2005 Archive‎ > ‎

Vol. 6, No. 33 - 7 December 2005

In This Issue...



ARTICLES & ANNOUNCEMENTS (CALIFORNIA FOCUS)

(1) David Pagni Receives a 2005 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring

Source:  California State University, Fullerton - 23 November 2005
URL (CSUF)http://campusapps.fullerton.edu/news/2005/81_pagni.htm
URL (NSF): http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=104634&org=NSF&from=news

David Pagni, professor of mathematics at Cal State Fullerton and a longtime advocate for mathematics education, has been honored with the 2005 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.

The Presidential Award recognizes individuals and organizations that have demonstrated an exemplary commitment to mentoring students and increasing the participation of minorities, women and disabled students in science, mathematics and engineering.

The annual honor, administered by the National Science Foundation, includes a $10,000 grant for continued mentoring work and a Presidential commemorative certificate. This year, 10 individuals and one institution were honored during a Nov. 16 awards ceremony at the White House. Pagni was joined by faculty members from UC Berkeley, Stanford University, State University of New York, University of New Orleans, Boise State University, University of Missouri and Fort Valley State University. UC Irvine was honored as the institutional recipient.

“Cal State Fullerton has provided the support over the years that has enabled me to develop mentoring programs that have impacted so many lives,” said Pagni, who joined the campus in 1969 and has received more than $22 million in grants for programs that help educators and students.

“Articulating and strengthening the partnership between CSUF and local school districts has been my focus over the years; my colleagues and administrators have provided professional support and resources to enable these programs to succeed,” Pagni added. “I was excited to receive this award and honored to bring such prestigious recognition to Cal State Fullerton.”

Among the programs Pagni has created is Project MISS, or Mathematics Intensive Summer Session, which he started in 1990 to encourage young women to pursue careers in science and math by providing an intensive four-week skills-building summer course. Since its inception, 98 percent of Project MISS participants have completed high school and entered college--20 percent majoring in science, technology, engineering or math.  

Pagni also has directed the Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Program--part of a Collaborative Academic Preparation Initiative funded by the California State University Chancellor’s Office--in which the university works with local high schools to help more students pass the entrance level math exam. He co-directs the Orange County Mathematics Project, a program to enhance the algebra skills of teachers teaching fifth through ninth grades in three area school districts.

In the mid-1990s, Pagni became a “math wizard” during a special program announcing a National Science Foundation grant of more than $6 million to make a systemic change in the way math is taught in elementary schools in the Santa Ana Unified School District. Before an audience of educators, public and university officials, Pagni delighted youngsters as he told them they could all be math wizards themselves with the help of a program that became known as SUMS (Students Using Math Successfully).

Visit the Web site above to read more about David Pagni's mathematics education programs and activities.


(2)  Governor Schwarzenegger Appoints Susan Kennedy Chief of Staff; Reaction of State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Sources: Office of the Governor; California Department of Education
URLs: http://www.governor.ca.gov/ ; http://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/ne/yr05/yr05rel149.asp

On November 30, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced the appointment of Susan Kennedy as chief of staff.

"Susan is a hands-on, action-oriented person who gets things done. She is a leader with incredible institutional knowledge about state government and a deep understanding of the public policy process..."

Previously, Kennedy served as cabinet secretary and deputy chief of staff for Governor Gray Davis where she was principal liaison to the cabinet and state agencies, departments, boards and commissions. Prior to joining the Davis Administration, Kennedy served as communications director for U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.

"I am honored Governor Schwarzenegger has asked me to join him as he works to rebuild California," said Kennedy. "We have a tremendous opportunity to get past party lines and move California forward. I have come to know this man. I believe in him and where he wants to take this state. I look forward to using my experience and knowledge to work alongside the Governor to get the job done."

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell issued the following statement regarding Kennedy's appointment:

"Governor Schwarzenegger made an outstanding choice in selecting Susan Kennedy to be his chief of staff. Susan brings a wealth of experience to the job. She is a tireless policy wonk and has excellent political instincts. She understands better than most people in Sacramento how politics intersect with complex policy issues. Susan is a strong organizational leader and she has a great track record of reaching across party lines to forge important bipartisan agreements. Improving public education has been a hallmark of her public service career.

"I have had the pleasure of working with Susan on numerous issues over the years, including the creation of the California High School Exit Exam. I know she will be successful in this new position and I am looking forward to working with her again to further improve public education in California."

Kennedy, 45, of Marin County, attended San Francisco State University. She is a Democrat and will assume her new position on January 1, 2006.


ARTICLES & ANNOUNCEMENTS (NATIONAL FOCUS)

(1) Convergence--A New Online Mathematics History Magazine for Teachers

Source: Mathematical Association of America (MAA)
URL: http://convergence.mathdl.org/

About Convergence (by Editors Victor Katz, University of the District of Columbia and Frank Swetz, Penn State University, Harrisburg):

We all strive to make our teaching of mathematics meaningful to students. Yet we are constantly plagued by the reverberating questions, "Why do we have to learn this?" and "When am I going to use it?"  Often the answers to these relevant questions can be found within the history of mathematics, accounts of the development of mathematics and the historical reasons these developments occurred. In recent years, more and more teachers have begun to realize how a knowledge of the history of mathematics can enhance student understanding as well as enrich classroom presentations.

This new climate of appreciation has been reflected in a marked increase of professional activities devoted to the subject. Regional and national meetings of the Mathematical Association of America and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics frequently feature presentations and workshops devoted to the history of mathematics as well as its use in teaching. A variety of publications supporting this effort have also appeared. But despite this response, there still remains an urgent need for readily available, user-friendly, teacher resources on utilizing the history of mathematics as a pedagogical aid.

It is with this need in mind that the concept of Convergence was conceived as an online magazine where mathematics, teaching and history interact. This magazine is sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America with the cooperation of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. It is intended to be a resource and forum for mathematics teachers of grades 9-14 mathematics who are interested in using mathematics history as a learning/ teaching tool. Convergence is envisioned to be an evolving resource whose features will include:

* Expository articles on aspects or concepts from the history of mathematics that the author feels possess a special pedagogical or learning appeal.

* A sharing of classroom experiences.

* Animated mathematical demonstrations that can be downloaded for classroom use.

* Translations and commentaries of mathematical works that shed particular light on mathematical discovery and understanding.

* Discussions of particular problems from an historical context.

* Reviews of materials, books, websites and teaching aids that lend themselves to historical enrichment.

Convergence is currently free, although registration is required. The editors encourage you to log on, use the materials in your classes, participate in the discussion groups, and contribute new articles based on personal experiences.


(2) Mathematics Results for Grades 4 and 8 from NAEP's Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) 2005

Source: National Center for Education Statistics
URL: http://nationsreportcard.gov/tuda_reading_mathematics_2005/

District Summary

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is an assessment given to a small number of students selected (or sampled) to represent the entire population of fourth, eighth, and twelfth graders in schools across the nation. The Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA), a special project in NAEP, began assessing performance in selected large urban districts in 2002 with reading and writing assessments, and continued in 2003 and 2005 with reading and mathematics. Ten large urban school districts participated in 2005, with Austin participating for the first time. Student samples in these 10 districts were enlarged beyond usual NAEP samples so that reliable district-level data could be produced... Results for the District of Columbia, regularly included in state-level NAEP, are also reported, making 11 districts in all...

Mathematics Results for Grade 4

In 2005, public school students in Austin and Charlotte had higher average scale scores than students nationally; average scores in the other districts were lower than the national average. Compared with students in large central city public schools nationwide, students in Austin, Charlotte, Houston, New York City, and San Diego had higher average scores and higher percentages performing at or above Basic.  Students in Austin, Charlotte, and San Diego also had higher percentages performing at or above Proficient. Boston had higher percentages at or above Basic. Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, the District of Columbia, and Los Angeles had lower average scores and lower percentages performing at or above Basic and at or above Proficient.

Compared to students of the same race/ethnicity in large central city schools, Black students in Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Houston, and New York City had higher average scores and higher percentages performing at or above Basic. Black students in Chicago, the District of Columbia, and Los Angeles had lower average scores and lower percentages performing at or above Basic. Hispanic students in Austin, Charlotte, Houston, and New York City had higher average scores and higher percentages performing at or above Basic. Hispanic students in Chicago, the District of Columbia, and Los Angeles had lower average scores and lower percentages performing at or above Basic.

Between 2003 and 2005, both the average scores and the percentages performing at or above Basic increased in Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, the District of Columbia, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, and San Diego. The same districts, except for Atlanta and Cleveland, also showed increases in the percentage of students performing at or above Proficient between 2003 and 2005.

Mathematics Results for Grade 8

In 2005, average scores for students in Austin and Charlotte were higher than the average score for public school students in the nation, with average scores in the other districts lower. Compared with students in large central cities, students in Austin, Boston, Charlotte, and San Diego had higher average scores and higher percentages performing at or above Basic. Austin, Boston, and Charlotte also had higher percentages of students performing at or above Proficient. Houston had a higher percentage at or above Basic, but a lower percentage at or above Proficient. Students in Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, the District of Columbia, and Los Angeles had lower average scores and lower percentages performing at or above Basic and at or above Proficient.

Compared to students of the same race/ethnicity in large central city schools, Black students in Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Houston, and New York City had higher average scores and higher percentages at or above Basic. Black students in Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, and the District of Columbia had lower average scores and lower percentages performing at or above Basic. Black students in Los Angeles had lower average scores. Hispanic students in Austin, Chicago, and Houston had higher average scores and higher percentages performing at or above Basic than their large central city peers. Hispanic students in Los Angeles had lower average scores and lower percentages performing at or above Basic.

Between 2003 and 2005, the average scores and the percentages of students performing at or above Basic and at or above Proficient increased in Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

See http://nationsreportcard.gov/tuda_reading_mathematics_2005/t0026.asp?printver= for sample problems from the mathematics section of the 2005 NAEP.


(3) "Do the Math in Your Head!" NCTM Presidential Chat Topic for December 13

Source: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
URL: http://www.nctm.org/news/president/2005_12president.htm

What does it mean to know mathematics? This is a complex question, but there is strong agreement that facility with numbers and skill in problem solving play important roles. Principles and Standards for School Mathematics calls for students to be proficient with tools that include pencil and paper and technology, as well as mental techniques. I would like to make a case for raising the importance of mental math as a major component in students' tool kits of mathematical knowledge. Mental math is often associated with the ability to do computations quickly, but in its broadest sense, mental math also involves conceptual understanding and problem solving. ..

Mental math proficiency represents one important dimension of mathematical knowledge. Not all individuals will develop rapid mental number skills to the same degree. Some will find their strength in mathematics through other avenues, such as visual or graphic representations or creativity in solving problems. But mental math has a clear place in school mathematics. It is an area where many parents and families feel comfortable offering support and assistance to their children.

Mental math need not depend on rote memorization. In fact, the development of mental models for numbers and operations is greatly facilitated by students engaging in purposeful experiences with concrete objects and number patterns. Teachers play a vital role in making sure that these experiences are connected in meaningful ways to the mathematics we ask students to learn.

In my observation, mental math does not receive the attention it deserves. Perhaps this is because the development of mental techniques is not always explicitly stated as an objective or state level standard. Whatever the reason, the time has come to invest in helping students build the mental math skills in their tool kits as part of their comprehensive mathematical understanding. The payoff for this investment can be tremendous both in improving students' mathematical abilities and in giving a visible sign that we are committed to preparing students with the kind of mathematical proficiency that the public can readily appreciate.

What are some of the most important mental math skills, tips, or shortcuts that students should know? What are some ways to help students develop their mental math facility? Join me for a chat about these questions and related issues on December 13 at 1:00 p.m. PST. Also, submit your questions about this topic at the above Web site.



COMET is sponsored in part by a grant from the California Mathematics Project.


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    Carol Fry Bohlin, Ph.D.
    Professor, Mathematics Education
    California State University, Fresno
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