Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Road to Success

The TED video of the Director of Disney's Imagineering indirectly relates to Education.  It takes off after the "Candle Problem" is played out.  This is a must see video that WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE

IMHO the dumbing down of education is actually the realignment of topics for simple grading systems. It may be that the increased use of multiple-choice tests drives away the type of problems that really matter.  Furthermore, the debates about group work and, perhaps, the Math Wars, were and are distorted by inappropriate, simply false, evaluation methods.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

EL's Must Pass Math

Slide show runs at seven seconds per slide

Comments on Slides

2.  Arne Duncan has repeatedly stated that the achievement gap and access are civil rights issues.  This will open up school districts to civil rights suits, which will hurt and cost.  Yes, it will happen, and there will be a lot less money for teaching.

3.  Professor Dweck of Stanford stresses that people who think "Smartness" is just genetic, don't work hard for several simple reasons.  She stresses that intelligence is developed and that "learn, learn, learn" can be a normal way for students to think also.  This effort to defeat the "internal" squelcher, may also help defeat the "external" squelcher of peer pressure.  IMHO this is far more important to get students to understand than ALL other activities.  The professor's research is exceptionally strong.

4.  Really knowing the vocabulary to pass math tests (not just math vocabulary) must be explicitly taught in context.  This is not about posters.  This is about seeking "multiplication tables" level of knowledge.  Pressing forward with SDAIE strategies in math must be reinforced.

5.  The reasonable goal of 9th grade Algebra doesn't make it mandatory for ill-prepared students.  Delaying Algebra with different elective math courses until they are ready is wise and doesn't punish them with F's (zero credits) or pointless D's.  Naming the courses Math Topics or Algebra Support or General Math helps.  The course codes are already present.  These courses are really all the same:  support Algebra Readiness.

A district could use "grant" money to support special groups, outside or inside of RandR, to entice teachers in this area to use alternative methods and to press for results.  This would serve as a model PLC for both school and district and justifies the use of "special" money.

Of course, the state direction must be satisfied with all deliberate effort.  There is no reason that bonuses to 7th/8th grade math teachers couldn't be offered for making students Algebra Ready or Algebra Readiness Ready. Teachers could bid for these positions; which would give Management some flexibility.  A 9th grade bonus for Algebra Ready for 10th grade may also be wise.  

6.   Adjusting courses and course titles so that students always earn credit in math would be wise.  Failing Algebra 1A may allow Algebra A credit or Algebra Support Credit or General Math.  If each math area had one shared computer, for online math; then this adjustment could be handled with minimal scheduling support.

Grading can be done as completion of work and quizzes or Final Test.  It may be best to offer Incompletes; instead of F's.  Students can use Credit Recovery to earn a grade.  Failure is not an option.

7.  There are many aspects to motivating students.  First, tell them that they can be done with math in 10th grade.  It's OK.  If they are succeeding, they will stay, and getting them to care about finishing Algebra in 9th or 10th is a big deal.  It may motivate them to master Algebra Readiness.  Second, tell them that they can "graduate" after 10th grade if they pass the CHSPE which requires Algebra.  It's OK. Very, very few will leave school, if they are succeeding.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Very Short Introduction to Math (Review)

Professor Timothy Gowers starts with the need for models and ends with the usefulness and necessity of estimation.  The body of the book gives the flavor, the value and the connectedness of Proofs, the calm resolutions of infinity and the impact of changes in dimension and Geometry.

No.  Not a problem-based course.  Not a history lesson.  No sexy examples.  Little mention of the titans.  Yet the point of doing math, its constraints and pathways, would strike anyone who reads the book.  Whether high school students would get it.  I'm not sure.  The maturity in the words and the totality of the immersion within its few pages is sublime.  In knowing that exact answers are rarely found, but knowing the boundaries of the answers and their closeness to actual mimics our own lives.

This would be a must read in a non-ADHD world.

Gowers also wrote the Princeton book on Math.  The professor is a Fields medal winner.