Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Math Education Is STEM Education! Really?

Matt Larson, NCTM President

May 17, 2017
What design principles would you include to ensure that an effective STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) program builds mathematics understanding? 
So begins Matt Larson's piece in the NCTM blog. It's definitely worth a read. (Link) He asserts that a good math education is all that's needed for a good STEM program. I disagreed.
I shared my thoughts in the comments section and got 2 replies from Matt. We found some common ground.
Tracey Knerr - 5/18/2017 7:45:32 AM
Thank you for writing this.  In our district, the science supervisor and I have been trying to leverage the Standards for Mathematical Practice with the NGSS and ELA practices.  We use the NGSS Venn diagramvisual to help inform the work everyone is doing.  Unfortunately, as a district, we are not all on the same page and rather than thinking of STEM or STEAM as a way of thinking and doing business most of our colleagues still see STEM as a separate class.  It would be fabulous if all interested parties could come together and discuss a common vision.

Ihor Charischak - 5/19/2017 3:48:35 PM
Tracey: It will be very challenging to have a common vision. What STEM is really about is the integration of these 4 areas and the APPLICATION of math to the other 3 subjects; for example, building bridges and programming robots. Doing the traditional common core math program does not lend itself well to projects which is the heart and soul of STEM education. I'm disappointed that Mr. Larson does not see it that way.

Matthew Larson - 5/19/2017 4:14:18 PM
Ihor: As I indicated in the message I support curricular connections and the application of mathematics to science and other subjects. My point is that in doing so we must be careful to maintain the integrity of the mathematics learning objectives. In too many cases this is not being done. Matt.

Ihor Charischak - 5/20/2017 10:14:04 AM
Maintaining the integrity is a given for NCTMs view of an ideal math curriculum. Good STEM projects would not do any harm to your vision. But it does make teachers concerned about doing STEM projects "right" so they probably won't even try unless they have to and that's not a good way to do it. Sharon's comment below indicates some of the concerns teachers have. You're going to run into this problem again when your high school reform committee plans alternative paths for students. STEM projects would be a great alternative to Calculus for those students who are planning STEM careers. Colleges need to rethink whether Calculus should be taught in high school instead of a solid STEM course.

Matthew Larson - 5/20/2017 10:19:53 AM
Ihor - Good points that I will pass along to the High School Task Force. Thanks. Matt.

An Email to David Wees re NCTM Affiliate's Conference

Hi David,
I just signed up for this conference in Baltimore that’s taking place in a couple of weeks. I’ll have our New Vision to do list  in hand which will give the other participants a good handle on what CLIME is all about. I’ll be sharing what happens while I'm there and in a blog post when I get back. Anything else I should bring up while I'm there?

On Jul 10, 2017, at 10:34 AM, NCTM Affiliates <affiliates@nctm.org> wrote:

Dear Ihor Charischak 

Thank you for registering for the 2017 NCTM Affiliate Leaders Conference, to be held in Baltimore, Maryland, July 22-24, 2017. We are truly looking forward to working with you during our time together! Both you and your Affiliate will benefit as we focus on this year’s theme, “Intent to Impact: Addressing Access, Equity, and Advocacy in your Affiliate.” In addition to building leadership capacity, the conference will include opportunities to exchange ideas and connect with the NCTM President, Matt Larson. You will be able to network with other Affiliate leaders in a variety of activities, develop Affiliate action plans, and learn more about being a partner with NCTM.

NCTM Affiliates across the country are faced with challenging issues related to mathematics education. Come together with other Affiliate leaders to consider the most urgent work in your setting through the lenses of Access, Equity, and Advocacy. Learn about tools and frameworks to support your work, and walk away with a specific, supported action plan to address your Affiliate-specific issues. This summer’s conference will launch a collaborative, ongoing learning model to enact your action plan during the 2017-18 school year.

Additionally, as a conference participant, you will have opportunities to— 
  • Develop strategies to empower your Affiliate and individuals within your Affiliate to take action for a high quality mathematics education for each and every learner;
  • Increase your self-awareness of micro-messaging and its impact on your work;
  • Learn how to minimize micro-inequities and maximize micro-affirmations;
  • Create an action plan to address an Affiliate-specific issue;
  • Mobilize the work of your Affiliate through your spheres of influence;
  • Challenge leaders to be deliberate about Equity, Access, and Advocacy in your Affiliate’s structures, practices, and activities;
  • Explore NCTM resources, including the Advocacy Toolkit;
  • Learn about the NCTM structure, resources, and initiatives, and participate in discussions with NCTM President Matt Larson, NCTM Staff, and Representatives of the Affiliate Relations Committee;
  • Discuss, collaborate, and network with other Affiliate leaders.
Free wireless internet will be available in the meeting room. Participants are encouraged to bring a laptop or tablet.

Gina Kilday
Membership and Affiliate Relations Committee
NCTM Board Liaison and Affiliates-at-Large Representative