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Private Universe Project in Mathematics



 

Channel-Talk


From: Joyce Gleason (jgleason@cfa.harvard.edu)
Date: Tue Oct 31 2000 - 14:01:46 EST

  • 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
    span.
        
    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
    that situation.

    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.

    Enjoy!
    Joyce Gleason
      

    **********************

    Joyce Gleason
    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
    Fax: 617-496-7670
    Email: jgleason@cfa.harvard.edu / channel@learner.org
    URL: http://www.learner.org/channel

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