Judo Math Blog
The Judo Math app is here!
One of my former students came up to me a few years ago, wanting to know what extra work he could do because he was going to be absent the next day. He said he was going to a seminar on coding. I told him he’d probably learn a lot more in that seminar than he would in a day’s worth of school so he shouldn’t worry about any homework. “Maybe you can write me a Judo Math app one day,” I said. Two years and thousands of hours of work later….he delivered. It’s called Judo Math: Pathfinders. It’s a free app that is available on both Android and Apple. Download it now and let me know what you think!…read more
Can first graders really figure this out in 20 seconds?
Take a look at the picture below. According to the text, it’s a question given to 1st grade students in Hong Kong as part of an admissions test. I guess my question is, why does a first grader need to know this in under 20 seconds? Does it prove intelligence somehow? It took me longer than 20 seconds to figure it out. I’m 44 years old. I managed to graduate at the top of my class in high school. So what makes this question special or predictive of anything? Divers diseases can affect the muscles that can slow the flow of blood, cause erectile dysfunction. Currently more than half of men aged over 50 reported some degree of erectile dysfunctions. A general sexual complaint among men is the erectile dysfunction. Now many articles were published about http://finasteride.me/. Our article tell more about the evaluation of erectile disfunction and “finasteride“. Questions, like “finasteride drug“, are linked variant types of health problems. Keep reading for a list of drugs that can cause side effects and what you can do to put an end to feasible side effects. Sometimes medicinal conditions or other medicaments may interact with Viagra. Before buying this generic, tell your physician if you are allergic to…read more
Achieving Equity in Assessment
I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and shout, “Go!” It sounds like I am standing in the middle of Qualcomm Stadium and the Chargers just won the Super Bowl. But it’s not cheering I am hearing—it is students helping students. It may be the sweetest thing I have ever heard. I look to my left and I hear a student say, “Tell me the steps you went through to solve that.” I walk to my right and I hear, “Are you sure that’s what the next step is?” I keep walking around and I keep hearing students challenging each other, playing devil’s advocate in math. I think this is actually working! I remember when a college professor of mine said something that would change the way I think about everything around me. He said that the equal treatment of unequals is the worst practice in teaching that still occurs today. This happens not only in the classroom, but everywhere around us. Treating everyone the same isn’t the right thing to do. It may sound great on paper, but it does a disservice to everyone involved. It may sound like you are doing the right thing if you are giving every student the same options, opportunities, or advantages. But is that what they all need? To me, teachers who teach the same thing to everyone are creating a learning environment that is not conducive to every student in the room. To teach equitably, one must look to the needs of each individual student. Our goal as educators should be to veer from an equal learning experience toward an equitable learning experience. Our job is to make sure all students have a fair, and possibly unequal, learning experience. Ensuring that each student has a fair opportunity to succeed means that one student’s path may look very different from another’s. I have been restructuring my assessment practices in class lately because I tend to see the same students failing repeatedly. I came to the conclusion that maybe it isn’t them, but that my assessments aren’t up to par with what they need. When I started asking some of the students why they believed they got the grade they did, I got some interesting responses: “I thought the quiz was on something else.” “I didn’t have room to write my answers.” “I don’t remember covering that material.” “I couldn’t memorize all the steps.” “I didn’t get some of the questions.” None of these responses were positive in nature. I began to wonder: How might I change students’ perceptions of assessment and raise their confidence in the classroom? Recently, I have been focusing on how to assess students in math, particularly students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), while maintaining equity in the classroom. In the past, I have modified the actual test in various ways. I have changed the number of questions, written tests in native languages, even written quizzes below grade level just to build confidence. I wanted to do something else. I started thinking of ways to keep all the tests the same, while changing the format for all students. I spoke to Sarah Barnes-Schwerman, our Inclusion Specialist at HTMMA, to brainstorm ideas about what to do. She suggested a two-tiered testing system as a method to build…read more
The Thrill of Converting Math-Haters Into Appreciators Through Inquiry
via Mindshift A good portion of the adult population hates math, and a lot of people believe they aren’t good at it so they avoid it completely. Those perceptions often come from their experiences learning math in school, which may not have been positive. parental security . In her Atlantic article Jessica Lahey writes about a Cornell professor who takes special pride in teaching non-math majors to appreciate numbers. He does it with an inquiry-based, hands-on approach that would likely work for kids learning math for the first time too. Lahey writes: “Twelve years of compulsory education in mathematics leaves us with a populace that is proud to announce they cannot balance their checkbook, when they would never share that they were illiterate. What we are doing — the way we are doing it — results in an enormous sector of the population that hates mathematics. The current system disenfranchises so many students.” Check out the article here: http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/10/teaching-math-to-people-who-think-they-hate-it/381125/…read more
Equity in Education: Where to Begin?
In a profession increasingly full of angst and positioning and corrective policy, there are few ideas as easy to get behind as equity. Equal. Equality. Equity. Equilibrium. Equate. These are all fine ideas — each tidy and whole, implying its own kind of justice while connoting the precision of mathematics. Level. Same. Twin. Each word has its own nuance, but one characteristic they share is access — a level, shared area with open pathways that are equidistant to mutually agreed-upon currencies. When discussing equity, there are so many convenient handles — race, gender, language, poverty, access to technology — but there may be a larger view that we’re missing. The Scale of Equity There isn’t a more global issue, equity being perhaps the global issue of our time. According to United Nation statistics published last year in The Economist: While progress is being made in sub-Saharan Africa in primary education, gender inequality is widening among older children. The ratio of girls enrolled in primary school rose from 85 to 93 per 100 boys between 1999 and 2010, whereas it fell from 83 to 82 and from 67 to 63 at the secondary and tertiary levels. And elsewhere, in Chad and the Central African Republic, there is a flat rate of less than 70 girls for every 100 boys. This is a starkly different conversation about equity than the one we might have in the U.S., U.K., Canada, or Australia. We have the luxury of becoming choosier, and harsher on ourselves, as progress is made. In other words, let’s first make sure there are free, quality schools everywhere, and that children can all read and write, and later we can concern ourselves with iPads vs. Androids, or the broadband access in our poorest communities. It’s easy to miss the scale of equity as an “issue,” because unlike assessment, curriculum, teacher pay, class sizes, educational technology, or any other persistently evergreen edu-choke point, equity never stops affecting. It’s both the center and periphery of everything because we’re always who we are and where we are. The Cultural Effect As a species, we express ourselves through difference. What makes “culture” interesting is how it both recognizes the individual and simultaneously allows individuals to disappear into the whole again — identity and anonymity. There is a constant self-to-group transaction based on both affection (inward expression) and image (outward expression). This transaction is then repeated across cultures, with completely different functions. Differences within and across cultures are differences nonetheless, but the individual can think while groups simply gather. So this is a brutally narrow take on how people gather, cohort, and manifest their vision of what it means to be human, but the point remains: As educators, we suffer that same reductionism when we see the masses in the same way that Nielsen does television ratings. Students aren’t demographics, and it’s murky at best to see how treating them that way has improved their lot, or our shared progress. While squinting and trying to narrow gaps, it’s easy to lose the scale and product of our work. The segmenting of individual students into a group, and that group into a subgroup, and their understanding into data, and the knowledge that we hope they learn into our teaching standards — this all becomes a tone,…read more
Why Math Might Be The Secret To School Success
By Anya Kamenetz, NPR Little children are big news this week, as the White House holds a summit on early childhood education December 10. The President wants every four year old to go to preschool, but the new Congress is unlikely to foot that bill. Since last year, more than 30 states have expanded access to preschool. But there’s still a lack of evidence about exactly what kinds of interventions are most effective in those crucial early years. In New York City, an ambitious, $25 million dollar study is collecting evidence on the best way to raise outcomes for kids in poverty. Their hunch is that it may begin with math. Time That Counts “One! Two! Three! Four! Five!” Gayle Conigliaro’s preschool class are jumping as they count, to get the feeling of the numbers into their bodies–a concept called “embodied cognition.” P.S. 43 is located in Far Rockaway, Queens, just steps from the ocean. The area is still recovering from Hurricane Sandy. But now it’s been chosen as one of 69 high-poverty sites around New York City for a research study to test whether stronger math teaching can make all the difference for young kids. The study is funded by the Robin Hood Foundation, which is dedicated to ending poverty in New York. Pamela Morris, with research group MDRC, is lead investigator. “MDRC and the Robin Hood Foundation developed a partnership really with a broad goal,” she says, “Which is, they want to change the trajectories of low income children. And to do so by focusing on preschool.” There’s plenty of evidence on the long-term importance of preschool. But why math? Morris says that a 2013 study by Greg Duncan, at the University of California, Irvine, showed that math knowledge at the beginning of elementary school was the single most powerful predictor determining whether a student would graduate from high school and attend college. “We think math might be sort of a lever to improve outcomes for kids longer term,” Morris says. But there’s a real lack of math learning in pre-K. In one study, in fact, just 58 seconds out of a five-hour preschool day was spent on math activities. Part of the problem, says Doug Clements, at the University of Denver, is that “Most teachers, of course, have been through our United States mathematics education, so they tend to think of math as just skills. They tend to think of it as a quiet activity.” Clements is the creator of Building Blocks, the math curriculum being tested in this new study. Building Blocks is designed to be just the opposite: engaging, exciting, and loud. “We want kids running around the classroom and bumping into mathematics at every turn.” At P.S. 43, math games, toys, and activities are woven through the entire day. At transition time, the teacher asks the students to line up and touches their heads with the “counting wand.” At circle time, fittingly, the children talk about shapes. Just a few months into the school year, they observe correctly that a geometric shape must be a “closed figure” and that a square is “a special rectangle.” “How do you know it’s a circle?” asks the teacher. “Because it goes round and round,” says one girl with a bear barrette in her hair. When Ms….read more
What Motivates Teachers?
via Mindshift A recent Gallup poll of 170,000 Americans — 10,000 of whom were teachers — found that teaching is the second most satisfying profession (after medicine). Ironically, the sameGallup poll found that in contrast to their overall happiness with their jobs, teachers often rate last or close to the bottom for workplace engagement and happiness. “Of all the professions we studied in the U.S., teachers are the least likely to say that their opinions count and the least likely to say that their supervisor creates an open and sharing environment,” said Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallup Education, at the Next New World Conference. This is a troubling trend at a time when schools need to continue to attract high quality educators. “If the perception in our country is that teaching is not a great profession to go into, we certainly aren’t going to be encouraging really talented young people to be thinking about the profession of teaching,” Busteed said in an interview with Stephen Smith on the American RadioWorks podcast. That will be especially problematic as baby boomer teachers begin to retire. “What our research reveals is an important nuance that teachers rate their lives overall very highly; they love their lives,” Busteed said. “They love their work. They love what they do in terms of helping encourage young people.” But they often dislike their bosses, the policies they must abide by, the tests that govern their lives and the low pay and lack of respect often shown by other adults. “It’s a big opportunity to try and get this right across school systems, but also a tragedy in that all these people who otherwise would be off the charts with their performance if we could just improve their workplace environment,” Busteed said. MindShift readers discussed openly what motivates them to keep teaching, as well as what changes they’d make to the system. “I’m motivated by the curiosity of my students,” replied Lewis Marshall A. Elaine, in a Facebook call-out to teachers to weigh in. “Being able to collaborate with more teachers who possess these qualities would make my job better: professionalism, positivity, and competency.” Teacher Dana Smith wrote: “The students are my motivation: love those crazy middle-schoolers! A better salary and being able to teach without headaches and heartaches from mandatory testing, nonsensical paperwork/computer work, and crazed administrators would make my job perfect.” Vix Cee Kreidel wrote: “I am motivated to teach because I believe that every child deserves to have someone who believes in them. I love to watch the light bulb go off in a child as their eyes light up when they have an idea or ‘get’ something. Teaching would be easier if I got paid more to make up for all the things I buy for my classroom. Also if we were held accountable in other ways besides the test.” We talked to educators from across the country, some at the recent ISTE conference, about what they love about their jobs and what they’d do to improve their work environment. Listen to their stories. More at: http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/07/what-motivates-teachers/ Divers diseases can affect the muscles that can slow the flow of blood, cause erectile disfunction. Currently more than half of men aged over 50 reported some degree of erectile dysfunctions. A general sexual…read more
How Does Project-Based Learning Work?
Project-based learning, as with all lessons, requires much preparation and planning. It begins with an idea and an essential question. When you are designing the project and the essential question that will launch the activities, it is important to remember that many content standards will be addressed. With these standards in mind, devise a plan that will integrate as many subjects as possible into the project. Have in mind what materials and resources will be accessible to the students. Next, students will need assistance in managing their time — a definite life skill. Finally, have multiple means for assessing your students’ completion of the project: Did the students master the content? Were they able to apply their new knowledge and skills? Many educators involve their students in developing these rubrics. Teacher Eeva Reeder developed and implemented an architecture project for her geometry students. Here are steps for implementing PBL, which are detailed below: Start with the Essential Question Design a Plan for the Project Create a Schedule Monitor the Students and the Progress of the Project Assess the Outcome Evaluate the Experience Start with the Essential Question The question that will launch a PBL lesson must be one that will engage your students. It is greater than the task at hand. It is open ended. It will pose a problem or a situation they can tackle, knowing that there is no one answer or solution. “Questions may be the most powerful technology we have ever created. Questions and questioning allow us to make sense of a confusing world. They are the tools that lead to insight and understanding.”-JAMIE MCKENZIE, THE QUESTION MARK Take a real-world topic and begin an in-depth investigation. Base your question on an authentic situation or topic. What is happening in your classroom? In your community? Select a question about an issue students will believe that, by answering, they are having an impact on. Make it relevant for them. The question should be a “now” question — a question that has meaning in your students’ lives. Among many other wonderful resources for understanding PBL, theBuck Institute for Education (BIE) offers a great tutorial on how to“Craft the Driving Question.” BIE consultant Andrew Miller recently wrote two blog posts for Edutopia.org, How to Write Effective Driving Questions for Project-Based Learning and How to Refine Driving Questions for Effective Project-Based Learning. Edutopia.org PBL blogger Suzie Boss describes a variety of project kickoff ideas in How to Get Projects Off to a Good Start. Design a Plan for the Project When designing the project, it is essential that you have in mind which content standards will be addressed. Involve the students in planning; they will feel ownership of the project when they are actively involved in decision making. Select activities that support the question and utilize the curriculum, thus fueling the process. Integrate as many subjects as possible into the project. Know what materials and resources will be accessible to the students to assist them. Be prepared to delve deeper into new topics and new issues that arise as the students become increasingly involved in the active pursuit of answers. Create a Schedule Design a timeline for project components. Realize that changes to the schedule will happen. Be flexible, but help the students realize that a time will come…read more
Questions Before Answers: What Drives a Great Lesson?
via Edutopia Recently, I was looking through my bookshelves and discovered an entire shelf of instruction books that came with software I had previously purchased. Yes, there was a time when software was bought in stores, not downloaded. Upon closer examination of these instruction books, I noticed that many of them were for computers and software that I no longer use or even own. More importantly, most were still in shrink-wrap, never opened. I recalled that when I bought software, I just put the disk into the computer and never looked at the book. I realized that I did the same when I bought a new car — with one exception. I never read the instruction book in the glove compartment. I just turned on the engine and drove off. I already knew how to drive, so I didn’t need a book. The exception occurred when I tried to set the clock. I couldn’t figure it out, so I finally opened the glove compartment and checked the book. This pattern was and is true for every device I buy. I never read the book that comes with a toaster, an iPod, or a juicer unless I have a question. There are some people who do read instruction books before using a device, but with no disrespect intended, those people are a small minority. Our minds are set up to not care about answers unless we have a question. The greater the question, the more compelling it is, the more we want the answer. We learn best when questions come before answers. The Need to Know Too many classrooms ignore this basic learning model. They spend most of class time providing information and then ask questions in the form of a quiz, test, or discussion. This is backward. Too many students never learn this way. It is simply too hard to understand, organize, interpret, or make sense out of information — or even to care about it — unless it answers a question that students care about. Lessons, units, and topics are more motivating when they begin with a question whose answer students want to know. Not only do great questions generate interest, they also answer the question that so many students wonder about: “Why do I have to learn this?” Finally, great questions increase cognitive organization of the content by framing it into a meaningful answer to the opening question. There is a catch, though, in using questions to begin your lesson. The question must be connected to the content, so that the following learning activities actually answer the question. The question must fit your students’ age, ability, and experiences. In addition, the question needs to provoke both thought and curiosity. In fact, it must be compelling enough to generate so much motivation so that students can’t help but want to know the answer. Have you ever forgotten the name of a song and spent hours trying to remember it? It gets under your skin until you no longer want the answer — you need it. That’s what a great opening question does for students. Compulsion more than simple curiosity drives them to learn the information that follows. It’s what I felt when I finally wanted to read my car manual so that I could set the clock. 10…read more
Common Core in Action: Math in the Middle School Classroom
Aligning instruction to meet the Common Core State Standards is the new norm for educators across most of the United States. In the middle school math classroom, technology can be used to help students reach mastery of these Common Core skills. Let’s take a look at a sixth grade geometry standard and how, using technology, teachers can promote engagement through student-centered exploration of this skill. CCSS.Math.Content.6.G.A.3 Draw polygons in the coordinate plane given coordinates for the vertices; use coordinates to find the length of a side joining points with the same first coordinate or the same second coordinate. Apply these techniques in the context of solving real-world and mathematical problems. Using Technology to Instruct When it comes to hooking students and grabbing their attention at the beginning of a lesson, video tutorials can be powerful. Instead of giving a lecture to teach new material, the instructor can field questions and facilitate a discussion after students watch a concise tutorial on a particular topic. Khan Academy is one fantastic resource to find free, high-quality video tutorials on a variety of subject areas. To reach this particular standard, Khan Academy has a section devoted to Perimeter, Area and Volume that can support students at different entry points. Using an interactive whiteboard is another way teachers can integrate technology into their lesson. This type of tool is perfect for modeling how to plot points on a coordinate grid to create a shape. In Notebook on the SMARTBoard for example, teachers can change their background to graph paper to create coordinate planes with a quick search in the gallery section. Using Technology to Explore If you’re using an interactive whiteboard to model drawing polygons on a coordinate grid to determine the length of each side, try having individual students come to the front of the room to draw out problems for the class. When students are working at tables or with partners to solve problems, have a small group work on the interactive whiteboard as opposed to their desks. There are apps available from the iTunes Store that help students draw on a coordinate grid. This is great for teachers who have access to iPads in a one-to-one environment, who want to create stations with just a few iPads, or who can assign a group of four or five students to a single iPad. Geometry Pad is a fantastic, free iPad app that students can use to draw polygons on a coordinate plane. They can even explain their work in writing by adding text to screen. Using Technology to Assess Solving real-world problems is an important aspect of Common Core math. What better way for students to demonstrate their understanding than through the creation of the same type of tutorials you showed your class to kick off the lesson? Here are some ideas: Students can create screencasts using a free iPad app like Educreations,ScreenChomp or Doceri, or they can record their explanation in groups using a digital camera or computer webcam. Have students record their work going through the steps of a problem you’ve designed for them. Have students design their own real-world problems related to polygons and coordinate planes to demonstrate their understanding of this skill. If you’re working with English-Language Learners or special education students, these tools can give them an…read more