What’s Wrong Here?

Another late night reading… Another night of pulling away from my family to try to make sense of new information, in order to make my lessons meaningful and productive for my students.

I love teaching and had been teaching for 12 years before coming to the AIMS Center. I had taught Kindergarten, 1st, 3rd, and 5th grades.  Yet the night described above was during my 10th year teaching in a 5th grade classroom. It was not my first year teaching 5th grade, nor even at a new school site. By this point in my career I felt I had a fairly good idea of the math curriculum and the student population at my site. But, I also knew there was something missing in all the math books I had taught from. Something was not connecting for my students. At times they could “do the math”, but they definitely did not always understand.

Fast forward to today. I spend my days reading research, working in a collaborative environment, and having the time to ponder lingering questions about how students come to understand math. My current position as a Research Associate affords me the gift of time, something I didn’t always have as a teacher. I now have an opportunity to read the research on how students begin to count and how their counting type influences their construction of units. I now understand why I had seen so many students in my Kindergarten through 5th grade classrooms not being able to make sense of the mathematics I was teaching them. The AIMS Center for Math and Science Education is working to understand that which I, as a teacher, so wanted to know. We are working to translate the research on how children begin to understand arithmetic situations.  Our goal is to design student experiences that teachers can use in their own classrooms to strengthen students’ understanding of whole number.

In my next blog I will tell you about my new life as a translator of research. I cannot wait for you to read about the exciting things we are learning about.

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