Sunday, April 28, 2013

Doug Clements - Lessons from Research

Doug speaking at NCTM 2013

Another one of my heroes in the field of technology in Math education is Doug Clements. I went to hear him speak early thursday morning. His topic was Math Lessons from Research.

Doug was one of the founders of CLIME in the days when the L in CLIME stood for Logo. His voice was always strong in supporting Logo when the critics were saying Logo does not make a difference. He would articulate the positive research that supported the use of Logo in the face of critics who pooh-poohed the results. He continues to be a leader in mathematics educational research at K-2 level and served on the math panel in 2008 that endorsed Logo and passed mustard with the strict demands of the panel members as a worthwhile tool.

His fundamental lesson from research is that very young children are capable of doing mathematics that is complex and sophisticated. Unfortunately, too many teachers do not have access to the information that would help them to help children in this regard. His intervention focuses on something that he refers to as learning trajectories that have three parts. (1) a goal (2) developmental progression and (3) instructional strategies.
To attain a certain mathematical competence in a given topic (the goal), children learn each successive level of thinking (the developmental progression), aided by tasks (instructional activities) designed to build the mental actions-on-objects that enable thinking at each higher level. (Reference 1)
For details about his current work called Building blocks see

The curriculum is available from McGraw Hill. But Doug did say that he was hoping to have an open source version available as well.

1. D. Clements, J. Sarama. Early Childhood Mathematics Intervention. (Science Magazine, 19 August 2011)