This month’s Teaching Children Mathematics (a publication of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) reviews youcubed.org, a website designed to promote the current changes in math instruction (aka Common Core) while providing support for teachers and parents in that process. Youcubed and a free online course are offered through Stanford University under the leadership of math professor Jo Boaler. This site has multiple resources, including videos and lesson ideas which can be downloaded. Four headers run across the home page of youcubed with messages like “Mistakes Grow Your Brain” and “Depth not Speed.”
Categories on the home page include Teaching Ideas, Tasks, Online Courses, Knowledge Center, and Community. Here’s a sample of what’s available under Teaching Ideas:
- “Mindset,” which focuses on research suggesting that all kids can learn math at high levels,
- “Depth Not Speed,” with a single article on math anxiety created by timed math tests (I had hoped this section would include a discussion of the current pace of math instruction on many topics which leaves kids adrift, but that issue is addressed across the site)
- “Math Apps and Games,” including board games like Mancala
- “Number Sense” and “Multidimensional Math,” with strategies for broadening student success by allowing exploration and reflection
- “Making Group Work Equal,” which promotes a form of teaching math using the Complex Instruction teaching model (mixed ability groups, assigned roles for groups, focus on multiple ways of learning and explaining math, and direct instruction on student responsibility for one another). More on that method later.
I am going to make my way through youcubed’s free online course (if I ever finish the other two on literacy which have kept me from blogging!). Youcubed is worth checking out since we are certainly not doing a terrific job teaching math as a nation. On the other hand, the site strongly advocates the use of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, which has its own “issues” for special needs kids. Although I agree with the value of authentic math problem solving, student reflection, and team work, I question how effectively this translates into actual math instruction in our public school bureaucracy. What do you think?