As a graduate student in the 1970's, I stumbled into a job that made me decide to become a teacher. I was a Community Teaching Fellow (CTF), which meant that I got paid as a Teaching Assistant, but my teaching was 40 minutes a day to third graders in a public school.
I was only in that program briefly, alas, but I learned a lot. I was trained in whole-class Socratic teaching techniques which I used for more than 40 years, at all levels, counting to calculus. I passed on many of these techniques to colleagues and mentees.
On a deeper level, I learned that it is essential to respect my students: all can engage in abstract and logical thinking if given a chance. My third graders in Richmond were comfortable exploring negative numbers, exponentiation, and finite groups — as long as I taught this content using the discovery methods I was learning.
In the ensuing years, I added other approaches to my repertoire, but I will forever be endebted to the CTF program. That program, as it turns out, was inspired by William F. Johntz's Project SEED, an ambitious and effective program, which started in Berkeley in 1963, was deployed nationwide, and finally closed shop in 2016, after having helped hundreds of thousands of underserved students.
I obtained permission to share Project SEED materials on my website. I hope those ideas will be useful to a new generation of math teachers.
-- Henri Picciotto
PS: this blog post can serve as a brief introduction to Project SEED.
Note: The same rules apply to these materials as to everything else on this website — you can use them for any non-commercial purpose as long as you credit the author, in this case Project SEED. More info.
- Project SEED's Guidelines for Discovery Teaching
- These were developed in grades 3-6, but they really work well with all ages. The strategies are concrete and specific. They are best learned by working with colleagues and giving each other feedback on how things are playing out, with a focus on what the students are doing and saying, who is participating or not, and so on.
- Project SEED's Discovery Mathematics Modules
- Six modules: exponentiation, fractions, negative numbers, negative and fractional exponents, the distributive law, summation.
Project SEED on Wikipedia