Outreach / Misc


When Dr. Thiessen first discussed his ideas about launching the AIMS Center for Math and Science Education with me, he suggested that our motto should be:
     “Know the Math; Know the Science; Know the Research.”
And, he said, even more importantly, we can never forget that:
     “We believe in children’s knowledge!”

I have been working in mathematics education now for over 30 years – as a teacher, as a site principal, as a mentor and provider to other teachers and administrators. I thought that I had always believed in children’s knowledge. I had always believed in children! But… I now realize the difference that Dr. Thiessen was talking about. I had bought into the political, assessment driven curriculum that our schools function around. I, like many well meaning teachers, focused too much on the standards that I was told to teach… on the curriculum that I was using… Many of my students seemed to thrive in that environment. But, too many did not. In fact, every time a student “failed” my class, I feel that I failed them. Why? Because, I did not truly believe in their knowledge. I expected them to be where the curriculum or the textbook indicated they should be.

Teaching is a very demanding vocation. We have tried to make it easier on ourselves as teachers by streamlining our instruction, when in reality we have lost the notion that every child is unique and deserves unique instruction. Believing in children’s knowledge means that we actually gauge our sequencing on where each individual child is and choose appropriate experiences that keep moving each child along their continuum of understanding. It means that our classroom is set up for 100% success – not 75+%. The members of our research division are working hard to incorporate our belief in children’s knowledge into all of the work that we are beginning to translate for teachers.

As the committee planning our 2016 Christmas celebration settled on a Polar Express theme, our 2017 AIMS Center theme emerged quite naturally through our meetings. We were focused on the bell, which only rings for those who believe! We, at the AIMS Center, believe!

  • We believe in children’s knowledge.
  • We believe that teachers truly want to help their students learn.
  • We believe that, by knowing and understanding the research, we can help teachers learn how to change the way children learn mathematics.
  • We believe that, by changing students’ experiences as they learn mathematics and science into truly positive ones, we can change their lives forever!

We sincerely believe in the work that we are doing at the AIMS Center. We have accepted a very daunting challenge, but… what an awesome opportunity! In 2017 and beyond… WE BELIEVE!

A Welcome Shift

The Fall semester (I have been in education so long I don’t see seasons as much as school terms), is one that is full of conferences and opportunities to reach out into the broader educational community. In my dual roles between AIMS and FPU, I end up at a significant number of conferences. This Fall… Continue Reading

2016 – The Ampersand

When Dr. Thiessen recruited me to launch this new Center, he shared with me his vision of collaboration.  He believed, as do I, that we are much stronger together and that this work of knowledge translation was going to be difficult work.  In 2014, the AIMS Education Foundation Board agreed to totally renovate our existing… Continue Reading

Number Talks and Assimilation

Number talks were developed for classroom teachers to engage students in “mental math” by collaboratively grappling with interesting mathematics problems. I was first introduced to the idea of number talks from the book, “Number Talks” by Sherry Parrish. Recently, I had the pleasure of facilitating number talks in 6 third grade classrooms, all at the… Continue Reading

The Use of Questions Within the Classroom

I have a confession to make, this past weekend I attended my very first mathematical education conference! Being the “science guy” I have gone to quite a few science, STEM, and education type conferences throughout the years, but never one focused around mathematics. But this weekend I presented with Chris Brownell at CMC-North Mathematics Education… Continue Reading

Colloquium Series: Further Impressions

The Colloquium Series here at the AIMS Center has been chugging along nicely this year. We have an average attendance of a little over 39 people, including online and face to face attendees. Our topics have ranged from philosophical to pedagogical, with a healthy dose of content and technology thrown in for flavor. The overall… Continue Reading

Attitudes Towards Play in the Classroom

There has been renewed interest among science educational researchers over the past decade in the power of “play” in the classroom. One of the researchers that I have been following is Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a psychologist at Temple University. She is one of the founders of the Ultimate Block Party which brings together companies, makers,… Continue Reading

Perception as a Human Endeavor

Over the last few weeks, I have been reading a lot about the intricacies of human perception and how we interact with the world around us. Or maybe I should qualify that statement and say how we “think” we perceive the world around us. A child’s perception of reality and learning in the classroom is… Continue Reading

ZPC Podcast: Chapter 1

So here we are, at the time I write this we have “dropped” (made public) 10 individual podcast sessions. These have come from a wide variety of perspectives and a span of preferences. Don’t be fooled though, while we have dropped these ten, we have almost ten more “in the can” (recorded and nearing their… Continue Reading