Thursday, July 19, 2018

On Making the Ordinary Extraordinary in Learning Math with Technology

"Based on my own research and experience, and the research of many colleagues in the learning sciences and related fields, I firmly believe that technology can transform teaching and learning environments and help students achieve beyond what is possible without the support of technology.  [...].  It is a tremendous challenge to translate knowledge about teaching with technology from schools that are currently doing extraordinary things—both on their own and in the context of focused research projects—into knowledge that is broadly usable by the majority of schools.  Nonetheless, it is a key challenge that must be met in order to employ technology effectively in school improvement efforts."
So wrote Barry Fishman in his article, "It’s Not About the Technology" (Teacher's College Record) back in July 6, 2006. I don't think he would have anticipated that 12 years later we wouldn't have made more significant progress toward extraordinary than we have so far.

In a recent post I wrote about the SAMR model - a framework for tech integration developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura.

According to Kathy Schrock, the SAMR (substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefinition) is a model designed to help educators infuse technology into teaching and learning. The  model supports and enables teachers to design, develop, and infuse digital learning experiences into their curriculums. The goal is to transform the student's learning experiences so they result in higher levels of achievement.

SAMR Model
Substitution - Tech acts as a direct substitute, with no functional change
Augmentation - adds some functional improvement
Modification - change the learning task; becomes collaborative
Redefinition - performing a task inconceivable without the tech (i.e. Sketchpad or Desmos)

During my years at CIESE* (1990-2007), we developed a similar model using descriptors that were more user-friendly. Here are the stages of "professional growth."

Year 1
Stage 0: Awareness. Announcement of a technology integration project. Participating teachers attend an overview of the project.
Stage 1: Learn. Teachers learn about the technology they will be using which includes a teacher computer station, digital whiteboard, laptops, tablets, handhelds and software.
Stage 2: Adopt a lesson strategy.** (1) Set the stage (2) Do the activity (3) Debrief.
Stage 3: Experiment. Teachers use a one computer station and a digital whiteboard to do a model lesson using appropriate software. Math coach and/or supervisor helps with the lesson. Eventually, the teacher goes "solo" with the lesson. Practicing the STS-DTA-Debrief model lesson/activity is crucial to moving to the Redefinition (SAMR) phase. Administrative support throughout.

Research has shown that combining many thinking skills improves learning outcomes. Creating, applying, remembering, analyzing, understanding, and evaluating can all be used together in rich, well-designed learning activities and projects to improve the effectiveness and longevity of learning results.***

Year 2
Implementation stage. Experimented lessons become a more permanent part of the curriculum. New models introduced that support collaboration. Teachers write new lessons/activities. Teachers mentoring new teachers in the project. Administrative support continues.

Year 3
Institutionalization stage. Original cohort of teachers continues to share their work with colleagues. This teacher to teacher sharing with the help of the math coach becomes the cornerstone of school life.

That was our model at CIESE. And it worked extremely well at the middle school level in Passaic, NJ by 2007. The teachers learned a lot, but what about their students? Unfortunately, they were still bound by textbooks which from my observations kept learning to a minimum. (As of 2015, test scores remain low in Passaic.)

Textbooks continue to be barriers to extraordinary learning. We need dynamic curriculums that not only engage students but develop in them a passion to learn.
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*Center for Innovation in Engineering & Science Education at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ

**The heart of effective problem-based teaching is this: the teacher sets the stage with a problem, puzzle, or game containing an interesting context, where school math isn’t the focus; the students then engage in the activity, followed by the teacher debriefing the activity with the students and the math learned is revealed. When all is said and done, the students will learn some powerful mathematics. (Examples forthcoming.)

***21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times, Trilling, B. & Fadel, C. (Jossey-Bass, 2012), P. 51

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

It's the Pedagogy, Stupid

TPACK Model
In my early days of giving talks at conferences, I occasionally used the word pedagogy in the title of my talk. I didn't get many takers. In fact, on one occasion no one showed up. So I stopped using the word in the title of my talks. And presto, attendance improved. So you're probably wondering about why I'm using the word in the title of this blog. Some background should help to answer the question.

 Recently, I read Larry Cuban's latest book "The Flight of a Butterfly or the Path of a Bullet?" in which he
[...] looks at the uses and effects of digital technologies in K–12 classrooms, exploring if and how technology has transformed teaching and learning. In particular, he examines forty-one classrooms across six districts in Silicon Valley that have devoted special attention and resources to integrating digital technologies into their educational practices. Ultimately, Cuban asks if the use of digital technologies has resulted in transformed teaching and learning in these classrooms. (Source)* 
Cuban found that about 2/3 of the teachers became regular users of technology and were happy that it made for a smoother delivery of instruction to the students. But did it produce better results? In other words, were the students learning better? Cuban doesn't answer the question because he didn't focus on results. He leaves that to future researchers. He did discover that teachers in Silicon Valley do use technology and found that it makes them more efficient with getting resources out to kids. But the question: did they learn better? doesn't get answered. I would characterize what the students were experiencing was Blended Learning. But were they learning better than before? Since Cuban doesn't help me with that I looked for some research on Blended Learning to help me.

In reviewing a conference presentation by Rebecca Griffiths ("What Works in Blended Learning") the author, Doug Lederman had this takeaway:
[...] The use of technology itself appears not to be primarily responsible for [...] improved outcomes. Rather, the accumulated studies they shared found that the biggest effects came when the instructors changed what material they taught and how they taught it. "If you just use a new digital learning technology without changing anything else, chances are you're not going to have a significant impact" on learning, Griffiths said. 
So it appears that the bottom line is what Cathy Davidson wrote in her book (The New Education):
"The real lesson for the New Education is that we need more active, creative ways of teaching that put some of that computer power to good pedagogical use." 
So we've come full circle. What do we/you mean by good pedagogical use? In other words, how do we get kids to really want to learn what you want them to learn? That's the holy grail.

In my thinking about pedagogy, I went exploring and discovered the Cult of Pedagogy. The title is meant as a joke (there's no cult here) but the website is really good for folks who want to improve their personal pedagogy especially in using technology. The author, Jennifer Gonzalez, does make a living from this site so it will cost you some, but it's reasonable.

*This source includes a 30-minute podcast interview with the author, Larry Cuban.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Logo Summer Institutes 2018

These workshops are intensive immersions in creative computing for K12 teachers, parents, and technology integrators. Our project-based approach supports computational thinking and STEAM learning and teaching.

Learn to code as you explore and create projects using Scratch, Makey Makey, Hummingbird, micro:bit, Arduino, and a variety of other hardware and software platforms.

We’re in the midst of some big changes in the technologies available for creative computing, which we will be incorporating into the Logo Summer Institutes:

Scratch 3.0 is rolling out this summer, promising a wide range of extensions for physical computing, including LEGO, Arduino, micro:bit, and more. Scratch 3.0 also runs on iPads and Android tablets.

The versatile and inexpensive micro:bit is becoming a popular platform for physical computing and robotics. And, it is now integrated with the Hummingbird.

Register Now

Registration remains open for two Logo Summer Institutes:
- June 18-21 in Sugar Land, Texas
- July 9-12 in New York City

For more information visit www.logofoundation.org/summer or contact us by email: info@logofoundation.org

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Focusing on the M in STEM in the High School Math Curriculum

In 2014, CNN reported that only 16% of high school seniors end up pursuing careers in STEM, despite the fact that industry-related jobs are growing at a rate 1.7% faster compared to non-STEM-related professions. Furthermore, many of those who have related degrees end up pursuing careers outside of what they were trained in.

It seems that it would be useful to offer a STEM Math course in high school that would prepare students to study STEM in college so that they will be ready for a STEM career. This doesn’t have to violate what NCTM has outlined in Catalyzing Change in High School Mathematics where the authors say that in the first 2.5 years of high school students should continue to work on and be able to use the essential math concepts that all students should know. This includes statistics which should be included in the algebra 1, algebra 2 sequence. Students who want to do AP Calculus would continue along a path that includes a pre-calculus course. Course selection after the common pathway should be based on students’ needs, goals, and interests. This is where a course in STEM would serve a useful purpose. I would call it steM where the focus is on mathematics within the context of science, technology, and engineering. Matt Larson has written that STEM in its present implementation is not strong in its math component. I agree. And that’s why we need to develop a STEM course that focuses on the math component and makes it come alive for students. One example that came to mind was the example in Dan Meyer’s blog: The Teaching Muscle I want to Strengthen in 2018.  In it, he mentioned a Desmos activity called Complete the Arch that could become a part of the lesson of building an arch-style bridge. I searched for an arch bridge building lesson which I didn’t find (most of the bridge activities were for elementary students) but I did find some neat videos that would be perfect to show in the contents of a high school lesson.

So in summary what I’m calling for is for NCTM to organize a committee that would focus on developing an excellent steM curriculum that could be an option for students who are not on the calculus path.

Let me know what you think.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

More from the CLIME Meeting

Neil speaking at an Ignite session
Neil Cooperman, long time CLIME member and supporter, offered these comments at our recent CLIME get-together in Washington, DC. The question on the floor was:

What are effective ways to use technology?

Neil says:
"A lot of people using technology are using it as a subsititute for what they did before. They are not using the SAMR model. They are not using technology to really change how learning and teaching happen."
According to Kathy Schrock the SAMR (substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefinition) is a model designed to help educators infuse technology into teaching and learning. Popularized by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, the  model supports and enables teachers to design, develop, and infuse digital learning experiences into their curriculums. The goal is to transform student's learning experiences so they result in higher levels of achievement.

The key word of course is transform. How do we know if students learning has been transformed? What usually comes to mind is test scores. But there are other more informal and powerful ways. These include:

  • Jo Boaler's Mathematical Mindsets describes how students perception of mathematics can be changed by providing students with practical strategies and activities. This can help teachers and parents show all children, even those who are convinced that they are bad at math, that they can enjoy and succeed in math.

But both of those are not technology specific. This next one is.

The program Green Globs available from David Kibby absolutely transforms students attitude and skill level with functions. (Neil would definitely concur with me on this choice.)

More technology specific activities in my next blog entry.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Shall CLIME meet a Demise or a Renaissance?

That was the question I pondered as I stood at the entrance to Marquis Salon 14 in the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Washington DC where the annual CLIME meeting was to happen. My meeting was to start at 7:15pm and it was now 7:30pm. I knew I had steep competition. Who could resist free food, adult beverages, and a T-shirt at the Casio reception next door? I watched as people passed me by to go there. It looked like the ghost of demise was the answer to my question. Well not exactly. I did meet Patricia Dickenson, Associate Professor of Teacher Education at National University, San Diego, CA the day before and she was interested in a leadership role in CLIME that she was just beginning to learn about. She cheered me up and I was encouraged. Eventually, a group of friends (that's what I call members and members-to-be of CLIME) showed up and a lively session ensued. Before the session ended one of the participants John Stevens an instructional math and technology coach at Chaffey Joint Union High School District in Ontario, CA said he was interested in working with us to lead CLIME into that Renaissance I was dreaming about. So the initial goal is to have and plan for a CLIME event at the San Diego meeting in 2019. Are you also interested in helping out? Here are some ways you can do that:

1. Send in a proposal to speak at the NCTM annual meeting on a technology theme in San Diego next April. Link. The deadline is May 15th. If you succeed let CLIME know (ihor@clime.org) so we can promote your session.

2. If you are speaking at one of the regional conferences this year, let me know so I can promote your presentation as well.

3. CLIME's mission is to is to empower math communities to transform the teaching and learning of math through the use of dynamic tools in our Web 2.0 world. If you believe strongly that CLIME should exist to continue to lobby NCTM to promote the effective use of technology in math education, then membership is for you! Membership in CLIME is free. Just send me an email that you support our effort.

Previous Posts

NCTM Annual Meeting & Technology (A Closer Look - Part 1)
NCTM Annual Meeting & Technology (A Closer Look - Part 2)
NCTM Annual Meeting & Technology (A Closer Look - Part 3)
CLIME Renaissance 2018?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

CLIME “After Hours” No Frills Meeting in Washington, DC

We will be holding a CLIME (Council for Technology in Math Education) get together in Washington to celebrate 30 years of CLIME participation as an affiliate group of NCTM.

Date: Thursday, April 26, 2018
Time: 7:15-8:15 (right after Shadowcon)
Room: Marquis Salon 14 (Marriott Marquis)


I apologize for multiple copies of this announcement, but I want to make sure that our CLIME friends are aware of this important meeting.

After 30 years of participation in CLIME I’ve decided to step down and offer an opportunity for another individual to take the helm of an organization that has played a significant role over the years in keeping technology on the front burner of NCTM’s vision for quality mathematics education. 

If you are interested in playing a role in CLIME's future please let me know (ihor@clime.org). If you are attending the Washington Conference, please stop by our meeting and let me know of your interest.

NCTM Annual Meeting & Technology (A Closer Look - Part 1)
NCTM Annual Meeting & Technology (A Closer Look - Part 2)
NCTM Annual Meeting & Technology (A Closer Look - Part 3)
CLIME Renaissance 2018?