online Teacher Education - Sharon Derry, University of North Carolina; Julia Gressick, Indiana University - South Bend; Alan James Hackbarth, University of Wisconsin
Discussant: Hilda Borko, Stanford University

6. Maximizing the Benefit of Teacher/Researcher Partnerships in Classroom-Based Development and Implementation Projects
Chair: Avi Kaplan, Temple University
Participants: Rick Coppola, University of Illnois at Chicago; Matthew Hartwell, Temple University; Liam Gallagher, Project Learn School; MaryAnn Stolberg, Our Lady of Victory Catholic School; Chris S. Hulleman, University of Virgina; Kenn E. Barron, James Madison University
Discussant: Tim Urdan, Santa Clara University

7. Innovative System and School Redesign: Improving Leadership Practice to Support Instructional Reform
Chair: Megan Hopkins, The Pennsylvania State University

  • The Relative Importance of Work With Teacher Leaders in Promoting Instructional Change: An Exploratory Study - Eric M. Camburn, University of Wisconsin; Seong Won Han, University of Buffalo - SUNY
  • Infrastructure Redesign and Instructional Reform in Mathematics: Formal Structure and Leadership - Megan Hopkins, The Pennsylvania State University; James P. Spillane, Northwestern University
  • Catalyzing Reform: How Coaches Frame Reading Policy - Sarah L. Woulfin, University of Connecticut
  • The Needed Infrastructure for Cognitively Ambitous Instruction in High Schools - Jal David Mehta, Harvard University; Sarah Melanie Fine, Harvard University
  • Strong Ties in a Decentralized District: Balancing Professionalism and Accountability to Achive Sustained Growth in Student Achivement - Lisa A. Umekubo, University of California - San Diego; Janet A. Chrispeels, University of California - San Diego; Alan J. Daly, University of California - San Diego
Discussant: David K. Cohen, University of Michigan

AERA: Sunday, April 6

8. Linking Theory, Research, and Practice to Improve STEM Undergraduate Education (AERA Presidential Session)
Chairs: Ann E. Austin, Michigan State University; Susan Singer, National Science Foundation
Participants: Stephen Barkanic, Business-Higher Education Forum; Anthony S. Bryk, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching; James S. Fairweather, Michigan State University; Cynthia Finelli, University of Michigan; Robert D. Mathieu, University of Wisconsin - Madison; William R. Penuel, University of Colorado Boulder; Ann E. Austin, Michigan State University

9. Understanding Change Within Discussions of Mathematics Teacher Professional Learning Communities: Methodological Frameworks
Chair: Joy Ann Oslund, University of Michigan

  • Studying Changes in Teachers' Group Conversations: A Methodological Literature Review - Joy Ann Oslund, University of Michigan; Pamela A. Moss, University of Michigan
  • Concomitant Analysis in Considering Teacher Development and Professional Development Materials Over Time - Edd V. Taylor, University of Colorado Boulder
  • Using Tools from Discourse Analysis to Understand Change in a Teacher Study Group - Samuel Otten, University of Missouri; Beth A. Herbel-Eisenmann, Michigan State University; Kate Johnson, Brigham Young University
  • Studying Teachers' Attempts at Change Through Narrative Inquiry - Lindsay Keazer, Michigan State University
Discussant: Helen J. Featherstone, Michigan State University

10. Research in Mathematics Education SIG Poster Session
Supporting Common Core-Driven Curriculum Adaptations for High School Algebra - Raymond Johnson, University of Colorado Boulder; Heather Leary, University of Colorado Boulder; William R. Penuel, University of Colorado Boulder

11. Open Access Publishing and the Leadership Role of Education Research
Chair: Felice J. Levine, American Educational Research Association
Erno A. Lehtinen, University of Turku; Mark Warschauer, University of California - Irvine; William Cope, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; John M. Willinsky, Stanford University

12. Analysis of Social Networks of Educators: Empirical Findings, Practical Applications, New Directions, and Theoretical Issues
Chair: Min Sun, Virgina Polytechnic Institute and State University

  • What We Know About Teacher and Administrator Networks: Replicated Findings and Recent Extensions - Kenneth A. Frank, Michigan State University; Min Sun, Virgina Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • Challenges, Changes, and Churn: A Longitudinal Social Network Perspective of Urban District Leadership - Alan J. Daly, University of California - San Diego; Kara S. Finnigan, University of Rochester
  • Knowledge Production in Education Systems and Organizations: Intra- and Interactions About Instruction - James P. Spillane, Northwestern University; Megan Hopkins, The Pennsylvania State University
  • Using Network Ideas to Plan for the Adoption and Implementation of New Standards - William R. Penuel, University of Colorado Boulder
Discussant: Cynthia E. Coburn, Northwestern University

NCTM: Monday, April 7

13. The Coming Transformation of American Education: Implications for Mathematics Education
Arthur Levine, Woodrow Wilson Foundation

NCTM: Tuesday, April 8

14. Connecting Data and Chance through Modeling
Lead Speaker: Cliff Konold
Co-speakers: Richard Lehrer and Robert delMas
Discussant: Patrick W. Thompson

15. The Algebra Project: Working for Quality Math Education for Students
Lead Speaker: Robert P. Moses
Co-speakers: Bill Crombie, Andre Harguani, and José Antonio Orozco
Discussant: OneLA- Industrial Areas Foundation

16. Examining the Influence of Tasks, Goals, and Anticipation on Instruction
Lead Speaker: Samuel L. Eskelson
Co-speaker: Margaret Smith

17. Using Representations of Practice in Survey Research with Mathematics Teachers
Lead Speaker: Daniel Chazan
Co-speakers: Orly Buchbinder, Justin K. Dimmel, Ander Erickson, and Kristi Hanby
Discussants: Patricio G. Herbst and Randolph Philipp

18. Mathematics Teacher Educators Supporting Prospective Teachers in Learning about CCSSM
Lead Speaker: Corey Drake
Co-speakers: Jill Newton and Denise A. Spangler

19. Colleagues 2.0: The MathTwitterBlogoSphere and Mathematics Teachers’ Professional Learning
Lead Speaker: Ilana S. Horn
Co-speakers: Nicole Bannister, Annie Fetter, Shauna Hedgepeth, Ashli J. Black, Justin Lanier, and José Vilson

20. Aligning Mathematical Tasks to the Standards for Mathematical Practice
Lead Speaker: Raymond Johnson

NCTM: Wednesday, April 9

21. Perspectives on Linking Research and Practice: Thoughts from the Field
Co-speakers: Lynsey K. Gibbons, Kara Jackson, Heather Lynn Johnson, and Jonathan N. Thomas
Discussant: Michael C. Fish

22. A Practical Theory of Productive Persistence in Mathematics Education
Lead Speaker: Philip Uri Treisman

23. Beyond Rise-over-Run: A Design Experiment and Learning Trajectory for Slope
Lead Speaker: Frederick Peck

24. How Should the Enacted Mathematics Curriculum Be Conceptualized and Studied?
Lead Speaker: Janine Remillard
Co-speakers: Joshua Taton, Kara Jackson, Indigo Esmonde, and Anne Garrison Wilhelm
Discussant: Mary Kay Stein

25. The Joy of x
Lead Speaker: Steven H. Strogatz

NCTM: Thursday, April 10

26. Principles to Actions: What's Exciting about NCTM's New Blueprint?
Lead Speaker: Steven Leinwand

27. Developing Leaders in Mathematics Education: What Does it Take?
Lead Speaker: NCTM Affiliate Services Committee

28. Are They There Yet? Exploring the Standards for Mathematical Practice in the Written Curriculum
Lead Speaker: Katie Arndt
Co-speakers: Lori Rakes and Jennifer Ward

29. Online PD Resources for Mathematical Practices: Seeing Structure and Generalizing
Lead Speaker: Joanne Rossi Becker

30. Beyond Rise/Run: Activities to Invent and Connect Slope's Five Faces
Lead Speaker: Frederick Peck

31. Examining and Developing Practice through Live Laboratory Teaching
Lead Speaker: Deborah Loewenberg Ball
Co-speakers: Julie McNamara and Nicole Garcia

NCTM: Friday, April 11

32. Math Teachers and Social Media: Professional Collaboration or Support Group?
Lead Speaker: Raymond Johnson

33. What Changes Should Be Made for the Next Edition of the CCSSM?
Lead Speaker: Zalman Usiskin

34. Why "Getting Real" Requires Being "Radical" in High-Stakes Education
Lead Speaker: Rochelle Gutiérrez

35. The Mathtwitterblogosphere: Creating Your Own Online Professional Learning Communities
Lead Speaker: Ashli J. Black
Co-speaker: Chris Hunter

36. One of Us: Every Teacher a Blogging Teacher
Lead Speaker: Kate Nowak

37. Making Sense of Fraction Operations with Realistic Mathematics Education
Lead Speaker: Mieke Abels

38. Teachers Leveraging Technology in the Classroom
Lead Speaker: Jon Wray

NCTM: Saturday, April 12

39. Online Professional Learning Opportunities for Mathematics Educators
Lead Speaker: David C. Wees

40. NCTM's Principles to Actions: Implications for High School Mathematics
Lead Speaker: W. Gary Martin

NCTM New Orleans 2014:Levine's The Coming Transformation of American Education: Implications for Mathematics Education

Dr. Arthur Levine - President of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation (amongst other things)

NCTM Research Conference - Monday, April 7, 7:00 pm

Arthur Levine.
The 2014 NCTM kicked off this evening with a poster session (which I missed, sadly) and an address by Dr. Arthur Levine, President of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and former President of Teachers College, Columbia University. In this talk, Levine detailed what he saw as six current and future forces that have the capacity to transform education.

Force #1: Demographics

In this section of the talk, Levine focused on demographic shifts, such as an aging population, an increased number of people moving to the Sun Belt, changes in color and diversity, and increasing immigration. Here are some of Levine's thoughts and claims:

  • We're going to see an extraordinary number of retirements, both in our university and K-12 systems, and they must be replaced.
  • There's been a 12% increase in math majors in the past 10 years, but it's really hard to recruit them into math education because other professions are more lucrative.
  • We're going to see a new majority of students in higher education: older than 25, part time, overwhelmingly female, and working. Higher education won't be their primary interest as they juggle responsibilities of work and family.
  • Students of the future aren't going to want higher education with "softball leagues or psychological counseling," as they can get those elsewhere. What they want is convenience, service, reliable financial aid, quality instruction, professors who are current in their fields, and low cost. They won't want to pay for things they don't use and they won't care about elective courses. These students will be prime candidates for online instruction.
  • People are moving to traditionally conservative states and we'll have a "Republican hegemony," at least for the near future. This will stress some education systems and deplete others.

Force #2: Economy

Here Levine talked about the shift from an "analog" economy to a "digital" economy and the jobs that either went abroad or no longer exist. Some claims:

  • Entry-level job skills are higher-skilled, with a particular demand for STEM knowledge and skill.
  • States are increasing their graduation standards to the highest levels in history and saying dropouts aren't acceptable, like they could in the past when dropouts could more easily find steady jobs.
  • We're going to find that the fastest growing job fields are STEM fields.
  • Levine says governors who he talks to only talk about economic development and STEM.
  • Everyone will have to be fluent in two languages - words and numbers. We thought we needed to teach kids Chinese, but instead we realized we need to teach them how to code.
  • The symbol of the industrial era is the assembly line. Our schools looked like that and, for a time, it worked. Students moved through by age, taking courses measured in Carnegie units devised in 1910. Now time is variable, process is variable, and we're switching from process to outcomes and a focus from teachers to students. States are imposing standards and outcomes, and this means more accountability and regulation.
  • We're going to see a proliferation of equity lawsuits. Equity used to mean access to the same process. Now students need access to the same outcomes. We've started to see the rise of these lawsuits and they're going to go "through the skies" in the coming years.

Force #3: Relationships with Government

More thoughts from Levine:

  • The emphasis in education is economic development, with STEM on the rise and humanities on the decline.
  • Higher education has shifted from a growth industry to a mature industry. Truman convened a committee in 1947 to engineer for growth. Now it's different. We're not trying to bump from 70% completion rates to 90%. Instead, we're trying to tighten regulations and become more efficient, doing more with less money.
  • If you look at the Obama education plan, you see choice, charters, and accountability. We used to have a name for people who supported those things: Republicans. Republicans and Democrats now only differ on two big education issues: Republicans trash unions in public, while Democrats do so in private, and they disagree on vouchers.
  • Educational improvement has been on the agenda for 30 years. Baby boomers are such a large segment and when they agree on what they want - which isn't often - they get it. Boomers had kids in the 1980s and they demanded great schools. "If you were running for dog catcher or president, you needed an education plan." Now boomers are older and their issues are their parents, if they still have them, and they want health care, elder care, and social security. There are limited budgets and health care will compete with education for public dollars.

Force #4: Technology

Technology is a marker and driver of change, and Levine predicts that curricular materials will change drastically, making traditional textbooks a thing of the past. The same technologies that we use to construct virtual environments like possible sci-fi visions of the future will be used to make rich simulations of history. No longer will students be limited to reading about fifth-century Athens; instead, they can go there virtually, where they'll virtually interact with classmates from around the world. Levine continued with thoughts on "digital natives":

  • "This year's freshmen were born in 1995. That's like last week."
  • "I asked a student in a focus group, 'How are you adapting to new technology?' He said, 'It's not technology unless it happens after you're born.' It's just reality, digital natives at analog universities being taught by digital immigrants."
  • "Sometimes what we call cheating students call collaboration and file sharing. These students float in miles of data one inch deep. If we're hunters, they're gatherers. If we do depth, they do breadth."

Force #5: Privatization

For Levine, this one is relatively simple. Education is very appealing to the private sector. They see it as a growth industry that's counter-cyclical: the market for education goes up when the economy goes down, and education is subsidized with dependable cash flows. Private says they educate more efficiently and with stronger leadership, so we can expect to see more and more money from the private sector in both post-secondary and K-12.

Force #6: Knowledge Producers

Publishers and other content producers are all after the same information, says Levine. He recalled a conversation he had with someone in the educational content/publishing industry:

Publisher: "We're not in the book business anymore. We're in the knowledge business. We have products in 15,000 schools and we offer professional development. No higher education institution can match that."
Levine: "Where are you getting your content from?"
Publisher: "We hired full-time content providers."
Levine: "I thought to myself, 'I don't know anyone who is a content provider,' so I had to ask what one was. What the publisher described is essentially what I would call 'professors.' So we're competing for the same people, except he can offer bonuses."


Levine summarizes with the claim that we'll see an increase in education providers, with a blurring about what's private and what's public. We'll also see a blurring of local and global. We've transitioned before, says Levine, when our country went from a predominantly agricultural economy to an industrial economy. The Latin and Greek classes the educated elite enjoyed weren't of much use in an industrial economy, so new universities were created that were more specialized and technical, like MIT, along with land-grant universities straddling the worlds of arts and sciences and community colleges that made higher education local. Our coming transformation will re-position faculty as assessors, prescriptors, diagnosticians, while learning will increasingly become outcome based.

More from Levine:

  • We're going to see three kinds of higher ed institutions: brick, click, and brick-n-click.
  • For students, we'll see more choice, "anytime" studies (study anyplace, anytime, any style/mode)
  • "If students are going to school and every choice doesn't look like 15 weeks, 3 hours a week, there's got to be a way to calibrate it all, and I think we'll do it based on outcomes."
  • "I think we'll see a change in high-stakes assessment. Imagine if our GPS gave us results every hour. What would it tell us? 'You're 80 miles out of the way. Recalculating.' That's not useful. Assessment will move from largely summative to formative, formative, formative until it's summative. I think we're also going to see data, data, evidence, evidence as we focus on outcomes and learning. We'll ask what George W. Bush once asked: 'Is our children learning?'"
  • We're also going to see much more lifelong learning. "Now we have students taking all their courses just in case they'll need them." In the future, courses will be delivered just-in-time.
  • I think we'll see talent prioritized over the institutions where talent works. Is it more important to have 100,000 students in a class, or be faculty at Stanford? Someone with 100,000 students doesn't need Stanford. They'll say, "I'm the product. I don't need their branding." These faculty won't have jobs - they'll have agents. Faculty will want MOOCs, consulting deals, book deals, TV deals, and they'll negotiate for them. This happened in Hollywood; for a time the movie studios dominated, but now we go for the actors and don't care about the studio. That will become increasingly true in higher education.

Lastly, Levine believes that mathematics and STEM is in a spotlight we haven't seen since the Sputnik era. So what do we do? This won't last forever:

"When it comes time to talk STEM and math, right now the media is much more likely not to come to us instead of Bill Gates. He's seen as being ahead of where we are. But these are the fields of the future, the ones our children will depend upon. I think universities are still the right ones for the job. Ninety percent of STEM educators are prepared there. Research shows that nobody's better than we are at this."

Planning for NCTM New Orleans 2014: The Research Conference

Fresh off the plane from AERA in Philadelphia, I have a few moments to share my plans for the NCTM Research Conference. As you can see, I occasionally fool myself into thinking I can be two places at once. Or in one case, four.


Julie Booth, Francie Eyer, and E. Juliana Paré-Blagoev (Room 217/218)

P. Holt Wilson, Paola Sztajn, and Jared Webb (Room 217/218)

Megan H. Wickstrom (Room 217/218)

William C. Zahner and Robert Afonso (Room 217/218)

Arthur Levine (Room 208/209/210)


Cliff Konold, Richard Lehrer, and Robert DelMas; Patrick W. Thompson, Discussant (Room 214)

Thomas R. Post, William Bush, and Robert Reys (Room 207)

Michelle Cirillo, John A. Pelesko, and Jinfa Cai; Christian R. Hirsch, Elizabeth Phillips, and Sherry Fraser, discussants (Room 214)

Robert P. Moses, Bill Crombie, Andre Hargunani, and José Antonio Orozco; OneLA- Industrial Areas Foundation, discussant (Room 208/209/210)

Members of the NCTM Research Committee, Members of the SIG/RME Board of Directors , J. Michael Shaughnessy, Patricia F. Campbell, Larry Hatfield, and Judith Sowder (Room 220/221/222)

(As you can see above, 10:00 is packed. I want to go to all of them and fear the regret of not seeing Bob Moses.)

Samuel L. Eskelson and Margaret Smith (Room 219)

Daniel Chazan, Orly Buchbinder, Justin K. Dimmel, Ander Erickson, and Kristi Hanby; Patricio G. Herbst and Randolph Philipp, discussants (Room 214)

Stephanie Casey, Nicholas H. Wasserman, David C. Wilson, and Adam Molnar (Room 207)

Corey Drake, Jill Newton, and Denise A. Spangler (Room 205)

Ilana S Horn, Nicole Bannister, Annie Fetter, Shauna Hedgepeth, Ashli J. Black, Justin Lanier, and José Vilson (Room 211)

Charles Munter, Richard Correnti, Anne Garrison, Lynsey K. Gibbons, and Kara Jackson; Deborah Loewenberg Ball, discussant (Room 214)

Raymond Johnson (Room 217/218)


Erica Walker, Daniel Chazan, Marta Civil, and Jacqueline Leonard (Room 219)

Lynsey K. Gibbons, Kara Jackson, Heather Lynn Johnson, and Jonathan N. Thomas (Room 220/221/222)

Philip Uri Treisman (Room 208/209/210)

Frederick Peck (Room 215)

Janine Remillard, Joshua Taton, Kara Jackson, Indigo Esmonde, and Anne Garrison Wilhelm; Mary Kay Stein, discussant (Room 219)

There are two more research sessions on Wednesday afternoon but I may very well take that time to prepare for my talk on Friday and/or try to process some of the above.

AERA Philadelphia 2014: Supporting Common Core-Driven Curriculum Adaptations for High School Algebra

Annual Meeting - Sunday, April 6, 12:25 pm

+Raymond Johnson (@MathEdnet) - School of Education, University of Colorado Boulder and Freudenthal Institute US
+Heather Leary (@kolorkid) - Institute of Cognitive Science, University of Colorado Boulder
+Bill Penuel (@bpenuel) - School of Education, University of Colorado Boulder

Abstract: The adoption of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) has created a need for many teachers and school districts to adapt their current curricular materials. Using the methods of design-based implementation research (Penuel et al., 2011), this project partnered with high school algebra teachers, district curriculum staff, and university researchers to support teachers in the selection and use of high-quality mathematical tasks. This participatory design process yielded a set of principles for task analysis that considered qualities of CCSSM alignment, cognitive demand, language, and technology. Results indicate a need for careful guidance in task rating, attention to teachers’ desires to further modify tasks, and possible benefits for task implementation.

This poster broadly summarizes the first year of an ongoing project that brings together education researchers, web developers, school district curriculum supervisors, and a team of district algebra teachers to support Algebra 1 teachers' curriculum adaptations to meet the new demands of the Common Core State Standards. To give a little context to the poster, you can see our research questions address not only the what of curriculum adaptation, but the how - ideally, we want to theorize ways these kinds of collaborations can work and a process other districts can follow to bring these kinds of curriculum changes to scale.

The perspective we take on our research is design-based implementation research, or DBIR. You can learn more about DBIR at Design research has typically been carried out at the classroom level, and DBIR takes much of that thinking to a larger educational system. Too often professional development is only applied to teachers who struggle to implement new ideas and tools without broader institutional support. DBIR tries to change that by engaging stakeholders throughout the system to tackle persistent problems of practice in a way that is scalable and sustainable.

Design work with curriculum has been theorized by McKenney, Nieveen, and van den Akker (2006) to focus on iterative cycles of work towards the development of three products: design principles, curricular products, and professional development. These are in order of importance and reflect our values in this project. Our first priority is not a higher quality curriculum, although that is a strongly desired outcome. But to reach that outcome, our highest priority is giving teachers a set of principles for evaluating the quality of the materials they use and choose from every day. With these principles in place, quality resources to choose from, and a professional development program to tie the two together, we aim to create curriculum reform in a way that's sustainable. Two web-based products have supported this work: first, the Task Rating site, where teachers evaluate tasks given our co-designed principles. The rating data collected in this site is used in professional development for reflection and debate. The data also informs our second web tool, the Curriculum Customization Service. This site catalogs the high-quality mathematical tasks identified in the rating process alongside digital versions of the district curriculum as well as resources from NSDL, the National Science Digital Library. Teachers with accounts on the service can save resources into playlists for lesson and unit plans and use an uploading and sharing tool to share their curriculum with colleagues.

Our findings are preliminary. First, we found that mathematical tasks acted as a boundary object (Star & Griesemer, 1989; Star, 2010), an object around which we could organize our work despite each community (researchers, district supervisors, teachers, and web developers) having somewhat different perspectives on the role of mathematical tasks.

We found some tensions in our first year of work. A persistent tension related to the modification of mathematical tasks. Although the goal of the project was to adapt the curriculum, there was an effort taken to have teachers consider tasks as written. This was difficult for teachers due to another tension, their consideration of tasks given the unique contexts of their classrooms. While we value those contexts, rating tasks using the design principles was difficult to do consistently when teachers saw not the task as written, but a different version of the task that they would likely enact. Lastly, the most difficult design principles to develop were those that evaluated the language used in tasks. Through multiple revisions, rubrics for rating task language incorporated more structure from both research and an understanding of ongoing district effort to support language learning.

At year's end, we had collectively rated 40 tasks, most of which were cataloged in the Curriculum Customization Service. We also looked for consistency in ratings. Rater agreement varied depending on the principle applied to the task and the task itself. Preliminary measures indicated raters were generally in 60% agreement in their rating of cognitive demand, and alignment to the Common Core varied between 50%-80%. This work to measure agreement is ongoing and do not support any conclusions as yet.

The second year of the project has focused on supporting the implementation of tasks, using ideas like the task launch (Jackson et al., 2012) and a focus on promoting quality classroom discussions. We expect our work next year will be the difficult work of scaling, within the district to other Algebra 1 teachers and possibly to those in other partner districts.

Acknowledgement: This work was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (Award #1147590). The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the NSF.


Jackson, K. J., Shahan, E. C., Gibbons, L. K., & Cobb, P. (2012). Launching complex tasks. Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, 18(1), 24–29.

McKenney, S. E., Nieveen, N., & van den Akker, J. (2006). Design research from a curriculum perspective. In J. van den Akker, K. Gravemeijer, S. E. McKenney, & N. Nieveen (Eds.), Educational design research (pp. 67–90). New York, NY: Routledge.

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AERA Philadelphia 2014: Travels and Tribulations

I'm in Philadelphia for this year's Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, or AERA. This conference is a big undertaking — I think of it not just in terms of the 15,000+ people and their research, but the collective time, effort, and money that goes into everyone's travel arrangements, hotel reservations, and conference registrations. It's a big number, whatever it is, and as an attendee of the conference I feel like I have a duty to see that the funds that sent me here are well-spent.

To those ends, I had planned to catch an early flight from Denver and to get to Philadelphia in time to attend some late-afternoon sessions and tonight's AERA presidential address. I didn't make it. I spent most of the day yesterday getting my posters ready and packing for a 10-day AERA-NCTM conference marathon. Instead of getting a good nights' rest, I packed and prepared into the early morning and headed to catch the early bus (3:20 AM!) to the Denver airport. I ended up missing that bus by just seconds but caught the 4:40 AM bus which still gave me ample time to get through DIA for a 7:00 flight.

We got on the plane, backed away from the gate, sat for a moment, and then heard the pilot explain that there was a problem and we'd be pulling back into the gate and waiting for maintenance to give the plane a look. His explanation was intriguing: There were two ignition systems for the engines, and the systems for each engine work independently of the other. Somehow, one of the systems had failed on both engines, which the pilot said was very unusual. To make things even more strange, the plane next to us was having the exact same problem. We sat there in the plane for almost 3 hours before the problem was resolved (how, we were never told), our plane was de-iced, and we were in the air.

I had hoped to be in Philly at 12:30 local time but it ended up being closer to 3. Then I waited for a hotel shuttle to arrive and was the last of 10 people to get dropped off at their hotel. By then it was about 5:30 here, which meant my total trip had taken about 12 hours and I'd done it on no sleep. With 9 days of conferences ahead of me, now I'm just looking for some rest. Really, at times like this I can't help but ask, "Why does anybody bother?" Rested, tomorrow I hope to spend a day at the convention center answering that question.