Thursday, May 23, 2013

New online course for teachers and students of math: How to Learn Math

By Jo Boaler, Professor of Mathematics Education, Stanford University.

In July 2013 a new course will be launched on Stanford’s free on-line platform. The course is a short intervention designed to change students’ relationships with math. I have taught this intervention successfully in the past (in classrooms); it caused students to re-engage successfully with math, taking a new approach to the subject and their learning.  

In the 2013-2014 school year the course will be offered to learners of math but on July 15th, 2013 I will release a version of the course designed for teachers and other helpers of math learners, such as parents. In the teacher/parent version I will share the ideas I will present to students and hold a conversation with teachers and parents about the ideas. There will also be sessions giving teachers/parents particular strategies for achieving changes in students and opportunities for participants to work together on ideas through the forum pages.  The ideas I will share will be really helpful as teachers prepare to implement the new Common Core State Standards.

Watch a video introduction to the class HERE

The course is available for signing up now at:

The 8 sessions.

1.Knocking down the myths about math.  
Math is not about speed, memorization or learning lots of rules. There is no such thing as “math people” and non-math people. Girls are equally capable of the highest achievement. This session will include interviews with students.  

2. Math and Mindset.
Participants will be encouraged to develop a growth mindset, they will see new evidence of the brain and learning and of how a growth mindset can change students’ learning trajectories and beliefs about math.

3.Teaching Math for a Growth Mindset.
This session will give strategies to teachers and parents for helping students develop a growth mindset and will include an interview with Carol Dweck.

4. Mistakes, challenges & persistence.
What is math persistence? Why are mistakes so important? How is math linked to creativity? This session will focus on the importance of mistakes, struggles and persistence.

5. Conceptual Learning. Part I. Number sense
Math is a conceptual subject– we will see evidence of the importance of conceptual thinking and participants will be given number problems that can be solved in many ways and represented visually.

6.Conceptual Learning. Part 2. Connections, Representations, Questions.
In this session we will look at and solve math problems at many different grade levels and see the difference in approaching them procedurally and conceptually. Interviews with successful users of math in different, interesting jobs (Sophie, film maker, Sebastian Thrun, inventor of self-driving cars etc) will show the importance of conceptual math.

7. Appreciating Algebra.
Participants will be asked to engage in problems illustrating the beautiful simplicity of a subject with which they may have had terrible experiences.

8. Going From This Course to a New Mathematical Future.
This session will review where you are, what you can do and the strategies you can use to be really successful.

Who is this course for? 

This course is for teachers of math (K-12) or for other helpers of students, such as parents. After the summer I will release a student version of this course.  This course provides an opportunity for teachers and parents to preview the ideas for students and think about how they may be useful, as well as learn from new research ideas and share ideas with other teachers and parents who enroll in the course.

What is the course structure?

The course will consist of eight short sessions, your watching /listening time will be 10-15 minutes per session. In those sessions I will combine some videos of me, interviews with students, cutting edge research ideas, interesting visuals, and some peer and self-assessments. The course will also include interviews with some of the world’s leading thinkers, such as Sebastian Thrun (Udacity/Google) and Carol Dweck (expert on mindset). If you engage with the materials actively, thinking and writing about teaching and learning, I anticipate that each session will take you somewhere between 1 and 2 hours.

What is the pace of the course?

 The course will launch on July 15th, a good pace may be to take 2 sessions per week, but you can choose your own pace. The course will close on September 27th, 2013.

How will I be assessed?

Those who finish the course will receive a statement of accomplishment. During the course there will be no grades given. Occasionally you will be asked to complete a self or peer assessment. These are intended to help your learning, not to grade you.

Can I collaborate with other teachers/ parents?

 It will be ideal if you can take this course with others, and discuss the ideas together. There will also be opportunities to engage in discussions through the forum pages, and to share good ideas for teaching.

Do I need to buy a textbook?

You do not need to buy a textbook. My book “What’s Math Got To Do With It?” Penguin, 2009 (for the USA) or “The Elephant in the Classroom” Souvenir Press, 2010 (for the UK) will allow you to go into greater depth on some of the ideas.

Sign up for the class at:

Jo Boaler
Professor Mathematics Education
Stanford University
Graduate School of Education, 
room 236, CERAS
520 Galvez Mall
Stanford, CA    94305-3001

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

National Social Media Safety and Awareness Month

I am taking part in Lee Kolbert's National Social Media Safety and Awareness Month as mentioned in her blog post on A Geeky Momma's Blog

It's National Social Media Safety and Awareness Month. [Tweet this.] Actually, there is no such thing;yet with so many awareness campaigns for other very important issues, I think it's about time we include important emerging trends that can be both good and evil at the same time. If nobody else is going to run with this, I'll stick my neck out. So...
"In honor of [Pseudo] Social Media Safety and Awareness month, by no powers vested in me, I, do hereby proclaim May, as Social Media Safety and Awareness month. I call upon all Humans to observe these events with appropriate updates, blogposts, trainings, ceremonies, and other activities in order to bring awareness to this emerging need. I also call on all educators, bloggers, news outlets, and appropriate officials of all units of social media and online press, to ensure that the updates on social media contain information on social media safety and awareness during this month." Lee Kolbert ~ May, 2013

Youth and adults must be taught digital citizenship to understand the impact of everything they put online via social media and to help prevent their information from being used against them.

Watch this video to see how this can happen

Take a look at this collaborative list of digital citizenship teaching resources - created by teachers from #CaEdchat (California Ed Chat on Twitter)

Digital Citizenship Teaching Resources - click below and please add, comment or rate

I challenge @21cmatt  @SonomaEdTEch @ColbySmart to contribute to this campaign - join me!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

5th Graders Build Games with the Hopscotch App

We are three weeks in to our 5th Grade Code-in Project and the students are creating and designing a variety of programs.  Students work with the Hopscotch app for 45 minutes each week.  The first week they explored how the app worked and leaned how to manipulate the visual programming language.  The second week I introduced them to categories for judging for our student showcase and awards which helped to provide focus for their designs.  Students will be awarded prizes for most creative, most technically challenging and the student favorite.  There will be a student showcase in class May 28th and prizes will be awarded at the school board meeting June 6th.

Looking for a way to provide relevence to the project, students were asked to create something useful with their projects.  The class has 1st grade buddies and wanted to created simple programs they could share with them.  Students took to their math books and science books and created educational games to share with the first graders.

One student created a game to help younger students learn their shapes. Here is a video of her explaining her first attempt at using her coding skills to build a game.

Another student is working on creating a similar math game.

Another student is creating an interactive times table.   Remember this is after less than two hours of experience with the app. There are many other projects being created, some quite technical and complex.  I will share more as they complete them.
I am so excited to see what they continue to imagine and create in the final two weeks.

This website was  developed to share their work with parents, classmates and the community:
 5th Grade Code In

Several students have asked about something harder, they want more options for creating.  I am trying to think of a way to extend this project for them next year as 6th graders.  They will attend a middle school next year and I am hoping to introduce them to Scratch so they can continue to program and create.

We have two more weeks for the project and then I will post more student work and our winners!

Monday, May 13, 2013

FREE Professional Learning Classes for Educators via Coursera

Teachers are now able to take Professional Development Courses online through Coursera.  One of the leading providers of MOOC's (Massive Open Online Courses), Coursera partners with top universities and organizations to offer courses online for anyone to take for free.  Currently, Coursera tops the MOOC List with over 160 offerings.  Julia Stiglitz recently announced on their blog that seven leading schools of education, including University of California Irvine Extension and Johns Hopkins University School of Education, will be providing these courses for educators. They also have a network of educational organizations and museums offering courses including the Exploratorium and the American Museum of Natural History.

I believe MOOC's are an excellent way for teachers to receive personalized learning to improve thier practice.  As lead learners in the classroom it is important to model lifelong learning, a trait we want to see in all of our students.  When I first taught biology 10 years ago, I paid to take a course online from U.C. Berkely to refresh my knowledge.  Now that there are similar courses available through Coursera and other MOOCS's, teachers can take courses on any subject of interest.  I encourage all teachers to try out a MOOC and learn something new today.  Technology lets us learn anytime that is convenient from any place and at a pace that is comfortable for the individual.  The time is now for teachers to embrace online learning as a professional learning tool and be a model for their students.

Now the question is.....which class will I take this summer?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Inspire Children with Robots

Featured as a free app in April.  Even now, at $.99 it is more than worth it.  

Download the Robots App HERE

About the App

Over 20 featured robots to learn about and see in action make this an app to inspire young and old.  Users explore each robot with pictures, video, robot specifications and the ability to rate the robot's appearance.  Users can also explore related articles and news about robots, rate each robot and decide if they would want to have one or not.

A few minutes with this app and your robot passion will be ignited!  The app is interactive and easy to navigate.  You can take your learning further in the app by exploring types of robots and how to get started in robotics.  There is even a timeline of the history of robotics.  This app has so much to offer and is surely a student favorite.  I haven't used it with students yet, but I am looking for an opportunity to share it with a class and get feedback.  We don't have a robotics club at our local high school, but I am thinking this app my get some students interested in starting one.

Rollin' Justin - One of the over 20 robots featured in the Robots App

Wanna Hang Out?

I would love to share this app with the 5th grade class I am currently working on a STEM Code-In Project.  It would be great to arrange a Google Hangout with a robotics engineer and jump start the career of a future roboticist.  If anyone from a robotics lab or the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) reads this and is interested in speaking with a 5th grade class please contact me.

To read more about the Robots app check out the IEEE Spectrum website.