This Week in Math Ed: January 15, 2016

Math Ed Said

January 8: NCTM, Regan Galvan, Math for America, and Bridget Dunbar tweeted this Chalkbeat story about New York City having specialized math teachers as a strategy to improving algebra readiness. I think this approach has some real promise (there's probably research on the effectiveness of elementary math specialists, but I don't know it), and I wish them luck figuring out what I imagine will be some tricky staffing and logistical issues to make it happen. Interestingly, Redwood Falls, Minnesota, plans on doing the exact opposite.

January 9: Suzanne Alejandre, Tina Cardone, Ashli Black, Diana Suddreth, Anna Blinstein, Bowen Kerins, and OCTM were all talking about the Park City Math Institute's Teacher Leadership Program. Applications are due TODAY, and good luck to all those who applied!

Jo Boaler presenting at the 2015 NCTM Annual Meeting
January 10: Jo Boaler's Hechinger Report article from last May, "Memorizers Are the Lowest Achievers and Other Common Core Math Surprises", was made the rounds Sunday thanks to Ilana Horn, Robert Talbert, Sara VanDerWerf, Andrew Gael, Dan Anderson, and George Woodbury. Here, Jo encourages us to be more patient with the learning of mathematics rather than marching through memorization and fact drills on a race to calculus.

January 11: The blogosphere is abuzz with Week 1 of the 2016 MTBoS blogging initiative. Tina Cardone, Gregory Taylor, Jon Orr, Kristina Danahy, Kyle Pearce, and Danielle Reycer were all busy on Monday sharing, resharing, and/or encouraging people to share blog posts.

January 12: Teaching Children Math, NCTM, Richelle Marynowski, Fawn Nguyen, and UCTM shared "Practıcal Problems: Using Literature to Teach Statistics", an article in the NCTM elementary journal, Teaching Children Mathematics. This was one of the most-shared links all week long, and for good reason: the activities in NCTM's teacher journals tend to be very well written and edited, and this article was both free and was the focus of the first #TCMchat on Twitter. The authors of the TCM article, Mairéad Hourigan and Aisling Leavy of Mary Immaculate College, Ireland, have several related publications here and here in the journal Teaching Statistics.

January 13: Egan Chernoff, Andrew Shauver, Josh Fisher, and Katherine Bryant shared Ben Orlin's "Simplify," the latest in his series of Math With Bad Drawings. Having done a few (tens of thousands) "simplify" problems myself, I've come to see "simplify" to mean, "re-write this according to the convention your teacher/student/reader would expect or appreciate." Ben takes this further and uses the idea of "paraphrasing" to emphasize that many of our symbol manipulations are transformations on objects whose value remains the same.

January 14: The most-shared link of the day pointed to a Storify of Tuesday's #TCMchat, but coming in 2nd was a story at Quartz titled "The Stanford professor who pioneered praising kids for effort says we’ve totally missed the point". "Mindset" has been perhaps the biggest education buzzword of the past couple of years ("practice" or "practices," as nouns, are another) and this article and the comments from Carol Dweck remind me of two things: (1) Uri Treisman's 2014 NCTM Research Conference plenary in which he said that it's a "parlor trick" to shift away from a fixed mindset for a short time, but lasting change is something we have a lot still to learn about, and (2) this SMBC comic from last week. Thanks to Elizabeth Statmore, John Golden, Mr. Harris, Denise Gaskins, Anna Hester, Avery Pickford, and Ron King for sharing.

Research Notes

I spent time this week curating a list of journals to follow and organize their RSS feeds. As much as I'd like to mention or describe all the research that crosses my path, there's just no way I can keep up with all of it. I'll do my best to choose 2-3 new articles this week, give them a quick looking-over (studying and understanding an article in-depth can take hours), and summarizing a bit here.

Educational Studies in Mathematics has already published new issues for January and February.

Csaba Csíkos at the University of Szeged, Hungary, published "Strategies and Performance in Elementary Students' Three-Digit Mental Addition" in ESM. Working with 78 4th grade students, Csíkos wanted to explore students' less-routine approaches to mental calculation in terms of strategy, speed, and accuracy. Bottom line? He didn't see as much of a relationship between strategy, response time, and success rate on tasks as you might think, although that might have been due to limitations in the study. I won't go on about it here, but I've summarized more of this article on the Wiki.

In Teaching and Teacher Education, Beth Clark-Gareca at Teachers College wrote, "Classroom Assessment and English Language Learners: Teachers' Accommodations Implementation on Routine Math and Science Tests." Working with 213 Pennsylvania elementary teachers, her findings are humbling: 65% of teachers said they weren't sure about the WIDA scores or proficiency levels of their ESL students. Ninety-six percent of teachers surveyed claimed fluency only in English. Overall, however, teachers did make the most test accommodations for students at the beginning and intermediate levels of English language proficiency. Additional time on assessments was a common accommodation, with one-on-one help, a translator, and dictionaries were less commonly used. Tests that included the native language of the test-taker were rarely used. ELL students who were not also identified as needing special education services often got fewer language accommodations as students receiving special education services.

The Journal of Mathematical Behavior is in the process of publishing their March issue, with these articles so far:
The above research represents maybe half of the tabs I opened in the past week as I found new articles, but I'm stopping here for this week! Also, math ed folks that do great work in the journal world but have horrible Google search results make me sad. (If RateMyProfessor or some such site ranks higher than your faculty page, you have a problem.)

Math Ed in the News

Did I miss anything? If so, feel free to mention it in the comments!