Next message: Cathy Kinzer: "Re: [Channel-talkpupmath] Responses to Dennis and Other Participants"
Hello. As new (three months) Director of Outreach at the Annenberg Media
Channel, I am still learning a lot about the workshops we broadcast.
I had eagerly awaited the Private Universe Project in Mathematics
because, as a former district-level coordinator and staff developer, I
felt the premise was so important: the changes in thinking that children
make as they develop their own understandings of math concepts. So much
research is conducted over the short-term and here we would be able to
see development in actual students over many years.
The first program in the workshop did not disappoint. It was everything
I had hoped for and more. We were able to see engaging activities that
teachers could repeat with their own students at appropriate grade
levels. We as teachers could see how our students came to their current
understandings (at whatever age) and what further changes would have to
occur to achieve higher conceptualization. It provided a continuum to
our teaching; that the work we all do is not in isolation nor an end to
itself. Thus, not just the students, but the teaching itself has a life
As I have continued to watch the workshop episodes, I have been impressed
that the original premise, demonstrating growth from younger children to
older ones, has been kept. This is what I wanted to see, and I felt that
teachers needed this too.
I am also impressed with the very large amount of time it takes children
to make these important leaps and baby-steps. This is something teachers
all know but something schools are often not designed to provide for. I
think there is a lesson in that for us all.
Now I'm watching the posted responses Dennis and his crew in Weston,
Mass., are making. I am struck by the care he is taking as site leader
with his teachers. He seems to understand the extraordinary amount of
time teachers themselves need to reach their conclusions, i.e., making
meaning from their own experiences and observations. (See Dennis's
posting about the use of language in developing meaning.) This is just
like what we are seeing with the kids!!
I am also impressed with the knowledge teachers have of their own
students. (Who better??) The teacher who changed the pants-and-shirts
problem to wrapping paper and ribbon understood that there was no magic
to the clothing. It was the combinatorial nature of the problem that was
the heart of the matter. (How often have you seen a lesson repeated
precisely the way it was presented, as though the exact implements held
the meaning, rather than the processes being demonstrated?)
Quite frankly, sometimes we teachers don't quite get it ourselves. I am
hopeful that the Weston site and others around the country will allow
teachers to take the time necessary to develop that same depth of
understanding that our students need. It's not a crime to admit it if we
don't get it. It is a crime if we don't do something about rectifying
Continue to enjoy the Private Universe Project in Mathematics workshop.
Please let us know, via this discussion list, how you are doing and what
you are thinking.
Director of Outreach
The Annenberg Channel
c/o Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
60 Garden Street - MS 82
Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
Phone: 617-496-7684 / 800-228-8030x2
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
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