Author Archives: Deb Porcarelli

Multiplication is not Abstract

I am honored to work with dedicated, smart, and caring educators. Carmella Crawford, another AIMS Professional Learning Facilitator, is all of these and I would like to take this opportunity to introduce her to you.

Carmella lives in Charleston, West Virginia, and has been an AIMS Facilitator for some time. She has taught all grades, high school through early elementary. She likes to say she was a “misplaced elementary teacher” when she was in a high school classroom! Carmella is an integral part of our ongoing FLICC/AIMS Math project (in Florida), and you can read more about those interactions here.

Last year she worked with teachers in grades 8-9 on Algebraic Thinking. This year she is working with teachers in grades 3-5 on Number Sense and Fractions. Here are some thoughts and reflections that Carmella shared with me about her current Florida workshops.

  • While she was working on an an AIMS task called “Building Rectangles” (Click here to purchase this task) a participant said, “I get it. I can do the math because I can form the picture in my mind!” The participant made the connection between the concrete, representational, and the abstract. Being able to visualize the problem made computation easier.
  • All of the workshop participants saw the connections between solving multiplication with concrete manipulatives, drawings that represent what they had done with them, and how the abstract algorithmic procedure related to the other two methods.

As a seasoned workshop facilitator, Carmella recognized that teachers could talk ‘area model of multiplication’ but had trouble using the model when doing multiplication themselves. They had a difficult time understanding that students first need to do math using manipulatives, then drawings or representations, and eventually get to the abstract. She took that opportunity to discuss the need for using manipulatives and having students draw their work.  She helped them to see that when teachers do not use manipulatives and drawings, teachers often move too quickly to the abstract. When that happens, students sometimes never make those connections in order to fully understand the concept of multiplication. Through modeling an AIMS task that teachers can use with students, Carmella was able to delve deeply into adult content knowledge and the pedagogy of teaching these concepts to students.

Helping educators to grow both personally and professionally is what AIMS Professional Learning is committed to do for schools districts, schools, and teachers. What connections are you making in the Professional Learning opportunities you are attending?

I am attending because…

The benefits of being an AIMS Facilitator are many, but when I started I did not know that I would get to know so many amazing educators from around the United States. Paul Agranoff is another one of our AIMS Professional Learning Facilitators and he hails from Minnesota. His teaching career has been spent in… Continue Reading

Open Enrollment Workshops

I am writing to introduce you to another AIMS Professional Learning (PL) Division Facilitator. Sheldon Erickson has been a classroom teacher and an AIMS Workshop Facilitator in the Central Valley of California for many years. To celebrate the reopening of the newly remodeled AIMS Center for Math and Science Education in early 2016, I asked… Continue Reading

My Colleague, Mike – a FLICC/AIMS Workshop

The second year of the FLICC/AIMS partnership, designed to bring mathematics professional learning (PL) to rural Florida educators, has begun. I, Deb Porcarelli, have the distinct pleasure of working directly with AIMS Facilitator Mike Fassl in the K-2 strand this year, preparing together but each of us taking responsibility for two of the four sites.… Continue Reading

Workshops at SER-Ninos Charter School, Houston, TX

I have the pleasure of working with workshop facilitators who live in different cities throughout the United States.  Care Butler, who has facilitated countless workshops for AIMS, resides in Arkansas. She works hard to design teacher days that will empower educators to be more effective in their classrooms and ultimately have positive effects on student… Continue Reading

Professional Learning the AIMS Way

The AIMS Professional Learning Division is hard at work facilitating workshops at schools, school districts, and consortia across the country.  Why?  Because an educator attending a Professional Learning (PL) opportunity offered by the AIMS Center will be engaged in learning hands-on strategies which will enable students in their classrooms to development robust math and science… Continue Reading