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)

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