AIMS Center

Meet the Children Where They Are: Episode 2

Narrator: “Last time on Meet the Children Where They Are: Mr. Unnamed nerdy-looking stereotypical math Research Associate (RA) is down in the mud getting ready to do some math with an unsuspecting 5-year-old child named Bob. Can he find Bob’s ZPC without damaging the child for life? Let’s head back to the construction site where the action is going on.”

(fade out title screen — video of construction site with concrete truck beeping as it backs up)

(fade to videos of various groups of rocks being moved around by hands)

(nerdy-looking stereotypical math researcher narrates)

RA: First, Bob and I made 3 groups of 4 rocks and I asked him how many there were. He pushed 2 sets of 3 together twice to make 6 and 6 and then quickly answered, “12!” I asked him how he knew that and he said he “just knew” that 6 plus 6 is 12. I then thought that he might have been taught some addition facts, but that he didn’t necessarily have efficient strategies for solving additive situations. So I rearranged the rocks to make 4 groups of 3. Interestingly enough, with the added cognitive load of groups, he did not conserve number!

(still screenshot of definition — “Cognitive Load: the total amount of mental effort being used in the WORKING memory; not yet in the long-term or ‘automatic’ memory”)

(fade to video of math researcher kneeling in the mud with a small child — slowly zoom in)

(nerdy-looking stereotypical math researcher continues to narrate)

RA: His strategy for this second activity was to simply count all of them. He came up with 12, so I decided to rearrange them in 6 groups of 2. He decided he would count them all and counted 12 by 1s, but before I could reply he said that he wanted to count by 2s. He counted, “2, 4, 8, 10, 12, 14,” and knew he had done something wrong because he got a different amount than when he counted the first time. Did you notice what he did?

(still shot of Jeopardy logo with Jeopardy music for 7 seconds)

(fade to videos of various groups of rocks being moved around by hands)

(nerdy-looking stereotypical math researcher narrates)

RA: Oops! He forgot to count 6. So he counted again. This time the count was, “2, 4, 8, 10, 11, 13.” He accidentally said the number word sequence by 2s on one of the counts but still touched 2 rocks. Bob looked at me with this very PERTURBED look, maybe even annoyed, and said, “Hmm.”

Narrator: “Will little Bob be able to persevere and solve this problem? What in the world does “perturbed” mean? Find out on the next episode of Meet the Children Where They Are!”

(dramatic orchestra music and fade to credit roll and outtakes)

Professional Learning with an Online PLC

Teachers must spend time collaborating, sharing experiences, and reflecting about what they are learning to assure deep, rich professional growth. Those who participate in long-term professional learning projects participate in and establish ways to collaborate, share, and reflect when meeting face to face. Equally important, are effective ways to do the same when some of… Continue Reading


When Dr. Thiessen first discussed his ideas about launching the AIMS Center for Math and Science Education with me, he suggested that our motto should be:      “Know the Math; Know the Science; Know the Research.” And, he said, even more importantly, we can never forget that:      “We believe in children’s knowledge!” I have been working… Continue Reading

Mind the Black Box

Here at the AIMS Center, a central focus of our attention is the mathematical thinking of children. It should not be surprising that children do not think like adults. While as adults we agree in theory, our actions consistently seem to contradict this truth. The habitual act of laying our own mathematical thinking onto children… Continue Reading

A Welcome Shift

The Fall semester (I have been in education so long I don’t see seasons as much as school terms), is one that is full of conferences and opportunities to reach out into the broader educational community. In my dual roles between AIMS and FPU, I end up at a significant number of conferences. This Fall… Continue Reading

Finding My Home

I am inspired to search out new ways to improve the Professional Learning Division at The AIMS Center. I continually think about teachers in North America and how dedicated, unselfish, and committed they are to the students they teach. At AIMS, we want to provide opportunities to assist classroom teachers to be their very best.… Continue Reading

Fingers as Math Tools

In my last blog, I reflected on my experience at the California Mathematics Council’s Southern Conference in Palm Springs and our presentation, “Don’t be Quick to Count On!”.  Referenced throughout the conference were the Mathematics Teaching Practices from NCTM.  One of these practices that resonates with the work of my team of research associates is,… Continue Reading


When you hear the term partitioning, you might think about partitive division or partitioning a discrete set of objects, like dividing a dozen cookies among four people. Partitioning also applies to continuous intervals. An example would be the task of equally sharing a candy bar among 5 friends. The outcomes for how a child would… Continue Reading