Good Math Lesson Plans

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Click here to move immediately to the detailed math lesson plan template that is located near the end of this document. People interested in the Good Math Lesson Plans document are also apt to be interested in:
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Math Project-based Learning. Communicating in the Language of Mathematics. Improving Math Education. Two Brains are Better than One. Math Education Digital Filing Cabinet.

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1 Introduction 2 A General-Purpose Lesson Plan 3 Discipline Specificity 4 What is Math? o 4.1 Some Often-Quoted Answers o 4.2 Patterns and Language of a Discipline o 4.3 Some Important Math Concepts o 4.4 Long-Enduring Results 5 Some Math-Specific Lesson Plan Topics o 5.1 Increasing Math Expertise  5.1.1 Problem Solving  5.1.2 The Concept of Proof  5.1.3 Include a Focus on Important Problems

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5.2 Prerequisite, Review, and Remediation  5.2.1 Slower and Faster Learners  5.2.2 Student and Teacher Responsibilities o 5.3 Teaching Self-Assessment and Self-Responsibility o 5.4 Teaching for Transfer of Learning o 5.5 Math Cognitive Developmental Level and Maturity Level  5.5.1 Cognitive Development  5.5.2 Math Cognitive Development  5.5.3 Math Maturity o 5.6 Communication in Math  5.6.1 Communication and Math Content  5.6.2 Communication and Math Word Problems o 5.7 Math Modeling o 5.8 Computational Math o 5.9 Lesson Plan as Self-Inservice Education 6 Some Roles of ICT o 6.1 Content  6.1.1 Calculators  6.1.2 Computers  6.1.3 Information retrieval o 6.2 Teaching and Learning 7 A "Full Blown" Math Lesson Plan Template 8 References

9 Authors

“Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development.” (Kofi Annan; Ghanaian diplomat, seventh secretary-general of the United Nations, winner of 2001 Nobel Peace Prize; 1938-.) "In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest honor and the highest responsibility anyone could have." (Lee Iacocca, American industrialist; 1924-.)

Lesson plans are a core theme of most preservice teacher education programs. Preservice teachers learn how to create them, how to critique lessons others create, how to teach working from a plan, and how to judge the results. By definition, a lesson plan is good to the degree it helps teachers teach well and students learn well. “Lesson plan” usually refers to a single lesson, designed for one class period. However, it can also refer to a sequence of such plans designed for a unit of study. (Such a sequence

may be called a unit plan.) In this document, “lesson plan” mean a plan to facilitate one more times of organized teaching and learning. The figure below shows that the need for written detail depends on lesson plan’s audience.

1. A personal lesson plan is an aid to memory that takes into consideration one's expertise (teaching and subject area knowledge, skills, and experience). It’s often quite short—sometimes just a brief list of topics to be covered or ideas to be discussed. (For example: “Show how to derive quadratic formula by completing the square; then use spreadsheet to show how to plug in values.” “Use Taxman software to introduce factoring.”) 2. A collegial lesson plan is designed for a limited, special audience such as your colleagues, a substitute teacher, or a supervisor such as a principal. It contains more detail than the first category. It is designed to communicate with people who are familiar with the school and curriculum of the lesson plan writer. 3. A (high quality) publishable lesson plan is designed for publication and for use by a wide, diverse audience. It contain still more detail than the second category. It is designed to communicate with people who have no specific knowledge of the lesson plan writer's school, school district, and state. It is especially useful to preservice teachers, to substitute teachers in unfamiliar situations, and to workshop presenters seeking to elicit in-depth discussion. This document is primarily intended for people who create and/or make use of the third category of lesson plans. It can aid development of a preservice or inservice instructional unit or serve as a guide during a course or workshop concerned with lesson plan creation. In addition, one can use it for self-instruction to strengthen one’s ability to organize and conduct a course of study.

A General-Purpose Lesson Plan
Early on, preservice teachers are apt to encounter a general-purpose template or outline for lesson planning. The template is usually general enough so that it can be used over a wide range of grade levels and disciplines. Preservice teachers often do assignments in which they create specific lesson plans that, in the main, follow the template pattern.

general topic(s) within the discipline(s) being taught. length. and so on. perhaps by using Bloom's taxonomy. Teachers of teachers often stress the need for very careful statement of the learning objectives. 2. perhaps key ideas that it is sort of assumed that students should have covered. DVDs. tools. These include written material for students to read." The argument is over what it means to understand. the learner will have scant success with the computer programs. Examples are a lesson in naming colors if the learner is color-blind or teaching the C major scale when the learner has been taking music lessons for years. but that many will have not learned very well or will have forgotten. It is difficult to state clearly the prerequisites for a particular lesson. Prerequisites. significant differences from "the average" learners. video tapes. physical . Title and short summary. relevant. 6. You may find it helpful to think of a title of a lesson plan as being like a section title in a book chapter. The expression measurable behavioral objectives is sometimes used. State any special prerequisites—for example. as in "Students will understand how do multidigit subtractions with borrowing. reading. Accommodations. The short summary can include information about how students will be empowered by learning the material in the lesson. or physical. The differences may be attitudinal. 3. Until these are remediated. measurable objectives need to be given. An often overlooked prerequisite is attitudinal. Categorization by: subject or course area. or writing skills. A common approach consists of two parts: State (or assume) the general knowledge and skills of average students who will normally encounter such a lesson—for example. second graders near the end of the year or first year high school algebra. Special provisions needed for students with documented. It can be helpful to distinguish between lower-order goals and higher-order goals. mental. Intended audience and alignment with standards. This often occurs at the start of a school year. 5. worksheets. equipment.An example of a general-purpose lesson planning template: 1. Learning objectives. or national) being addressed. This type of prerequisite is often used in a focused review at the beginning of a lesson or a unit of study. CDs. For example. and whether more precise. Categorization schemes are especially useful in a computer database of lessons. The difference may so great that the lesson is beyond the student’s capacity or merely time-wasting busywork. Materials and resources. 4. and it is difficult to determine if students meet the prerequisites. while the title of a unit plan is like a chapter title. assignment sheets. those who help people learn to use a spreadsheet or word processing program often encounter hidden anxieties about mathematical. grade level. They may argue among themselves whether it is all right to use the word understand. as it allows users quickly to find lesson plans to fit their specific needs. A listing of the standards (state.

Madeline Hunter's work in this area is well known and widely used. Instructional plan. A teacher needs to deal with three general categories of assessment: formative. S. summative. A rubric. 11. This is to be done after teaching the lesson. It may include a schedule. Teacher reflection and lesson plan revision. details on questions to be asked during a presentation to learners and actions to handle contingencies. 7. Discipline Specificity A generalized lesson plan template is quite useful. 10.environment. and long term residual impact. Constitution and a student raises the question of whether private citizens should be able to buy assault rifles. The reference list might include other materials of possible interest to people reading the lesson plan or to students who are being taught using the lesson plan.” Also.) If the lesson plan includes dividing students into discussion groups or work groups. and so on. For example. (Suppose the topic is the U. and skills will make for greater readiness “next time. Among other things. and it may be that some of the resources are available online. if the class is able to cover the material in a lesson much faster than expected. References. Many variations on templates for a general-purpose lesson plan exist. such notes shared with colleagues will improve the general level of teaching. Extensions may also be useful in various parts of a lesson where the teacher (and class) decide they should spend more time on a skill or topic. However. Extensions. can help students take an increasing responsibility for their own learning. (It may be necessary to begin the acquisition process well in advance of teaching a lesson. extensions may prove helpful. A good lesson plan may well include a discussion of PCK to employ when conducting the lesson. Assessment options. resources. pedagogy. A good discipline-specific lesson plan reflects the uniqueness of the content and teaching of the discipline. In order to become efficient self-directed learners. Items in this section related to content. perhaps jointly developed by the teacher and students. 8. It tells how to conduct the lesson. giving all teachers some common ground. it helps unify the overall processes and profession of teaching. A good teacher in a discipline draws heavily on that discipline’s proven PCK repertoire. students need to learn to do self assessment and to provide formative assessment and perhaps summative assessment feedback to each other. . 9. the lesson plan may include details for the grouping process and instructions to be given to the groups. These may be designed to create a longer or more intense lesson. each discipline has its own content and its own pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). This is usually considered to be the heart of a lesson plan.

scope. achievements. b) person who has a personally useful level of competence. power. including notation and specialized vocabulary • Methods of teaching. With the development of reading and writing somewhat over 5. However. tasks. Each academic discipline or area of study is delineated by such things as its: • • Typical problems. culture. uses. Math was an informal area of study long before the development of reading and writing. and its critical thinking and understand —what its practitioners do to further their work and pass on their ethics. and assessment. Of course. and skills • Tools.000 years ago. A good math lesson plan or unit plan reflects these differences. products. and language. performances. learning. such a template will include the components of the general-purpose lesson plan. The various academic disciplines in our formal educational system have considerable differences. and activities it addresses Accumulated accomplishments (results. Many people feel math to be second only to language arts in importance in the curriculum. What distinguishes math from other disciplines? Perhaps a good starting point in answering this question is to delve into an exploration of what constitutes a discipline. c) reasonable competent person. . math has differences from any other discipline. accomplishing tasks. impact on the societies of the world. products. employable in the discipline. its lower-order and higher-order knowledge and skills. knowledge. and so on) History.The remainder of this document focuses on possible components of a math lesson plan template. and types of evidence and arguments used in solving problems. methodologies. and recording and sharing accumulated results • • Criteria that separate and distinguish among a: a) novice. math became part of the core curriculum in schools.

curriculum developers continually face the challenge of balancing depth and variety. students continuing their studies through a bachelor's. and doctorate degree in a discipline still master only a modest fraction of that discipline. Part of your teaching task is appropriate and adequate representation of the discipline. It is quite difficult to develop an extensive curriculum that fits the needs of a broad range of students who are working over a period of many years to gain a particular level of expertise in the various disciplines. Typical disciplines included in PreK-12 education are so vast that even if the entire PreK12 curriculum were devoted to the study of just one such discipline. teachers. large teams of "experts" in a discipline address this challenge by working to develop appropriate scope. students would learn only a small fraction of that discipline. For example. sequence. will publish benchmarks in a discipline such as math. and students—all face the challenge that a well established discipline has substantial breadth and depth. What is Math? Precollege math curricula in the United States are sometimes described as (and criticized as) being "a mile wide and an inch deep. This means that you. When you teach within a discipline. This is further complicated by synergies among disciplines. Time is limited. A single discipline-specific unit of study addresses a minute fraction of the discipline. you know that students use math in business and science. and these benchmarks influence textbook companies and many other states throughout the country. What distinguishes math from business or science? Practitioners. For example. e) national or world-class expert. Indeed. This is especially important for the various other disciplines in which math is standard component. Most professional societies have such ongoing efforts. the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics plays a leadership role in developing math education standards in the United States. Often. as a math teacher. considerable thought ought to be given as to what aspects of the discipline should be stressed and how this material contributes to a student's overall progress toward gaining expertise within the discipline that is or will be relevant to the student’s life. . and benchmarks. such as California. you represent that discipline. can identify and explain similarities and differences between math and the other disciplines your students have studied or are studying. This observation helps us to understand the relative ease of creating a single lesson plan in a discipline versus the challenge of creating a unit of study. a course.d) local or regional expert. master's." So many different topics can be taught that it is hard to decide which to emphasize. Thus. or an extended curriculum leading to a relatively high level of expertise in a discipline. From time to time populous state.

but not particularly helpful in math curriculum planning and development: "Mathematics is a more powerful instrument of knowledge than any other that has been bequeathed to us by human agency. Indeed. and process. It is only the differing examples of discipline-specific patterns being studied and methodologies of studying the patterns that distinguish one discipline from another. Science fiction stories have included machines that could quickly impose such patterns in nervous systems.A possible lodestone is to attend to the essence of the discipline. a leading math educator: … algebra is the language of mathematics. researchers are making progress understanding what is actually happening in a brain as it learns and as it uses its learning to solve problems and accomplish tasks.” (Carl Friedrich Gauss. information is stored in a human brain as a pattern of stronger or weaker neural connections. mathematician. teacher attitudes. math educators think carefully about the math-related aspects of attitude. Thus. which itself is the language of the information age. content. 1995).) “Mathematics is the queen of the sciences. scientist. Indeed. is common to say that math is the study of patterns and then go on to give examples of the types of patterns mathematicians study.) “God created the natural numbers.) Patterns and Language of a Discipline Many people attempting to answer the "What is math?" question give answers that fit the discipline they are talking about. Quoting Lynn Arthur Steen. 1777–1855. not the solutions of its equations. 1823–1891.” (Leopold Kronecker. A major shortcoming of this answer is that "the study of patterns" description fits every discipline. 1999) . and assessment in our math education system. The language of algebra is the Rosetta Stone of nature and the passport to advanced mathematics (Usiskin. instructional processes. Some Often-Quoted Answers Here are three quotations that are fun and interesting. Another widely use answer to the "What is math?" question is that math is a language. Their answers to "What is math?" will then guide development of curriculum content. (Steen. it is sometimes said that algebra is the language of mathematics. German mathematician and logician. It is the logical structure of algebra. and writer. that made algebra a central component of classical education. Those who teach teachers are expected to be mathematically competent and able to communicate a defensible answer. 1596–1650. German mathematician. All the rest is the work of man. For example. physicist." (René Descartes. and prodigy. French philosopher. but that also apply to many other disciplines.

1941–. one has to know some mathematics.) "No human investigation can claim to be scientific if it doesn't pass the test of mathematical proof. Math education experts tend to agree on the need for a good answer to include a discussion of math patterns. the words function. communication in the language and notation of mathematics. Dick and C. gesturing and movement. rigorous arguments used in developing and presenting mathematical proofs. Math is known as being a language that facilitates very precise communication—perhaps more so than any other widely used human language.The combined assertion math is a language & algebra is the language of mathematics is useful. However. and other ways to represent and communicate with others who know the discipline." (T. one possible measure of a good mathematics curriculum is in terms of student growth in understanding these four important ideas. rather than to say that math is a language. Theorems and other mathematical results developed several thousand years ago are still true today. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?" (Steven Hawking) In mathematics. Long-Enduring Results Many other people have written answers to the "What is math?" question. Meyer. Here are four examples: "One of the most important concepts in all of mathematics is that of function.) "The most powerful single idea in mathematics is the notion of a variable. mathematician. Canadian. and modeling have special definitions that are different from the "natural language" definitions that people commonly use.M.P. Patton. quoted in Concepts of Mathematical Modeling by Walter J. variable. to appreciate the four quotes. They . Each discipline has its own special vocabulary. notation. proof. Indeed. and the types of careful. It takes a reasonably good understanding of math in order to understand possible meanings to the "What is math?" question." (Leonardo da Vinci. Some Important Math Concepts Another approach to answering the "what is math" question is to name some of the really important ideas or concepts in math that help to distinguish it from other disciplines. it seems more appropriate to say that math has its own special modes of communication. Still another way to look at math is the longevity of some of its results. and philosopher. Thus." (Alexander Keewatin Dewdney. each discipline can be considered from the point of view of communication within the discipline. computer scientist. Thus. problem posing and problem solving.) "The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe.

great music and art can endure over the ages. 1877–1947. Of course. "A mathematician.) "In most sciences one generation tears down what another has built and what one has established another undoes. with the results being such that new researchers and users of math can safely build upon these accumulated results. the goal is to learn math to fit one's current and possible future needs." This quotation should be used with some care. It does mean enabling students. For example. Perhaps more so than for any other discipline. . one answer. Hardy. and they will continue to be true in the future. This aspect of math means that one can build upon and have confidence in the accumulated mathematical knowledge. like a painter or poet. That idea is the building on the previous results of oneself and others. It is sometimes simplified to the statement. H. is a maker of patterns." (G. This does not mean packing more and more math results into the students’ brains. "Don't reinvent the wheel. Many math teachers often stress that "the goal is to get the answer. In mathematics alone each generation adds a new story to the old structure. many other disciplines have some long-lasting results or accomplishments. within their capacities. This accumulation of math results is very important in facilitating one of the most important ideas in problem solving. Looking up an answer in a library will produce an answer. math results have a permanency that facilitate the accumulation of results over millennia. it is important to help students understand and be able to make use of the steadily increasing accumulated knowledge in this discipline." (Hermann Hankel. or many answers. a problem is studied and solved for the purpose of increasing one’s expertise as a problem solver. 1839– 1873. English mathematician. to have confidence in their mathematics and to be able to learn more as their needs and interests dictate. In educational settings.) As curriculum developers and teachers help students learn math. An invention and many of the results in science can have very long lives. math is a discipline of broad and longlasting results. First of all. but it will not contribute much to gaining an increasing level of expertise in solving novel problems. The following two quotations help capture the essence of the permanency of accumulated math content knowledge. German mathematician. Second. it is because they are made with ideas. a math problem may have no answer.are true throughout the world. If his patterns are more permanent than theirs." That is a poor approach to math education. The design of a tool such as a fork or a paper clip might be so good that it becomes a standard against which possible new versions are measured. In any case.

Store ever-more accumulated math knowledge in a form accessible by a steadily increasing percentage of the world's population. Increasing Math Expertise Students should increase their levels of math expertise during every math unit of study. in preparing to teach a math lesson or unit of study. clarifying. begin by thinking how a student's level of math expertise will be maintained and improved by the time and effort the student spends on the lesson or unit of study. • . Here is a brief summary of what problem solving includes: Question situations: Recognizing. 2. Progress in computer technology is aiding in the development of such brain augmentation in each academic discipline. You can think about computerized storage and automation as an auxiliary brain. Store parts of this accumulated math knowledge in a form so that the computer system can actually carry out the procedures to solve or help solve a wide range of problems. and solving problems. graphing. The various components of math are thoroughly intertwined. It also explores some themes that are especially important for math success and that math lesson plans should specifically emphasize. It is not surprising that considerable areas of disagreement exist. posing. a brain augmentation. In summary. The potential may be greater in math than in any other discipline because of the fact that a proven math theorem remains proven over time and throughout the universe. Even a "lowly" handheld scientific. and teachers. Thus. clarifying. Keep in mind that math is a broad and deep discipline. retrieval. equation-solving calculator stores much math knowledge in a form that automates the solving of a wide range of problems. Problem Solving The absolute heart—the unifying mission—of math education is students getting better at math problem solving. it is not easy to provide short answers to the "What is math?" question that can serve to provide a unifying foundation for math curriculum developers. and communication of humanity’s accumulated math knowledge.We now have computers and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to facilitate the storage. • Problem situations: Recognizing. Sometimes such disagreements are classified as being part of the Math Education Wars. posing. Computer technology has made it possible to: 1. use. Some Math-Specific Lesson Plan Topics This section explores some possible topics that need special attention in a math lesson plan. textbook writers. and answering questions.

and by studying proofs and proof-like arguments done by others. Students get better at constructing proofs or proof-like arguments through being instructed in these endeavors. by practicing and receiving high-quality feedback. this emphasis on higher-order skills and sense making is missing in the way teachers teach math. posing. (It helps to remember that what you have learned to do so well that the doing seems a lower-level skill is not so for students. and wise thinking. Further. The "proof-like" idea is a key part of problem solving. multiplication. The concepts of proof and proof-like are closely tied in with giving partial . Problem solvers can do a mental check of the steps. You can think of learning to write as mastering spelling. testing to see if they make sense and if they could readily convince other people that they make sense. • Note that solving problems usually requires higher-order. Thus. Often. The explanation and arguments supporting the steps used in solving a problem are proof-like. and division. etc. one can think of lower-order math knowledge and skills such as multidigit paper and pencil algorithms for addition. clarifying. problem solving requires sense making. and accomplishing tasks. Similarly. every math lesson or unit of study can be analyzed in terms of its contribution to students gaining increased understanding of proof and how to make mathematical arguments that are proofs or are proof-like. theoretical) problems using the language of math. one can think of representing real-world (or interesting. and then solving them using one's level of expertise in problem solving in math. This sense making provides feedback to the problem solver and helps to ensure correctness of the solution(s) produced by the problem-solving processes. The successful problem solver makes sense of the problem and the results of solving or attempting to solve the problem. Finally. In both writing and in math problem solving. critical. to successfully share or demonstrate the resulting “result”—product. however. creative. • Decision situation: Recognizing. grammar. penmanship. The goal is to produce written documents that are understandable to yourself and others.) The Concept of Proof The concept of proof lies at the very heart of mathematics. subtraction. posing. and making decisions. In teaching writing. there is significant emphasis on the higher-order goals even as students practice some of the basics. performance. clarifying. Or you can think of learning to write as learning to express oneself clearly in written language. An analogy with thinking about learning to write may be helpful. or presentation—usually requires communication and social skills.Task situations: Recognizing. Alternatively. some basic skills are important. punctuation. A math proof can be thought of as a sequence of arguments so carefully done that they can convince well-qualified mathematicians.

and the results are in: In every course area. It is possible to attempt to solve a problem. Thus. as a math topic is being taught. However. Review. the grader looks both at the answer(s) produced and the steps used to obtain the answer(s). Teachers do well . This theory is called constructivism and it is a very important educational theory. students forget a significant amount of course content relatively soon after completing the course.Thus. and transfer of learning of that topic is being taught. For example. consider a group of teachers. that are too big for any one person or small team of people to solve. If the steps and their underlying logic are correct. The amount forgotten varies with the student. in many courses the amount forgotten in a year or so is in the range of 75% to 90%. in creating and delivering a math lesson. Prerequisite. It takes a substantial amount of instruction and practice to teach the group of teachers to have a high level of consistency and agreement in essay grading. students might well be led to considering uses of the math topic in exploring various issues of sustainability in the other courses they are studying. this correction contribute toward increasing the student’s expertise? Include a Focus on Important Problems We want students to learn math for a variety of reasons. Consider a teacher grading a problem that a student has solved or attempted to solve. there may be a lodestone for the individual teacher: How does this grade. and that are important to all of us. While reaching agreement on how to deal with errors in spelling and grammar is relevant and fairly easy to achieve. However. and still get a correct answer. For example. use methods or steps that are incorrect and make little or no sense. each grading a student's written essay. comment. but one or more are implemented incorrectly. a student may well be deserving of considerable partial credit. The idea of partial credit certainly carries over to other disciplines. math is a human endeavor and an important part of our history and of many different cultures. There are certain problems we humans face that cut across many disciplines. when grading math tests or math homework. What students usually remember is a combination of some big ideas and material that the students use rather frequently in courses and in other parts of their lives. Students construct new knowledge and skills by building on their current knowledge and skills. "Forgetting" has attracted much educational research. the teacher might hold in mind that the math students are being taught might be useful in helping to address various aspects of the overall problem of sustainability. this is a far cry from dealing with the higher-order thinking involved in written communication. and Remediation A typical lesson builds upon and expands the current knowledge and skills of students. Sustainability provides a good example.

No simple. that previously exposed students relearn easier makes it easier—provided the students’ attitudes are good. Having a student devote extra time to learning math entails the question: What part of the other curriculum should receive less time?" Is this math skill or topic so important to these slower-learning math students that they should learn less art. and understandings usually serve as an adequate foundation for future learning in some areas. That retention varies tremendously among students makes the teacher’s task harder. history. For a number of the students. Such students continue in a downward spiral where they fall further and further behind. . sure fire solutions to this problem situation exist. Thus. our educational system tends to try to do something about it. in preparing to teach a math lesson. this math prerequisite situation gets to be a bigger and bigger challenge both to students and to teachers. interesting presentation. which bores students who have the necessary prerequisite proficiency. cost-effectiveness. and courses. with a longer period of time being devoted to a subject area. When the "falling behind" situation gets bad enough. year after year. We know. and still the students would not have the proficiency that the teacher would like in order to deal with the mew assume that many students in a class which has covered the same course or courses will have forgotten much of the material covered from those courses. or other standard components of the curriculum? Slower and Faster Learners The issue of prerequisite knowledge and skills is a major challenge to any math education system. music. the review time is a waste of time. physical education. For some of the students. A typical first grade teacher will have some students at a kindergarten or lower level in a math area. General and quite variable long-term residual knowledge. the teacher needs to think carefully about. the review process is adequate. for example. skills. diagnosis. We know that such intense instruction. units of study. quality computer-assisted learning materials have some of the needed characteristics of an individual tutor: Accuracy. feedback. Humans vary considerably in the nature and nurture aspects of math. What typically happens is that some class time is spent in review. what aspects of the math prerequisite knowledge and skills the students actually have. the entire instructional time in a math lesson or unit could be used up in math review. The result does not provide them with the prerequisite knowledge and skills for the subsequent lessons. but often it is not adequate in math (except for problem-solving skills and attitudes). patience. In some cases. will help students catch up. many of the students face the challenge of trying to learn new material (construct new knowledge) by building upon an inadequate foundation. Thus. but for many others it is inadequate. As students progress through math instruction. and relevance. that students learn faster with one-onone tutoring or in very small-group instruction. or have ascertained. For other.

That the same student may find some areas of math easy and others difficult complicates the problem. Educational institutions beyond the elementary grades normally offer a menu of courses. one teacher taking all of the slower group. more or less.5 to 2 times (or more) of the class average. and so on. The students will vary widely in their depth of understanding of previous and new materials. It requires that they get . and how to do self-assessment and peer assessment. some students in the class will learn math at 1/2 (or less) to 3/4 the rate of average students in the class. while others will learn math at the rate of 1. Very roughly speaking. understanding. All expectations will include level of performance upon completion and amount of progress in a given period of time. Both teachers and students have ownership of the problem. Since whole-class review will bore the students who have mastered the material and often will continue to bewilder or dishearten students who didn’t “get it” the first (or second!) time around. and how well they retain (how rapidly they forget) the math they have studied or are currently learning. One way to do this is to have two or three teachers’ classes work together. one way for a teacher to approach this to educate students about the problem and get students actively engaged in addressing the problem. need for review. Help students learn to understand the level of knowledge. Thus. it is possible to increase the amount of math learning in the lower group by teaching them in smaller classes and extending the amount of math instructional time per day. lack of learning. teachers may try to cope by dividing the class into groups that progress at different rates. two possible aspects of this are: 1. As with the reading curriculum.and some students who are at second grade or higher level. and need for remediation. expectations may well vary from student to student in a class. Using these expectations effectively requires that students have a firm grasp of what they mean. skills. Teachers’ usual heuristic is to conduct reviews so the "average" students meet the prerequisites. one taking all of a second group. Student and Teacher Responsibilities The problem of math prerequisites increases as students move to high level grades. and performance expected of them. This raises the issue of the extent to which a students can learn to take habitual responsibility for their own learning. Elementary schools often divide a class into two or three groups for math instruction—based on current math preparation and rate of learning. Typically. It is possible to meet some of the needs of the faster group by giving them instruction on how to learn math by reading math books and by interacting with each other. For educators and parents.

" (Charlie Brown. It is an issue in all components of the curriculum (and in many other areas such as managing or parenting). fully half of the students "discover" that they are not prepared to take any math course that carries credit toward graduation—sometimes because they’ve regarded there math courses as things to get through and be done with. from one's peers. This includes helping students learn to help themselves. One of the major weaknesses in our math education system is that many students do not develop effective skills in providing feedback to themselves—that is. A student does not learn to attach meaning to the numbers being manipulated . The feedback may come from a teacher. In many institutions. and so on. (Probably it is appropriate to make such feedback available at still younger ages. Thus. One way to see we are doing a very poor job in this is to look at students entering post-secondary education. The instruction is presented in the form of computations to be carried out using algorithms to be memorized. and they seldom reflect. remedial" courses they need to begin in as they work their way through material that they have already “studied” in middle school and high school. if that is what is needed or wanted. There is no reason why such tests are not readily available to all students starting at the middle school level or above. We now have the technology. Provide a variety of aids to students to help them meet the expectations. via online tests that one can take over and over. Colleges and universities routinely give students a math placement test. perhaps in part because they have little or no ownership in the task. from parents . because these tests can be designed to give different questions each time. often what they are doing makes no sense to themselves.good assessment and feedback from themselves and others (such as the teacher) so they know they’re on track and on schedule. Teaching Self-Assessment and Self-Responsibility Here is a penetrating quotation: "In the book of life. from the learner. It can contain an analysis of areas needing remediation and ways to get needed help. the answers aren't in the back. Their test scores indicate which of a variety of "pre-college. The general idea is to help students learn to depend on themselves and on readily available feedback systems such as computers when they want an answer to “How am I doing?”) The report given to a student can be completely confidential. One reason that this situation persists is that a lot of math education learning effort goes on in a context where it is difficult for a student to provide self-feedback. as written by Charles Schulz) Learning requires feedback. 2. when they make errors. they have few internal resources to detect and then correct the errors. Students learning to take responsibility for their own learning is one of the most important tasks of educators.

whether it is done mentally. Divide . using paper and pencil. As students begin to encounter word (story) problems.on the answers being produced. Thus. Word problems generally admit sensechecking. A student’s skill in sense making should be increasing year after year. The teaching approach is to recognize when it is appropriate to generalize a strategy being taught in a specific discipline (such as math). For example. and how to teach for transfer. it is very easy to make a mistake when using a calculator. an important aspect of learning to use a calculator is learning to detect one's errors. The student does not gain the knowledge and skills to check if a result "makes sense. give the strategy a name. However. Thus. Over the past two decades. One way to do this is to check if an answer makes sense. Indeed. For example. it is highly desirable to teach math in a manner that facilitates transfer of learning to other disciplines and to actual and probable problem-solving situations students will encounter. one important reason for including word problems in the math curriculum is that they are a good vehicle to help students increase their sense-checking skills. Teaching for Transfer of Learning Math is very useful in many different academic disciplines. many hard problems can be broken into sets of less difficult problems." Some math books and s teachers suggest that students do paper and pencil calculations and then use a calculator to check their results. Solve the less difficult problems. and explicitly help students to learn to apply the strategy in a variety of disciplines. Other important reasons are that they entail higher-order skills and that students’ reactions to them tells much about their attitudes toward math. Low-road transfer of learning is based on automaticity. The 1992 article by Perkins and Salomon provides an excellent summary of this field. various number facts can be learned to such a high level of automaticity that they seem as if they are instinctive when one needs them in addressing problems both in and outside of school. High-road transfer is based on learning general-purpose strategies and learning how to apply these strategies over a wide range of problem situations. or using a calculator or computer. Many students will solve such problems and produce answers that make no sense whatsoever—and be quite unable to detect that their answers make no sense. Thus. sense making is a fundamental idea in calculation. put all the results together in an appropriate manner. educational researchers have learned a great deal about the theories of low-road and high-road transfer of learning. and the harder problem is solved. Modern math education programs of study include a strong emphasis on students learning to check whether an answer makes sense. we can readily see those who are reasonably good at checking to see if an answer makes sense. Math is a general-purpose aid to problem solving—indispensable if the problem situation involves quantities.

) When developing a math lesson plan in which transfer from math to other disciplines is important.G. For a deeper discussion. Two examples: Learning to drive a car. Eugene. Retrieved 12/7/07: http://i-a-e. and discuss the relationship between popularity and enduring worth. or vice versa. (2006). see Chapter 7 of: Moursund. at the same time think about revising your lesson plans in the other disciplines you teach. both observation and research attest that a student's cognitive development may proceed more rapidly in some areas than in others —”better” at language arts than in math. stating a story problem intelligibly and explaining the solution process require language arts skills. OR: Information Age Education. Presidents when they left office with their relative rankings by historians now. Math Cognitive Developmental Level and Maturity Level As a student's brain matures and as a student studies math over a period of years. learning to learn math. integrate some math into these disciplines and stress ideas that transfer from math. The student moves up the Piagetian (math) cognitive developmental scale. including in non-math disciplines. The student grows in math maturity—getting better at thinking mathematically. When appropriate. For example. This transfer of learning should occur from math learning to other disciplines. and it is quite useful in problem solving in other disciplines. 2. and comparing/contrasting the foreign policy/ military policy of Germany and Japan from 1932-1945. moving toward (math) formal operations. Cognitive Development Piaget is well known for his work in cognitive developmental theory. two important results are: 1. . S. Computational Thinking and Math Maturity: Improving Math Education in K-8 Schools.html.and conquer (break a big problem into a coherent set of smaller problems) is commonly taught in math. Suppose that you teach both math and other disciplines (This especially applies to elementary school teachers. and from learning other disciplines to math. In summary. The next two sub sections provide short introductions to math cognitive development and math maturity. Another example: Compare popularity ratings of U. and creatively use math to solve complex and challenging problems. D. every math lesson plan should include a statement of how the new material is transferable to problem solving in other settings. Modern interpretations of his work emphasis both the nature and nurture aspects of a student gaining in cognitive development.

One goes to live in a middle class household in the US. The tribe might have a chief and a Shaman or priest. This is true even though they have taken three or four years of high school math.Many college students have become capable of formal operations in many areas. [Note to readers: It is not clear what would constitute being "middle class" in such a tribe. Their seeming competence is akin to that of a well-trained animal. but they do not deal well with the level of abstraction that is common in math at the level of first year high school algebra and above. In any event. and certainly is quite unlikely to achieve math formal operations. The other child goes to live with "middle class parents" in a hunter-gatherer tribe in the jungles of South America.” Consider identical twins separated at birth. the households and extended families that children grow up in vary considerably in how much they help children in their general cognitive development and in their discipline-specific cognitive development. One parent teaches language arts and social studies. How to provide appropriate math curriculum for students of considerable different levels of math cognitive development levels? 2.” Here is a “thought experiment. This poses two questions for math curriculum developers: 1. That is. Perhaps those who take good care of their children are able to take a nap in the heat of the day. where both parents are high school teachers. Moving back to the math education curriculum in our school system. and that they would be above middle class.] By the time he or she finishes high school. they deal well with the overall complexity of rational thought in their everyday lives and in areas not requiring use of math. There are some serious flaws in our current math scope and sequence. each math lesson can be examined from the point of view of the math cognitive developmental level or the general cognitive developmental level needed to learn and understand the material. there are no formal schools and no written language. The second child may well never achieve general Piagetian formal operations. but are not at formal operations in math. . the first child has a good chance of being well along toward achieving general Piagetian formal operations and math formal operations. How to help all students to move upward in their math cognitive developmental levels? Any math lesson plan or unit of study can be examined from the point of view of how it contributes to students efficiently continuing their math cognitive development. and have a regular turn speaking around the campfire. as can be discovered if they are presented with a novel problem that draws on the math knowledge and skills they have supposedly “learned. while the other teaches math and science. In addition.

The possibility of developing a proof in more than one way is seen. 1 2 Informal Deduction 3 Deduction 4 Rigor Notice that the van Hieles. High school geometry provides a good example. Most such students do not yet have the cognitive maturity to deal with the level of mathematical abstraction needed to understand ratio and proportion. Many pass the courses (indeed. The highest level in . Their five-level scale is shown below. About 50 years ago. axioms. squares).) Students at this level can compare different axiom systems (nonEuclidean geometry can be studied). and formal proof is seen. Only a minority of high school freshmen or sophomore brains have developed enough to be ready for this level of abstraction and mathematical rigor. (Roughly corresponds to Formal Operations on the Piagetian Scale. but interrelationships between figures and properties cannot be explained. Informal proofs can be followed but students do not see how the logical order could be altered nor do they see how to construct a proof starting from different or unfamiliar premises. the Dutch educators and Pierre van Hiele focused some of their research efforts on defining a Piagetian-type developmental scale for Geometry. definitions. A second major flaw is the level of abstraction that easily can be put into a plane geometry or first algebra course.One example lies in the area of ratio and proportion. Piaget's cognitive development scale has four levels. opposite sides being parallel necessitates opposite angles being congruent) and among figures (a square is a rectangle because it has all the properties of a rectangle). labeled their first stage Level 0. Level 0 Name Description Students recognize figures as total entities (triangles. numbers 1 to 4. being mathematicians. even without concrete examples. Geometry is seen in the abstract with a high degree of rigor. theorems. Thus. perhaps even get good grades) but do not gain the kind of understanding prerequisite for success in further math courses. At this level the significance of deduction as a way of establishing geometric theory within an axiom system is understood. but Visualization do not recognize properties of these figures (right angles in a square). This is typically taught at a time when students are just starting to move into formal operations. This is a common practice that mathematicians use when labeling the terms of a sequence. they are forced into a "learn by memorizing and demonstrate knowledge by regurgitating" approach. The interrelationship and role of undefined terms. Students can establish interrelationships of properties within figures (in a quadrilateral. Analysis Students analyze component parts of the figures (opposite angles of parallelograms are congruent).

A number of math education researchers have explored the issue of cognitive development and learning probability. The research relating the learning of probability and a student’s level of cognitive development suggests that learning for understanding requires students to be at a formal operations level. Piagetian and Math sensorimotor. J. educators. A. Research on very young infants suggests some innate ability to deal with small quantities such as 1. as part of basic literacy in mathematics. 44--63. cross-disciplinary research on how students come to think correctly about probability and statistics. Math Cognitive Development The following scale was created (sort of from whole fabric) by David Moursund. research in this area tells us that K-8 students are not ready to develop a formal understanding of probability. For example: Garfield. they . research in cognitive science demonstrates the prevalence of some "intuitive" ways of thinking that interfere with the learning of correct statistical reasoning. In addition. and statisticians alike is that a large proportion of students. 1. even in college. A third area is probability. 2. Difficulties in Learning Basic Concepts in Probability and Statistics: Implications for Research. and 3. there is little published research on how students actually learn statistics concepts. only about a third of students have achieved formal operations by the time they finish high school. even though age 11 or 12 is a biological time for beginning to move into formal operations. Quoting the abstract of this article: There is a growing movement to introduce elements of statistics and probability into the secondary and even the elementary school curriculum. For example. Remember. they can display innate spatial sense. math cognitive development scale. (1988). As infants gain crawling or walking mobility.the van Hiele geometry cognitive development scale is one level above the highest level of the Piaget cognitive development scale. The literature reviewed in this paper indicates a need for collaborative. Thus. It represents his current insights into a six-level. do not understand many of the basic statistical concepts they have studied. The experience of psychologists. Math Cognitive Developments Infants use sensory and motor capabilities to explore and gain increasing understanding of their environments. Stage & Name Level 1. Inadequacies in prerequisite mathematics skills and abstract reasoning are part of the problem. Piagetian-type. 19. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education. Although many articles in the education literature recommend how to teach statistics better. and Ahlgren.

both are of considerable importance during the preoperational stage. such as speech. During this time. which is characterized by 7 types of conservation: number. math learning tends to proceed in an environment in which . They learn number words and to name the number of objects in a collection and how to count them. and can find their way back to a parent after having taken a turn into a room where they can no longer see the parent. and pictures/video. Children gain increasing proficiency (speed. correctness.can move to a target along a path requiring moving around obstacles. During the preoperational stage. learning about objects that are not concretely available to them. length. Piagetian and Math preoperational. learning math is somewhat linked to having previously developed some knowledge of math words (such as counting numbers) and concepts. That is. A majority of children discover or learn “counting on” and counting on from the larger quantity as a way to speed up counting of two or more sets of objects. so can easily become bilingual or trilingual in such environments. weight. While concrete objects are an important aspect of learning during this stage. Level 2. In this stage. the time span of concrete operations is approximately the time span of elementary school (grades 1-5 or 16). children also begin to learn from words. with the answer being the last number used in this counting process. and understanding) in such counting activities. The children are making rapid progress in receptive and generative oral language. the level of abstraction in the written and oral math language quickly surpasses a student’s previous math experience. intelligence is demonstrated through logical and systematic manipulation of symbols related to concrete objects. language. children learn some folk math and begin to develop an understanding of number line. mass. During the preoperational stage. Level 3. For the average child. They respond to objects and events according to how they appear to be. children begin to use symbols. However. children begin to think logically. volume. During the concrete operations stage. In terms of nature and nurture in mathematical development. Piagetian and Math concrete operations. area. liquid. Operational thinking develops (mental actions that are reversible). They accommodate to the language environments (including math as a language) they spend a lot of time in.

and in oral communication (speak. Math maturity supports the understanding of and proficiency in math at the level of a high school math curriculum. In this stage. liquid. A very high level of mathematical proficiency and maturity. intelligence is demonstrated through the logical use of symbols related to abstract concepts. Mathematical content proficiency and maturity at the level of contemporary math texts used at the senior undergraduate level in strong programs. Piagetian and Math formal operations includes being able to recognize math aspects of problem situations in both math and nonmath disciplines. and so on. Follow the logic and arguments in mathematical proofs. This includes speed. length. listening to lectures. Piagetian and Math formal operations. mass. listen) of research-level mathematics. writing research literature. and gaining and using higher-order knowledge and skills. convert these aspects into math problems (math modeling). Pose and solve original math problems at the level of contemporary research frontiers. Good ability to learn math through some combination of reading required texts and other math literature. mental images and understanding of somewhat similar ideas that have already been acquired.the new content materials and ideas are not strongly rooted in verbal. problem solving. or first year graduate level in less strong programs. Level 4. Such transfer of learning is a core aspect of Level 4. accuracy. and understanding in reading the research literature. Abstract mathematical operations. Thought begins to be systematic and abstract. Solve relatively high level math problems posed by others (such as in the text books and course assignments). Level 6. Math Maturity Level 5. Fill in details of proofs when steps are left out in textbooks and other representations of such proofs. studying on your own. and volume. participating in class discussions. Beginnings of understanding of math-type arguments and proof. studying in groups. . area. although they can be taught in very concrete manners. and solve the resulting math problems if they are within the range of the math that one has studied. and learning the mathematics that corresponds to this. There is a substantial difference between developing general ideas and understanding of conservation of number. Mathematician. concrete. Pose and solve problems at the level of one’s math reading skills and knowledge. weight. These tend to be relatively deep and abstract topics.

A Google search (10/6/08) of the expression: "math maturity" OR "mathematical maturity" OR "mathematics maturity" produced over 24. Wikipedia states: Mathematical maturity is a loose term used by mathematicians that refers to a mixture of mathematical experience and insight that cannot be directly taught. but instead comes from repeated exposure to complex mathematical concepts. and are not nearly as susceptible to modification through usage. Furthermore. You will never see a mathematical discussion without the use of notation! You can evaluate a math lesson plan or unit of study in terms of how it contributes to students gaining in math maturity. . the definitions are much more precise and unambiguous. relies on a common understanding of definitions and meanings. and a general facility of expression in the terse—but crisp and exact—language that mathematicians use to communicate ideas. like English. Still quoting from the Wikipedia. not to words.000 hits. although words are used as well. to introduce clear and useful notation when appropriate (and not otherwise!). But in mathematics definitions and meanings are much more often attached to symbols. other aspects of mathematical maturity include: the capacity to generalize from a specific example to broad concept the capacity to handle increasingly abstract ideas the ability to communicate mathematically by learning standard notation and acceptable style • a significant shift from learning by memorization to learning through understanding • the capacity to separate the key ideas from the less significant • the ability to link a geometrical representation with an analytic representation • the ability to translate verbal problems into mathematical problems • the ability to recognize a valid proof and detect 'sloppy' thinking • the ability to recognize mathematical patterns • the ability to move back and forth between the geometrical (graph) and the analytical (equation) • improving mathematical intuition by abandoning naive assumptions and developing a more critical attitude • • • Quoting Larry Denenberg: Thirty percent of mathematical maturity is fearlessness in the face of symbols: the ability to read and understand notation. Mathematics.Mathematicians tend to prefer the concept of math maturity over the idea of math cognitive development.

whether with others. notation. there are alternatives to communicating through reading and writing. Communication and Math Content Traditionally. Traditionally. Even two math professors will quickly move into a combination of oral and written (using a chalkboard. makes marks on a whole-classviewable medium. One way of thinking is holding a conversation with oneself. Few humans will learn to read a math book through this approach. write. they have not yet learned to learn math content by reading. vocation. as one might expect. By the time most students finish high school. However. A teacher talks ("stand and deliver"). Moreover. math professors have developed considerable skill in reading math books and journals. using. and listen) with understanding is absolutely fundamental to learning. with computers. Communication (read. by the time a student finishes the third grade. it is important to distinguish between the two. and their skills in communicating math content by writing are correspondingly poor. our educational system includes an emphasis on "reading and writing across the curriculum. and then has students make use of worksheets or some other form of written assignment. and doing math. . A foundational concept in learning any discipline is to learn to communicate with understanding. Our traditional curriculum increases the emphasis on learning by reading as a student progresses through the higher grades and on into college. teachers expect that the student can read well enough to begin to use reading as a significant aid to learning. Many people confuse the idea of reading math with the idea of reading math word problems (math story problems). oral communication existed long before reading and writing were invented. Of course. Indeed. and graphical representations of math. Moreover. with oneself. Our current methods for teaching math depend heavily on oral communication backed up with written communication. we do a very poor job of implementing this idea in math education. speak. Although these activities are somewhat related. etc. in middle school reading is the dominant aid to learning content. or pastime. mathematics teachers have been engaged with the notion more often than teachers of other academic disciplines. Communication in Math Our overall educational system clearly acknowledges the need for students to improve their oral and written communication. with books." However. Math does not really lend itself to oral communication. Such thinking in math makes use of the vocabulary. if one is available) communication when discussing a math problem. present and visualize.The general notion of "maturity" in a discipline applies to every discipline—indeed to every job. Fluency in a language of math greatly increases efficiency and chances for success when addressing a problem in that area of math.

and then using this knowledge and skill "just in time" (that is. (If its unlikely that the student will ever have occasion to use a certain aspect of math. Mathematical "unmodeling". one builds on the previous work of others by learning what they have done (and how). The six steps shown are: 1. you might consider whether it should be taught at all. 2. 4. Thinking about whether the original Problem Situation has been resolved.Recall that one of the most important ideas in problem solving is building on the previous work of oneself and others. Mathematical modeling. including learning how to access key information or procedures. Using a computational or algorithmic procedure to solve a computational or algorithmic math problem. and 6. when one needs the specific knowledge) is essential The "just in time" idea is also important to relearning when needed. 3. and by learning to learn what they have done. The collected human accumulation of math knowledge is so large that learning to learn what has been done.) One place to practice math relearning is in dealing with prerequisites. 5. Communication and Math Word Problems The diagram below captures the essence of many different math problem-solving situations. Remember: Over time. Problem posing and problem recognition to produce a clearly defined problem. In math. Thinking about the results to see if the Clearly-defined Problem has been solved. they should do their initial learning in a manner that makes relearning faster and easier—even if this initial learning take somewhat longer than more “efficient” methods. Each math prerequisite situation in a math lesson plan can be viewed as an opportunity to help students hone relearning skills. almost all students will forget much of the math they’ve learned unless they use it regularly. Steps 5 and 6 also involve thinking about related problems and problem situations that one might want to address or that are created by the process or attempting to solve the original Clearly-Defined Problem or resolve the original Problem Situation. Therefore. .

and the steps 1. but with little understanding. For example. students are taught a number of tricks or rules of thumb that may help translate a word problem into a “pure” math problem. heavily fought against) trend toward reduced instructional time being spent in teaching paper and pencil approaches to step 3.In steps 1 and 2 a person works to understand a problem situation and makes a decision as to whether it might be useful to attempt to solve the problem using math. the great majority of math education at the K-8 levels is spent helping students learn to compete with calculators and computers in areas that are not well suited to the capabilities of a human mind but that are well suited to computers. . the person who has a solution to the math problem extracted when dealing with Step 1 checks the degree to which the results achieved are relevant to the original problem situation and decides whether the overall process has been useful in trying to resolve the original problem situation. Problem posing. The time saved is being spent on problem posing. 2. Often. books." That is. and 6. Many thousands of articles. such material treats the task as one of mechanically. 4. along with steps 1. Since inexpensive calculators have become widely available and relatively reliable (beginning in about 1980). 4. and Websites address ways students can learn to solve word problems. "the word of often means ‘times’. a nonthinking process of translating the words into math language. Thus. sense making. there has been a modest (often. A person deciding to take a math-oriented approach to resolving the problem situation attempts to represent or model the problem situation using the language of mathematics. They memorize and use these tricks with some success in getting correct answers. and 6 are all areas in which humans are better than computers. In step 6. 5. The great majority of K-8 math education is focused on students learning to do step 3 using paper and pencil algorithms. Step 3 is what calculators and computers are best at. 2. in a word problem and often means +. and that may or may not be solvable by the person attempting to solve the problem. This math modeling leads to having a math problem that may of may not be solvable. they are taught that in this situation. If students are doing word problems involving percentages. 5.

their size. That might be a little troublesome—I don't recall ever seeing 2/3 of a marble. In the typical schoolbook word problem.This approach to word problems misses the whole point or students learning to deal with challenging "real world" problems situations in which math might be a useful aid to resolving the situations. 8. or their skin color. The calculation (10 + 8 + 14)/3 is completely divorced from children and marbles. Now. Thus. when a student faces a problem situation or a “story problem” that may not have a solution. the “correct” result. Perhaps someone raises the question. At this stage of the problem-solving process. We might give the answer as the repeating decimal 10. Suppose that we decide that the question is. what is the average number of marbles per child? This question is not a clear. we quickly come to setting up the calculation (10 + 8 + 14)/3. 2) medium. there must be a way to get the solution. one has 8 marbles. In math. for example. Math modeling is one of the most important aspects of math. for example. This section provides a little more information about math modeling. Another difficulty exists. . We then attempt to make meaning from the results of the calculation. The word "average" has a variety of meanings. conclude that there are 10 marbles per child. there ought to be a mechanical way to get that result. It misses the whole point of translating (representing. the numbers 10. well defined question. Some answers to the "What is mathematics?" question focus on math being a language that can be used to develop models (called math models) of certain aspects of objects that people want to study. or quality of the marbles. and one has 14 marbles. Possible results include 10 2/3 or 10 R2 or 10. with 2 left over. Therefore. We might say that there are 10 2/3 marbles per child.666…. their sex. students “know” that there is a solution. three of the definitions are 1) mean. Math Modeling The six-step diagram given in the previous section emphasizes math modeling. “What is the mean number of marbles per child in this group?” Since we know what “mean” signifies.666… Now we have a mathematical expression that involves an infinite number of digits! But infinity is a very complex idea. the student is apt to go to be totally frustrated. One child has 10 marbles. Therefore. Similarly. and 3) mode. These numbers tell us nothing about the color. We might. modeling) such read world problems situations into math problems. The number 3 can be thought of as being a mathematical model of the children at play. we have a pure math calculation problem. size. suppose I observe 3 children playing with marbles. It says nothing about their age. and 14 are mathematical models of the marbles that the various children are playing with.

and in many other disciplines. theoretical and experimental physics. Computational Math Math and some of the sciences have traditionally been divided "pure" and "applied" components—pure and applied math. Computational Thinking and Math Maturity: Improving Math Education in K-8 Schools. meaning. The lack of non-mathematical context. We never got the chance to find out why one might want to have an answer to the question. it might have been that the children were squabbling with each other because some had more marbles than others. The lack of meaning or purpose in the question is fairly typical in the types of problems given in math books. or purpose makes in much more difficult for problem solvers to detect possible errors in the modeling and problem-solving processes. "Computational" refers to developing and making use of computer models and simulations in the discipline or intersection of disciplines. Math and the various sciences have added a "computational" category to their main subdivision—see “computational _____ in Wikipedia. Maybe the purpose of the question was to use as a starting point in stopping the squabbling. Within math and the various sciences there are now many computational-oriented journals. perhaps by dividing the marbles more equally among the children. theoretical and observational astronomy. we created a mathematical model and we solve the pure math problem represented by the math model. Lesson Plan as Self-Inservice Education .In this children and marbles situation. The overall math education curriculum needs to pay far more attention to these topics than it currently does. Jeannette Wing summarized the "computational" idea in her seminal article on computational thinking. For example: Journal of Computational Mathematics Journal of Computational and Applied Mathematics Journal of Computational Mathematics and Mathematical Physics Journal of Computation and Mathematics Journal of Computational Mathematics and Optimization Communications in Applied Mathematics and Computational Science • Computational Mathematics and Mathematical Physics • International Journal of Computational Science and Mathematics • • • • • • In 2006. For example. note the title of David Moursund's free 2006 book. It might have been that some had prettier marbles or larger marbles. etc. all of the sciences. The use of computers to actualize mathematics in models and simulations is now very important in math. Computers have changed this situation. Computational thinking and computational math are now very important aspects of doing math. Also.

Think in terms of maintaining and increasing your knowledge and skills in three areas (as well as in the art of interacting with other staff. Even after adjusting for measurement error. recent research suggests that years of experience is a good predictor of teacher success in helping to learn.Many teachers feel that they learn more about teaching during their first few year on the job than they did during their teacher education program. Moreover. For example. Here is summary of an important 2006 study by Andrew Leigh: Using a data set covering over 10. Teachers with a masters degree or some other form of further qualification do not appear to achieve significantly larger test score gains. a good place to begin is with interactive math manipulatives. You and your students will benefit as you gradually expand the depth and breadth of your knowledge of any specific topic you’re teaching. to a considerable extent. and it provides an opportunity to maintain and improve your own problem-solving knowledge and skills. observable teacher characteristics. A quick . the resulting teacher fixed effects are widely dispersed across teachers. Experience has the strongest effect. Since the exams are conducted only every two years. The larger your presentation repertoire on a topic. and students): 1. Select a single example that meshes with a lesson you are teaching and use the demonstration to increase student interest in and insight into the topic. and there is a strong positive correlation between a teacher’s gains in literacy and numeracy. Any topic you’re teaching has far more content than you’re teaching. every unit should include a significant and well-integrated focus on problem solving. Build a personal library of math puzzles and math problem challenges appropriate to the levels of students and for the courses you teach.000 Australian primary school teachers and over 90. 2. across grade levels. Any topic can be presented many different ways. it is necessary to take account of the work of the teacher in the intervening year. parents. though not all. If you use little or none. This environment is one in which you need to be actively engaged. Pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). In math education. with a large effect in the early years of a teacher’s career. Teacher fixed effects show a significant association with some. Value this opportunity to learn.000 pupils. Subject matter content. and a variety of methods that fail to solve the problem. students will develop or adapt a variety of methods that solve a particular problem. Another suggestion. I estimate how effective teachers are in raising students’ test scores from one exam to the next. General pedagogy. the more apt you are to meet the diverse needs of your students. Each teaching unit is an opportunity to learn. consider how much instructional use you make of interactive multimedia and Web-based video materials. This is professional knowledge that cuts across subject areas and. Female teachers do better at teaching literacy. In a problem-solving environment.

Web search will yield a plethora. However. Hmm. Say a young student uses a calculator to divide 6 by 2. There are a variety of other ICT-related math content areas. integers. You might ask. ICT is part of math content." perhaps indicated by an E. So far. Some Roles of ICT Information and Communication Technology plays two roles in a good math lesson plan. dividing 6 by 5 and getting 1.2. the child experiences no great surprises or problems. and divide on the standard 6-function calculator. you can move from providing students with a "Challenge Math Problem of the Month" to weekly. You’ll learn by seeking out such problems. Hmm. Calculators The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics supports and encourages students to learn to use calculators in the early grades. How likely is it that child notices the decimal point?. The calculator readily creates a mismatch between a student's understanding of what the calculator is doing and a student's understanding of the number line. A few are briefly discussed below. As your collection grows. 6 divided by 6 does not produce any surprise. what does that mean? Continuing. . subtract. and it provides aids to teaching and learning math. Here are a few issues to consider: 1 Students can do the four basic operations before they understand the possible meanings of these operations.5. These should be optional assignments—challenges that some students will enjoy exploring. even this very beginning level has significant teaching and learning challenges. and are a key component of the content of a modern math curriculum. reading student solutions. and sees 3 followed by a decimal point. Multiplication of large numbers may produce an "overflow. These topics include math modeling and simulation. and decimals. but what about 6 divided by 7 to produce a result 0.8571428? A subtraction may produce a negative number for an answer. The child then divides 6 by 4 and sees 1. trying to solve them on your own. 2 Why is the calculator called a 6-function calculator? Does the child know what a mathematical function is? (How much will the student be helped by your saying. fraction. multiply. and perhaps sharing your problems with other math teachers. "What's to learn?" With a very minimum of instruction (often provided by students showing each other) students can learn to use add. and then perhaps daily challenge problems. Content A separate section of this document discussed Computational Thinking and Computational Math. What does that mean? Perhaps the child continues.

This is particularly important in math since results developed over thousands of years by math researchers are available when you attempt to understand and solve a current math problem. The point is. And so they do—in some ways. A young student can use such software to crate a colorful pie chart well before the student learns to create one by hand. will think about what you want students in your math class to know about roles of computers in representing and solving math problems. Just take the small subtopic of using a spreadsheet to graph data. m-. as adults. mr. Ask yourself: "Where in the math curriculum do students learn to retrieve and make use of past mathematical accomplishments? The standard math curriculum strives to store some of this accumulated knowledge in students' heads. keys. just giving students calculators unaccompanied by encouraging instruction is poor planning and poor teaching. Hmm.A mathematical function is an abstract entity that associates an input drawn from a fixed set to a corresponding output according to some rule?) 3 What is the meaning and use of the key that we. etc. as a good teacher. or… "understand" computers. know is the square root key? A similar question applies to the key labeled %. How does a student learn which are apt to be most effective in a particular situation? Modern spreadsheet software contains a huge number of built-in functions or routines. scientific calculators with their large number of built-in functions and their scientific notation provide still more teaching and learning challenges. For example. what do they mean and what are they used for? Of course. or access a multitude of templates. and m+. You. 4 If the calculator has mc. Information retrieval One of the most important ideas in problem solving is building on the work that others have done. The challenge is further increased by graphing and equation-solving calculators. However. or use a Social Networking Website. and the applicability of these processes and results to “real-world” activities. Our math education system has not yet committed itself to being the curriculum area primarily responsible for teaching students about spreadsheets and their roles in representing (modeling) and solving computationallyoriented problems. it does little to teach . Communicators can represent a set of data in many different ways. Computers Teachers often assume that those students who play games on computers or do email. what do you want your students to know about use of a spreadsheet? This is a huge topic. Those ways are unlikely to include much in the way of math.

Time is too short for an individual response from each student. Computer-assisted learning (CAL) and Distance Learning are two major. By and large. Some exercises may draw upon material from earlier chapters and sections of the book. knowledge. but this opportunity is often severely limited. and in math learning. They are not taught to read math well enough to benefit from the resources available on the Web. How can the limited computer time make a significant contribution to your overall math curriculum in attitude. The student rarely has access to the previous years' books or to alternate presentations of the topic. and perhaps learn to read the book and learn by reading. Students then do seatwork and perhaps homework. precollege students are not even given good access to the math books they have used in their previous years of schooling. Most schools need more computer facilities if ICT is to play a major instructional role. All students receive the same presentation. in math libraries. or even in math textbooks. proven aids to teaching and learning. A few students may get a chance to ask questions. the teacher may ask the class a few questions in an attempt to ascertain if students understand the new material. math is still taught using "oral tradition.students how to read math well enough so that they can retrieve and use math results that are available in the literature. If you face that situation. Student exercises may be on a worksheet or come from a textbook. Going to a computer lab or bringing in a classroom set of laptops once a week clearly is of limited value. and skills? A "Full Blown" Math Lesson Plan Template Here is a Level 3 (see the diagram at the beginning of this Web page) general-purpose template for math lesson plans. The worksheet approach tends to separate students from any chance to look at a book that covers the material." A teacher does a "stand and deliver" presentation. Think carefully about what you want students to be learning about roles of computers in math content. Teaching and Learning To a surprising extent. The seatwork and homework tend to entail repetitions of the process the teacher demonstrated. It includes all components of an interdisciplinary . It is a template for lesson plans to be used in teaching preservice and inservice teachers. Similarly. ICT has brought us powerful alternatives to this approach. in math teaching. Book-based seatwork and homework provide students an opportunity to look back at a previous section in the book and perhaps review the ideas presented by the teacher. They are not taught how to do Web searches as an aid to retrieving math information. then think carefully about the most effective use for this scarce resource.

self responsibility. It is important that students understand the idea of math expertise. how it grows through study. think about the teacher prerequisite knowledge and skills needed to do a good job of teaching the lesson. The title of a math lesson plan or unit should communicate purpose to the teacher and to students. Accommodations—special provisions needed for students with documented exceptionalities and other students with math learning and math understanding differences from "average" students. Categorization schemes are especially useful in a computer database of lessons. Every lesson should include an emphasis on self assessment. and it contains a number of components specific to teaching math and learning to be a better teacher of math. Math teachers and their students face the difficulty that a significant proportion of the class may not meet the prerequisites. Intended audience and alignment with Standards—categorization by: subject or course area. See the Prerequisite. and spend time thinking about what you will learn as you teach the lesson. 2.general-purpose lesson plan template. 5.) 1. spend time better preparing yourself to teach the lesson. practice. Title and short summary—like a section title in a book chapter (lesson plan) or a chapter title (unit plan). Such students are not apt to learn the new material very well. etc. (See item 10 in the list given below. The short summary is part of the advance organizer and should include a statement of how the lesson or unit serves to empower students. and how it decreases through lack of use (forgetting). It serves in part as an advance organizer. and how to deal with students who’ll be bored by the “normal” planned lesson. Review. Before you teach a lesson. and problem . and so on. and the math pedagogical knowledge. They often use the expression measurable behavioral objectives. and Remediation section of this document. Students need to learn to take personal responsibility for their levels of expertise. Learning objectives—the “there” in “getting from here to there. length. Each lesson and unit of study needs to maintain and improve each student's overall level of math expertise. 3. general math topic being taught. grade level. As you develop a lesson plan or prepare to teach from a lesson plan. A listing of the math standards (state. This ties in closely with how to deal with students who clearly lack needed prerequisite math knowledge and skills. national. Prerequisites—a critical component in math lesson planning and teaching.) being addressed. and the lack of success will likely add to "I can't do math" and "I hate math" attitudes. the general pedagogical knowledge. Some additional important aspects of the earning objectives section of a math lesson or unit of study are: a. allowing users quickly to find lesson plans to fit their specific needs. sense-making. province.” Teachers of teachers often stress the need for stating learning objectives precisely. 4. do a self-assessment to determine if you have the needed math content knowledge. If you detect possible weaknesses. and use.

Help students learn the capabilities and limitations of brain/mind versus calculators and computers in representing and working to solve math problems. tools. Informal (and. Stress roles of ICT and a student's brain/mind in computational thinking. Math is of growing importance in many disciplines because of its role in computational thinking and in using math models to represent and help solve the problems in these disciplines. 6. CDs. d. problem solving should be in ways that lay the foundations learning about proofs in math. Pay special attention to students learning how to read math well enough so that they can learn math by reading math. equipment. Part of this is students gaining skill in communicating with themselves—mental sense-making.solving. Think about every math lesson as including both some math content for students to read and some math word problems in which students can practice using their math knowledge and improve their general math problem-solving skills. Higher-order pushes the envelope—it helps students to increase their level of math development and math maturity. or significantly increase their knowledge and understanding of a strategy. Stress how math is used to develop math models of problem situations to be explored and possibly solved in each discipline. Communication in Math. DVDs." If you want students to learn to be mathematically proficient in . This extraction or modeling process is a very important aspect of learning and understanding math. c. f. assignment sheets. Each unit of study should include specific instruction on transfer of learning. of course. b. Both are essential to problem solving. It is a challenge to teachers and to students. and it is important for students to be learning and making use of both lower-order and higher-order aspects of problem solving in an integrated. and it may be that some of the resources are available online. This ties in closely with (a) given above. eventually. Make a clear distinction between lower-order and higher-order knowledge and skills. Keep in mind that math notation. more formal) proof-like arguments should be part of every unit of study. Note. Carefully examine the learning objectives in a lesson to see how they fit in with the Piagetian math cognitive developmental level of your students and how they help your students to move upward in their math cognitive development. Math modeling is a process of extracting a "pure" math problem from a problem situation. worksheets. Materials and resources—These include reading material. vocabulary. A unit of study is long enough so that students can learn a strategy. and gain increased skill in high-road transfer of this learning to problem solving across the curriculum. e. videotapes. etc. lower-order and higher-order are dependent on the math cognitive developmental level and math maturity of your students. Problem solving and proof are closely related topics. "The medium is the message. Keep in mind Marshall McLuhan's statement. everyday fashion. Keep in mind the steadily growing importance of Computational Thinking in math and in other disciplines. and ideas have a significant level of abstraction. You may need to begin the acquisition process well in advance of teaching a lesson.

A carefully done math lesson plan includes a discussion of math content pedagogical knowledge that has been found useful in helping students learn the topic. and other ICT learning aids. Extensions—These may be designed to create a longer or more intense lesson. Add some notes to your lesson plan that reflect your increased knowledge and skills. perhaps jointly developed by the teacher and students. b. If students are going to be making use of math manipulative. Set specific learning goals and objectives for yourself. Joan (1995). pay special attention to the general pedagogy requirements and the PCK requirements of dealing with a large number of students. and general pedagogy. Extensions may also be useful in various parts of a lesson where the teacher (and class) decide as the lesson is being taught that more time is needed on a particular topic. a. computers. Students need to learn to do self assessment and to provide formative assessment (evaluation during the process to aid progress) and perhaps summative assessment feedback (passing judgment on the final result) to each other.pdf. summative. and that provide a sense of direction for focusing your learning the next time you teach the lesson or unit. if the class is able to cover the material in a lesson much faster than expected. The cognitive and organizational load on a teacher dealing the first few times with a one-on-one computer situation is rather overwhelming. extensions may prove helpful. Teacher learning on the job—View each math lesson and unit of instruction as an opportunity to increase your knowledge and skills in math content. and assessment environment in your classroom. Instructional plan—This is usually considered to be the heart of a lesson plan. 7. Assessment options—A teacher needs to deal with three general categories of assessment: adult world where calculators.stat. For example. 9. reflect on what you have learned. the lesson plan may include details for the grouping process and instructions to be given to the groups. After teaching a lesson or a unit of study. References—The reference list might include other materials of possible interest to people reading the lesson plan or to students who are being taught using the lesson plan.auckland. can be a useful aid to helping students take increased responsibility for their own learning.Garfield. and long-term residual impact. Retrieved 1/25/08: www. International Statistics Review. 11. It provides instructions to the teacher to follow during the lesson. calculators. It may include details on questions to be asked during the presentation to students. 8. and other ICT are ubiquitous. . A rubric. How Students Learn Statistics. math pedagogy. learning. computers. References Garfield. strive to create such a teaching. If the lesson plan includes dividing students into discussion groups or work

quotegarden. Quotations about Mathematics and Education.html. (2007) Estimating Teacher Effectiveness from Two-Year Changes in Student’s Test Scores.or.html. The Math Forum at Drexel Lynn Arthur (1999). . The Math Forum Internet Mathematics Library is a treasure trove of links categorized by topic or educational level. Retrieved 11/23/07: http://www. Fall 1999. Retrieved 11/25/07: http://www. the newsletter of the National Association of Elementary School http://www. Retrieved 1/24/08: http://www. 6-7. The Website also offers kindergarten to graduate-level lesson plans. Retrieved 12/12/07: Retrieved 12/5/07: High School (n. Leigh. pp.stolaf. A nice collection of computer-based resources of use to teachers and to teachers of teachers.). Math Forum (n. Authors David Moursund and Dick Ricketts. Math Resources from the southern Oregon Education Service District.pdf.).d. Welcome to the Garden Quotes: Quotes about Steen.k12. A. Vol 8. Quotations (n.html.d. Retrieved 2/5/08: http://www. student project ideas and homework help.mathforum. 1.) Algebra for all in eighth grade: What's the rush? Appeared in Middle Matters.

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