Everyone is born with “an affinity for mathematics,” according to EDC’s Wayne Harvey. “But people typically underestimate their mathematical abilities,” he says. What turns many of us off is not mathematics itself, but what Harvey calls “school mathematics” or “textbook mathematics,” which he feels amounts to little more than learning the results of someone else’s work.
Bogged down by rote-memorization drills and predictable homework exercises, EDC’s Al Cuoco was frustrated teaching math in the 1970’s. “Like many math teachers, I was always dissatisfied with most of the commercially available curricula I had.” Over the past five years, he has been working on behalf of today’s teachers “to create the texts I always yearned for.” As principal designer of a major mathematics textbook initiative, the CME Project, he says he is nearing his goal.
Over the past 25 years, the number of school-age children in the U.S. who speak a language other than English at home has increased from 3.8 to 9.9 million. These students often lag behind their peers academically and schools are struggling to find ways to increase their level of achievement. The challenges in mathematics class are especially difficult.
Seeking to improve mathematics education at the graduate level, EDC’s new Center for the Scholarship of School Mathematics is hosting a summer institute for university faculty. During the weeklong institute, faculty members will explore mathematics curricula at the K–12 level and then design similar experiences for their doctoral students.
Like many math teachers over the last three decades, Al Cuoco of the Center for Mathematics Education (CME) was dissatisfied with most of the commercially available curricula. For the past five years, he has worked “to create the mathematics texts I always yearned for.”
Thousands of teachers across the nation teach a wide range of learners, and with No Child Left Behind and IDEA legislation, they are increasingly accountable for the performance of all their students, including those with disabilities.
EDC is working on a new English translation
of an obscure French textbook, Geometrie
Elementaire, a simple yet highly influential text more than 100 years old, written by Jaques Hadamard, considered a giant of 20th century mathematics.
Chanté genuinely loves teaching seventh grade math. But she feels overwhelmed by the wide range of students in her class—a third of whom have disabilities. And she worries that by making accommodations for them she may be watering down the mathematics.
After almost five years of research and testing in 150 classrooms with more than 3,500 students, EDC is launching a new K–5 mathematics curriculum. Think Math! developed by EDC’s Division of Mathematics Learning and Teaching, will be published in January 2007 by Harcourt School Publishers.
The Department of Defense Education Activity
operates 200 schools in 13 countries that enroll more
than 100,000 students—the children of military
service members and Department of Defense civilian
employees. EDC is providing online training and
materials to nearly 3,000 teachers who work in
EDC has been selected by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as a lead organization to implement the Assistance to Basic Education (ABE/BE) initiative, USAID’s new Indefinite Quantity Contract mechanism to support quality basic education around the world.
As fewer young people opt for careers in science, technology, engineering,
and mathematics (STEM), the National Science Foundation has funded
EDC to develop a resource designed to engage young people in career
exploration and development.
Robin Fies stands at the blackboard in a small auditorium at Watertown High School in Massachusetts as 16
teenagers pass through the door and take their seats. In her 30 years
of teaching high school mathematics, Fies has seen just about every
classroom configuration possible, from lectures and rows to small
groups to the open classroom. But today her precalculus class looks
different than it ever has before.
For students who are struggling with math, finding exciting and engaging ways to interest them in the subject and help them succeed can be a difficult task. There is no shortage of web sites and software packages that help students practice their skills, but these can often lead to frustration for students. Integrating math with other disciplines into hands-on, project-based learning activities can transform math from a daunting and overwhelming subject to an approachable and practical set of skills.
Bernie Zubrowski, a senior scientist at EDC’s Center for Science Education, has been recently recognized, both nationally and regionally, for his distinguished contributions to the world of children’s science education.
For more than thirty years, Paul Goldenberg has worked on the front lines of the “math wars,” watching as educators, researchers, and communities battle over the relative merits of competing approaches to mathematics education: Traditional “drill and practice” instruction versus “reform math”; back-to-basics versus “Standards-based” methods.
Boston University—in partnership with Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) and five Boston-area school districts—has been awarded a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation to build a mathematical community of expert teachers who will collaborate with university mathematicians and educators in a sustained effort to increase student achievement.
When Maine Governor Angus King first proposed last year to provide
a laptop computer to every middle school student, many educational
technology experts considered it to be a courageous experiment,
but were concerned
that it put the
cart before the horse—that technology would drive, rather than serve, educational practices.
The school administrators’ role has never been more challenging. They oversee increasingly complex, high-tech facilities while serving more and more diverse communities. But the central task remains the same: improving teaching and learning within a school or a district.
Frustrated with the standard lecture approach to mathematics, teachers have developed a hands-on, interactive lesson that uses the relative heat of chili peppers to introduce and explore the mathematics concepts of properties and logarithms.
The GE Fund today released a new study that documents obstacles and solutions for improving minority and female student performance in pursuing careers in science, engineering, and technology (SET). Upping the Numbers, co-authored by EDC and Campbell-Kibler Associates, is one of the first studies to gather data on what really works to increase under-represented students’ interest and success in these fields.
Last June, NASA sent up a probe to gather information on the shape of the universe. Last week, Jeff Weeks showed a group of Massachusetts secondary math teachers how tic-tac-toe and other familiar games can help students explore similar questions.
Over the past decade, thousands of school districts around the country have implemented mathematics curricula based on the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics. These Standards, first published in 1989 and revised in 2000, laid out a new vision for the teaching and learning of mathematics, and prompted the development of new curricula at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.
The Internet is full of math problems, but many of them are pointless, says EDC’s Paul Goldenberg. They exist solely to practice what a student already knows, without leading to or developing larger concepts or questions. In such cases, he says, “the individual problems don’t matter, and neither do the answers.”
According to researchers in EDC’s Center for Mathematics Education, traditional mathematics curricula have neglected visual mathematics in favor of verbal and logical approaches that may not work as well for many students.