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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Changing Landscape of Math Education

It seems like there's a burst of math education articles, books, and new ideas these days. Perhaps I'm just more aware of this topic as I focus primarily on math education both at the grade school where I teach and at the university level as I teach math education methods to undergraduate students. Yet, the truth remains, there's a lot to read and consider with regard to teaching math today. In fact, there are so many ideas out there, that it's possible to feel overwhelmed. Therefore how does one navigate this sea of information.

Standards Focus
I believe that the standards are a good starting point. Where do your students fall with regard to their knowledge and application of the grade-level standards?

The Standards of Mathematical Practice
How do your students practice the standards? Are they able to apply the standards with ease and understanding or is their knowledge of the standards area more superficial? How can you help your students develop a strong, flexible application of The Standards of Mathematical Practice?

Differentiation and Personalization
Once the classroom program is centered on deep practice and application of the standards, then it's time to think about the individual students. Who is not meeting the expectations of the program well? What do these students need to develop mathematical skill, concept, and knowledge with confidence, engagement, and success? How can you better differentiate and personalize the curriculum to foster enthusiasm for mathematics as well as proficiency? It's good to pay attention to the learning progressions in this regard, and think about the foundation or enrichment skills and practice these students may need to progress.

Regular, targeted formal and informal assessments will help you to identify and meet students' math education needs and interests.

It's advantageous to maximize any existing supports well. Keeping the teaching team including family members, interns, and colleagues abreast of the curriculum goals and needs will help to foster success for all learners.

Professional Learning
Establishing a pattern of regular professional learning with regard to math education will help you to provide students with the best learning resources and processes available. Membership at NCTM, following, attending quality math courses and conferences, and reading math blogs and books will help you to achieve the expertise needed to teach math well today. Also, it would be great to create or join a math study group too to build and share this knowledge.

As in any curriculum area, the way to teach best is a moving target that continues to profit from study and a keen understanding of the students you teach. Teaching well is not a static effort, instead it's an effort that continually changes and profits from continued learning and professional collaboration.

How do you keep up with new ideas and research with respect to the changing landscape of math education? Who and what are your "go-to" experts and resources in this regard? What tried and true math practice and suggestions do you have for math educators? I'm curious.