Tuesday, October 26, 2010

For Some, Understanding Math May Always Be Distant Target!

Crossroads by StuffEyeSee
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

For some teachers, even some "good" teachers, understanding mathematics will always be a distant target within a warren of incomprehensible facts and rules. You've heard teachers make statements like: "I never liked Math!" "I just don't understand why this math skill has to be in the curriculum!" "Is this too advanced?".

In trying to understand those who teach mathematics, valid research is available that seeks to interpret elementary school teachers' math teaching success, especially as it relates to their attitudes and capabilities. Take your pick of any of this research on Teacher's Attitudes Towards Mathematics. The idea that many of our peers have a fear of math and lack the basic understanding of what they are trying to teach should not be a surprise.

Therefore, it is easy to understand that teachers who do like and understand mathematics and its place in the school curriculum make up the minority of teachers. Most likely, there will be a gulf between their ideas about teaching math and those of the teachers who are weak in math. Those who "get it" tend to be more organized in their approach to teaching the children, while those who don't get it tend to look for a fluffy way to teach something that is NOT ephemeral. Math has organization, boundaries, rules....

In the elementary school, teachers must understand that all this logic of math is based on the Real Number System. Although it's NOT ROCKET SCIENCE, it's NOT FLUFFY either.

In mathematics, we look for ways to talk about how to solve a problem, but we also MUST support a system of understanding for students. That's where the organization comes into play. The more the teacher understands and feels comfortable with the ideas and facts of math, the easier it is for students to do the same. Then this teacher will help the students, in a concrete way, develop a clear understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. This teacher will use any and all available data provided through testing in the class or the school to bring success in math to all students.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Rose By Any Other Name

a helpful friend by 46137
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

When someone wants to create a stir, make a buck, or earn a doctorate, they give the old wine a new name. Now is no different. Infographics are graphic organizers, sometimes called data visualizations, formerly referred to as charts and graphs.

There are some good examples here, but many of these are very weak in correlating data in a way that makes it more accessable.

Always be careful when you use free websites. Read the fine print of who owns your work, once you've used the web application. Unless they have changed their rules, Many Eyes (owned by IBM) owns your data visualization, so I don't use it.

No matter what, data visualization, oooooops infographics are here to stay. Using the best ones can help us understand concepts better than ever.

Amplify’d from www.makeuseof.com

10 Awesome Free Tools To Make Infographics


Wordle lets you create word visualisations using text you enter. There are plenty of interesting designs to choose from. Enter whole books, short passages or see what other people have used. In this example, we can see the US constitution visualised.


GapMinder is a free Adobe Air (cross-platform by nature) application to ensure you have current data on major world issues and can create visualisations for your purposes. Data is updated yearly and released with new versions of the application. The visuals are also quite impressive!


Inkscape is a free vector graphic software available for many platforms. This is the ideal free option for the creation of your overall infographic. Simple and intuitive, you should have no problems importing your visualisations and combining them with other visuals to create your masterpiece.

See more at www.makeuseof.com


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pull Ourselves Up By Our OWN Bootstraps!

Are there American Education historians who can reach in and define the core issues that plague American Public Education?

Yes, I believe there are! 

The two historians who immediately come to mind are Carl F. Kaestle and David B. Tyack. Their historical analyses of American Schools still resonate and relate directly to our current round of teacher bashing, while we're all "Looking for Superman."

I would like to recommend that you read Opportunity to Comment: Elevate Educators to Professional Status before you read this article. I believe it will provide a clear contextual background for our current dilemma in American Public Education.

June 4th 2008 - Is There An Imposter In My Booth? by Stephen Poff
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License
The era of the EXPERT, aka HERO, is over. This is a relief. There are so many of us with wide-ranging experience and education, we can't turn our future over to the "pie in the sky experts". They will only disappoint us.

The teachers in the trenches are also experts, even if they haven't done some quasi-experimental research or written books, simply because they didn't have monetary backing to do it.

Because I believe that each one of us has expertise to share, I will continue to live by my mantra of research:
Case in point: My belief in Diane Ravitch, as a defender of American Public Education was destroyed several years ago, yet I'm just as much to blame for letting her slide back into the "role of the great expert".

I've decided not to let that happen. I've decided to make my heroes work for their label.
  • I can't believe in her expertise until I understand that she accepts her role as a power broker in convincing educators to go along with NCLB in the first place. 
  • I can't believe in her expertise until I understand that she has stopped talking the blame game and begins to be more assertive with the opponents of American Public Education.
Here is a sample interview that generally characterizes Dr. Diane Ravitch's viewpoint of her role in the NCLB fiasco.

This interview is OK, yet Dr. Ravitch still doesn't seem to recognize that many in Congress and early adopters were affected by HER initial, and unexpected, support for No Child Left Behind....

In response to her statements in this interview, I've answered some of her concerns:

Yes, I've read your work over the past three years, yet I will continue to have concerns about your recommendations in the future. Mostly because of what I believe is your grave misunderstanding of the real impetus of the NCLB legislation. The entire purpose was to begin the destruction of the American Public Schools.

My core concern is about your lack of understanding of your own power....I really WANT to believe that you didn't understand how powerful you were.

At the time of the first NCLB initiatives, your support was critical because Dr. Ravitch, you are an expert in our profession, at such a level of distinction, that your suggestions carried great weight with lawmakers and educators in our country.

It was such a shock, to me, that you didn't understand the serious consequences of your actions at the time, while many of us NON experts did. It seemed so surreal to me.

The consequences of the actions of this Pandora act will continue to reverberate throughout our American Education system for decades. I just hope a vibrant, American PUBLIC Education System will survive.