A New Vision

As we have launched the Research Division of the AIMS Center for Math and Science Education we have found that there is extensive financial backing for educational research and there are increasing funds for the professional development of our teachers.  Yet, there appears to be a gaping hole in this continuum – the funding for the translation of that research so that it is accessible to classrooms teachers is not recognized as a need.  And knowledge translation is our charge from the Board of Directors of the AIMS Education Foundation.

For our Research Division, we have built a really powerful team of educators with expertise that spans the gamut of preschool through college level instruction in mathematics and science.  These teams of educators are intent on seeking out and understanding research that can change the lives of children here in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Once they understand it, they are committed to designing classroom practices, structures, and tools that can assist classroom teachers in implementing the findings of this research into their own classrooms, to move knowledge into practice!

One of the responsibilities of the Executive Director of any non-profit is to oversee the fiscal responsibilities of the organization.  The AIMS Professional Learning Division is self-sustaining through district contracts for workshops and support.  But, the work that we are doing through our Research Division does not currently generate any funds.  Therefore, it is up to me to find those funds to continue supporting this team as they move forward in this important work!  And so…I have begun to reach out to Foundations and to write grant proposals.

The reason that I absolutely love my job is that I am given the freedom to dream big!  We are working closely with researchers Dr. Anderson Norton and Dr. Catherine Ulrich at Virginia Tech.  Recently we submitted a collaborative proposal to the MacArthur Foundation to expand our Center in Fresno and to support the development of a second AIMS Center on the East Coast, in partnership with Virginia Tech.  If funded, West Coast AIMS would lead in the translation work at both centers, while developing a cohort of local doctoral students to work with Drs. Norton and Ulrich at Virginia Tech to begin intensive research here in California.  East Coast AIMS would be designed to replicate the Fresno Center, leading the research at both Centers and to translate knowledge to teachers in local Virginia schools through the practices, structures, and tools that are developed in Fresno.  Within six years, we hope to have both doctoral research and translation of the findings happening at both Centers.  This is a video introduction to our proposal:

The MacArthur proposal is admittedly quite ambitious!  It is the big dream to really impact students nationwide.  But, we are also submitting smaller proposals to fund pieces of that dream.  We are partnering with Fresno County EOC Head Start to work with our local 3-5 year old children in increasing their Kindergarten readiness in mathematics, changing their learning trajectory forever!  We are looking at the development of number, additive and multiplicative reasoning, in grades K-3.  We hope to soon delve into the complex area of fraction concept development and into how children learn science concepts.  Each of these are areas that need funding.  And so the hard work of grant writing continues…  

As I said in the video referenced above…  “AIMS will elevate and implement this solution because we have an obligation to our children and our future.  This work is too important NOT to do!”  

Episode 9 | Kindergarten Readiness with Tim Yeager

After stating a rather shocking statistic that indicates the overwhelming majority of five year olds enter Kindergarten “not ready” according to one assessment. Tim talks to us about how two varieties of early learning based on two professors theories on how children learn. After a failure in efforts, these professors stepped back from an effort to, “catch children up,” and began to focus on the idea that children are constantly learning. We discuss what comes out of this research, specifically two varieties of learning in children: Naming, and Observational.

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Whose Task is This?

As a classroom teacher I worked tirelessly to create tasks, problems and questions that I thought would be good for students. I thought that the tasks I was creating were equal to what the students would be thinking. I am constantly reminded that what I perceive to be the question is not always what the… Continue Reading

A Juggling Act

In previous blog posts we have, in various ways, talked about the commitment of the AIMS Center to a constructivist understanding of how children come to know.  There are several reasons for this choice, but probably the most relevant is that the most significant and extensive research related to how children come to know whole… Continue Reading

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

“Because” is not an answer!

“Auntie E! Because is not an answer!” my 3-year old niece shouted in my ear. We were on a nature walk in the mountains and she had been bombarding me with question after question. “Why are there pine needles on the ground?” “Why is this rock gray?” “Why does Sugar (my dog) like to run… Continue Reading