That’s the question Liz Burris sought to answer in her Mathematics Education capstone project. However, after researching different factoring methods, analyzing student data and surveying Frederick County Public School educators, she concluded math educators have quite varied beliefs about the matter. In the end, Liz arrived at her own opinion: a combination of sum-product, guess and check, grouping, use of manipulatives and scaling methods. Her paper was published in The Banneker Banner, Vol. 28, no. 1. Liz is currently a substitute math teacher for the Boyertown Area School District in Pennsylvania. She and her husband recently welcomed their first child.
Mathematics Education and Leadership
That’s the question that inspired A.Blaine Dockery’s capstone project. Actually, says Blaine, that “was one of the first decisions that States adopting the Common Core for mathematics had to make back in 2010. States moving to the Common Core had to choose between…the traditional path (algebra 1, geometry, algebra II and a fourth high school math credit) or the integrated approach.”
The mathematics teacher found that integrated mathematics has had mixed reviews since it was introduced in the 1970s. In his paper, Blaine pointed out that one state – Georgia – adopted the approach, only to “reverse its decision some years later because of a consistently high failure rates, primarily among students with weaker math backgrounds.”
Blaine, who teaches at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts in Washington County, Maryland, has his own opinions. He favors an approach that presents students with real-world problems for them to collaborate on, which he describes as “more of an investigative learning situation, similar to what an experimental scientist would do.” Ultimately, however, the best way to teach the subject may depend “on the student’s math background and how they best learn.”
Mathematics Education graduate students Katie Victor and Jen Long’s collaborative capstone project compared Maryland’s Common Core Standards with Virginia’s Standards of Learning. Their goal: to determine if an algebra student from one state could transfer relatively seamlessly between the state’s public school systems. The two found that, with small exceptions, the states had very comparable curricula. In analyzing videos of themselves teaching the same lesson — one in Maryland and the other in Virginia — they even found that their instructional styles and deliveries were similar!
Both alums currently teach Algebra — Katie at Blue Ridge Middle School in Loudoun County, Virginia, and Jen at Smithsburg Middle School in Washington County, Maryland.