2015: The year of curriculum-based reform? You may have missed it over the holidays, but NPR ran a fascinating profile of Jason Zimba, one of the primary architects of the Common Core math standards. The piece, by the Hechinger Report’s Sarah Garland, an exceptionally thoughtful education reporter, traces Zimba’s career from Rhodes scholar and David Coleman’s business partner to “obscure physics professor at Bennington College” and unlikely standards bearer for the math standards that he had so much to do with creating. Garland makes much of the fact that Zimba spends Saturday mornings tutoring his two young daughters in math. We’re told he feels the math his kids are getting at their local Manhattan public school is subpar, and that’s even after the school began implementing Common Core. Some will surely see irony in Zimba feeling compelled to supplement what his kids learn in school with breakfast-table math lessons—more schadenfreude for Common Core critics—but there is no irony. This is an awakening too long in coming.

Mrs Crosbie: TRAGEDY! Most of my schools will be looking at the Olympics at some point this term. I am no great sportsman, so this is my contribution - the Ancient Greeks - tragedy and comedy. This term is all about 3d and sculpture. Times are hard and resources are hard to come by, so we are starting off with card. Based on the theatrical masks of Ancient Greece, the class chose tragic or comedic characters. A second piece of card was used to make a nose and brow and glued to the face at an angle to form a realistic profile. Hair, beards and laurel wreaths were added using curled and scored card scraps. What makes a good Common Core math question? By Emmanuel Felton Both the math and English Common Core standards have their share of critics but it’s math that gets special condemnation, as the new problem worksheets land on kitchen tables across the country. Parents are taking to the Internet to air their frustrations by posting puzzling problems from the new standards. So the question on the minds of many of the educators who gathered for the 25th annual conference of the Association of Mathematics Teachers of New Jersey was, what does a good common core question look like? “Students should grapple with language,” said David Wees, who designs Common Core aligned math questions at New Visions for Public Schools. RELATED: Why is this Common Core math problem so hard? Jamie Wall, lead math teacher at Brooklawn Middle School in Parsippany, New Jersey, spent the summer revising her school’s math curriculum in anticipation of the state’s new end-of-year exams. RELATED: More teachers are souring on Common Core, finds one survey

Dipsticks: Efficient Ways to Check for Understanding What strategy can double student learning gains? According to 250 empirical studies, the answer is formative assessment, defined by Bill Younglove as "the frequent, interactive checking of student progress and understanding in order to identify learning needs and adjust teaching appropriately." Unlike summative assessment, which evaluates student learning according to a benchmark, formative assessment monitors student understanding so that kids are always aware of their academic strengths and learning gaps. Meanwhile, teachers can improve the effectiveness of their instruction, re-teaching if necessary. Alternative formative assessment (AFA) strategies can be as simple (and important) as checking the oil in your car -- hence the name "dipsticks." In the sections below, we'll discuss things to consider when implementing AFAs. Observation: A Key Practice in Alternative Formative Assessment A fundamental element of most AFAs is observation. New to Alternative Formative Assessment?

Where Is Your Homework Grade Now? The Photomath app can solve simple problems just by looking at them. Rhett Allain Do you have math homework? Are you in a hurry to finish that page of 30 algebra problems? Worry no more, check out this app – PhotoMath. Basically, it just uses your phone’s camera to look at your math problem and BOOM. But won’t students just use this to cheat on their homework? Yes. Really, the only new thing here is that the level of effort to cheat has been reduced. Why is this app a good thing? Let me start with an analogy. Yes. The motorcycle is the PhotoMath app (and others like it). Let’s focus on the problems that only humans can solve. I hope you don’t get the wrong idea. There are other problems besides these tedious types that the PhotoMath app can solve. There.

Preposition Games Prepositions are one of the eight major parts of speech. They are a fairly important part of speech, as they help to determine the relationship between all of the other words in a sentence. Prepositions are often referred to as relationship word or direction words, since they dictate how the nouns, pronouns and phrases relate to each other or together in a sentence. Without prepositions, it would be very difficult to communicate meaning. For example, a sentence that says, "the book is the table" has very little meaning; but, a sentence that says "the book is on the table" suddenly makes a lot more sense with the addition of the word "on." A great way to teach prepositions is with the use of games. Teaching prepositions can be both fun and easy with the help of some simple preposition games. Name That Preposition The first preposition game can simply involve helping students to brainstorm as many prepositions that they can think of. Preposition Scavenger Hunt Prepositions in Context

Algebra LAB Finding Overlap in the Common Math, Language Arts, and Science Standards A few years ago, Tina Cheuk, a project manager for the Understanding Language initiative at Stanford University, woke up one morning, printed out several new sets of standards, and started cutting. "I was frustrated," she said in a phone interview yesterday. Looking at the Common Core State Standards in English/language arts and math, along with the framework that would become the Next Generation Science Standards, she said, "I felt overwhelmed. And that was my full-time job looking at standards." Cheuk, a former teacher, saw patterns in the standards and began organizing them accordingly. She came up with this Venn diagram, which shows how the practice standards overlap (you can also find it, with a key, here): With the common standards, "there are changes in the content—it's deeper, more focused—but it's these practices I think that are going to move our students," Cheuk said. The diagram is not exactly new—it was last updated over a year ago.

Developing brains switch maths strategies Philippe Lissac/Godong/Corbis Children develop more efficient strategies for tackling maths problems as their brains mature. For most adults, adding small numbers requires little effort, but for some children, it can take all ten fingers and a lot of time. Research published online on 17 August in Nature Neuroscience1 suggests that changes in the hippocampus — a brain area associated with memory formation — could help to explain how children eventually pick up efficient strategies for mathematics, and why some children learn more quickly than others. Vinod Menon, a developmental cognitive neuroscientist at Stanford University in California, and his colleagues presented single-digit addition problems to 28 children aged 7–9, as well as to 20 adolescents aged 14–17 and 20 young adults. Committed to memory The researchers saw this developmental change begin to unfold when they tested the same children at two time points, about one year apart. Connections that count

Math concepts + teamwork = big gains at struggling Renton school | Education Originally published July 14, 2014 at 8:54 PM | Page modified July 16, 2014 at 10:02 AM Nearly three years ago, Elham Kazemi stood before teachers at Lakeridge Elementary with more bad news about their students’ math skills. The teachers at the Renton School District school already knew they had a big problem. But Kazemi, a University of Washington professor, had more distressing details. When she and her colleagues asked students to solve a half-dozen word problems, most just added numbers together, even if the problem asked them to subtract or multiply. Only a very few fifth-graders could solve problems with the skill that, in other schools, was common in third or even second grade. Principal Jessica Calabrese, then new to the school, can still picture Kazemi in the school library that day, wearing a long cardigan and a look of pain. “It wasn’t just some students struggling,” Calabrese said, “it was nearly all of them.” Labeled as failing Ideas from students Adjusting instruction

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