Tag Archives: P2

RIP Jaime Escalante, 1930–March 30 2010

Jaime Escalante was born in La Paz, Bolivia in 1930. Both of his parents were teachers who worked in a small Aymara Indian village called Achacachi. He became a teacher himself, and developed a widespread reputation for excellence during 12 years of teaching math and physics in Bolivia.

Click to play video.

Mr. Escalante’s many teaching awards include the Presidential Medal for Excellence in Education, the Andres Bello Prize from the Organization of American States and the Free Spirit Award from the Freedom Forum, a foundation affiliated with USA Today and dedicated to the preservation of the First Amendment. He was also inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame in 1999.

In the spring of 1998, Mr. Escalante announced his retirement from teaching.

Mr. Escalante passed away on Tuesday, March 30, 2010.

In 1974, Mr. Escalante was hired as a basic mathematics teacher at Garfield High School, a troubled inner-city school in East Los Angeles. His spectacular success teaching advanced mathematics to gang members and other students who had been considered "unteachable" attracted national attention. When his story was told in the acclaimed film "Stand and Deliver" (1988), Escalante became a national hero.
From 1974 until 1991, Mr. Escalante taught in the L.A. Unified School System. From 1991 until 1998, he taught algebra and calculus for the Sacramento Unified School District.
To reach more students, he became the host of the acclaimed PBS television series, "FUTURES". "FUTURES" introduces students to the exciting and astonishing variety of math and science-based careers. It became one of the most popular classroom programs in the history of PBS and has been honored with more than 50 awards from educational and professional organizations including the highest honor in the broadcasting field, the George Foster Peabody Award. He also appeared in two family specials for PBS, "Math…Who Needs It?!" and "Living and Working in Space: The Countdown Has Begun." Both have received multiple awards and continue to be popular among teachers, parents and students.
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  © Copyright 2009 . All rights reserved.

Esquith on Peer Relations

I have learned that before I decide if a kid is truly special, I had better observe and listen to his peers. They are a much better judge of a child’s worth and potential than I. They are the ones who know if the child is nice to play with, easy to get along with, and honest and decent. As teachers or parents, we have a very limited view. Yes, we have a lot to say, but so do our children. (Esquith, 2008).

There is a riveting section of There are no shortcuts where the author describes three students of whom he was particularly fond.  That’s not the riveting part, of course, since Esquith is known for his charismatic, no-nonsense classrooms.  The riveting part is his description of how one of these students later went on to write a scathing criticism of their former teacher and his methods.  The vitriol in this one letter shattered Esquith, and he took quite some time to recover from the blows dealt him.

The portion germane to this week’s discussion in EDU6132 is how completely oblivious this gifted teacher was to the real events and the real character traits of students in his classroom.  The lesson I take from this chapter in the book is how poor a judge the teacher can be of the true peer dynamics going on in the classroom.  That’s the gist of the quote above.

What then is the teacher to do?  All that perhaps can be done is to recognize that a teacher will always see some of what they want to see in the classroom and ignore the rest.  As the quote above indicates, the teacher needs to corroborate any judgment of character with a students’ peers.

The other part I take from this story is the real inability any teacher has to make students like one another.  Respect is a pretty high bar when you see that one young adult in the classroom really does *not* want to be sitting at a table with this other young adult.  You can enforce positive peer relations through rules, but you can’t make a student like another.

Finally, Esquith relates that his class mission statement:  “Be nice, work hard.” was developed in direct response to this episode in his teaching career.  The quintessential statement embodies his hope not only for students and their academic growth but also their character development.  And that, of course is at the bottom of peer relations.  And although we will all fail, we need to see the way forward is growth.

I was no longer anguished about the [three students]; I was upset with myself for not having given them a chance to see a different type of human being. I did not want these children to be like everyone else, but I had never clearly shown them the possibility of a different kind of existence. I was upset because I had been a poor teacher. (Esquith, 2008).


Esquith, R. (2008).  There are no shortcuts.  Anchor Books.

This post is also here:

John Mighton and his JUMP Program

also posted on my bportfolio


I’ve been doing some research lately on John Mighton and his JUMP Math program.

David Ornstein wrote an article on JUMP in the New York Times. Mighton, the founder of the program, has written a curriculum for grades 1-8 in which he has broken down key mathematics algorithms into steps that ensure more mastery and learning.

Mighton states "Before children can read, they must acquire an extraordinary number of visual, auditory and cognitive skills. But children can master a great deal of mathematics simply by counting on their fingers (something we have evolved to excel at)." For example, the JUMP method teaches multiplication by repeated addition on fingers. As students get proficient with this, they can learn division and are soon passing standardardized tests on fractions with ease.

Mighton argues that all children can succeed. This has been supported by some preliminary studies and by the success of the program in some schools that have been early adopters of JUMP. The results have shocked some teachers who are not used to giving out all A’s to their *whole* class. This has been observed in classes with children of diverse abilities and SES. Mighton makes particulary strong claims that his curriculum can help even those who have long given up on mathematics, i.e. adults.

The part that I thought particularly relevant to our EDU6132 discussions was the cognitive justification that Mighton makes for his methods. By using micro-steps to teach algorithms and processes and by not moving on until everyone in the class has successfully achieved competency, he argues that the cognitive overload is decreased which fosters more learning. This intense scaffolding of the procedures to be learned ensures student success, which increases confidence. By building upon a chain of successes, all students are able to achieve at higher levels.

For more information, i.e. free download of teacher workbooks, see http://www.jumpmath.org


Mighton, J. (2004). The myth of ability: Nurturing mathematical talent in every child. Walker & Company.

Ornstein, D. (2011, April 11). A Better Way to Teach Math. The New York Times. Retrieved online April 30, 2011 from


Some Final Items for EDU6133

Here are links to my Sample Lesson Plan Packet, and the Powerpoint for my Presentation in fulfillment of classroom requirements for EDU6133.

Showcase Lesson Packet (Lesson Justification, Lesson Plan, Unit Plan, Classroom and Student Characteristics)

Class Presentation (120 MB PowerPoint, has the movie in it)

A Reflection on Schlesinger, A.M. Jr. (1998) The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society. 3rd ed. Norton .

I read the whole book over the Christmas Holidays, so wanted to go a little slower in light of what we have been talking about in EDU 6133.

Foreword & Chapter 1:  A New Race?


Historically America has been exceptional.  In its founding principles, in its composition, and in its flaws, this country has walked its own path.  Schlesinger trumpets this with quotes from George Washington, Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, Alexis de Tocqueville, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Millard Fillmore, Teddy Roosevelt, W.E.B. DuBois, Woodrow Wilson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Gunnar Myrdal, Martin Luther King, F Scott Fitzgerald, to Mario Cuomo.  In fact, there is no shortage of reflectors or reflections, paeans and perspectives on the American Experiment.

This destination of countless million immigrants has survived thus far by forging from those alloyed masses, a single identity, i.e. that of the “American”.  The retrograde sentiment of reviving class and clan is seen as a positively backward step, and one that does not bode well for the Republic.


There is tremendous fodder here for politicians on left and right to propose and lament, diagnose and comment, what our course should be moving forward.  Where Schlesinger sees European heritage as a historical fact, and thus valid, he knows that folks across the aisle see that hegemony as the root of the evil that almost caused the fledgling Republic to be stillborn.  Schlesinger is mostly quiet on the duties of the existing status quo to right old wrongs or continue striving for equity in all forums and in all forms.


Personally I find the book eminently thought-provoking.  I believe in American exceptionalism.  I am proud to be an American.  I do not turn a blind eye to her faults.  I believe in progress and the ability to right old wrongs or prevent new ones.  I subscribe to the Myrdal’s “American Creed”.

The schools teach the principles of the  Creed, Myrdal said; the churches preach them; the courts hand down judgments in their terms.  Myrdal showed why the Creed held out hope even for those most brutally excluded by the white majority, the Creed acting as the spur forever goading white Americans to live up to their proclaimed principles, the Creed providing the legal structure that gives the wronged the means of fighting for their rights.  “America,” Myrdal said, “is continuously struggling for its soul.”



Schlesinger decries the new factionalism under the name of multiculturalism, asserting that diversity fanatics are taking us in the wrong direction.  From our class we have consistently defined diversity as race, ethnicity, spiritual practice, sexual orientation, gender, age, socio-economic status, physical abilities, political beliefs or other ideologies.  This book is only treating dangers he perceives in emphasizing the pluribus of race and ethnicity over the unum of the American experience.  Thus I don’t believe he is really countering multiculturalism in all its dimensions.  Nor do I think he would argue against acceptance and respect in those other dimensions.  That he would admit that fundamentally a system made up of individuals could be racist and need reforming is doubtful.  That he would approve of active means to correct wrongs done to individuals in any of those aspects of diversity is also doubtful.

Looking forward to re-reading the other chapters and Epilogue and commenting further.

Chapter 2: History the Weapon


In this chapter Schlesinger argues that those who write history have often interpreted that history for their own ends.  As examples he cites:  Russian, German, Japanese and Czech civilizations that have all suffered under the effects of history as weapon.  In this country, historically marginalized communities like the Irish, or the Catholics or the Jews have risen up and asserted their voices in history.  Most notable to Schlesinger in recent times are the African Studies scholars and proponents of Afrocentrism.  


Schlesinger writes that “the corruption of history by nationalism is instructive (p. 53).”  Nationalism is one “fever” sweeping the world, and also seems to infecting the US.  There are two types of history that are used to protect the ruling class, “top-dog history” also referred to as “exculpatory history” and “underdog history” which he also refers to as “compensatory history”.  The struggle between those is a main topic of the rest of this chapter.


I find this chapter non-controversial.  It was Winston Churchill that said “History is written by the victors.”  This saying has been played out over and over again in the course of human experience.  That te pendulum of historical reporting swings back from one side of the story to another side seems inevitable.  That Afrocentrism was a response to Eurocentric histories and an attempt to reverse their biases and remedy their shortcomings seems laudable.  I do not disagree that marginalized cultures need some sense of history and a means to mediate their claims and contributions. 


I believe the following quote sums up this chapter:

Salvation lies in breaking the white, Eurocentric, racist grip on the curriculum and providing education that responds to colored races, colored histories, colored ways of learning and behaving. Europe has reigned long enough; it is the source of most of the evil in the world anyway; and the time is overdue to honor the African contributions to civilization so purposefully suppressed in Eurocentric curricula. Children from nonwhite minorities, so long persuaded of their inferiority by the white hegemons, need the support and inspiration that identification with role models of the same color will give them. (p. 70)

Chapter 3: The Battle of the Schools





Chapter 4: The Decomposition of America





Chapter 5: E Pluribus Unum?





Epilogue: Multiculturalism, Monoculturalism, and the Bill of Rights:  Update on the Culture Wars





Reflection: How does differentiating instruction address the goals of a transformative multicultural learning environment?

James A. Banks (2010) gives a summary of multicultural education thus.

Multicultural education is an idea stating that all students, regardless of the groups to which they belong, such as those related to gender, ethnicity, race, culture, language, social class, religion, or exceptionality, should experience educational equality in the schools. Some students, because of their particular characteristics, have a better chance to succeed in school as it is currently structured than students from other groups. Multicultural education is also a reform movement designed to bring about a transformation of the school so that students from both genders and from diverse cultural, language, and ethnic groups will have an equal chance to experience school success. Multicultural education views the school as a social system that consists of highly interrelated parts and variables. Therefore, in order to transform the school to bring about educational equality, all major components of the school must be substantially charged. A focus on any one variable in the school, such as the formalized curriculum, will not implement multicultural education. (Banks, 2010, p. 25)

To wit, a truly transformative multicultural learning environment is not achieved merely by changing a few lesson plans.  Instead, instruction must be thoroughly differentiated and attitudes and equity-favoring perceptions must spill over from the classroom so that even the whole school culture is changed.  In particular, this reflection examines how differentiated instruction (D.I.) addresses each of the dimensions of multicultural education, in Figure 1.4 below (Banks 2010, p. 23)


As Banks notes, differentiated instruction is often and erroneously limited to just the content integration dimension of multicultural education.  Content integration is a necessary condition of realizing a transformative multicultural learning environment, but it is not sufficient.  The effective teacher daily differentiates instruction via creative content integration.

Differentiated instruction is essential in facilitating “the academic achievement of students from diverse racial, cultural,  gender and social-class groups (Banks, 2010).”  As teachers plan lessons that aim to challenge and maximize the performance of all students, the learning environment is powerfully transformed.  Equity pedagogy is crucial for achieving a truly multicultural education.  A teacher that believes this in their core philosophies:  that all children can learn, that all children can grow, that all children can contribute to society, that teacher is changing the world.

Knowledge construction is a dimension of multicultural education that also can be achieved through differentiating instruction.  In particular, by designing lessons and interactions that allow student to probe their “cultural assumptions, frames of reference, perspectives, and biases (Banks 2010)”, teachers help students build an understanding of other cultures. By creating space for these other voices the learning environment is transformed.

Through modifications of curricula and pedagogical methods, a student’s racial attitudes can be teased out.  This is the prejudice reduction component of multicultural education.  Here again a vigilant teacher can devise exercises which highlight points where biases are being brought to the table and help students work through them.

However, differentiated instruction does not alone build an empowering school culture.  To be sure differentiated instruction is a fundamental part of the school as social system that Banks (2010) describes in Figure 1.5.

Banks 1.5 De-Skewed

For example, it is clearly beyond the scope of an individual teacher to set school policy and politics, or build a counseling program, or foster overall community participation and input.  And it is especially true that differentiated instruction alone will not significantly change those school-wide characteristics.  However, instruction is still the backbone the school social system.  Differentiated instruction is a major part of teaching styles and strategies, formalized curriculum, instructional materials, and assessment and testing procedures, i.e. other foundational parts of the system.  Each teacher can lend their support to buliding an empowering school culture.

Finally, we have briefly examined the characteristics of multicultural education.  We have also discussed how direct instruction can serve to support most of those characteristics.  We have asserted that instructional methods can either move a given school closer to a transformative learning environment or farther away.  There is still work to be done outside the classroom at any given school, but differentiated instruction is a major factor toward reaching the goal of multicultural education.


Banks, J. A. (2010). Multicultural Education: Characteristics and Goals. In J. A. Banks & C. A. M. Banks, (Eds.). Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives (7th ed). NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Tuesday, January 28, 1986, 8:39am PST, +75 Seconds

We weren’t too far into that morning’s Calculus lesson in Mr. Robinson’s class at Olympia High School when the PA interrupted to report that the Challenger had exploded shortly after launch.  I can remember looking up at the industrial clock next to the speaker in that classroom in Building 3;  I was incredulous.  Our teacher being visibly shaken—as were we all.  That was 25 years ago tomorrow.  RIP Challenger crew. 

Dan Meyer on TED.com

Dan Meyer is a math teacher in NYC.  Here’s a link to his TED talk.  This talk gets me fired up so I wanted to blog it so I can return to it next time I need some encouragement.

Quotable quotes:

This is an amazing time to be a math teacher.

Five signs that you are doing math reasoning wrong in your classroom:

  1. Lack of initiative
  2. Lack of perseverance
  3. Lack of retention
  4. Aversion to word problems
  5. Eagerness for formula

No problem worth solving is that simple…I am going to retire into a world that my students will run.

I believe in real life.  And ask yourself, what problem have you solved, ever that was worth solving, where you knew all of the given information in advance, or where you didn’t have a surplus of information and you had to filter it out, or where you didn’t have sufficient information and you had to go find some.

The math serves the conversation, not the conversation serving the math.

Einstein:  “The formulation of a problem is often more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill.

So 90 percent of what I do with my five hours of prep time per week is to take fairly compelling elements of problems like this from my textbook and rebuild them in a way that supports math reasoning and patient problem solving.

I encourage math teachers:

  1. Use multimedia
  2. Encourage student intuition
  3. Ask the shortest question you can
  4. Let students build the problem
  5. Be less helpful

And from all this, I can only conclude that people, not just students, are really hungry for this.  Math makes sense of the world.  Math is the vocabulary for your own intuition.

Dan Meyer’s web site is http://mrmeyer.com

Key takeaway:  beware impatient problem solving…

July 2010 NSF Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program Conference in Washington, DC

Here’s a link to the presentations made at the conference.  Below is a mash-up of presentations that I took a look at.

Presentations made at the July 2010 NSF Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program Conference in Washington, DC, are listed below, by session number. Links are provided for presentations that are downloadable.

Sessions / Presentations

July 7, New Awardees Session

New Awardees Session – NSF Staff
NSF Staff Presentation


July 8, Morning Sessions

1.1.A — Patricia Friedrichsen, Marilyn Soucie, Heather Worsham
From Billboards to Facebook: Recruitment Strategies for Undergraduate and Post-Baccalaureate Programs

University of Missouri has a program (SMAR2T) targeting Career Changers (like me) and others. (Click slide below to see whole presentation.)


1.1.B — Monica Plisch
Know Your Audience: Marketing Strategies to Recruit Teachers

(Click slide below to see whole presentation.)


(Click slide below to see whole presentation.)


(Click slide below to see whole presentation.)


1.2 — David Andrews, Lienne Medford, et al.
Noyce Regional Conferences: 2009-2010 Regional Conference Reports

Evidently there was a Western Regional Noyce Conference (WRNC) this past April 9-11, 2010 in Fresno.  Here’s what attendees most appreciated from the conference.  (Click slide below to see whole presentation.)


1.3.A — Jacqueline T. McDonnough
Using a Residency Model to Prepare Teachers for High Need Schools
(no presentation on the web)

1.3.B — Rabia Shahbaz, Ariel McIntyre, Angelle Whittington
The Power of an Online Learning Community:  By and For Noyce Scholars

Folks at Georgia State University have started an online professional learning community (PLC) for Noyce Scholars.  Group has online meetings (nice idea!) and utilizes resources such as Second Life, Google Group and Wikispace to share ideas and best practices.  (Click slide below to see whole presentation.)


1.4.A — Davida Fischman
Good Resources for Math Teaching
(no presentation on the web)

1.4.B — Elsa Medina (Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo)
Learning Mathematics in a Second Language

It looks like Elsa used a mathematics lesson in Spanish (to a predominantly non-Spanish-speaking audience) to illustrate her talk.  Interesting idea!

1.5.A — Julie Luft
Building Induction Programs for Content  Specialists: Research on Beginning Teachers
(no presentation on the web)

1.5.B — Gail Richmond, Angela Calabrese-Barton, Amal Ibourk
Using a Wiki to Support Noyce Scholar Development and to Serve as a Research and Evaluation Tool

The folks at Michigan State University are using a Wiki to support their Noyce Scholars.


1.6 — Eileen McIlvain, Laura Moen
Making the Most of Digital Learning Resources for STEM with the National Science Digital Library (NSDL)

Hooray for online resources for teachers!


1.7.A — Margarita Cummings
Understanding the Varied Perspectives of Stakeholders in a Collaborative Partnership for Mathematics Teacher Preparation


1.7.B — Barbara Edwards
Math for America San Diego: A Multi-Institutional Regional Approach to Improving Mathematics Education


1.8.A — Victor Donnay
Building on a Baseline Survey to Strengthen Program Design

1.8.B — Lisa M. Gonsalves, Tricia Kress
Navigating the Socio-Cultural Web: Introducing a Theoretical Model for Evaluating Teacher Preparation Residency Programs


1.9 — Michael S. Calzi, Joseph A. Henderson, Christopher Young
New Eyes:  Developing and Sustaining Reform-Minded Community through Innovative Use of Whatcha Already Got


1.10 — Suzanne Thurston, Tim Gerber
Partnerships and Resources for Secondary Pre-Service Teacher Preparation


1.11 — Michelle Stachurski
Essential Components of Student-Centered Physics Curricula

1.12 — Anna Heyer, Rachel Zenuk
BioME:  Making DNA Relevant and Exciting in the High School Classroom


July 8, Afternoon Sessions

2.1.A — Paul Bischoff
Recruiting Incoming Freshman Science Majors as Potential Noyce Scholars

2.1.B — Robert Ferdinand
Recruitment of Robert Noyce Teacher Scholar Cohorts at East Central University, Ada, OK

2.2.A — Jaime Arvizu
The MERLOT Content Builder: Managing Teaching and Learning Resources with a Powerful Online Tool

2.2.B — Edward Rock
The NSTA Learning Center: Online Content Building Resources for Teachers of Science

Pretty cool, you should check it out http://learningcenter.nsta.org

2.3.A — Pamela Fraser-Abder
Secondary School Teachers Think They Know Good Teaching:  Do Their Students Agree?

2.3.B — Sheila R. Vaidya
Teachers Who Meet the Challenges of Teaching in High Need Schools


2.4 — Adrienne G. Spina
Instructional Strategies Using Posters in Mathematics

2.5 — John Keller
Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) Program: Developing “Teacher-Researchers” Through Paid Summer Research Experiences at National Laboratories

2.6 — Ted Fowler
Improving Science Instruction Using the AAAS Atlas of Science Literacy and the National Science Digital Library

2.7 — Carol Cronk
Productive Classroom Culture

2.8.A — Christopher Halter
Purposeful School Partnerships Within an Innovative Credential Program


2.8.B — Tammy J. Ladwig
Alternative Math and Science Teacher Licensure Parnership: The University of Wisconsin’s collective experiences from a Noyce Co-PI, Noyce Student Scholars and program assistant, what we now know about the process and the different stages we have worked through

Check out the average age for Noyce recipients in Wisconsin.


2.9.A — Eric Brewe
GEMS: Changing the Educational Paradigm at a Hispanic-Serving Institution in South Florida

2.9.B — Valerie K. Otero
The Colorado Learning Assistant Model and Its role in a Synergistic Program for Institutional Change

2.10 — Angela Webb
Learning to Teach, Teaching to Learn: Negotiating the Labyrinth of Secondary Science Teaching

2.11 — Christine D. Thomas, Fred Dillon
Teaching Strategies for a Reasoning and Sense Making Approach to Student  Learning in High School Mathematics Classrooms


2.12 — Daree Yancey
GK-12 Fellow / Teacher Applied Mathematics

2.13 — Monica Plisch
National Task Force on Teacher Education in Physics


July 9, Morning Sessions

3.1.A — Laveria Hutchison
Recruiting and Selecting High Caliber Mathematics and Science Students:  Successes, Formative Changes and Lessons Learned

3.1.B — Greg Rushton
Harvesting the ‘Not-So-Low Hanging Fruit’ into the Noyce Program: Strategies and Opportunities

Check out the billboard that Kennesaw State University (GA) also did!


3.2.A — Pamela E. Harrell,  Colleen M. Eddy (University of North Texas)
Using Learning Progressions to Sequence and Assess Learning


3.2.B — Enrique Ortiz
Using a Teaching Goals Inventory to Analyze Noyce Scholars’ Development of Teaching and Assessment Practices


3.3 — Patricia Trina Crowley (sent e-mail requesting presentation 12/4/2010)
Noyce Scholars: Perceptions of Teaching as a Profession

3.4 — Louis Nadelson
Preparing STEM Education Majors to Teach Using Inquiry-Based Instruction

3.5 — Laura Henriques
Real and Virtual Physics Activities for the Secondary Classroom

3.6 — T. Lord
Using Scientific Teaching with General Biology Students: Designing Lessons with the 5E Planning Format of Instruction

3.7.A — Linda Cooper Foreman
The Mathematics Studio Program:  A Promising Context for Transforming Mathematics Learning, Teaching, Coaching, and Leadership

3.7.B — Karen Symms Gallagher
NSF Robert Noyce Math for America Los Angeles Project

3.8.A — Christine Drew
Using Public Representations of Students’ Thinking to Drive Evidence-Based Reasoning

3.8.B — Gaoyin Qian (Lehman College)
Scientists in Action: Learning and Teaching Mathematics and Science by Using Community Resources


3.9 — Steven Fletcher
You Just Don’t understand: Discourse and Communication in a Fledgling Noyce Partnership

3.10 — Jana Bouwma-Gearhart
Engaging Aspiring Educators in Inquiry and Related Curriculum Development Through an Interdisciplinary Field Course

3.11 — Suzanne E. Eckes (Indiana University)
Emerging Legal Issues in Education


3.12 — John Soule
Building Engineers for the Future: Changing Perceptions of Math and Science in Rural Washington

3.13 — Melanie Smith
Ping-Pong Balls and Lipstick: Teaching Problem Solving Using Complex Estimation

July 9, Keynote & Mini Plenary Sessions

Keynote — Bruce Alberts
Perspectives on K-12 Science Education


Plenary Panel A — Thomas Keller
Developing a Conceptural Framework for New Science Education Standards


Plenary Panel B — Kaye Forgione, Jean Slattery
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for Mathematics:  An Overview of the Standards, How They Were Developed, and Their Potential Impacts on Teaching, Learning, Assessment and Professional Development


Plenary Panel C — Frances Lawrenz, Ellen Bobronnikov
Overview of Noyce Program Evaluation


Defined: “Authentic Applications”, A Reflective Assessment Strategy

Ellis & Denton (2010, p. 47) maintain that “when ideas are not applied they seem to start nowhere and go nowhere.”  This reflective strategy is powerful in its ability to ground the theoretical in the practical, to bring the lofty down to the pedestrian, to get the latex out of the laboratory to where the rubber meets the road.  In the words of the authors

The purpose of the Authentic Applications strategy is to challenge you and your students to become involved in ways that transform the curriculum from one of potential energy to one of applied, functioning energy.  And the key to doing this is to find as many outlets for student work as possible.  (Ellis & Denton, 2010, p. 48)

The procedure is simple, and involves getting student work out into the public square, where it on display for critique, engagement, explanation.  For the mathematics or science curriculum, Ellis & Denton (2010) cite Gainsburg (2006) that modeling or the application of principles to daily problem-solving “was found to be central to and ubiquitous in the engineers’ work, giving rise to some of their greatest intellectual challenges.”  Facilitating the contact between students and real practitioners of the arts that they are learning is key to this strategy.

Outcomes for this strategy are profound throughout the exercise.  Again Ellis & Denton (2010, p. 49)

Knowing that your work will be displayed in some way changes the stage of preparation…. This foreknowledge enables the learner to … focus the work.  The stage in which the event takes place (e.g., science fair, athletic contents, play, concert) offers further opportunity for reflection, judgment, review, and analysis.  And when the performance is over, this final stage represents a time to reflect, to think about meaning, truthfulness, beauty, and effort, and to take the measure of what went right or wrong toward improvement in the future.

Finally this strategy holds much promise for both engaging the student with the content, and engaging the student in the processes that are involved in real world application of that content.


Ellis A.K., & Denton, D.W. (2010) Teaching, learning, and assessment together:  Reflective assessments for middle and high school mathematics and science.  Larchmont, NY:  Eye on Education.  Amazon. Google Books.

Gainsburg, J. (2006). The mathematical modeling of structural engineers.  Mathematical Thinking & Learning. 8(1). 3-36. PDF

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