This Week in Math Ed: March 25, 2016

Math Ed Said

March 18: Next to last week's TWiME post, the most shared link last Friday was to the schedule apps for the upcoming NCTM Annual Meeting.

Shared by: Suzanne Alejandre, Norma Gordon, Michael Fenton, Peg Cagle

March 19: I'll share just one of the five post-popular links from last Saturday: James Propp's "Believe It, Then Don't: Toward a Pedagogy of Discomfort." It's about getting students to look past the temptation of obvious truths/proofs, and includes this great line: "The discomfort of being mistaken has led the students to divest themselves of the approach that led them into error, and they are now standing in their intellectual underwear."

Shared by: Steven Strogatz, Patrick Honner, George Woodbury

March 20: Brian Marks and Leslie Lewis shared their slides from "Teaching with Rich, Real World Tasks," a presentation they gave at the Association of Teachers of Mathematics in Massachusetts Spring Conference.

Shared by: Brian Marks, Laura Wagenman, Pat Power, Darren Burris

March 21: Dan Meyer is concerned that some of us are getting ripped off at gas pumps. Actually, I doubt he's too worried about that, so let me try again: Dan Meyer is concerned that students get the opportunity to develop the mathematical skill to argue they're getting ripped off at gas pumps. Yeah, that feels about right.

Shared by: Nancy Terry, Erik, Dan Meyer, Eddi Vulić, Kyle Pearce

Jo Boaler speaking at the 2015 NCTM Annual Meeting.
March 22: Many people reshared Jo Boaler's "Handout for Parents," a simple front/back page of guiding principles and helpful resources.

Shared by: Jo Boaler, Kate Owens, Laura Wagenman, Nita Cochran, George Woodbury, Richelle Marynowski, Jill Buecking, Greg George, Federico Chialvo, Bridget Dunbar, Matthew Oldridge, Imtiaz Damji, Regina Barrett, Mark Chubb, Andrew Gael, Bryson Perry, Miss Kodroff

March 23: This one is personal for me, because I now know that Ben Orlin and I share a certain pain when students shun fractions for decimals. In another Math with Bad Drawings post, Ben illustrates "Decimal-Crazed Lunatics," wondering why students would write \(0.\bar{3}\) instead of \(\frac{1}{3}\). I tried to get my students to understand why doing more work to get a less precise answer was silly. I'm still thankful for my former student Alex W. for giving me the term "decimalized," as in "I decimalized the fraction \(\frac{3}{7}\) to 0.43," mostly because it gave me another way to tell students to "Stop unnecessary decimalization!"

Shared by: Ben Orlin, Jo Morgan, Simon Gregg, David Petersen, Bridget Dunbar, Mattie B, Taylor Belcher, Ken Smith, Jim Wysocki, Federico Chialvo, Carrie Muir, T R

March 24: "Fractions on a Numberline" is a Desmos activity designed by Nathan Kraft. As someone well-versed in Realistic Mathematics Education, I think this is a fine, short timescale example of progressive formalization and the use of increasingly generalized mathematical models to support growth in student understanding and reasoning.

Shared by: Shauna Hedgepeth, Andrew Gael, Simon Gregg, Geoff Krall, Jo Morgan, Nyima Drayang, Jessica Jeffers

Around the Math Ed Web

TODOS: Mathematics for All and NCSM NCSM quietly released a new position paper, "Mathematics Education Through the Lens of Social Justice: Acknowledgment, Actions, and Accountability." Website announcements of this paper are lagging a bit, but the paper itself is worth a read and well-placed alongside high-quality, yet somewhat business-as-usual (particularly at a systemic level) documents like standards or Principles to Actions.

AMTE has posted their call for proposals for next February's conference. The online submission site opens April 1 and closes May 15.

Next week's Global Math Department meeting is "Desmos Activity Builder: Best Practices for Charging Up Lessons," by Shelley Carranza. Last week's session, "Transforming Intervention: Moving from Skills Remediation to Rich Problem Solving," by Mary Beth Dillane and Kassia Omohundro Wedekind, is here:

Research Notes

Yet another article has been added to the June 2016 issue of The Journal of Mathematical Behavior:
A happy double issue of the Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education is out. This one features my first journal article, which you can get below or here as an open access pre-print. The focus of this special issue is Mathematics Teachers as Partners in Task Design.
The Elementary School Journal is out with their first issue of 2016, including these math-related articles:

Math Ed in the News

Math Ed in Colorado

On Monday the 28th I'll be attending the Colorado Math Pathways Conference along with representatives of our post-secondary teacher education and mathematics programs, the Department of Higher Education, and special guests Uri Treisman and Joe Garcia. I've been thinking about pathways a bit more since last week during the webcast of the March 2016 Research + Practice Collaboratory, Phil Daro said:

If you can't see the video, his comment comes down to this: we have 30-40 pathways students follow from 7th grade through high school, and no pathway has more than 10% of students in it. To me that means (a) we have a lot of different ideas about the series of courses students should take to be college-ready, and (b) from those ideas no dominant pathways are becoming more successful than the others. It's not just a matter of Geometry before Algebra 2 or vice-versa; a study of transcripts of actual student pathways tells the story, as seen in this quote from Daro's SERP report:
The data tell a compelling story; one that makes it uncomfortable to defend the status quo. For example, the most common course sequence in the transcripts of one of our districts was as follows: grade 8: Algebra I, grade 9: repeat Algebra I, grade 10: Geometry, grade 11: Algebra II, grade 12: repeat Algebra II. The next most common sequence also involved repeating algebra I. The third most common sequence repeated algebra I three times! Only 5% took the presumably normal sequence running from Algebra I in 8th grade through Calculus in 12th grade. Perhaps even more damning was the fact that not a single sequence was followed by as many as 10% of the students. Of the many, many sequences, few were defensible as a desirable pathway.
I'll report out what I can from the conference. I'm very interested to hear what everyone has to say, and I find it very promising that pathways to statistics are being given the kind of attention and value we used to only give calculus.

Other Colorado-relevant announcements:

Cassie Harrelson of Aurora Public Schools is facilitating an online book study of Jo Boaler's Mathematical Mindsets. The book study can be found on CEA's COpilot site and a course flyer can be found here.

Jackie Weber, director of math and computer science in the Boulder Valley School District, is trying to collect names of people who are leading computer science efforts in their districts. She's looking to form a cohort of district CS leaders, and you can give her your name here.

Rebekah Ottenbreit from CDE's Office of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education is offering two more sessions focused on helping math teachers and ESL/bilingual educators use tools and strategies to make mathematics content more accessible to English learners. You can grab a flyer here.
  • May 10, 2016, from 8:30-noon at the Pueblo City Schools Administration Building, Pueblo, CO (register by 5/5/16)
  • May 13, 2016, from 8:30-noon at the NW CO BOCES downstairs conference room in Steamboat Springs (register by 5/8/16)
The Rocky Mountain Math Teachers' Circle is preparing for a big summer, including:
  • HS Teacher Workshop: Active Learning Activities for Teaching Precalculus (June 13-17)
  • HS Teacher Workshop: Active Learning Activities for Teaching Calculus (June 20-24)
  • Summer Workshop in Winter Park with Northern Colorado Math Teachers' Circle (July 11-15)
  • Additionally, the Rocky Mountain Math Teachers' Circle and the Southwest Math Teachers' Circle are jointly offering a workshop from August 8-11 at Fort Lewis College in Durango. Graduate credit or continuing education units will be available, and information about scholarships to pay for those credits is forthcoming. Applications are accepted until June 15.
April 18 looks like the next meeting of the Northern Colorado Math Circles.

CU-Boulder is looking for a master teacher in mathematics for their CU Teach program. It's an awesome opportunity to help prepare the next generation of math teachers in Colorado, as well as a great place to work.

The "Expanding Your Horizons" symposium for middle school girls interested in STEM registration begins March 1.

NCTM is offering two summer institutes this summer in Denver: