October 12, 2017
Welcome to ZPC Podcast, from time to time I will be interviewing members of the research team here at AIMS. There are many reasons to do this, chief among them is the idea of letting you, our faithful listeners, in on what it is we are “about” here at AIMS these days. Our teams of RAs, as we call them, have been consistently reading important research into how children form number concepts and make meaningful use of these concepts. They also are involved directly in classroom situations where they attempt to put into practice what they are reading. These podcasts then are an attempt to let them tell some stories, stories about what they see, hear, learn and cause in children. So join us as we investigate “The Stories of AIMS”
Research Associate Brook Lewis is in the studio with Chris this week. Brook has been working with students who are in the 6-8 year old range, and she has been working on understanding how these children build their own concepts related to rudimentary multiplication. She relates a story or two about what she observed over time as she watched a child, “Max,” create for himself the ability to “skip count,” by three. What the research indicates is that children who have this type of developmental experience approach multiplication with more robust concepts to build on. A contrast is drawn between this form of instruction and teaching by rote recitation a number pattern like 3, 6, 9, 12...
October 5, 2017
Joining via Skype, Dr. Hilary Kreisberg describes her passion for helping parents in the US come to grips with the changes in mathematics instruction. She is very passionate about helping people to grapple with how things look different, but that difference is not always a bad thing, and in fact, often represents a better plan. We discuss a recent informal survey she conducted on parent understandings and feelings about mathematics instruction in schools today. While she is quick to point out that it lacks scientific rigor, the results of her study are interesting nonetheless.
September 28, 2017
Dr. Thiessen joins Chris in the studio they talk more about the Biological underpinnings of the theory. Both Jean Piaget, and Humberto Maturana come at the ideas within Constructivism after earning doctoral degrees in biology. We talk about some connections to neuro and cognitive sciences, finally ending with some allusions to an evocative object Richard used in his Colloquium talk on this subject. There is nothing inherently epistemological within the Reuleaux Triangle; but the process he went through to come to understand this object, his interactions with it, and his own prior knowledge that he brought to bear in exploring it are.
September 21, 2017
Research Associate Elin Anderson joins Chris in the studio today. They discuss her transition from working with the teams aimed at 5 to 6 year olds to the teams aimed at 7 to 9 year olds. This change has been interesting for her as she has been studying how the things we learn in the earlier years get tagged onto, and built up in the ensuing years. She also relates a story which provides a note of both caution and wonder. Caution to researchers to never forget you are working with human beings, and even in low level investigations we should keep this in mind. Wonder as well about the amazingly complex world of children’s thinking.
September 14, 2017
Dr. Ron Tzur and his doctoral student Nicola Hodkowski join us in the studio for a discussion of their work related to Student Adaptive Pedagogy in the Upper Elementary Grades. This is a very promising field of enquiry that shows great potential for changing teaching of upper elementary students for the better. With its focus on student conceptualizations of number as its starting point, this theory has shown great success in predicting successful teacher moves that foster and spur on student development of multiplicative and fractional thinking. This team has recently published a well received study with the Psychology of Mathematics Education Association that used a rigorous mixed methodology to demonstrate that the four areas Nicola describes in the interview are strongly predictive of success for students.
September 7, 2017
Sunil Singh, the Mathematical Jester himself, joins us again via Skype this week. Yes he has a book that is just out (that everyone should read) and has been busy recording webinars and traveling about as a Lead Ambassador to the Global Math Project; but he stops to talk about some deep ideas with Chris. The conversation is a good lead in to the Global Mathematics Project’s Global Math Week coming up in October 2017. Referenced in today’s chat is an article by the former President of the Mathematical Association of America, Francis Su Ph.D. in which he describes “The Mathematics of Human Flourishing” (follow the link to the article itself). This idea that mathematics can, and should be taught as a subject to help children become more fully human pervades the discussion.
August 31, 2017
Chris is joined in the studio by James Tanton, and the conversation immediately gets turned upside down. James takes over from the start and asks Chris about how it was that he knew he wanted to study math. After his, perhaps too long-winded of a story, Chris finally wrests control back and asks James the same question. Their answers, while different in detail, are very similar in content and trajectory. Listen for the common themes of tolerance of frustration, delayed gratification, and a sense of shortcomings of School Maths. James is his perpetually positive self here, possessing an infectious, and joyful attitude towards the subject. Enjoy!
August 24, 2017
Senior Researcher for the Early Math Team, Paul Reimer tells a story of how things went during this past year as he and his team worked in HeadStart classrooms with children. He talks of how they came to understand Children’s mathematics through listening. This listening has had a profound impact on the team and what their next efforts will be. Already for the Academic year 2017-2018 this team has helped set the direction and emphasis of some 300 + Pre-School teachers in Fresno County alone.
August 17, 2017
Dr. Beyranevand joins in from his home in Massachusetts via Skype this week. We discuss the four areas he sees as being critical for effective teaching: Planning, Pedagogay, Assessment, and Relationships. These areas, as he claims and supports, are practical ways in which teachers, seasoned or newbie, can operate within a Constructivist paradigm of learning. Listeners who are intrigued and interested to learn more can find more in his book: Teach Math Like This, Not Like That.
August 10, 2017
Chris Brownell flies solo this week, as he declares an end to Summer 2017. He reflects upon three events that he was involved in and what they have meant to him. The need for humility, and openness when it comes to learning was driven home this summer it seems. These qualities are implied in the “Growth Mindset” discussion that is going on all over the mathematics education community. Chris also relates a story in which he observed the fragility of this mindset in learners, and provides a caution to us all to be “less helpful.”