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I recently came across this item in Plus magazine, an online publication which seeks to introduce readers to the "beauty and practical applications of mathematics." It asks readers to vote for their favorite fictional mathematicians. I was a bit surprised by the top vote-getter. Then again, maybe I shouldn't have been. (After voting, scroll to the bottom of this entry, about math teachers swooning over the appearance of a couple celebrity math geeks at an NCTM annual meeting.) What about a poll of favorite real-life mathematicians? Pythagoras? Descartes? Physicist-mathematician Einstein? I would guess the stock of John Nash has risen ...


Most elementary teachers report that instruction time for arts education stayed about the same between the school years of 2004-05 and 2006-07, according to a report released today by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Still, teachers at schools with higher percentages of minorities and that have been identified as needing improvement under the No Child Left Behind Act were more likely to report a decrease in time spent on arts education in their schools. Four percent of elementary teachers surveyed said arts education increased at their schools, and 7 percent reported a decline. In some ways, it's surprising that ...


A new "carnival" of blogs focused on math and science issues is open for business. For those new to carnivals—and I am one of you—they serve as a sort of clearinghouse of links to blogs, and specific posts, on a particular topic. This one is sponsored by Kim's Play Place, a blog run by a self-described "homeschooling mom to two girls with a toddler," who is especially interested in math and science topics. The carnival will publish on the second and fourth Mondays of each month. The deadline for submissions is 8pm EST on Sunday, March 8 for the...


While an "impact study" by the federal government has raised questions about the success of Reading First nationally, an evaluation in California credits the program with raising student achievement in that state significantly. Reading First, which has been the flagship reading program of the No Child Left Behind Act, is a K-3 program, but in California, even 5th graders in Reading First schools are scoring significantly higher on reading tests than those not in Reading First schools. The study by Educational Data Systems also shows that students in schools that implemented the program to a high degree had much higher ...


Most teachers have probably seen their students transmit all kinds of silly, strange, and downright inappropriate gestures over the course of the school day. But sometimes in-class gestures can have a benign and productive effect, at least in mathematics. That's the conclusion of a new study published online in the journal Psychological Science this month. It found that children required to produce correct gestures learned more than children required to produce partially correct gestures, who, in turn, learned more than children required to produce no gestures. The researchers, who included Susan Wagner Cook of the University of Chicago and others ...


The American Chemical Society, a big organization that seeks to take an active role in school science and math issues, is seeking to hone its message on these topics and figure out a way it can have a bigger impact. And they're looking to the K-12 community to give them ideas. The ACS, headquartered in Washington, has created a task for force to "identify a unique role for the world’s largest scientific society in transforming education in the United States." The task force is loaded with private industry officials, academic scholars, and some K-12 officials. They describe their mission ...


As state leaders and education advocates weigh evaluating U.S. students using international benchmarks, a new report argues that one prominent test, the PISA, is flawed and may not be appropriate for judging American schools on global standards. The author, Tom Loveless, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, also contends that questions asked on the Program for International Student Assessment surveys of students’ beliefs and attitudes about science reflect an ideological bias, which undermines the test’s credibility. Here's our story on the report, which includes a response from the OECD, which oversees PISA, and the National Governors ...


Teachers College released today a free guide for teachers "designed to enhance understanding of Islam and promote tolerance of Muslim students," according to the press release for the guide (download it here). After all, about one in 10 of New York City's students are Muslim, estimates Louis Cristillo, a research assistant and lecturer at Teachers College who developed the guide. But the publication gives only tangential treatment to religion in favor of focusing on the culture and identity of Muslims. Lessons focus, for instance, on the history of Muslims' presence in the United States, what contributions they have made to ...


Two sets of early-grades math curricula, Saxon Math and Math Expressions, emerged as big winners in a major study released by Mathematica. A curriculum that's drawn major heat from parents in some districts, Investigations in Number, Data and Space, did not fare as well. Nor did Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley Mathematics. Read my colleague Debbie Viadero's story here. Various factions in the much-discussed "math wars" are sure to go to the report for ammunition in advancing their causes. The study only focused on 1st graders, in four states. It involved about 1,300 students. Investigations is often referred to as a "reform"...


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