Author Archives: Aileen Rizo

In Their Own Words

As the Early Math team moves forward in our work with preschool teachers, we are in the process of collecting data not only on the children’s mathematics development, but also the teacher’s growth in pedagogy and content. In an effort to document these changes we are in the process of completing midyear teacher interviews. While the questions somewhat mirror the initial interviews we completed in September, we have added new questions in an effort to give opportunities for the teachers to share their growth as mathematical learners and as teachers of mathematics. In this blog entry, I would like to share with you some of the highlights from the interviews I have conducted.

One theme that permeated most interviews surrounded the following question: “Since the beginning of the year, have your math goals for children stayed the same or changed?” Overwhelmingly, teachers shared how their goals have indeed changed. Some teachers expressed that since working with the AIMS Center they have seen a shift in their teaching to a more purposeful level. ”Working with you has really helped me to understand it [math] better and better apply it….as I understand it better I can teach it better.”

Another theme that became apparent was prompted by watching videos of student interviews. This past September we completed selected student interviews. These interviews included tasks such as asking children to say their number words, count a linear set of items, and identify shapes. At a recent professional learning session we included watching the videos as a way for teachers to engage in analyzing the mathematical progress of the children in their classrooms. In the teacher interviews, many teachers noted a difference in children since the beginning of the year. Teachers described how certain children made progress in their confidence level, others made progress in their language ability, and all children, as indicated by the teachers, have made progress on the extent and accuracy of their number sequence.

Finally, teachers were asked “Think about the professional learning sessions we have had this year. What has been most beneficial for you?” Many teachers noted that they have appreciated the hands-on activities that they have had the opportunity to engage in. Some also mentioned how these opportunities have increased their confidence, given them more ideas to engage students, and have helped them to see math in different ways they did not know existed. Teachers also shared how the sessions have broadened their view of how math can be fun. One teacher commented, “I feel that you have pushed me to be more creative in my mathematics teaching.” In our professional learning sessions we have seen teachers be highly engaged as learners of mathematics and embrace every opportunity to grow as professionals. We have also seen teachers reflect the care they have for their children in a commitment to become better teachers of mathematics. This is an encouraging outcome and it has been inspiring to hear them express these thoughts.


A Community Effort

Newly released test scores in California revealed that only 32 percent of students in Fresno County met or exceeded math standards. This is only a 2 percent increase compared to last year. While this might sound discouraging, it should prompt all of us as stakeholders in education to take notice. It’s easy to step on… Continue Reading

The Metamorphosis of Teachers

Perhaps you have heard it said that the greatest influence in a classroom is not the equipment, or the curriculum, but the teacher. My work in preschool makes me believe this even more. In a single observation session I’ve seen a teacher be the mentor, the comforter, the organizer, the encourager, the innovator, and the… Continue Reading

The Potential of Curiosity

Defined as “a strong desire to know or learn something,” curiosity seems to be an important component of constructing new knowledge and, when joined with play, can create powerful learning experiences. Among the early math team, we are finding that it is often the simplest of materials that can elicit both of these characteristics. The… Continue Reading

Listening to Their Stories

As my other colleagues have mentioned, it was a privilege to present to over 300 preschool teachers last month. Even though we each prepared our individual sessions, it was truly a collaborative effort. My specific presentation was on the topic of mathematical play, but I was also encouraged to share a portion of my own… Continue Reading

Jelly Bean Math

As I watched my children play at the park one day this summer, my attention quickly focused on a small voice saying, “one, two, three, four, five…” I looked over and observed a game of hide-and-seek in progress. Even my youngest is self-­motivated to recite the number sequence more accurately when she is playing. This,… Continue Reading

Let the Math Shine Through

My youngest daughter is 2 ½ years old and she has yet to discover just how much her mother loves mathematics. The other day, as she worked on a puzzle of shapes, she held up one of the shapes and said, “diamond.” I wrinkled my nose as I corrected her with the correct term, “rhombus.”… Continue Reading

I Fell In Love With The Gears

In my learning of constructivism and the theories of Piaget, I often think of this quote: “No one but you can make your associations, and no one but you can isolate your sound-image and whatever you conceptualize in your experiential field.”  (Von Glaserfield, 1995)  This quote is from a chapter on language and meaning, but… Continue Reading

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