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 that utilize technology. The goal is  to transform learning experiences so they result in higher levels of achievement for students.

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?

Friday, April 6, 2018

Math, Technology & STEM at the CLIME NCTM Meeting: a Closer Look (Part 3)

Figure 1
NCTM is introducing a new book at the conference: Catalyzing Change in High School Mathematics. There are 2 paths proposed: (1) a 4-year course that ends with Calculus and (2) an alternative that devotes the final year and a half to math electives such as statistics, probability, modeling, and precalculus. Electives sound promising for good students who would love to get away from the 4-year "Royal Road to Calculus" path and do something more meaningful in the time they have left in high school. STEM programs which would be excellent alternatives are left out of the discussion. With all due respect, Mr. Larson, Math Education alone is NOT STEM education! For a senior that would do a STEM project that illuminates the mathematics that he has been learning could be a game changer for that student. He may actually see the value of math for the first time since elementary school.

So despite my recent disappointments with the turn of events and my leaving as president of CLIME I'm an optimist at heart and believe strongly that we still need an organization that will not be afraid to step out of the box and challenges unproductive directions that NCTM likes to follow.  I hope one of you who agrees with me and will step forward and take the mantle of CLIME to the next level whatever that turns out to be. (Maybe Council for STEM in math education?) I will continue to be a friend of CLIME (our designation for member). If you are so inclined to lead CLIME into the future, please let me know (ihor@clime.org). Also, let me know if you are planning to attend the 30th annual CLIME meeting.

CLIME “After Hours” No Frills Meeting in Washington, DC
We will be holding a CLIME get together in Washington to celebrate 30 years of CLIME participation as an affiliate group of NCTM.

Date: Thursday, April 26, 2008
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 CLIME members are aware of the challenges that lie ahead. STEM is NOT about separate courses for math, science, engineering, and math but an overlap of these topics. (See figure 1.)

This is more than just an advocacy position but a plan for a transparent curriculum designed for students to learn about STEM intrinsically. It's new and it needs lots of work to make it real in the lives of students. I hope you join us in this effort. If you're going to Washington later this month, please stop by our meeting time and share your vision of STEM in math education. Our leaders are not doing it!

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

Thursday, April 5, 2018

NCTM Annual Meeting & Technology (Part 2 - STEM)

Review of Tech & STEM sessions

Keynote - When Content Meets Context: Toward a Revolution in STEM Education
In this address, Professor Christopher Emdin, Columbia University explores the historical and contemporary landscape of urban education and provides a new lens for viewing how and why teachers must focus on deep excavations of culture in order to gain new approaches to improving STEM pedagogy. In particular, he merges cutting-edge research with real-life examples to provide ways that educators may re-imagine their roles in STEM teaching and learning and meet the needs of their most marginalized students.
I'm curious. Does this talk contradict Matt Larson’s blog post: Math Education Is STEM Education!?

Here's some highlights from the post:
STEM is frequently a program strand at the NCTM Annual Meeting or Regional Conferences. The “STEM ground” would seem to have been well covered by NCTM. (9 sessions in Washington.)
Despite all these efforts, the questions concerning STEM and the requests to speak and address STEM education just keep coming. It is clear that resolution on how STEM education fits with our goals for mathematics education still lacks clarity in the minds of many. 
Let me make one thing abundantly clear: I support STEM education—including science, technology, and engineering. But I support STEM education, as Michael Shaughnessy (see endnotes) wrote, from the perspective of “political advocacy.” As mathematics educators, it is incumbent on us to be advocates for STEM education because advocacy for STEM education is advocacy for mathematics education.
Could K–12 math classrooms fail to have students engaged and learning the mathematics content and practices necessary to advance in the curriculum, but have integrated some technology, engineering, coding activities, or connections to science and be called a “STEM Program”? If students are not equipped to pursue a post-secondary STEM major and career, is it really an effective K–12 STEM program? My answer is no. No number of fun activities or shiny technology will overcome this fatal shortcoming. 
What Larson doesn’t mention is the impact that motivation plays in a student's successful learning of math. Just because he or she hasn’t found a high school program that teaches appropriate high school math within a STEM framework doesn’t mean one couldn’t exist. I found in my teaching that calculus without a soul is meaningless to high schoolers. The modeling is contrived (ala Dan Meyer’s pseudo context) taken from a 20th-century framework that doesn’t integrate what's needed for our students today. STEM should be in the high school curriculum as a math application. We’ve had hundreds of authors of high school math textbooks who have come and gone and not much has changed since the new math was introduced in the 1960s. Most students find it irrelevant and boring. Yet they persevere because they know its good for you (like spinach) to include the advanced course in their college application. What a lousy reason for students to pursue a topic! Isn’t a teacher/writer out there that could make that connection that motivates students to actually want to learn math intrinsically? STEM could be a topic that lights a fire under a student to learn science, technology, engineering and of course math in an engaging, integrated way.

High School Seniors Aren't College-Ready
Only 37 percent of students are prepared for college-level math and reading, according to newly released data.

Dan Meyer Ted Talk 2010
“I sell a product (math) to a market that doesn’t want it but is forced by law to buy it. It’s just a losing proposition.”

Michael Shaughnessy
Those who are implementing any STEM program should be able to identify the specific mathematical foci of the program. With all due respect to our colleagues in the other disciplines, we assert that the letters in STEM are not all of equal importance in the pre-K–12 education of our students. Mathematics is paramount, mathematics is primal, mathematics is the most important STEM discipline. The other three disciplines are fundamentally dependent on the strong mathematical preparation of our students. As president of NCTM, I find myself in the position of speaking as a strong advocate for “steM.” In our rush to secure much needed funding for our states and schools, let us keep in mind that STEM is an advocacy position, and not a content area in and of itself. As we develop plans for STEM education initiatives, we must maintain a clear vision for the role and importance of mathematics in the education of our students. It is critical that we preserve the mathematical meat when faced with the salad bowl of STEM, lest we make a MEST of it all!
CLIME's 30th anniversary after hours "get together" in Washington DC

NCTM Annual Meeting & Technology (A Closer Look - Part 1)

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

NCTM & Technology: A Closer Look (Part 1)

The annual NCTM meeting is less than a month away and as usual CLIME takes a closer look at the technology related sessions. Technology and tools is one of the 8 general topics mentioned as themes for this conference. If you search for sessions with the tech theme you will find 74 sessions listed. I read all 722 session descriptions and found an additional 25 which are listed hereTo preview all the other technology related sessions what you can do is:

1. Go to and click on the online planner.
2. Sign in.
3. Click on the Add New button and you will see this screen.

4. Click on -ALL- next to Category and select Tools and technology. You should see the 74 sessions listed. 

You now have access to the 99 sessions that have noted the use of technology as an important part of their presentation. That is approximately 14% of the total number of sessions.

In my next blog I will go into more detail about these sessions and other important matters related to CLIME.

Add to your NCTM Conference calendar:

CLIME “After Hours” Meeting in Washington, DC

We will be holding a CLIME get together in Washington to celebrate 30 years of CLIME participation as an affiliate group of NCTM.

Date: Thursday, April 26, 2008
Time: 7:15-8:15 (right after Shadowcon)
Room: Marquis Salon 14 (Marriott Marquis)

Previous CLIME Connections blogs: