This is my second and last entry blog based on a recent interview with Francis M. "Skip" Fennell, who completed his two-year run as president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, earlier this year. The first entry focused mostly on Fennell's work in crafting and promoting "Curriculum Focal Points,". But Fennell also had another prominent task while serving as NCTM president: He was named to a seat on the National Math Advisory Panel, a White House-created group tasked with identifying the best ways to prepare kids to take and succeed in algebra. Pretty much from the get-go, the ...


The Education Commission of the States has launched a pair of online resources, which seek to provide a nationwide view of state efforts in science, math, and career and technical education (the subject formerly known as vocational education). The first resource, at http://www.ecs.org/hsdb-stem, provides a 50-state database on state programs and efforts in STEM education. These include state policies in the recruitment of science and math teachers, after-school programs in those subjects, graduation requirements, state mentoring and internship programs, and so on. The second online site is a database on career and technical education, at http://www.ecs.org/hsdb-cte....


Earlier this year, Francis M. "Skip" Fennell's two-year term as president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics officially ended. Debates over the most effective strategies for teaching math—sometimes called the "math wars"—have been playing out for years in school districts around the country. And it's safe to say that Fennell has had a unique vantage point in observing, and to some degree, attempting to mediate those disputes. In 2006, NCTM released "Curriculum Focal Points." The document that seeks to spell out the core math skills students need in grades pre-K-8 drew praise from combatants on various...


What would happen if instead of silencing or confiscating cell phones in the classroom, teachers encouraged students to use them? Hall Davidson, the director of the Discovery Educator Network, wants teachers to realize the potential power cell phones hold for enlivening lessons and engaging students in the content they are learning. Most cell phones, Davidson points out, now have a number of technological features that schools used to pay thousands of dollars for as separate devices—camera, video recorder, GPS, text messaging, music player—and many students, even in low-income areas, own one. At a weeklong workshop for a corps of...


A couple years ago, a bunch of leading business organizations set an ambitious goal: "Double the number of U.S. science, technology, engineering, and mathematics graduates with bachelor's degrees by 2015." But as those leaders frankly acknowledged this week, the nation has barely moved toward hitting that mark so far. The United States produced 223,255 such grads in 2005, and that number had only risen to 225,660 by 2007, reported the members of Tapping America's Potential, the business coalition. That's light years removed from their goal of reaching 400,000 by 2015. Several members of TAP, as they ...


Anyone interested in how schools, particularly those in rural communities, are recruiting and retaining math and science teachers and attempting to improve instruction in those subjects, might sit in on a forum taking place on Capitol Hill tomorrow (Wednesday, July 16.) Edvantia, an organization that researches rural school issues, is hosting an event that will highlight the work of the National Science Foundation in promoting math and science education in rural areas. Those communities often struggle to lure and keep capable math and science teachers, already in short supply in schools nationwide. The forum, which begins at 9 a.m. ...


Quote of the day from Nicholas Krisof's opinion piece in yesterday's New York Times, which touts the efforts of Greg Mortenson and his book, "Three Cups of Tea," about building schools in Pakistan: “I am convinced that the long-term solution to terrorism in general, and Afghanistan specifically, is education,” Lt. Col. Christopher Kolenda, who works on the Afghan front lines, said in an e-mail in which he raved about Mr. Mortenson’s work. “The conflict here will not be won with bombs but with books. ... The thirst for education here is palpable.”...


The debate rages on over Reading First, with supporters trying to make their case for preserving the federal program, which they say is proving itself in higher test results, improved teacher knowledge, and support among educators. The critics are picking through the data and arguing that, at best, there is little evidence that it is effective, and, at worst, is promoting a low-level form of literacy in its skills-based approach. Over at USAToday.com there are about 60 comments! to this story by Greg Toppo, arguing for and against and otherwise. And the debate continues among researchers like Reid Lyon ...


On occasion, you hear about systematic cheating, academic fraud, or gamesmanship in U.S. classrooms. Sometimes it gets blamed on the pressure school administrators face to boost students' test scores, or simply on an educator's or coach's desire to single out a student for special treatment. But if you want a look at educational impropriety on an entirely different scale, check out this story in today's Washington Post, which touches on the apparently endemic corruption in Russia's schools. The article focuses on the scope and impact of bribery in Russia today—and on President Dmitri Medvedev's vow to stamp it out....


Any way you slice it, California's decision to require that students take Algebra 1, and be tested in it, in 8th grade is a major undertaking for the state. Supporters of the action, including the state's board of education and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, believe the state needs to be setting more demanding standards in math. They've also argued that without the requirement, the state is essentially promoting a two-tier system, in which some students are challenged with algebra in 8th grade and others take more generic math courses. Opposing the requirement was California Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, who ...


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