Week 2 (January 18-25) Chapter 2 - Making the Case for Change: Strategies and Compelling Examples

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  • 18 Jan 2013 1:09 PM
    Message # 1183083
    Anonymous member (Administrator)
    • pp 9-24  Chapter 2-Making the Case for Change:  Strategies and Compelling examples
    • pp 107-109  “Moving Mathematics Out of Mediocrity”
    • pp 110-112 “Four Teacher-Friendly Postulates for Thriving in a Sea of Change”

    Discussion prompts:
    In Chapter 2, Steve outlines many of the changes in the world, that make a case for change in mathematics education.  What does math look like in the real world?  What are we preparing students for?  (give examples and sources)


    How does the math we teach align with the real world?  Try out Strategy 2.1 on page 12, Strategy 2.2 on page 14 or Strategy 2.3 on page 17 and tell the group what you learned.
    Last modified: 18 Jan 2013 1:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
  • 20 Jan 2013 9:31 AM
    Reply # 1184129 on 1183083
    Maggie Griswold
    Math in the World examples.

    These examples of math-in-context come from NCTM Newsbrief



    Kids and the Power of Work




    Start Up math: Youth Entrepreneurship



    STEM is also a great source for math-in-the-world and a reminder of authentic learning in math.
  • 20 Jan 2013 5:44 PM
    Reply # 1184352 on 1183083
    Sally Bennett
    Math is a valuable tool to make sense of our world.  It assails us from every direction:  this morning's headline in the sports section in the Portland Press Herald for an article comparing the New England Patriots to the Baltimore Ravens (using various unit rates and percentages).

    Our world is changing so quickly that what we teach in math class may or may not be necessary in the world to come.  Why Do We Need Math?  a youtube video uploaded on July 19, 2011, is already irrelevant.  An example used is making change.  In a world where cash registers automatically compute this amount and where most people pay with either a debit or a credit card, this skill is superfluous.  

    David Mumford and Sol Garfunkel stress the need to teach math for "quantitative literacy" in their August 24, 2011 op-ed piece in the NY Times.  It is "the ability to make quantitative connections whenever life requires (as when we are confronted with conflicting medical test results but need to decide whether to undergo a further procedure) and 'mathematical modeling,' the ability to move practically between everyday problems and mathematical formulations (as when we decide whether it is better to buy or lease a new car)."

    Ian Wylie in his article of 8 January 2010 in The Guardian asks, "What will you be doing for a living in 10 years' time? The chances are it won't be what you're doing now, and it may be something that doesn't yet exist."

    If we look at teaching mathematics as a means rather than an end in itself, it will never lose relevance.  To learn math well, one needs to take something that is complex, break it down into digestible, meaningful parts and communicate this knowledge effectively. In essence, develop proficiency with the Mathematical Practices of the Common Core.

    These life skills transcend the boundaries of all subjects and will withstand the test of time for whatever career our students pursue.

  • 20 Jan 2013 8:53 PM
    Reply # 1184452 on 1183083
    Ruth Neagle
    I agree with Sally that to try and find specific examples of skill sets in math education that will be critical for jobs of the future is all but futile.  We cannot predict the future.  However, that does not in the least diminish the benefits of using math to learn how to read for detailed information, analyze abstract content, and present logical and sequential reasoning.  In order to succeed at these higher levels of thinking, students must have a solid foundation in number sense and calculation.  It's not because they will need to balance a checkbook (really?  does anyone do that anymore?) or make change (that's really obsolete) or use fractions to modify recipes (a good estimate usually works just fine) but because if they don't master the concrete concepts and skills of decimals, operations , fractions and many others they will not succeed when the related concepts of place value, order of operations, and rational numbers are incorporated into the abstract expressions and equations of algebra.  

    I have to say that for some reason the author of the book has a real hatred (fear?) of rational and radical numbers and functions.  Why?  Rational functions offer students their first experience with discontinuity, a critical concept in calculus.  Radicals are important for understanding the distinction between rational and irrational numbers.  Radical functions are a wonderful opportunity for demonstrating the concept of inverse.  There is nothing wrong with any topic in math -- just choices to be made -- so please keep your minds open as you read!
  • 20 Jan 2013 9:33 PM
    Reply # 1184479 on 1183083
    Kate St.Denis
    How does the math we teach align with the real world?  Try out Strategy 2.1 on page 12, Strategy 2.2 on page 14 or Strategy 2.3 on page 17 and tell the group what you learned.
    These strategies assume a traditional curriculum or a lack of standards. Fortunately neither is the case for me. If I were to come away with one key point from this week's readings, it is that high quality programs depend on high quality instruction. We have all at one time or another blamed a textbook or program for poor results when in fact we are the ones not teaching in the manner that Steve describes in Chapter 2. I have 2 very different classroom assignments this year to report from. In grade 4, in our current multiplication work, I am remiss in not spending more time estimating. In the real world, that is how we make sense of information, particularly data. I am making links through visual models including open arrays and ratio tables to area and proportional reasoning. Through those models I see my students making connections across the strands so that tasks are not isolated. I've also created an "I wonder" place on a bulletin board to save math questions that we can't quickly answer. In my 7th and 8th grade algebra class, I can feel limited by the course constraints and find that the content can frequently not align with the real world, but our engagement in the practice standards does. When content does align, it is most likely about data.
  • 21 Jan 2013 8:19 AM
    Reply # 1184716 on 1183083
    Angela Marzilli
    This is my new favorite case for the importance of having a basic sense of proportional reasoning, and it actually happened to me:  I went to my pharmacy the other day (I won't disclose its name to protect the innocent) and they hadn't refilled my prescription.  I hate when I have to wait after calling ahead, so I asked why.  They responded that the prescription was different than the last one, and since my doctor's office was closed they would have to wait until the next day to call and confirm, so my prescription wouldn't be ready until the next morning.  I wasn't sure why it would be different, so I asked what the difference was.  They told me that the last prescription was for one 90 milligram pill twice a day, and this prescription was for 1.5 60 milligram pills twice a day.  ARGH!  I called my doctor the next morning, and she and I had a good laugh.  But for me this just underscores that idea that having a basic understanding of math is important--so much is assigned, dosed, applied, and figured using math that it's important to understand basically how professionals arrive at numbers they are applying to you.  Clearly. 
  • 21 Jan 2013 12:19 PM
    Reply # 1184898 on 1183083
    Deleted user
    Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000177 EndHTML:0000005600 StartFragment:0000002586 EndFragment:0000005564 SourceURL:file://localhost/Users/teacher/Desktop/atomin%20week%202.doc

    As Steve reviews in Chapter 2, technology is the “wave of the future”.  In all aspects of our society, whether we like it or not, technology is how and what our young people are learning about, using constantly, and engaged in.  So, answering the question of what math looks like in the real world, I would start with simple examples that I have found online.


    The site below was found when I asked the question, what does math look like in the real world?  The University of Texas at Austin created this snapshot of how math is taught there, incorporating a variety of teaching and learning styles with the use of technology to implement math courses there.  They focus of working collaboratively in “teams” and embracing technology, not running from it.



    The below listed web site gives simple and practical examples of how we use math daily.  Funny enough, the first one listed is “Chatting on a Cell Phone”.  This site could be a neat example to explore with school aged children to explain how and why what they learn in math is useful in so many aspects of their lives, and not all relate to the use of technology!



    From my time looking at web sites and exploring what is being said about the future of math education, I have come to the conclusion that what we are preparing students for in this era is very different than what we were preparing for a decade (or two) ago.  The instant, fast moving, information era we live in now leads educators to change their ways of reaching and maintaining student’s focus by embracing their “futuristic” ways of learning.  Sitting with paper and pencils working on math problems is not the answer.  Incorporating technology, including real life opportunities to use math, and a shift in our overall outlook on how to meet standards needs to occur to meet the needs of our youth. 

  • 21 Jan 2013 2:27 PM
    Reply # 1185032 on 1183083
    Suzanne Carbonneau
    The math we teach today does not align with the ability necessary to think critically. The problem is that math creates stress for some students and our society does not want children to be stressed out in the school setting. School should be just as much fun as "Call of Duty" for our middle school students. They can not cope with the stress and anxiety that math sometimes creates or being accountable for one's learning.  Therefore we can not teach children to be global thinkers when they are unable to take risks in the school setting. Teaching children that skills are necessary to learn and some skills like multiplying single digit numbers is important to know with out googling it. I am worried for our students. The stressed out kids of India, China and Japan are going to be competing globally with our students.
  • 21 Jan 2013 3:44 PM
    Reply # 1185122 on 1183083
    Mary Belisle
    Loved the article from UT!
    I think one of the greatest disparities that I see is in the use of computers. Only some teachers fully integrate technology daily in their instruction. Almost every job in the real world requires daily use of technology. Some teachers feel they are not able to learn all of this well enough to teach; I would suggest making the classroom a place where students would feel comfortable teaching you. Daily I learn more about online graphing and use of good sites. Students also learn and show their knowledge using technology. In many classrooms, pencil and paper are still king, worksheets a willing accomplice.. 
  • 21 Jan 2013 4:07 PM
    Reply # 1185147 on 1183083
    Deleted user
    What does math look like in the real world?

    Here are some websites that contain lessons with real world applications:



    http://www.mathalicious.com/   (fee – some lessons are free)



    What are we preparing our students for?

    I see the math educator's role to develop students' ability to think creatively and then be able to succinctly and accurately communicate their thinking and reasoning. I agree with Leinwand that "the real world expects workers to create and use appropriate models for complex and variable situations." (p 10)

    The following blog makes the case for asking students what they wonder and what they notice about a problem to increase student motivation and interest:


    I am excited to see where the CCSSM takes us. There is so much wonderful potential if educators take this opportunity given us and implement the new standards well. The CCSSM is "finally providing more opportunity for all" (p 18)  instead of math being used as the great gate keeper to success. I have seen it over and over again in my own classroom, when expectations are high and we believe students are capable they will rise to meet the challenge. Preparing students to use technology appropriately, to think critically and creatively, determine the reasonableness of their answers, and communicate mathematically is our job - it really is all about the Mathematical Practices!

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