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The District Tackles the Math Issue…Are they on the right track?

In Uncategorized on October 8, 2008 at 1:37 pm

The RPS “ENews” announces the following: An Elementary Math Evening has been scheduled for Monday, October 27, from 7:30 – 9 p.m., in the third floor Board Room of the Ed Center, 49 Cottage Place. You will work in small groups during this meeting to respond to the following questions:

* What is your passion when it comes to mathematics?
* Reflecting on your own education in mathematics, what would you want that is different or the same for all children today in their mathematics education?
* What do you think all students should know and be able to do in mathematics when they graduate?
* What do you want to see in an elementary mathematics textbook or program?

To put it mildly, these are not the most productive questions especially since the Math Panel pretty much cleared away the smog on this in its 100-plus page report(Is this a memory lapse or are we just going to ignore this eminent panel altogether??). However, if we must go down the Rabbit Hole on a local elevator, then at least lets revisit the questions to illicit less anecdotal and more intellectual responses. Suggestions can include:

* How would you rank key elements of a math textbook in order of importance — equations, practice drills, math concepts, real-world problems, design presentation, sequential focus, any others?
* Should mathematics education be differentiated allowing students to move forward at different speeds?
* What constitutes mathematics competence and should all students be expected to achieve it by grade level?
* Is there an inherent advantage or disadvantage to a math textbook over a math program?
* Should the teaching of math in elementary school be handled only by those teachers who exhibit the education foundation and knowledge toward a math specialty, in a similar manner to how music, art and P.E. are taught? Or, should schools continue to rely on “professional development” for generalist teachers as a means to engender higher elementary math competency? Your thoughts?

3balls Golf

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  1. Didn’t we give them our opinions on the subject last Summer under the “facilitation” of Beth Fisher Yoshida a/k/a Yoda for short?

    Why do this again? It’s like paying them to run around in a circle.

    How about following the Math Panel’s directive and pick a textbook already.

  2. The training of the generalist elementary school teacher in math is highly suspect — in most cases simply non-existant. Where are these math competent elementary teachers going to come from? Not from the current crop of teaching schools.

  3. this is elementary math. are they serious asking about one’s passion and where it comes from? am i supposed to be passionate about memorizing the times tables or learning the universal algorithm for division? must there be passion before any math learning can take place?

  4. Yearning to Teach Math

    Published: May 15, 2002
    New York Times

    To the Editor:

    Alfred S. Posamentier (Op-Ed, May 11) explains precisely why I am not a math teacher today. When I went to college 30 years ago (originally to become a math teacher), I learned that all the math I needed would be completed by the end of my freshman year. I would be taking only education courses. Needless to say, I did not become a teacher. I did, however, graduate with a B.S. in mathematics. I loved math but cannot pass it on to other students.

    HELEN ANDREWS
    Pittsburgh, May 13, 2002

    Ms. Andrews sums up quite clearly a major problem we face in education today.

  5. The fact that they preface their first question with a “how do you feel” inquirery, let’s one know instantly where they are coming from.

    Once again, feelings trump logic in education.

  6. …and passion trumps intellectual development.

  7. I think some are being too hasty with criticisms based on the eNews announcement. Did you read the entire plan on the website? The one meeting on 10/27 is just one small part of what they will be doing. They will be incorporating last years discussion and yes they are using the math panel report. And getting “real” mathematicians involve. The questions for 10/27 are for the parents to answer…so they can see what we want. Maybe a little touchy feely but…I think it sounds reasonable. They already decided that this was the “planning year” so that horse has left the barn. I am going to keep an open mind and participate any chance they give me. I’ll go to the 10/27 meeting and bring some of my own comments besides those questions.

  8. I have read the district’s outline of our math “plan”. People like J. Rubenstein and Nancy Shultz are NOT supporters of real math. The great minds at Cottage Place have clearly stacked the deck. Also take notice that they are willing to hear parent concerns. IMHO, they’ve spent $9,000 to get parent concerns with Fisher-Yoshida’s report. Guess Regina didn’t like what her report had to say. There is more than enough information collected already. Enough is enough! I sure hope they bring all of the elementary math texts/programs that are available for all of us to see for ourselves. That would be a real point of comparison to what we offer in our village and what else is out there.

  9. According to the plan, Nancy Schultz is a member of the decision making body. Should we assume this is a typo? She can’t be a member of the planning team can she?

    Since Laurie Goodman spends most of her day reading this blog, I hope she will chime in here.

  10. 11:42AM, I too noticed that Ms. Schultz, a paid representative of a math curriculum publisher, is not only listed as an “External Advisor”, but also as a member of the “Mathematics Planning Team”.

    Is it not apparent to all, as it is to me, that Ms. Schultz is perhaps the least likely person to find favor in anything but the type of math curriculum she is being paid to sell and proliferate?

    Among those listed as “External Advisors”, I would think that Dr. Alfred S. Posamentier, Dean of the School of Education of the City College of New York, would be the most valuable to have as part of our Mathematics Planning Team.

    His geographic connection with the Ridgewood district is at least as strong as Ms. Schultz’s. And unlike Ms. Schultz, he does not have an inherent, irreconcilable conflict of interest.

    I fear Dr. Posamentier’s being listed among our External Advisors was a decision intended to placate those who do not favor constructivist math curriculums. If anyone has information to prove otherwise, I’d be happy to hear of it, but for now, I somehow doubt that the administrators of the Ridgewood district are of a mind to accord Dr. Posamentier’s extremely well-supported, extremely hard-fought views the weight they deserve.

  11. Why are we bringing Nancy Schultz back? She is wrong on this topic completely. The Math Panel results totally – I mean totally – discredited her. What can she possibly provide that may be useful? She is the poster child for What Not To Do!

  12. Just asking –

    Is it possible to get one’s “teaching certificate” from a cereal box?

  13. 10:40 said, “Maybe a little touchy feely but…I think it sounds reasonable.”

    Touchy feely is how we got into this mess in the first place. Think of constructivist touchy feely math as Fannie Mae and Nancy Schulz and Regina B. as Franklin Raines on steriods.

    There…you now have a national disaster. The Math Panel is the Dept. of the Treasury and Posamentier is Hank Paulson.

    Can we please, please now have our BAILOUT?

  14. OT – Does anyone know if there’ll be a VC meeting tonight?

    There’s no mention at the official site…

  15. they’re off on the wrong footing. is fishbein awake or just phoning it in?

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