Henri Picciotto's

Math Education Newsletter

January 2017

Hands-On / Transformational
Summer Geometry Workshops

In my last newsletter, and the one before, I mentioned my blog post about eclecticism, wherein I argued that teachers cannot be beholden to any one pedagogical framework, but instead should be flexible, and pick and choose approaches that make sense to them and their school. This ended up being among my most popular posts in 2016.

A few weeks ago, a math educator who is familiar with my work as a curriculum developer told me she did not believe me when I said I had no pedagogical framework. She pointed out that there are many things I would not dream of doing, and that the materials I develop have a certain consistency. Fair enough, but to describe that, I have to resort to generalities like my "puzzle constructor's sensibility", as I did in this post on "enrichment".

Soon after that conversation, I remembered a diagram I made in 2014. Perhaps it can serve as a basis for a pedagogical framework? Read on.


Blog Posts

Here are links to posts on my Math Education Blog that you might find interesting.
If you are so moved, you may comment on the posts, and/or subscribe to the blog.

A Pedagogical Framework?

This diagram describes many ingredients of a hypothetical math program, one aiming to help develop conceptual understanding:


So this might be my pedagogical framework: do all the things! But remember that the bottom of the diagram provides the foundation for the top. Resist the temptation to rely solely on explanations and drills. Those can help, but only if the foundation has been laid. Read more about this model here. (Note: In the diagram above, I added "Problem Solving" to the center of the larger triangle in theversion I created in 2014. And really, it belongs also in the smaller, upper triangle. Thus speaks the puzzle constructor!)

Too complicated, you say? You would like a simpler framework? Alas, I can't help you! Teaching is a complex endeavor, and searching for uncomplicated panaceas is doomed to failure.

Reading Algebra

Number sense takes many years to develop. Really, most of grades K-12. The development of symbol sense starts somewhat later, but again, it is not acquired quickly. It is a crucial destination of secondary school math, and many ingredients go into it: generalizing numerical relationships, translating graphs into formulas, manipulating expressions, and reading algebra. I wrote about the latter here.

Conference Notes

I attended the NCTM meeting in Phoenix last October, and the California Math Council conference in Asilomar in December. Read my notes:

New on my Web site.

Functions Home Page

The Common Core State Standards include functions starting in 8th grade, and throughout high school. I support that emphasis. As it turns out, I have developed chunks of curriculum about functions at all those levels. See if any of the links on this page take you to something you can adopt or adapt for your classes.

The Assessment Trap

This is a somewhat extended and edited concatenation of my blog posts on grading and assessment. Many common assessment practices tend to undermine education, in order to satisfy regrettable societal and administrative priorities. I suggest alternatives that prioritize student learning over the ranking of students. This may end up being one of the most countercultural and provocative pages on my site.

Math Education Consulting

I have retired from the classroom in order to be more available to work with adults. As a consultant, I offer these services: professional development workshops, math program review, teacher and department chair coaching. I created a new page on my site about this.

I also offer summer workshops. See below!

Summer Workshops: Geometry Boot Camp!

I will offer two workshops this summer (2017), at the Head-Royce School in Oakland, CA:
June 26-27: Hands-On Geometry (grades 6-10)
June 28-30: Transformational Geometry (grades 8-11)

There is more information about the content of the workshops on my Summer Workshops page.
If you have a question that is not answered there, just ask in a reply to this e-mail.

More info about me: Henri Picciotto

Registration and Logistics: Head-Royce School

An anonymous donor will pay 80% of the tuition for the first seven public school teachers to register.

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