Archive for March, 2008|Monthly archive page

Math Panel’s Report Delivers Much Common Sense: Hire Real Math Teachers to Assist the Generalists

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2008 at 1:40 pm

“The Panel recommends that research be conducted on the use of full-time mathematics teachers in elementary schools. These would be teachers with strong knowledge of mathematics who would teach mathematics full-time to several classrooms of students, rather than teaching many subjects to one class, as is typical in most elementary classrooms. This recommendation for research is based on the Panel’s findings about the importance of teachers’ mathematical knowledge. The use of teachers who have specialized in elementary mathematics teaching could be a practical alternative to increasing all elementary teachers’ content knowledge (a problem of huge scale) by focusing the need for expertise on fewer teachers.” (Pg. 22)

We currently employ many classroom aides to assist our elementary school teachers. Why not exchange these generalist aides for a few true math specialists? If we are going to spend the money anyway, why not have this expenditure provide a valuable service to the education product our children are receiving? Does every elementary classroom really need a babysitter? We have a PE teacher for PE; a music teacher for music; an art teacher for art. Why not a math teacher for math? But perhaps we need a “university partnership” to tell us this.



Two great opportunities…

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2008 at 1:21 pm

The Ridgewood Republican Club meeting…
Monday, March 31, 2008 at 7 PM in the East Room of the United Methodist Church, located at 100 Dayton Street across from Van Neste Park.

Tonight from 7:15 PM to 7:45 PM
Two speakers will explain and answer questions on the topic, “The Ridgewood Schools Math Controversy: Basis and Solutions”. The invited speakers are Greg Lois and Sarah-Kate Maskin, who are currently candidates for the Ridgewood Board of Education. (Election Day is April 15).

The League of Women Voters sponsors School Board Candidates debate…
Tuesday, April 1, 2008 at 7:30 PM in the 3rd floor of the Education Center, located at 49 Cottage Place.

All four candidates will be answering 3 questions posed by the LWV’s moderator and questions will be taken from the audience.

Take advantage of these opportunities to attend one or both of these open to the public events and hear what the candidates have to say.


Instructional practices come and go, and some should flee faster than others.

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2008 at 11:17 am

The National Math Panel has scrutinized only the most rigorous studies to draw its conclusions. Not surprisingly, some of the panel’s findings cast doubt on techniques recently in use–even in the best school districts.

Below are some interesting points extracted directly from the panel’s final report. Administrators and teachers should take note of these, and consider them in light of current practices and future professional development. Schools of Education should also take a hard look.

The first list consists of direct quotes from the panel. The second list is a summary of this blogger’s views and opinions, mapped to the first list. The final list highlights a few points of interest.

National Math Panel statements about Instructional Practices
(these are direct quotes)
1.Claims based on Piaget’s highly influential theory, and related theories of “developmental appropriateness” that children of particular ages cannot learn certain content because they are “too young,” “not in the appropriate stage,” or “not ready” have consistently been shown to be wrong. Nor are claims justified that children cannot learn particular ideas because their brains are insufficiently developed, even if they possess the prerequisite knowledge for learning the ideas.

2.The sociocultural perspective of Vygotsky has also been influential in education. It characterizes learning as a social induction process through which learners become increasingly independent through the tutelage of more knowledgeable peers and adults. However, its utility in mathematics classrooms and mathematics curricula remains to be scientifically tested.

3.The Panel recommends the scaling-up and experimental evaluation of support-focused interventions that have been shown to improve the mathematics outcomes of African-American and Hispanic students. [However,] average gender differences are small or nonexistent, and our society’s focus on them has diverted attention from the essential task of raising the scores of both boys and girls.

4.All-encompassing recommendations that instruction should be entirely “student centered” or “teacher directed” are not supported by research. If such recommendations exist, they should be rescinded. If they are being considered, they should be avoided. High-quality research does not support the exclusive use of either approach.

5.The Panel’s review of the literature addressed the question of whether using “real-world” contexts to introduce and teach mathematical topics and procedures is preferable to using more typical instructional approaches. For certain populations (upper elementary and middle grade students, and remedial ninth-graders) and for specific domains of mathematics (fraction computation, basic equation solving, and function representation), instruction that features the use of “real-world” contexts has a positive impact on certain types of problem solving. However, these results are not sufficient as a basis for widespread policy recommendations. Additional research is needed to explore the use of “real-world” problems in other mathematical domains, at other grade levels, and with varied definitions of “real-world” problems.

6.The Panel’s survey of the nation’s algebra teachers indicated that the use of calculators in prior grades was one of their concerns (National Mathematics Advisory Panel, 2008). The Panel cautions that to the degree that calculators impede the development of automaticity, fluency in computation will be adversely affected. The Panel recommends that high-quality research on particular uses of calculators be pursued, including both their short- and long-term effects on computation, problem solving, and conceptual understanding.

7.Research has been conducted on a variety of cooperative learning approaches. One such approach, Team Assisted Individualization (TAI), has been shown to improve students’ computation skills. This highly structured instructional approach involves heterogeneous groups of students helping each other, individualized problems based on student performance on a diagnostic test, specific teacher guidance, and rewards based on both group and individual performance. Effects of TAI on conceptual understanding and problem solving were not significant. There is suggestive evidence that peer tutoring improves computation skills in the elementary grades. However, additional research is needed.

8.Use of formative assessments in mathematics can lead to increased precision in how instructional time is used in class and can assist teachers in identifying specific instructional needs. Formative measures provide guidance as to the specific topics needed for assistance. Results [of studies] suggest that use of formative assessments benefited students at all ability levels. More studies are needed. Formative assessment should be an integral component of instructional practice in mathematics.


1.Piaget’s theories are not reliable for mathematics education. Interestingly, the constructivist approach to teaching is based on Piaget’s theories. This finding of the panel casts grave doubt on the validity of a constructivist model for the teaching of mathematics.

2.The use of peer groups for the purpose of students teaching other students has never been tested, and therefore should be used sparingly and with caution.

3.Teaching methods specifically intended to reach girls should be dropped.

4.”Discovery” has always been a useful teaching approach and continues to be. The “discovery” approach can once again take its rightful place as one of many teaching techniques, rather than the dominant or only one, as it has in constructivist schools and classrooms.

5.The broad policy of using real-world problems to introduce and teach mathematical concepts has not been sufficiently tested, and should be restricted to upper grades, and then only to certain domains of mathematics.

6.The use of calculators before ninth grade has not only not been tested, the panel cautions that their use before grade nine interferes with the development of automaticity and fluency. Therefore, their use should be dropped until studies can be done.

7.Cooperative learning helps develop computation skills but not necessarily conceptual understanding or problem solving. Until further testing is done, cooperative learning should be limited to use for developing computation skills.

8.The increasing use of “formative assessment,” also known as “authentic assessment” (assessment which is ongoing as opposed to traditional tests)is a good idea, and should continue.

A Few Points of Interest:

1.It is noteworthy that while the panel was quite negative about early use of calculators, they were much more positive about the use of computer-assisted instruction. So much for educators lauding use of all technology. They need to think a little more critically about which technology.

2.The practice of “formative assessment,” a method used increasingly in some schools and often referred to as “authentic assessment,” while understandably questioned by parents, has been tested and shows good results in the teaching of mathematics.

3.Teachers and administrators should pursue practices that have been well-tested, and must exercise restraint with regard to practices that are not sufficiently tested. Parents, taxpayers, administrators, and teachers need to place their trust in science and an eclectic approach, rather than any one “ism.”

4.With regard to the evidence that cooperative learning can help develop computation skills, so can computer assistance. Either way, the student is prompted to focus on drill, and the teacher is freed up to work with other students. However, gifted literature is rife with anecdotes of negative impact on the student who is leaned on too much. It is wise to exercise caution, therefore, until studies of gifted students can be scrutinized more closely to determine the extent of negative impact.


Three Injured In Freak Auto Accident At Baumgart’s Cafe

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2008 at 3:05 am

Three individuals were injured in a freak automobile accident at the rear of Baumgart’s Cafe late Sunday afternoon.

Several Ridgewood Police, Fire, EMS, and Emergency Services units responded upon receiving reports of three trapped occupants in a rolled over vehicle. Fortunately, injuries to the vehicle occupants were minor. However, three automobiles were heavily damaged.

Fire Chief James Bombace, Police Chief William Corcoran, and Emergency Services Chief Brian Pullman were all at the scene supervising their respective personnel.

Nice job again from our public safety teams. Thanks guys and gals!

Enterprise Rent-A-Car


In Uncategorized on March 29, 2008 at 6:57 pm


**APRIL 12th, 2008**

The RBSA is excited to ring in the 2008 Ridgewood Baseball and Softball Season with our annual Opening Day Parade & Family Fair, on Saturday, April 12th, 2008!

The Parade starts at 9 AM at the Ridgewood Train Station and ends at VET’s Field, where the OPENING DAY FAMILY FAIR festivities are held. The Fair includes:

Many fun events for all children, kindergarten through 8th grade, boys and girls, including “Home Run Derby”, throwing accuracy and base running events.

Food and Snacks

Cool RBSA Merchandise

Clinics and Displays by Ridgewood area merchants and instructional schools.

The events begin right after the parade and run to 12:00 p.m.

Volunteers Wanted! Please consider volunteering some time to help out with this special day. For those interested in volunteering an hour or two, please contact:

Tony Barbera: (201) 445-6813 Email: tvbarbera@sbcglobal.net

This is an exciting RBSA Event for the entire community and we look forward to seeing you there!


Around the Village

In Uncategorized on March 29, 2008 at 6:55 pm

Ridgewood Concert Band
Concert featuring the winner of Ridgewood Concert Band Youth Competition; April 4 at 8PM at West Side Presbyterian Church, S. Monroe St. Tickets $20; $15 Seniors/students

Fall Soccer Registration Now Open
Ridgewood Soccer Association
Registration for Fall Soccer is open from March 1 to April 30th. The soccer season begins September 6th and concludes November 15th with programs available for children and teens in 1st through 12th grade.A variety of programs are offered for all skill levels. In-town programs are available for children in 1st to 6th grade. Travel programs are available for players in 5th through 12th grade. Complete details on all RSA programs and on-line registration are available at www.ridgewoodsoccer.org

Enterprise Rent-A-Car

math panel webcast

In Uncategorized on March 28, 2008 at 11:29 am

That Math Panel’s webcast on the just issued Final Report just pooped all over Regina and Brennan’s “bold new reformist ideas.” Tune in via the link below. Highlights include:

* “Report is a blueprint which we should follow.” Dep. Sec. of Education Ray Simon
* “There is no research to support that discovery method of instruction is better than direct instruction. Experienced teachers should be given weight in deciding what to use. We found that the best teachers vary methods.” Larry Faulkner, Panel chairman
* “Early Calculator use can interfere with learning facts.” LF
* “Textbooks should be shorter and more accurate.” LF
* “Tests should be realigned to things that matter.” LF
* “Parts [of the report] have to work together or it won’t work for kids.” LF
* “Educators have been too casual in introducing innovations that have too little or no research to back them up.” LF

Apple iTunes


In the Village for April

In Uncategorized on March 27, 2008 at 2:09 pm

232 E. Ridgewood Ave.Ridgewood, NJ 07450201/445-0726(Fax) 201/445-8301bkends2@aol.com

Jose Canseco
Tuesday, April 1st – 3:30pm
Former Slugging Outfielder with the Oakland A’s and controversial Author, Jose Canseco will sign his latest Blockbuster: Vindicated!

Julie Andrews
Tuesday, April 1st – 7:00pm
Hollywood Icon known for her roles as Mary Poppins and the Sound of Music, Julie Andrews will sign: Home: A Memoir Of My Early Years… don’t miss this legend!!

Gene Wilder
Wednesday, April 2nd – 7:00pm
Star of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Blazing Saddles, and Young Frankenstein, Gene Wilder will sign: The Woman Who Wouldn’t.

Linda Francis Lee
Thursday, April 3rd – 7:00pm
Former Texas Junior Leaguer, Debutante and author of the wickedly funny, THE DEVIL IN THE JUNIOR LEAGUE, Linda Francis Lee will discuss and sign her newest release, THE EX-DEBUTANTE. You really do not want to miss this one!

Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark
Wednesday, April 9th – 7:00pm
Mother and Daughter NY Times Best Selling dynamic duo of Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark will discuss and sign their latest thrillers: Where Are You Now? and Zapped: Regan Reilly Mystery Series #11!

Jesse “The Body” Ventura
Thursday, April 10th – 6:30pm
Former WWE Superstar and Former Governor of Minnesota, Jesse “The Body” Ventura will sign his new book: Don’t Start The Revolution Without Me. This is a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to meet this Legend!

Harlan Coben
Sunday, April 13th – 2:00pm
Ridgewood’s own New York Bestselling Author, Harlan Coben will discuss and sign his latest thriller: Hold Tight!


the problem is you live here

In Uncategorized on March 27, 2008 at 12:18 am

Oh please,

Give it a rest, dont even dare compare national issues with a local math debate with a change tag across it. I highly doubt anyone from the next town over gives a rats behind about our schools.

In fact, they probably point and laugh at us from all this BS because we elected morons to represent us.

This is all our fault for letting these people get out of control for years without notice. If it really is time for change then we shall see who wins this election.

If its like years past most people will forget to vote and the incumbents will win. It happens everytime. Why bother

J&R Computer/Music World

How sad that instead of ingesting what the math panel’s report said, our administrators sort to parse it as a weapon to be used in their defense.

In Uncategorized on March 26, 2008 at 5:27 pm

How sad that instead of ingesting what the math panel’s report said, our administrators sort to parse it as a weapon to be used in their defense.

That says volumes about them. If they are going to behave like this, how can we put any credibility into what they say and why they say it.

People like this deserve to be ridiculed.

Tim Brennan, you are the biggest disappointment. You came into Ridgewood pretending to have an open mind about our math issues. You sit at the board table like a muse seemingly interested in what speakers at the microphone are saying. You enticed parents with comments that illustrated just how much you “cared” about their concerns. You littered your speeches with anecdotes and erudite quotations to gain our belief in you as a new oracle of discernment.

Then it fizzled. You began to adopt an attitude of “save the board” from the parents. You started to play the delay game, the non-decisive game as if not making a decision is somehow grounds for elevation of the mind.

You then committed the sin of selecting comments from the math panel’s report to protect rather than to serve. How can we respect you now?

Did you think that this behavior would go unnoticed? Did you think that your oracle facade would keep our trenchant minds amused and distanced from your mendacious machinations?

You have turned out to be a big disappointment. Even bigger than Regina, because we merely found out that it was she who was pulling the strings behind the curtain.

You, on the other hand, pretended and then disappointed. So, take the money and run. We paid you to navigate our school district through this abyss. Instead, you pretended to navigate and then punted. Take the money; this isn’t your problem. You did your job. You defended the Board.

You left our children adrift. You could have rescued them, but you turned your back. Was it just too hard? I don’t think so. It was just not in your job description, I guess.

Good bye Tim. And good luck. I hope you look back on your tenure here and feel something other than proud.

Netflix, Inc.