Mathematics Discussion Summary

Reading-Math Connection: should we be teaching students to read text?

  • Math problems require reading comprehension along with technical knowledge.
  • Textbooks: required in college, but not often used in high school where students work from information packets.  Students are not accustomed to using textbooks as resources.
  • Rather than providing answers, teach students to search for answers from texts or websites.  Use apps, embrace technology!
  • Math terminology and vocabulary are important.
  1. Be consistent in use of terminology to increase retention.
  2. To improve vocabulary, use word walls,, insist students use proper vocabulary.
  3. NYS has a glossary of math vocabulary words for each grade.
  • Which school districts would be open to having a reading specialist come in and focus on reading comprehension in math?
  1. Reading is the # 1 piece in math success.
  2. When elementary algebra was taught with reading specialists working collaboratively on cognitive learning, student improvement was significant in math.
  • Math specialists need to be introduced at the grade school level.

Teaching & Learning

  • Importance of allowing students to make and learn from mistakes in a safe classroom environments; this may help offset the high stakes testing environment & math anxiety.
  • Rather than providing answers, teach students to search for answers from texts or websites.
  • Make sure that expectations are clear to students.
  • Encourage student to ask questions and advocate for themselves.
  • Cornell note-taking process may be helpful.
  • Connect math learning to students’ lives and career aspirations–help them see meaning in learning math.
  • Can we group students according to career goals?
  • Flipped classroom approach–class time is used to practice & work on problems;  lectures recorded on video which students watch for homework.
  • Collaborative learning–students work in teams and support each others’ learning; use of group grades provides a structure for inter-dependence.
  • Need for collaboration among teachers across grades–vertical teams!
    1. Elementary teachers indicate that math is a big focus, particularly fractions.  High school students are reportedly weakest in fractions.
    2. There is a pattern of HS seniors not taking math.
    3. Gaps in learning:  many do not have basic algebra or basic arithmetic skills.  Some feel they don’t need upper level math.
  • Step-by-step helps keep students working on a topic.  Help students scaffold a problem & think about multiple ways of problem-solving…numerical, analytic, computational, algebraic.
  • Curricular and/or text book changes make it hard to measure growth and improve practice.

College & Career Ready

  • Conley’s checklist is reasonable and basic.
  • The standards focus on college readiness, not so much career readiness.  There are ever-changing career options…
  • The checklist does not focus on skills for a statistics course.  Should this be addressed?  What is students’ ability to see a relationship between stats and algebra/calculus applications?
  • Is college-ready math defined by the major?  Use application problems; connect math to career goals.
  • Importance of skills such a perseverance, problem-solving, fluency with facts.
  • Could guidance counselors play a bigger role in preparing students for the reality of college and career?
  1. Will students consider a career path or have we educators placed such an emphasis on college that it is seen as the only option for success?
  2.  Should all students go to college–what about those who are not or will not be ready?  Can those students follow a career path that does not require math skills?
  • Does dual enrollment motivate students to study the material?
  • Should the pre-requisites be enforced for dual enrollment?

 Calculators:  Yes or No?

  • Calculator policies are disparate between K-12, MCC, and 4-year colleges.  Regents allow calculators, but colleges & college placement test do not.
  • Some options to address the disparity:
  1. two-part exams (with & without calculators);
  2. write answers in exact form (no decimals);
  3. focus on good number sense;
  4. help students look at various views of a problems (graphical, numeric, algebraic).
  • Calculators can be a good tool and used to enhance understanding, e.g. calculators are a necessary tool when used for compounding.