Woodring Educator WOODRING COLLEGE OF EDUCATION W E S T E R N W A S H I N G T O N U N I V E R S I T Y Expanded Math Education Program Models Effective Student Learning Michael Naylor, left, proves to his Math 381 students that learning and teaching student-centered mathematics can be fun. By Michael Naylor Teacher certification students work earnestly in small groups, sliding colored plastic pieces around the table. The animated groups have been solving difficult problems involving multiplication and division of fractions, and they are preparing to present their solutions to the class. As they explain their methods, the professor and students marvel at the many different methods and patterns emerging - patterns connected by algebra, geometry, and number operations. The discussion shifts to the development of fraction sense in preschool to eighth grade children, and explores key ideas about pedagogy and cognitive development. They then try out short activities to exemplify their ideas. The students are enrolled in Woodring’s newlyexpanded elementary mathematics education sequence at WesternWashington University, and they’re not only learning the math needed to become confident and competent math teachers, but learning the skills to manage a diverse range of teaching and assessment strategies in a classroom of diverse learners. It’s not an easy task; many have had a lifetime of traditional algorithm-based math classes. In fact, most think of mathematics as following a step-by-step set of rules to generate a numerical solution. Rules and algorithms, however, are only a very tiny part of the mathematics currently being taught in schools. Mathematics is not only about numbers, but also measurement, probability, statistics, geometry and algebraic reasoning. Learners are no longer being asked to memorize procedures, but rather to (1) understand concepts and create and justify procedures, (2) reason mathematically, (3) solve problems, (4) make connections, and (5) communicate about and with mathematics. These five processes form the basis of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Standards which is the model for Elementary Education students use colored plastic pieces to quickly solve fraction problems in Michael Naylor’s Math 381 Teaching K-8 Mathematics class spring quarter. Washington’s Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs) and for the state’s K-12 mathematics curriculum, and teachers are held accountable for their students’ achievement in these strands. Beginning teachers must not only deeply understand the broad range and scope of the mathematics curriculum, they must learn to shift the focus from a teachercentered “do as I show you” model, to a student-centered model where making sense is the primary goal and children develop as independent mathematical thinkers. They must learn new assessment and questioning strategies, and learn how to support and challenge students who have a wide-range of backgrounds and abilities. To meet these needs, Western has expanded its elementary math education sequence, providing 50% more contact time than before. Students take a full year of elementary mathematics education and are supported during their internship year with weekly mathematics teaching seminars. Unlike most math education programs which teach mathematics and pedagogy in separate courses, Western’s math education sequence is unique in that it combines them so that what to teach is learned along with how to teach it. Effective math teaching requires understanding what students know and need to learn and then challenging and supporting them to learn it well. This principle of high-quality mathematics education expressed in the NCTM’s Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (2000) is the primary focus of the three-quarter sequence. In line with Washington’s EALRs in Mathematics, the sequence addresses four process strands: problem solving, communication, mathematical reasoning, and connections. The Western Mathematics Education faculty are: Edna Arthurs, Linda Cave, Jerry Johnson, Millie Johnson, Janet Mock, and Michael Naylor. The coordinator of the math education lab is Harold Hansberry. One soon-to-be teacher enrolled in the sequence recently remarked, “I finally understand this. Why weren’t we taught this way when we were in elementary school?” She will be leaving Western with the knowledge and experience to help the next generation of learners make sense of mathematics, and with the understanding that becoming a quality mathematics teacher is an on-going commitment and process. For more information about the new math program, email: Michael.Naylor@wwu.edu. www.wce.wwu.edu Contents Fall 2006 2 3 4 5 6 7 11 12 13 14 15 16 Note from Dean Salzman; Summer Literacy Program at Birchwood Elementary Highly Qualified Teacher Standards; State Board Report Regional Continuing Education Board Meets; Human Services Alumni in Uganda Human Services Curriculum Aligned with Standards; Students Go Global Report from Alaska; Sustainability EducationWoodringCollegeofEducation Annual Report Student Achievement Recognized and Celebrated New Faculty College News; Science Education Summer Academy Alumni Profile: Wayne Massie; New Superintendent’s Certificate; Harold Heiner to Retire In Memoriam: John Utendale, Carol McCann and Frederika Bond; Planned Giving: Avis J. Stewart Scholarship Student in Oak Harbor Inspires Community-Built Playground Above: Diane Olsen, Bay View Elementary (Burlington-Edison School District) teacher, was one of about 200 teachers and 37 administrators from all over the northwest region, who participated in a Summer Academy on science education at Western. (see page 13) WWU is an AA/EO Institution. To request the publication in an alternate format, call (360) 650-7410.