Friday, February 12, 2016

Day 2—Critical Issues in Mathematics Education (MSRI 2016)

This is a photograph of the reserved parking spaces next to the bus stop for the Hill line.  The Hill line takes you up to MSRI.  I have heard that UC Berkeley is running out of parking space for their Nobel Laureates.

The morning schedule:
  • 8:30 AM–8:40 AM. Shifting focus from learning to observe to using observing to learn—Mark Hoover (University of Michigan)

  • 8:40 AM –9:45 AM. Structuring the practice and use of observation to improve developmental mathematics courses in a mathematics department—Dawn Berk (University of Delaware), James Hiebert (University of Delaware). One of the key points was the evaluation of lessons and not teachers. They are doing coordinated lesson plans for the number and operations courses for K–6 preservice teachers as well as the foundational math courses leading up to calculus.  They are emphasizing longterm planning and development (20+ years).  The scripted lesson question arose.  It sounds like this lesson plans are more scripted than most. The Q&A session is worth watching. Watch the MSRI video stream.  They give an evolving protocol for facilitating video clubs during the last 10 minutes.

  • 9:45 AM–10:45 AM. Preparing secondary mathematics teachers to facilitate video clubs—  Michael Driskill (Math for America), Kristen Smith (Math for America).   They have a protocol for facilitating video clubs. They showed video of teachers watching video.  The facilitator views and edits the teacher's video ahead of the video club session. The video club focused on student thinking, but the facilitator focused on teacher thinking.

  • 11:15 AM - 12:15 PM Parallel Sessions 2.

    • Parallel session 2.a: Advancing quality teaching: Using video to support professional development in the Community College Pathways network—Ann Edwards (Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching)

    • Parallel session 2.b: Teaching Triads: Enhancing teaching through the use of Cognitive Coaching—Scott Peterson (Oregon State University)

    • Parallel session 2.c: Key ideas for effective professional development: Purposeful classroom observation and non judgmental data collection—Hyman Bass (University of Michigan), Akihiko Takahashi (DePaul University). I attended this session.  It was in the Baker Boardroom, so it was not recorded, but slides are available.  The major forms of PD in Japan are lesson study, observing demonstration lessons, and lectures/workshops (often during summer). A key idea is the difference between lesson study and demonstration lessons. Demonstration lessons (and their associated videos) capture the complete story of the lesson as opposed to "video club" clips which are usually 2–5 minutes.  Lesson Note is an app for taking notes while observing lessons and is available for the iPad. This is a VERY slick app!

The afternoon schedule:
  • 1:00 PM—2:00 PM. Parallel Sessions 3.

    • Parallel session 3.a: Reflecting on one’s own classroom video to enhance classroom interactions—William Day (Math for America DC), Julia Penn (Math for America DC)

    • Parallel session 3.b: Lessons learned from Lesson Study—Travis Lemon (MfA - Utah)

    • Parallel session 3.c: Observing across communities: Learning to observe undergraduate mathematics classes by supervising student teachers—Cody Patterson (University of Arizona)

    • Parallel session 3.d: Leading mathematics observations: An observational tool for providing feedback—Nicole Garcia (University of Michigan), Meghan Shaughnessy (University of Michigan)

  • 2:00 PM–3:00 PM.   Observing and talking about teaching: Departmental leadership—Deborah Hughes Hallett (University of Arizona), Wayne Raskind (Wayne State University), Ayse Sahin (Wright State University), Douglas Ulmer (Georgia Institute of Technology).  A discussion of the views and concerns of department chairs, deans, etc.

  • 3:30 PM–4:30 PM. A conversation about practical next steps—Deborah Ball (University of Michigan).  There were five breakout groups to discuss questions such as different ways to observe teaching, the use of different lenses in observation, access to shared materials and video beyond the CIME workshop, what did we learn at the CIME workshop, and what structures could support observation and the improvement of teaching.  Watch the video.

  • 4:30 PM–5:00 PM. Closing session: Reflections on ideas discussed at the workshop—James Hiebert (University of Delaware), Anna Sfard (The University of Haifa)
The CIME workshop has been very productive, but I am exhausted after two and a half days.  Heading home early tomorrow.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Day 1—Critical Issues in Mathematics Education (MSRI 2016)

The 2016 CIME workshop actually began Wednesday afternoon (Day 0?) with a  couple of talks  that framed the workshop.  Day 1 began this morning at 8:30 AM with a wonderful presentation by Deborah Ball,(How) Can we “see” the work of teaching mathematics?. All of the talks will eventually be streamed online from the MSRI's website at

Today's morning schedule:
  •  8:30 AM–9:45 AM. (How) Can we “see” the work of teaching mathematics?—Deborah Ball (University of Michigan).  Watch the video because this was one of the best presentations of the day.

  • 9:45 AM–10:45 AM.vSeeing the math in teaching—Roger Howe (Yale University), Lindsey Mann (University of Michigan).  Video available.

  • 11:15 AM–12:15 PM.vAttending to student thinking and their interactions when working in small groups—Chris Rasmussen (San Diego State University).  Video available.
All three talks were great.  Deborah Ball played a clip of an elementary class.  After watching the class and making comments, we viewed the video again with no sound forcing us to pay attention to things we missed the first time.

The afternoon schedule:
  • 1:00 PM–2:30 PM Observing practices that support learners’ identity development and participation in mathematics classrooms—Lawrence Clark (University of Maryland), Imani Goffney (University of Houston), Whitney Johnson (Morgan State University), Danny Martin (University of Illinois, Chicago). Video available.

  • 2:45 PM–3:45 PM Parallel sessions (I was only able to attend 1.a and 1.b.)
    • 1.a: Mathematical micro-identities: Students’ positioning and learning during mathematics lessons—Marcy Wood (University of Arizona). Video available.
    • 1.b: Watching mathematicians at work: Mathematical knowledge for teaching calculus and the practice of examining student work—Natasha Speer (The University of Maine).  Natasha's research project sounds interesting and directly applicable to how we teach the first two years of undergraduate mathematics. Video available.
    • 1.c: Using video to develop pre-service teachers’ professional vision of ambitious mathematics instruction—Elizabeth van Es (University of California, Irvine)
    • 1.d: Teaching and learning mathematical practices in the early elementary grades—Hyman Bass (University of Michigan), Sarah Selling (University of Michigan)
  •  4:15 PM–5:15 PM Designing video clubs for teacher learning—Miriam Sherin (Northwestern University). WOW! What a great idea. Video clips would be easy to implement with graduate teaching assistants. Watch the MSRI video of this talk.

  • 5:15 PM–6:00 PM The practice and use of observation in powerful professional development: The teaching-for-robust-understanding (TRU) framework—Alan Schoenfeld (University of California, Berkeley). Some great material here. Definitely watch the MSRI video.  Schoenfeld's websites are particularly useful: and

Overview—Critical Issues in Mathematics Education (MSRI 2016)

The Critical Issues in Mathematics Education Workshop (CIME) 2016 at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute began yesterday evening. This year's topic is Observing, Evaluating and Improving Mathematics Teaching from the Early Grades through the University. The workshop's website is

The 2016 CIME workshop is focusing directly on the teaching of mathematics at the university and precollege levels through close observation and discussion of video tapes. The goal of the workshop is to develop language and methods for describing, analyzing and evaluating what can be seen in the classroom, with the ultimate goal of helping us shape and improve teaching our own and more broadly.

The workshop is being guided by the following questions.

  • What skills are needed for observing teaching in ways that inform improvement efforts? What is involved in observing teaching? What is the teacher saying and doing? What are students saying and doing? What is the mathematics at play? What else is happening? And what do these imply for teaching?
  • How can the practice and use of observation be structured in order to improve mathematics teaching? What approaches are available? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • Observation-based assessment of teaching: Why, what, and how? What are the risks?
  • How can we develop and sustain a cross-professional community that observes and evaluates teaching in such a way that different communities communicate with and learn from each other to support a cycle of improvement in the teaching of mathematics at all levels? The workshop will provide a library of videos of mathematics teaching for study. In addition, participants are encouraged to submit a short video clip of their own teaching, together with a brief background commentary. These videos will provide a central text for our collective work on discussing and assessing mathematics teaching.