David Wees's blog

Why is it so hard to change math education?

Imagine you are asked to learn about something, and the only way someone can help you understand it is with words, because there are too few examples of it around to actually see it for yourself. You think you know what it is they are talking about, but you keep getting confused because your image of what it is seems so much different than what the other person is describing.

Categorizing Student Strategies

For the last two years, the project I am currently working with has been asking teachers in many different schools to use common initial and final assessment tasks. The tasks themselves have been drawn from the library of MARS tasks available through the Math Shell project, as well as other very similar tasks curated by the Silicon Valley Math Initiative.

The Confirmation Bias Cycle

Educational research flow-chart

 

I've been working hard to read research carefully, both research with which I agree, and research with which I disagree. I still struggle with my tendency to overlook the flaws in research with which I agree, and to find fatal flaws in research with which I disagree.

Ineffective feedback and the Khan Academy

According to Grant Wiggins, there are seven essential elements of effective feedback.

Feedback should be:

  • goal-referenced,
  • tangible and transparent,
  • actionable,
  • user-friendly,
  • timely,
  • ongoing,
  • consistent.

 

1 minute summary: Why do we teach math?

Here is a one minute summary of a post I wrote about why we teach math.

I created this summary video as part of an application for TED@NYC. I think my odds of being accepted are improbably slim, but the opportunity cost is low.

 

What is good teaching?

What constitutes "good teaching" is not a well defined term. My evidence for this claim is that so many organizations appear to use very different exemplars of good teaching when sharing their work.

For example, this is considered good teaching by the Whole Brain Teaching institute.

Using Rich Math Tasks for Formative Assessment

This is the presentation proposal I submitted last Thursday to the NCTM conference committee. Would you attend this workshop?

 

Description:

Effective mathematics teaching is more than just teaching procedures; students must have opportunities to grapple with rich mathematics. In this workshop we will collaboratively investigate using rich math tasks to explore students’ use of the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice as part of formative assessment for learning.

Objective:

Why I support Common Core Math

I'm not an expert on standards by any means, but I know that the standards in British Columbia (where I was trained to teach) were coherent and made sense. You could follow the threads through the years and understand why they had been designed that way. I know that the Common Core content standards in Math have the same level of coherence.

What is strategic inquiry?

tl;dr: Strategic inquiry is a lesson study structure.

 

One of my roles in my current job is to help facilitate team meetings for two schools. In these team meetings, our objective is to collaboratively study our individual impact on student learning, and work together to design instructional strategies for improving the learning outcomes of students.

Five minute formative assessment strategy

First, give an exit slip to your students based on a particularly important concept (PIC) for which you want to check for understanding.

Next, sort the exit slips into piles based on the method students chose to use (whether they used it perfectly or not). Choose two examples from the student work that highlight one or two probably misconceptions students still have on the chosen PIC.

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