Slowing the Summer Slide–Part II: Math

summer slide, mathematics, achievement gap, Imagine MathAs we discussed in a previous post, the typical American student enjoys a three-month break from school for summer vacation, providing well-deserved rest from the rigors of academia.

But studies suggest the summer fun may also come at a price.

According to a 2011 study by researchers at the RAND Corporation called “Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children’s Learning,” summer break – albeit necessary and beneficial in many aspects – could potentially set some students back two to three full months of grade-level equivalency if not supplemented with additional summer learning support.

The RAND study also indicates that the summer slide is more pronounced in mathematics, a subject in which learning decay occurs more rapidly over summer vacation simply because of math inactivity. Students may read over summer vacation, but few practice their math skills. Read more »

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Common Core and Multiplication Tables

multiplication, Common Core, math fluency, Big BrainzMuch has been said and written about the use of Common Core standards in today’s classrooms, particularly when it comes to CCSS math standards.

Case in point: some educators claim that mastering multiplication tables is less important in the Common Core. But is this claim really true? Let’s take a deeper look.

Multiplication and the Common Core

When it comes to multiplication standards, here’s what Common Core has to say:

CCSS.Math.Content.3.OA.C.7 Fluently multiply and divide within 100, using strategies such as the relationship between multiplication and division (e.g., knowing that 8 × 5 = 40, one knows 40 ÷ 5 = 8) or properties of operations. By the end of Grade 3, know from memory all products of two one-digit numbers.

In a nutshell, the more you care about developing higher-order mathematics, the more important fluency becomes.

Now, let’s deconstruct a few Common Core assumptions as they relate to math. Read more »

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Educated Risks: Getting Out of the Teaching Comfort Zone

A guest post by Ashley Porter

7th-grade math teacher, Webster Groves School District, Missouri

Imagine Learning now publishes monthly guest posts in order to stimulate conversations about K12 education across the country. Opinions expressed herein are those of the individual author and may not necessarily reflect the official opinion of Imagine Learning.

 

comfort zone, Imagine Learning, math, other subjectsThink back to the college years when you were choosing your major. Education? Check. As to age group, you would have noted four basic categories: early childhood, elementary, middle, or high school students. Each had its merits, but you could only pick one. Check.

I chose the math path–middle school first, followed by high school math later. I decided on math because it was in my comfort zone. That’s what most middle school and high school teachers do; they choose the area they’re most comfortable with. Yay! No more science, world studies, or English for me, right?

My first teaching assignment was at a high school, teaching all levels of algebra. There was a big push, as there should be, to get students to graduate on time. Some teachers were assigned as “graduation coaches,” and I was one of them.

It was my job to work with students, build a relationship, help them catch up, and get them to a timely graduation. These students were struggling, behind on credits, and risked not graduating at all (or certainly not on time). So, as a graduation coach, I was encouraged to help students in all their areas of struggle.

At this point, I received some of the best advice I ever got as an educator. Read more »

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Teach Children Math the Fun Way

teaching children math

Mention the words “math” and “fun” in one breath and you might prompt a few raised eyebrows from those around you. But the truth remains that math actually can be fun. All the same, a negative view of math tends to prevail in America; even in the latest flurry over STEAM-based learning initiatives.

For one thing, too many parents’ own experiences with math were less than stellar. Similarly, teachers may feel anxious about motivating youngsters in their classrooms if they aren’t already huge math fans themselves.

What to do?

Don’t worry. Here are a few ways you can help children (and yourself) see math as a fun experience right from the start. Read more »

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Can Technology Stimulate Mental Development in Young Children?

A guest post by Dr. Eugene Emmer, medical entrepreneur and author

Imagine Learning now publishes monthly guest posts in order to stimulate conversations about K12 education across the country. Opinions expressed herein are those of the individual author and may not necessarily reflect the official opinion of Imagine Learning.

 

lab rat, enriched environment, brain research, learning, hippocampus, Imagine As a physiologist and parent, I have long been interested in the impact of early childhood education on the child’s developing brain.

Over the years, an increasing number of scientists have devoted lab research to brain development and function. Their findings are not only fascinating, they also show how important proper stimulation is for the developing brain.

For example, years ago I read an intriguing study that demonstrated a marked increase in hippocampal neurons in adult mice living in an enriched environment.

Basically, the study showed that young rats raised in a stimulating environment had better-developed brains than rats raised in unstimulating environments.

During this study, scientists raised two groups of rats. One group lived in an enriched environment that included toys, tunnels, wheels, and so on; the other group was raised in an empty cage with only food.

Scientists showed that the rats raised in the enriched environment developed more hippocampal neurons than the rats raised in an empty cage. The stimulating environment had developed each rat’s young brain much the same way that lifting weights develops muscle. Read more »

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