Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dealing with Math Anxiety

 Dealing with Math Anxiety
When students are asked to solve a math problem, reports Sarah Sparks in this Education Week article, any level of anxiety gobbles up working memory and interferes with their ability to get the answer. Researchers have found that students with the most interest and potential in math are most affected by anxiety; they can solve math problems when they work in non-stressful conditions, but not when the pressure is on. What causes anxiety? Mentioning gender stereotypes (e.g., girls aren’t as good at math as boys), or telling students that their scores will be compared with those of other students.
            Researchers have found that female teachers’ math anxiety rubs off on their female students. In a study of first- and second-grade classrooms, there was no difference in boys’ and girls’ math performance at the beginning of the year, but girls whose teachers had a high level of math anxiety did worse than boys by the end of the year. Girls in these classrooms tended to adopt a stereotypical view of math ability (boys are good at math, girls are good at reading), and the more they believed this, the worse their math achievement. “Teacher math anxiety is really an epidemic,” says Daniel Ansari at the University of Western Ontario. “I think a lot of people go into elementary teaching because they don’t want to teach high-school math or science.”
            How can teachers create anxiety-free classrooms? Eugene Geist of Ohio University/ Athens suggests that teachers focus on teaching math processes and not rely on the answers in textbooks. “If I give the answer, you immediately forget about the question,” he says. “If I don’t give you the answer, you will still have questions and you will be thinking about the problem long after.” Constantly referring to the answer key undermines students’ and teachers’ confidence in their own math skills and encourages students to focus on being right over understanding the concepts.
            Jody Willis, a California-based neurologist and author, says that it’s vital that students are not afraid of making mistakes in math classes. Teachers have to be able to spot problems with foundational knowledge, and they can do this only if students participate in class and make mistakes.

“‘Math Anxiety’ Explored in Studies” by Sarah Sparks in Education Week, May 18, 2011 (Vol. 30, #31, p. 1, 16)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Students Writing in Math Class

Six Ways to Get Students Writing in Math Classes

            In this article in The Reading Teacher, Brigham Young University educators Brad Wilcox and Eula Ewing Monroe cite research saying that students aren’t doing enough writing in math classes. This is a shame, they say, because there are literacy and math gains to be had by harnessing the power of writing. Wilcox and Monroe have the following suggestions:
            Learning logs – At the beginning of a math class, the teacher asks students to summarize something learned in a previous lesson – for example, a fifth-grade teacher asks students to say what they learned about mean, median, and mode and then has some students share their logs. With practice, students get better and better at these learning log entries, which serve a dual purpose of reviewing previous material, revealing misconceptions and gaps in knowledge, and brushing up writing and vocabulary skills.
            Think-write-share – “Teachers often ask questions and count on having at least one or two students raise their hands,” say the authors. Far better to make every student accountable by asking the whole class to jot down the response to the question – for example, What is an equivalent fraction? – and then calling on one or two students to share their writing, perhaps using a document camera to display them. One teacher thought her class had mastered this concept and was surprised when a think-write-share revealed that a number of students thought equivalent fractions were identical fractions – for example, ¼ = ¼. The teacher had several students share their responses and when the class had seen several that were accurate, she had students respond to the question again.
            Note-taking/note-making – In addition to taking notes, students can be asked to make notes on the content of a lesson. For example, a fifth-grade teacher had students fold a sheet of paper in half, write on the left side a definition of integers with number lines demonstrating the relative size of integer pairs, and then on the right side jot their own reactions and observations. One student wrote, “It is weird that -2 is greater than -5.” This process “encourages students to make connections between new concepts and previously learned material and their personal experiences,” say Wilcox and Monroe.
            Shared writing – A third-grade teacher might wrap up a geometry unit by writing on chart paper words suggested by students – face, edge, vertex, congruent figures, polygons – then writing sentences summing up what was learned in the unit, and finally revising the sentences to sharpen the content.
            Class book – Building on the shared writing, the teacher might assign segments to different students and have them each draft a page for a class book summing up the unit. “Class books provide a sense of audience as well as an opportunity for students to revise and edit their writing,” say Wilcox and Monroe. “Simultaneously, the format invites students to ‘create and use representations to organize, record, and communicate mathematical ideas.’”
            Alphabet books – The teacher assigns each student a letter of the alphabet and has them search for new and complex words in their math textbook, notes, thesaurus, and math dictionary. Each page would contain a meaningful sentence, a pictorial representation, and a real-world connection. With the teacher’s help, students revise and edit their pages and the alphabet book is then assembled and published.

“Integrating Writing and Mathematics” by Brad Wilcox and Eula Ewing Monroe in The Reading Teacher, April 2011 (Vol. 64, #7, p. 521-529),

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mrs. Walker's Class Moon Alphabet Book

Take a moment to listen and watch the fantastic work of the second graders in Mrs. Walker's class!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dallin Smart Start; Begins March 31st!


We are pleased to announce the launch of Dallin Smart Start at the Dallin School on Thursday March 31, 2011. 
The Dallin Smart Start program runs from 8:10 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday morning.  It is for children in grades 1 through 5.
The program is based on a Fit Kidz program developed at Memorial Elementary School in Natick.  Fit Kidz prepares children for a day of learning and is an important step in helping children appreciate the benefits of exercise and healthy choices that will last a lifetime.   Fit Kidz was inspired by the book “Spark” by Dr. John Ratey of Harvard Medical School. Dr. Ratey states that “exercise is the single most powerful tool that we have to optimize the function of our brains.”  Several studies establish that moderate to vigorous physical activity stimulates brain function and creates the physiological conditions for students to be ready to learn.  Fit Kidz directly addresses these points by getting kids moving in the morning in order to boost their academic and physical performance, in addition to their overall confidence and well being.
Thank you to all the Dallin Smart Start parent volunteers for participating in this exciting pilot program!

Monday, January 10, 2011

February Vacation

Please note that February vacation is from February 21st through and including Monday,  February 28th.
The 28th of February is a professional day for staff and there is no school for students.
Students return on Tuesday, March 1st. Thank you.`

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Movie: Race to Nowhere

The Tufts University, Eliot-Pearson Children's School is pleased to announce that they will be hosting a national screening of the new documentary film, Race to Nowhere,  on Tuesday, January 25th at 7:00 pm, Aidekman-Arts Center, Cohen Auditorium, 40 Talbot Ave., Medford, Ma

The film is about the high-stakes culture that children and educators face in their school lives now.  

Please see attached link for more information and to order tickets. A portion of the proceeds will also benefit the Eliot-Pearson Children’s School scholarship fund.  Tickets will be $10.00 online, $15.00 at door.  Please pass on this information to interested people.

Here is the link to buy tickets:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Common Sense Media

The following common sense media website is a terrific resource for educators, parents and students.  It contains a vast amount of information on cyber safety, online citizenship, and much more.  They have also purchased Cyber Smart in an effort to expand the site's digital literacy curriculum. Take a moment to check it out.