Author Archives: Tiffany Friesen
Do you remember back in school when you were given a research project at the beginning of the year and told that it wouldn’t be due until the end of the year? I do. I wasn’t sure whether I should be happy or terrified. On the one hand I felt relief since I didn’t have to worry about it right away, but on the other hand, I worried about how difficult it was going to be if it required the whole year to get it done! Fortunately, my teacher had a plan for how to pace us and how to use our time, slowly revealing one aspect of the project at a time.
My work has been a bit like that- but without a teacher to pace me. When I began working for AIMS Center the timeline and the plan were both a bit blurry. Since we were doing something that no one had done before, the steps and the schedule to accomplish them were yet unknown. Our goal is to take a body of research about how children learn to conceive of our number system from theory to practice with our K-3 Central Valley students. First, we made a plan, modified it several times as we understood more, and set a goal of working with teachers two to three years in the future. That was 2014. Our model looks something like the image below.
In the beginning, our Director of Research selected a meaningful collection of work about how children “come to know” number. The plan was then developed by allocating time to study the research and to know it deeply before we implemented any of it. This was quite intense and took a little longer than we initially thought it would. But as we learned, we became more convinced of its significance and the potential it had to engage students with rich mathematical experiences and promote deep, sophisticated understanding. Knowing the research wasn’t enough though. It was another big job to propose and design a plan for sharing the work with teachers. It is through the expertise of local teachers that this new understanding will find its way to the students.
All of this brings us to today. In July 2018 we will begin working with teachers to “translate” this new knowledge of how children “come to know” number into classroom practice. We are partnering with a small group of volunteer teachers to pilot the implementation of the plan. We believe that change takes time and so we plan to work with the teachers for three years. Over that time we expect to see changes in all of us- the teachers, the students and the teacher/researchers from the AIMS Center. I am more excited than I can say! We have come to the crux of the model, and I feel as enthusiastic about this work as I used to feel on my birthday as a child. Sometimes I was so excited I could hardly sleep. It is the same now.
But this research project won’t get put in a binder or handed in for some authoritative “teacher” to grade it. The participants for whom this project was created for will be our evaluators. It is not about a grade or a score. It is much more important than that. It WAS difficult, and it DID take a long time to get to this point, but the reward will be that all students in our Valley will have a solid understanding of number upon which to build their other mathematical ideas and find joy in mathematics.
“A snake!” “A tree!” “A spear!” All are descriptions of the same item. Do you know what it is? Have you read Ed Young’s children’s story about the adventures of seven blind mice? Adapted from an old Indian fable about several sojourners and an elephant, Young crafts a wonderfully simple and elegant tale of how… Continue Reading
During a recent professional learning day, I sat in a circle with my co-workers and counted. By “counted,” I mean that we spoke number words in a standard order, not that we physically counted objects. In succession, we spoke the number word that came immediately after the one previously spoken. If anyone made a mistake… Continue Reading
Teachers are incredibly busy. They need to be the experts on a variety of curricular topics, especially in the elementary years, and for a variety of learners. Most teachers have earned a bachelor’s degree and spent additional time studying pedagogy and curriculum to earn their teaching credential. Further, they have all the wisdom gained from… Continue Reading
I am very excited that Dr. Leslie P. Steffe is going to be the speaker at this month’s AIMS colloquia on January 22. The Research Division of the AIMS Center has chosen to deeply study Dr. Steffe’s work so that we can share it with teachers here in the Central San Joaquin Valley. While Dr.… Continue Reading
We all know the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. When Goldilocks entered the home she kept finding things that were not quite right; they were too hot, too small, too hard, or too soft. It took a while before she would find the item that was just right for her. Sometimes I feel… Continue Reading
Stef was born out of the desire to put Steffe in every classroom. After several conversations with Dr. Leslie Steffe (the originator of much of the research we study at AIMS and longtime researcher at the University of Georgia), the AIMS Research Associates brainstormed ways to encourage children to see the math in their world.… Continue Reading
I have heard the claim “calculus is easy, algebra is difficult, and arithmetic is impossible,” but if that is true, then what does that make counting? We often hear little ones proudly singing the alphabet song or reciting a string of numbers from 1 to 20. Have you ever asked one of those who now… Continue Reading
August is the month when educators return to work. Many of you have spent days preparing for the start of school and are now in full swing in your classrooms. It’s almost like we never had a vacation right? While I work year round, I am still feeling the excitement of the start of school… Continue Reading
Most of us, when hear the word reflection, think about what we see when we look in a mirror, but it can also mean to think back on an event. For example, if I asked you to reflect on the food choices you made today, you would have to think back on the meals that… Continue Reading