AIMS Center

An Excellent Math Program

I recently attended the Annual Conference of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) in San Antonio and came away invigorated and hopeful about our children’s future in math education. The creativity and passion on exhibit within the many sessions and workshops was impressive. I had numerous conversations with awesome teachers that eagerly shared some incredibly inventive lessons they use in their classes.

To help kids with math, well-intentioned teachers often turn to non-traditional teaching methods. They use music and movement to involve the whole body.  They use hands-on materials, such as popsicle sticks to help the students understand tens and hundreds. They use flip books, rhymes, and art. Yet we still have many children that “don’t get” math and feel like they cannot “do” math. With all this time and energy put in by some many well-intended people, what is the issue the keeps kids from becoming fluent in mathematics?

We could look at the logistics of teaching. It’s not easy to facilitate a math discussion. Six-year-olds are prone to goof around and popsicle sticks may end up in their ears, taking away from precious teaching time. Instructional time can be lost while a teacher is setting up a musical lesson. Innovative methods can be more challenging to implement than traditional lessons, and it could be that some teachers just aren’t doing them right.

We don’t want kids going to school and doing math worksheets all day. We all want kids to view mathematics as something that’s interesting and engaging and useful. By blending the creativity of great teachers with knowledge of mathematics education research, teachers can provide lessons that motivate, excite, inspire and have a real impact on student learning. Teachers who are able to provide just the right lessons at just the right time, using research and their creativity, end up with lessons that kids enjoy and they will develop deep mathematical understanding.

This partnership between researchers and teachers produces what is called for in Principles to Action (2010) when it states, “An excellent mathematics program requires effective teaching that engages students in meaningful learning through individual and collaborative experiences that promote their ability to make sense of mathematical ideas and reason mathematically” (p.7).

The researcher can provide the expertise in the effective ways for developing mathematics for all students and the learning progressions of children. The teachers can provide the expertise at implementing lessons in creative ways within the classrooms with their kids. Teachers using the research in mathematics education, take the high level academic world and transform it amazing lessons for their students. They bring energy and knowledge into their classrooms, creating places where students are engaged in problem solving, excited about math, feel confident about their growing abilities, and want to do more.

What is Mathematics?

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Changing the Story

What is your math story?  What comes to your mind when someone says the word math? Unfortunately in our society, math is unpopular.  In fact, if you look at the amount of likes and retweets of the screen capture here, it would seem that the feelings shared are mutual to many. When I was a… Continue Reading

Piaget’s Water Level Task

While it might seem obvious that living in a three-dimensional world would require a certain amount of innate spatial abilities, it is less obvious in how this spatial ability informs science and math learning. Current research in visuospatial ability does show that children who have an understanding of how shapes fit together, and can see… Continue Reading

Professional Learning on Steroids

To sum up the 2017 NCTM annual conference in San Antonio, Texas takes only one word, AWESOME!! As I’ve shared before, I look forward to conferences. They provide opportunities for me to be laser focused on education, a time to reconnect and collaborate, an opportunity to be current, a time to meet other like-minded educators,… Continue Reading

Do You Possess the Math Gene?

Do you consider yourself a math minded person? Did you struggle with math in school? Do you feel stressed when calculating tips or splitting a restaurant bill? Did you choose the early learning grades to teach because of your feelings toward math? If any of these questions resonated with you, it’s okay.  It’s not a… Continue Reading

Talking Math

Allowing our students to talk to each other about mathematics is very important in today’s educational culture.  Gone are the days when students sat in rows quietly working on repetitive worksheets.  Instead, we want to hear what students are thinking.  How are they processing information?  What do they see as important?  What solution pathways are… Continue Reading

NCSM Reflections

I’m in a Professional “happy place”. I am attending the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM) conference in San Antonio, TX. Where do I start, and how do I ingest and digest all of the great sessions that I have attended? Being an attendee, I try to stay focused on what I have come… Continue Reading