clear from report after report (CITES) that many students continue to
fail to become interested enough in mathematics previous to, or during,
middle school to acquire a good basic working knowledge of this
important subject. The consequences for higher education
or employment that can support a family are widely publicized.
A growing need, and where some of the most lucrative opportunities will
increasingly exist, is in computer technology—ICT. Yet, college
enrollments in this major have recently <declined>
despite the promise of high incomes for graduates. As with mathematics,
interest in computer programming—"coding"—will need to be stimulated
early and continuously through high school to increase interest. There
are not many ways to interest children and youth in writing computer
code, but there is one that most students find attractive—the Logo
computer language. Logo is the key component of the constructivist tool
set that makes up
the delivery vehicle of The Expert Mathematician instructional
system. Students' attraction to dynamic mathematical learning can
enable teachers to start strong and hold interest high throughout
grading periods. In our training, they will personally experience how
students can become exhilerated almost from the beginning.
Goals and objectives of onsite training:
students—whether or not they've
been previously successful in math—in an affectively positive and
successful experience with mathematics at this crucial transitional
time prior to high school.
students' critical thinking,
problem solving and team collaboration skills.
- fill in gaps
in concepts and skills
confidence in mathematical problem solving
an engaging and sound introduction
to computer programming with mathematical technology as experts use it
in real work.
- specific skills will be introduced with research
evidence showing positive outcomes and workplace expectations.
third goal also helps meet a number of
educational technology standards for students and teachers as suggested
by ISTE, 2007, 2008
. Teachers will
goals come to life in our hands-on instructional format.
How is TEM
There is a cluster of social, psychological and
cultural factors that
influence how much effort students will invest in any subject. Certain
conditions "turn on" the intent to learn—what psychologists call
volition. To the degree volition is sufficiently activated in students,
just about any student can learn just about anything offered, or
required, in the standard k-12 curriculum. Therefore, the
most important task of an instructional design is to turn on, or turn
up, volition to the level needed for success. This is especially
crucial in mathematics, which requires careful thinking over long
periods to master the basics through algebra. <National>
and <international> test scores repeatedly remind us of
how difficult it is to activate volition in mathematics. The Expert
Mathematician instructional system is a truly innovative entry that
builds on the interests of the technology generation, holding the
promise to bring up volition to learn math.
Teachers who are trained in constructivist technology applications or
have instincts for helping students "internalize" their learning
experience will feel immediately at ease with The Expert Mathematician.
Teachers whose main experience is more in line with direct instruction,
but who have found motivating students to do the work very difficult,
will see a substantial difference when those same students
"internalize" their math learning experience in TEM's approach.
Teachers often report that staff training taken off-site is difficult
to implement back in the classroom. We overcome this disconnect via a
two part training that ends in a middle school classroom with actual
students. This can be done in one day. Teachers will have sample
instructional materials, the dynamic learning software and a tutorial
that introduces the software prior to the training day, so you will be
generally familiar with the mechanics of the program prior to taking
part in on-site training. We request that you also introduce students
to the functionality of the software, so training can focus mainly on
classroom pedagogy. The Logo computer software works the same on both
PC and Apple brand computers.
The morning session is conducted in a computer lab of your choosing,
ideally at a middle school in your district. We introduce teachers to
some relevant basic theories related to the power of social learning,
the importance of teaching students how to productively communicate
while collaborating on problem solutions together—and, how teachers can
more easily activate deep, investigative thinking in the middle school
math classroom using The Expert Mathematician program. The power of
multi-sensory, multi-dimensional, collaborative learning will be
emphasized. This basic introduction is mostly hands-on. Teachers will
work together in pairs at a computer station, as their students
will—while our instructors model (and discuss) the roles teachers will
assume back in the classroom.
During this introductory session, teachers will discover
how TEM's intuitively smooth, custom design can lead students
into an "internalizing" experience. What we call the "generative
learning advantage" is inherent in the combined design of our
copyrighted and trademarked learning materials and our version of the
Logo dynamic mathematics software. This combination engages students in
real mathematics, like experts doing real work use math to "make
things." It is an empowering and compelling experience—even for most
students who have not previously shown interest in learning math.
Afternoon Training Session
Recommended: After a lunch break, we will work in a classroom with
middle school students. A block schedule running about 90 minutes
permits more indepth instruction, though standard 50 minute classes
can work, but due to introductory discussion, training time
with students on computer activities will be limited. Only classrooms
where Internet access is not available during training sessions must be
Trainers will place a few instructional posters in your classroom that
help establish students' expectations about how the dynamic peer
learning environment works and briefly discuss the challenges and
opportunities of working in this way—as well as employers' expectations
(also on a poster) that students will have these skills.
We will then run a "live" experiential classroom, modeling for teachers
how to start students "down the runway" and ease them into an
"internalizing" learning experience.
Many questions that come up during the morning session will be answered
we work with students during the afternoon session. Follow-up email
also be available.
Trainers can also be available for multiple sessions, as needed.
These two intentional processes drive learning and work reciprocally.
As they build and reinforce one another, learning deepens. As this
process develops, TEM naturally evolves a learning community. As the
learning community develops, teachers are encouraged to add further
internalization interventions. For example, TEM provides rubrics.
Suggestions are also included in instructional guidelines for prompting
students to write up key mathematical points of their
lessons on the computer's output screen. Digital projectors can be used
for student presentations. Students can save their work as live,
editable Logo files or in jpg format for emailing to peers. This
feature creates opportunities for distance collaboration that can cross
oceans with a key click. These features create a robust experience for
many youth that can pave the way to higher level studies in computer
technology, as well as mathematics, and development of skills that
serve state and national STEM goals.
How high teachers take students' internalizing experience will depend
somewhat on their own mathematical creativity, but use of a dynamic
mathematics language tends to build that, too.
© James J. Baker. All rights reserved.