Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Finishing off the Book Study Blog Hop of Balancing the Equation

What a wonderful and full week we have had with great math talk! Here's how the book ends...

Epilogue: Conclusion and Action Steps for Educators and Parents.


Both Educators and Parents needs to be on board to support more rigorous common math standards for all students and implement effective instructional strategies, as outlined in chapter 4. It might be one or both of the follow that is standing in our way from progressing.

Disagreement on Mathematics Learning Goals
So, should we focus on facts, skills, and procedures, or concepts and understanding? How should students learn--teacher directed with memorization, or student centered with reasoning and discovery?

Disagreement still exists today on learning styles, however the CCSS for mathematics define a common expectation for student learning in mathematics. The standards are coherent, focused, and have proper sequencing of math topics that promote student learning--both from research and through international comparisons.

There is a clear need to teach math at a deeper level so students understand concepts and are able to transfer those skills to solve problems. High quality standards help students understand the how (procedural skill), the why (conceptual understanding), and when (application) of mathematics.

Cultural Nature of Mathematics Teaching
Teaching is a cultural activity--we learn from the previous generation and often teach how we were taught.

Every adult has some conceived notion of what constitutes effective mathematics instruction looks like.  And although there are research-based practices that we are trying to implement, because it doesn't look identical to what we think is the best method we resist change. The authors compare this to a physician--would you rather them use up-to-date research to treat you or practices used generations ago?

Action Steps

"It is essential that we no longer debate the merits of either the CCSS for mathematics or any other set of coherent, comprehensive, and rigorous standards. Instead, we now have the opportunity to use standards that require a balance of procedural fluency with complex reasoning as a catalyst to raise expectations for student learning and support effective instructional practices in the classroom."

They then go on to discuss six action steps you can take which include things such as advocating for higher math expectations, using research-informed instructional strategies, and working with students to persevere when a challenging task arises. Expect student to develop both conceptual understanding and procedural fluency. Also, be willing to confront individuals who criticize math education based on opinion or half-truths.

We are encouraged as educators and parents to work together to balance the mathematics education equation and make equilibrium in math learning a reality for all students and future generations as well.

Appendix: Additional Resources for Parents

This provides additional resources that you might find useful as you support children's mathematics learning. They provide a nice description in the book, but I will list a few of the links below...

http://figurethis.nctm.org
http://gamequarium.org/dir/Gamequarium/Math
http://www2.ed.gov/parents/academic/help/math/index.html
http://hoodamath.com
http://nctm.org
http://www.nctm.org/standards-and-positions/common-core-state-standards/teaching-and-learning-mathematics-with-the-common-core/

The book is full of other links, but you really should buy the book for yourself because it is a great read, and as you have seen if you check through the links during this past week's blog hop, there are so many insights into how we can change mathematics teaching and learning for the better.

The remaining few last pages of the book has all the sited references and resources as well as a handy index if you are searching for a particular topic.

Recap

This has been an honor and a pleasure to read and do this blog hop with great math bloggers with the book Balancing the Equation. It is a call to action and a great resource for us to share with teacher friends and fellow parents as we strive to make everyone understand the importance of mathematics curriculum having an equilibrium. May we all work to advocate for our students learning the how, when, and why behind mathematics!

If you need to go back and reference any part of our hop, here is the schedule with links...

  • 7/5/16) Kids Math Teacher -- Table of Contents, About the Authors, and Introduction
  • 7/6/16 Evil Math Wizard -- Chapter 1: Why Mathematics Education Needs to Improve
  • 7/7/16 The Math Spot -- Chapter 2: A Brief History of Mathematics Education
  • 7/8/16 The Research Based Classroom -- Chapter 3: The Common Core Mathematics Debate
  • 7/9/16 Math Coach's Corner -- First half Chapter 4: The Equilibrium Position and Effective Mathematics Instruction
  • 7/10/16 The Recovering Traditionalist -- Second half Chapter 4: The Equilibrium Position and Effective Mathematics Instruction
  • 7/11/16 Guided Math Adventures -- Chapter 5: How to Help Your Child Learn Mathematics
  • 7/12/16 Kids Math Teacher -- Epilogue, Appendix, and Recap

  • Tell us what you have thought about this book study! Thank you!

    Tuesday, July 5, 2016

    Balancing the Equation Book Study Blog Hop

    Hello Everyone!

    I'm happy to introduce you to the start of a 8-day book study blog hop on the new book--Balancing the Equation: A Guide to School Mathematics for Educators & Parents by Matthew R. Larson & Timothy D. Kanold.

    Here is how the following week will unfold...
    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    If you look at the schedule above you can see the Table of Contents pretty well. This little 124 page book is chalk full of info and guidance for educators, parents, and anyone interested in children's math education! Within the Table of Contents are a very detailed breakdown of every couple of pages so you can easily flip to the section you are looking for.

    The authors of Balancing the Equation are not new to the mathematics education realm whatsoever.  
    • Matthew R. Larson, PhD is an award winning educator and currently is the president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). He was the K-12 Mathematics curriculum specialist for Lincoln Public Schools in Nebraska for more than twenty years. He is a frequent keynote speaker at U.S. and state mathematics meetings.
    • Timothy D. Kanold, PhD is also an award winning educator, author, and consultant. He currently serves as the director of Mathematics at Work, a K-12 school improvement program. He is also a past president of the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM) and had coauthored several award-winning mathematics textbooks since the late 1980s.
    Here is Dr. Larson speaking at the NCTM 2016 Annual Meeting and Exposition in San Francisco. You can tell how passionate he is about math education.

    The Introduction to the book starts off with the word equilibrium and its definition-- A state in which opposing forces or influences are balanced.  It then goes on to state how much they love math and the students that are learning it. We all want what is best for the students and we all want to see them succeed. It is difficult for the authors to see how much K-12 mathematics education has been under attack.

    They then go on to explain that this book is meant to be for any and all educators responsible for K-12 mathematics education as well as parents, grandparents, and anyone involved in students success in mathematics. Both these groups can effectively use this book whether it helps to understand the outcomes and instructional strategies for math learning or the reading of this book may deepen the understanding of mathematics education and what is taking place in schools.

    The main purpose of the book started out to clarify misunderstandings regarding the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) but it became more than that for the authors. They want to "ensure that the hope and promise for improving K-12 mathematics teaching and learning, which characterized the first few years after 2010, is not lost on students." They state that the math curricula in the 1980s and 1990s with respect to instructional approach, content, and assessment practices failed to represent the needed state of equilibrium and as a result, "consistently failed to serve students well enough."

    Equilibrium in mathematics education that has balanced the equation is an instructional approach that blends procedural fluency, conceptual understanding, and problem solving--thus students learn how to do math, why math works, and when to apply it. The authors want to provide accurate information to help with the following.

    • Explain why we need to raise expectations for effective teaching and learning of math immediately.
    • Show how math education debates have only made a constant disequilibrium and dysfunction toward successful teaching of K-12 mathematics.
    • Explain why parents must support effective math teaching and learning for their children in this Common Core reform era.
    • Define math literacy.
    • Outline how educators and parents can help their child successfully learn mathematics and offer actions to take.
    Throughout the book they will be giving peer-reviewed research to stay away from mere opinions and misunderstandings. Thus, they will be giving facts to support their statements.

    The book seems to be divided well for anyone who wants to learn more about mathematics education. Part I consists of chapters 1-3 which is primarily geared towards educators and then Part II has chapters 4 and 5 for parents and the expectations they should advocate for K-12 math teaching and learning in school.

    The epilogue was written to both educators and parents and offers the authors' reflection why mathematics education must change and why it is so challenging to implement. Although, they reassure that efforts educators and parents make can result in better learning opportunities for students.

    I feel the messages and purpose of this book are sincere and Dr. Larson and Dr. Kanold are coming to us with facts and information that should not be overlooked. Many people in the general public have been misinformed about mathematics education and it is time to work together and help children understand the the how, why, and when of mathematics.

    Tomorrow please continue on our book study blog hop with Evil Math Wizard and Chapter 1.

    We want to hear your voice about math education. In my life great math teachers have made a world of difference and the positive attitudes of adults as I grew up helped my love for math.

    Friday, July 1, 2016

    Guest Post: How to Use Tessalation! in the Classroom

    Hello Everyone, I'm happy to be the first stop along the Tessalation! Book blog tour! Now I'll turn the time over to Emily...

    Hi, I’m Emily Grosvenor, the author of the children’s picture book Tessalation!, a book about patterns and wonder.

    I first learned about tessellations in a fourth grade gifted class. As a dreamy, creative kid who didn’t connect easily with math class, I loved how learning about tessellations offered me a back-door approach to learning a math concept.

    Naturally, that isn’t what I thought at the time. I’m sure my thoughts must have been something along the lines of: “Tessellations are awesome! I can do this!”

    As an adult, I see something even more special in tessellations beyond the coolness factor. To me, they are indicative of the natural order to be found in nature, a way to see that there is a strong connection between math and the world as it is.

    So when I set out to write Tessalation!, I had an image of elementary school math teachers using it as a jumping off point for a discussion of tessellations. After all, you shouldn’t have to be in a gifted class to love or learn about tessellations.

    Age groups

    Tessalation! is designed to have two entry points for children, making it appropriate for kids ages Kindergarten through 4th grade.

    • Kindergarten and 1st graders enjoy looking at the images, noticing which of the pages are patterned, and discovering where Tessa is hiding in the pattern.
    • Older children will resonate more strongly with the books themes and will be inspired to make their own tessellations.


    Tessalation! for Kindergartners / 1st graders

    Credit: Emily Grosvenor 2016 The Pacific Science Center
    in Seattle has a tessellation station.
    Step 1: What is a pattern?

    Talk to the children about what a pattern is. Are there patterns in your classroom you can point out? If you are at home, are there places where you can direct their attention to repeated patterns, like in the tiles of the floor, or on curtains? Is there a chain-link fence you can show them? By Kindergarten, children are likely to be able to decipher between a pattern and a tessellation (tiling mosaic pattern with no overlaps and no wholes), but it is far more important at this stage in the game to simply be able to recognize a pattern.

    Step 2: Read Tessalation!
    Tessalation! is the story of a little girl who gets sent outside to the backyard. There, she hides in the patterns of nature.

    It contains 16 illustrated pages, including seven pages of tessellations.
    Here is an example of a tessellated page.
     As you read through the book, ask the children to find Tessa in the pattern. Then ask them: What is being repeated in the pattern? Is there something you see again and again? Ask them what they notice about the pattern. What is their favorite pattern in the book and why?

    Step 3: Hands-on

    If you have toys that tessellate, bring them out and play with them. Some examples include: Checkers, these tiling turtles, triangle mania, or hexactly. If you don’t have access to any of these, it might make sense to cut out several of the same shapes, such as a triangle or square, and allow the pupil to tessellate the shape themselves.

    Credit: Christopher Danielson, Talking Math with Kids

    Tessalation! for grade school children

    Step 1: Read Tessalation!

    Credit: 2016 Emily Grosvenor, Tessalation!

    Older children should respond positively to the natural themes in the book. Each of the tessellations features an animal, fungus or plant in a tiled mosaic pattern. For these children, finding Tessa won’t be an issue (they might balk at being asked to find her), but they will nevertheless be inspired by the story and the images to create their own tessellations.

    Step 2: Pattern or Tessellation?

    What is a pattern, what is a tessellation, and what is the difference? By these ages, children will easily be able to identify a pattern, but you should open a discussion about the difference between the two.

    Look around your classroom. Are there patterns you can point out? Are they tessellations – repeating tiled mosaics of the same shape over and over again? Or are they merely patterns? In the book, which patterns are tessellations and which are simply patterns?

    Step 3: DIY Tessellation

    Once the pupils understand what a tessellation is, they will be ready to make one themselves. There are three regular polygons that tessellate: squares, triangles and hexagons.
    If you are making your own, I generally suggest you begin with a square, since they are easiest to cut en masse.

    Use this tutorial from Tessalation! to show children how to create a tessellated square, but invite them to make their own shape to tessellate.

    If you’d like a video walkthrough of how to do a tessellation, this YouTube video shows an easy-to- follow method.

    Do you have time left over? I have made some tessellation and story pages directly from the book, which you are welcome to print out from my website. Warning: The tessellating turtles page is for advanced coloring!

    Have fun tessellating, and let me know what you think.
    * * * * * * * *
    Emily Grosvenor is the author of Tessalation!, a math story book about patterns and wonder. You can
    find her on Twitter @emilygrosvenor or read more of her work at http://www.emilygrosvenor.com.

    The book can be pre-ordered directly from Waldorf books: http://www.waldorfbooks.com/item_3557.htm
    and the Kindle version can be purchased on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Tessalation-Emily-Grosvenor-ebook/dp/B01FF2VN6W?ie=UTF8&keywords=Tessalation&qid=1462993134&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1#navbar

    Thanks for visiting Kids Math Teacher today and I want to thank Emily for this great post! Let us know what you think... Congratulations Emily on the successful Kickstarter and I wish Tessalation! the best in book success!

    Thursday, June 30, 2016

    Upcoming posts for July--a children's book blog tour and a book study blog hop!

    June was a busy and fun month for me and finally my kids are home and on summer vacation, which makes taking time for blog posts a bit more difficult.

    I have a few blog posts lined up for you though.  Starting tomorrow I am the first stop along the Tessalation! book blog tour.  You can see the lineup here: http://www.tessalationbook.com/publishing-blog/the-tessalation-blog-tour-starts-july-1

    Then I have gotten together with a great group of math-minded teachers to bring you a book blog tour for Matthew Larson & Timothy Kanold's Balancing the Equation: A Guide to School Mathematics for Educators and Parents.

    That will start on the 5th of July.  Have a wonderful 4th everyone and hopefully you can stop by tomorrow to see the beginning of the blog tour and leave a cool comment : )

    Tuesday, June 14, 2016

    Preparing for presentations and selling at The Great Homeschool Convention in Ontario, CA

    Hello everyone,

    I'm prepping to go to The Great Homeschool Convention in a couple days in Ontario, CA! The Great Homeschool Conventions host four conventions a year in the spring in different places in the US.

    For a smaller business like mine it was a big leap to be a vendor, but I hope to be able to share my knowledge as I give two talks and as I sell my book there.

    My talks are entitled "Making Math Interactive: Tips & Tricks for how to turn math problems and everyday items into hands-on fun!" and "Hands-on Math Activities: How to connect everyday activities with math and get kids excited about it!"  I am happy to share the hand out with you after my presentation!

    The convention goes on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and luckily I get to give my presentations first thing Friday morning, two one hour sessions almost to back with a 30 minute break between sessions.  I have some great tips and suggestions planned as well as talking a bit about my book : )
    Wish me luck! Thanks!
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