kitchen table math, the sequel: 7/14/13 - 7/21/13

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Gone fishing

We're in Garrison, NY today & tomorrow.

Our host says this is robber baron territory. When he & his wife bought the place in 1998, it was 16,000 square feet of ruin, sounds like. Took a year & 3 months of work before they could even stay overnight.

All I can say is I'm glad somebody has the attention span to restore 16,000 square feet.

Those robber barons. Great taste, apparently. Beautiful place.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Doug Lemov has a new book out

Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better

For several years now, when I think of the public schools, the first issue that springs to mind is the stark absence of any mention or consideration of the need for practice. In the 14 years we've had kids in our local schools, I don't believe I've ever heard an administrator use the word 'practice' in any context other than 'football practice' or 'basketball practice,' etc.

When the subject is academics, the word is always 'understand.' Students will 'understand.' Not practice.

That's a problem because although class time is all about understanding, the tests are about remembering: students are tested on what they know. Which means students have to practice the content taught in the classes, but the school doesn't worry about providing effective practice. Teachers give homework, but no one collects or corrects the homework, and no one asks whether the homework actually works. Does the assigned homework increase knowledge? Nobody knows, and nobody asks. Practice is not a topic of conversation. At least not within my hearing.

Naturally under this system (Teach, test, and hope for the best), parents end up hiring a lot of tutors --- but tutors can't really provide effective practice regimens, either. (Even if a tutor would like to provide a practice regimen, parents don't need a whole new set of homework-from-thetutor to deal with.)

So the core requirement of all learning -- practice -- is left to the kids.

Let's just hope they're following the literature.

Can you spell hegemony? part 2

Leveraging discovery?

B-school talk and ed-school talk in the same sentence?


Globe Education Shakespeare: Macbeth

Thursday, July 18, 2013

"SEXEY" paragraphs

I bought a terrific book on college essay writing from iTunes: Essay Writing for Students. Just $4.99. The authors seem like a lot of fun.

I like their paragraph acronym, which they characterize as "one way to structure a paragraph:
SEXEY is a mnemonic (neh-MON-ick - a memory device) to help you create well-structured paragraphs which fully answer your essay questions.

Make a statement linking to the question that you have chosen to answer.

Explain what your statement means in relation to your text.

Add in an example and quote from your text to back up your statement and explanation.

What your quote and example show the reader.

Why is this all important? How does it all link to the question? What does it show us? How does it link to the novel as a whole or to a social and/or historical/political context?
As far as I can tell, all of the examples in the book -- and there are many -- are academic.

No personal writing, no journalism, no op eds.

It is very difficult to find an American textbook that teaches (or excerpts) academic prose.

Remembering math forever

An analysis of life span memory identifies those variables that affect losses in recall and recognition of the content of high school algebra and geometry courses. Even in the absence of further rehearsal activities, individuals who take college-level mathematics courses at or above the level of calculus have minimal losses of high school algebra for half a century. Individuals who performed equally well in the high school course but took no college mathematics courses reduce performance to near chance levels during the same period. In contrast, the best predictors of test perform ance (e.g., Scholastic A ptitude T est scores and grades) have trivial effects on the rate of performance decline. Pedagogical implications for life span maintenance of knowledge are derived and discussed.

Lifetime M aintenance of High School M athem atics Content
Harry P. Bahrick and Lynda K. Hall
Journal of Experimental Psychology
1991, Vol. 120, No. 1, 20-33
Bahrick, Hall, and Baker have a brand-new book out on long-term retention.

From The College Board: Reconciling AP Exams With Common Core

I'm very concerned about the information College Board is giving to AASA, the school superintendents association, regarding calculus. "Despite these measures, there are still difficulties in reconciling many AP courses with the Common Core. In particular, AP Calculus is in conflict with the Common Core, Packer said, and it lies outside the sequence of the Common Core because of the fear that it may unnecessarily rush students into advanced math classes for which they are not prepared. The College Board suggests a solution to the problem. of AP Calculus “If you’re worried about AP Calculus and fidelity to the Common Core, we recommend AP Statistics and AP Computer Science,” he told conference attendees. Moreover, the College Board may offer an AP Algebra course (although no plans are definite), which may supplant AP Calculus, particularly in schools rigidly adhering to the Common Core standards." I'm an apcalc and alg2 teacher with a b.s. in classical applied math. The statistics course that I took in college years ago was a calc-based course. Lisa Jones @proudmomom

Monday, July 15, 2013

Nonconscious arithmetic

The modal view in the cognitive and neural sciences holds that consciousness is necessary for abstract, symbolic, and rule-following computations. Hence, semantic processing of multiple-word expressions, and performing of abstract mathematical computations, are widely believed to require consciousness. We report a series of experiments in which we show that multiple-word verbal expressions can be processed outside conscious awareness and that multistep, effortful arithmetic equations can be solved unconsciously. All experiments used Continuous Flash Suppression to render stimuli invisible for relatively long durations (up to 2,000 ms). Where appropriate, unawareness was verified using both objective and subjective measures. The results show that novel word combinations, in the form of expressions that contain semantic violations, become conscious before expressions that do not contain semantic violations, that the more negative a verbal expression is, the more quickly it becomes conscious, and that subliminal arithmetic equations prime their results. These findings call for a significant update of our view of conscious and unconscious processes.

Reading and doing arithmetic nonconsciously Asael Y. Sklara, Nir Levya,1, Ariel Goldsteinb,1, Roi Mandela, Anat Marila,b, and Ran R. Hassina
19614–19619 | PNAS | November 27, 2012 | vol. 109 | no. 48
I'm sure our friend friends the basal ganglia have something to do with this....

Here's the press release.