~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

**ARTICLES & ANNOUNCEMENTS
(CALIFORNIA FOCUS)**

**(1)
Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science
Teaching:
Application and Nomination Forms for 2007 are Now Available**

**
****URL (CMC):** http://www.cmc-math.org/PAEMST

**URL (PAEMST): **http://www.paemst.org/

The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and
Science Teaching
(PAEMST) is the nation's highest commendation for K-12 math and
science
teachers. The award recognizes a combination of sustained and
exemplary
work, both inside and outside the classroom. Each award includes
a grant
of $10,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) directly
to the
recipient (no longer to the school). Awardees use the money at
their discretion
to promote math and science education. Awardees also receive an
expense-paid
trip to Washington, DC, during which each receives a certificate
signed
by the President. Awardees also attend seminars and engage in
professional
discussions with their peers and with national legislators and
education
policy-makers. Awardees also receive a selection of gifts from
private-sector
contributors to the program. In mathematics, California selects
up to
3 finalists. They each receive an additional $1000 from the
California
Mathematics Council (CMC).

Forms are now available for secondary teachers for the
2007 award
(elementary teachers will have an opportunity to be nominated
for the
2008 award). Anyone (e.g., principals, teachers, students, and
other members
of the public) may nominate a teacher for this award.
Self-nominations
will not be accepted. The nomination and application forms may
be downloaded
from the PAEMST web site: http://www.paemst.org/uploads/FORM_2007_PAEMST_Nomination.pdf
and http://www.paemst.org/uploads/FORM_2007_PAEMST_Application.pdf

In California, teachers must submit their completed application
packets
by May 1, 2007 to:

Sandie Gilliam

California PAEMST Mathematics Coordinator

2100 Nelson Rd

Scotts Valley, CA 95066

831-335-1677 (home & fax)

sgilliam@slvhs.slv.k12.ca.us

**
**

**
****(2) First Saturday Administration of the
Mathematics Portion
of the High School Exit Exam Will be on December 9**

**
****Source**: California Department of
Education

**URL**: http://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/ne/yr06/yr06rel148.asp

Last Friday, State Superintendent of Public
Instruction Jack O'Connell announced that students will be
taking the
California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) on Saturday, December
1, the
first time the test has ever been offered on a weekend...

O'Connell sponsored legislation in 2006 to
fund the additional Saturday administration of the exit exam.
The English-language
arts portion of the test was offered Saturday, December 2 at
approximately
140 school districts around the state. This coming Saturday,
December
9, the mathematics portion of the exam will be offered.

Students who are in eleventh or twelfth grade,
or adult students enrolled in a California public school, are
eligible
to take the test during this weekend administration.

**
**

**ARTICLES & ANNOUNCEMENTS (NATIONAL FOCUS)**

**(1) "Potential
of Global Tests Seen as Unrealized" **by Debra
Viadero

**Source***: **Education
Week*
- 29 November 2006

**URL:** http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2006/11/29/13international.h26.html?qs=olympics

In 1958, a group of international scholars
met in Hamburg, Germany, and hatched an idea for a huge study to
measure
student learning around the globe.

They saw the world as one big educational
laboratory, with each country acting as its own naturally
occurring experiment.
If tests could gauge the effects of those experiments, the
researchers
reasoned, the results might yield a bonanza on how best to teach
children.

Nearly 50 years later, the project they had
in mind is called the Trends in International Mathematics and
Science
Study, or TIMSS--one of the biggest and most influential
assessment programs
in the world. Yet it still hasn't delivered on its early
promise, say
experts who attended a conference [in Hamburg last] month aimed
at rekindling
the original vision of the program's founders.

"It sort of became a cognitive Olympics
instead," said Judith Torney-Porta, a professor of human
development
from the University of Maryland College Park, referring to the
country-by-country
rankings for which the TIMSS reports are best known. The
program, she
said, "seemed to miss out on becoming a major contributor of
international
studies in identifying effective practices and adapting them."

Ms. Torney-Purta, who in the 1960s took part
in the development of what is now TIMSS, was among the group of
international
researchers who gathered for the Nov. 9-11 conference at the
Brookings
Institution. They shared the results of secondary analyses of
data from
TIMSS and other international studies, and encouraged more
researchers
to tap into the mounting troves of international achievement
data.

"What we've got to do more of now are
two things," said Seamus Hegarty, the chairman of the
International
Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, or
IEA, which
oversees TIMSS and other international studies. "We've got to
ensure
better, more systematic secondary analyses, and we've got to
relate our
findings to policy interests."

At the Amsterdam-based IEA and other
international-study
centers, the data have indeed piled up since the late 1950s.

Just 12 countries took part in the earliest
version of TIMSS, the First International Mathematics Study, or
FIMS,
which was published in 1967 using math data collected from 1961
to 1965.
Since then, the IEA has administered at least four more
cross-national
studies in mathematics, science, or both, and the number of
participating
countries has grown with each test administration. TIMSS 2007,
already
under way, is expected to involve more than 60 countries.

In addition, the assessment organization
has conducted cross-national studies in two other subjects,
civics education
and literacy. Data on student achievement are also accumulating
through
the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, a
multinational
study run by the Paris-based Organization for Economic
Cooperation and
Development.

"It's a gold mine, really," Jan-Eric
Gustafsson, an education professor at Sweden's University of
Gothenburg,
said of the TIMSS data.

**Limiting Factors**

So far, researchers have plumbed results
from the various studies to look at how a wide range of
educational factors
might affect achievement.

Those factors include students' attitudes
and beliefs; variations in the size of schools and classes;
students'
family backgrounds; classroom technology use; and the extent to
which
teachers use such approaches as group work and inquiry-driven
instruction.

For instance, Elena C. Papanastasiou, a researcher
from Intercollege in Nicosia, Cyprus, mined the TIMSS data
archives to
explore how computers and electronic calculators affect
learning...

**Age Shifts Eyed**

One way to overcome the cultural and pedagogical
differences across countries that hamper analyses of effective
practices,
Mr. Gustafsson suggested, might be to focus on the changes that
occur
within countries from one administration of a test to the next.

"The problem for cross-sectional analyses
is that if you have a characteristic you want to measure, it
tends to
be correlated with a thousand other things," he said. By looking
over time within one country, he said, scholars might minimize
those "nuisance"
factors.

Mr. Gustafsson tested his idea with data
for 15 to 22 countries that participated in TIMSS tests in both
1995 and
2003. His aim was to see if changes in students' ages and in
average class
sizes within a country, from one test to the next, correlated
with changes
in achievement.

Mr. Gustafsson found some surprisingly large
age differences. In Latvia and Lithuania, for instance, 4th
graders were
eight to nine months older in the 2003 assessments than their
counterparts
in 1995 were.

The Iranian 4th graders tested, by contrast,
were three months younger in 2003.

The analysis showed that age changes were
linked to achievement differences, with older students in every
country
outperforming their younger peers in the same grade. The
relationships
were strong enough, Mr. Gustafsson said, that TIMSS researchers
might
want to take them into account in interpreting
country-by-country achievement
gains--either by narrowing the testing window so that
test-takers are
closer in age or making statistical adjustments.

Changes in average class sizes from one test
to the next, meanwhile, seemed to be important for 4th graders'
achievement
and less so for 8th graders.

**Covering Everything**

Most researchers, though, have focused on
curricula in an effort to discern why students in some countries
tend
to outshine the rest of the world, including the United States,
in international
comparisons.

As the principal of a Finnish intermediate-level
school that is arguably the highest-scoring school in the world,
Maarit
Rossi, another conference-goer, has fielded many such queries.
Finland
ranked first in math in the 2005 PISA, and the 8th graders in
Ms. Rossi's
school, Kirkkoharjun School in Kirkkonummi, scored highest in
that nation.

Now studying in the United States on a sabbatical,
Ms. Rossi sees obvious contrasts in U.S. and Finnish textbooks.
The U.S.
texts, she said, are much thicker and more cluttered than the
ones her
students use. "It's impossible when you have 1,100 pages of math
that you get the message," she said.

William H. Schmidt, an education professor
at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, would agree. He has
conducted
comparisons of U.S. math curricula and those used by countries
that consistently
score high on TIMSS. As early as the late 1990s, he
characterized U.S.
math classes as "a mile wide and an inch deep" compared with
those of the high-scoring, mostly Asian, nations.

"It's basically, you cover everything,
everywhere, because somehow, somebody will learn something
somewhere,"
Mr. Schmidt told conference-goers.

More recently, his analyses have also shown
that the high-performing countries teach math in a sequence that
mathematicians
see as more coherent, and that may be even more influential in
promoting
students' understanding.

Another researcher at the Brookings Institution
conference, however, said Mr. Schmidt was looking in the wrong
direction
for explanations of U.S. students' lackluster performance.

"Sociological theories suggest that
educational systems are becoming more similar around the world,"
said David P. Baker, a professor of sociology and education at
Penn State.
Because most countries now manage and organize schools in much
the same
way and teach similar content, he argued, other factors, such as
students'
family background, may explain more of the test-score variations
between
nations than differences in schooling.

He noted, for instance, that countries that
do well on the international assessments tend to be those, such
as Finland
or Singapore, with less socioeconomic inequality among students.
Countries
with wide gaps between society's haves and have-nots, on the
other hand,
tend to have greater variations in their own students' test
scores.

"The notion that the world is an education laboratory is a good
fantasy to push to get funding," Mr. Baker concluded. As schools
become more and more similar around the world, he added, the
possibility
that researchers can distill best practices in education from
international
achievement is becoming more remote...

**
**

**
****(2) Preparing Secondary Mathematics
Teachers--Recommendations
form CUPM**

**
****URL (CUPM):** http://www.maa.org/cupm/

**URL (12/06 column): **http://www.maa.org/columns/launchings/launchings_12_06.html#ref2

[This paragraph was taken from http://www.maa.org/cupm/execsumm.pdf]
The Mathematical Association of America's Committee on the
Undergraduate
Program in Mathematics (CUPM) is charged with making
recommendations to
guide mathematics departments in designing curricula for their
undergraduate
students. CUPM began issuing reports in 1953, updating them at
roughly
10-year intervals. *Undergraduate Programs and Courses in the
Mathematical
Sciences: CUPM Curriculum Guide 2004* was based
on four
years of work, including extensive consultation with
mathematicians and
members of partner disciplines... *CUPM Guide 2004*
contains the recommendations unanimously approved by CUPM in
January 2003
[and is available for free download at http://www.maa.org/cupm/curr_guide.html]

Over the past two years, the CUPM Chair,
David Bressoud, has written a series of articles related to the
recommendations
in the *CUPM Curriculum Guide.* Topics
include
the following: learning to think as a mathematician, attracting
and retaining
majors, the role of technology, preparing K-8 teachers, the
challenge
of college algebra, targeting the math-averse, and many more.
Each is
available online at http://www.maa.org/columns/launchings/launchings.html

This month's topic is "Preparing Secondary
Teachers" (http://www.maa.org/columns/launchings/launchings_12_06.html#ref2),
reproduced below:

**...** In writing
this recommendation, the CUPM was very aware that it was moving
outside
of its area of expertise and into the purview of other
committees. In
particular, in 2001 the Conference Board of the Mathematical
Sciences,
an umbrella organization of the mathematical societies including
AMS and
MAA, issued its recommendations on *The Mathematical Education
of Teachers
*(http://www.cbmsweb.org/MET_Document/.
The CUPM recommendation is not intended to serve as a set of
guidelines
for pre-service teacher education in mathematics, but rather as a
distillation
of four of the most important and commonsense recommendations
that have
emerged in recent years.

One of the most important resources that
any teacher can bring to the classroom is depth of understanding
of the
subject at hand. This includes knowing where it came from and
why it arose,
knowing the conceptual difficulties that people encountered
during its
development and the difficulties that students are likely to
have as they
master and learn to apply it, knowing how it relates to other
parts of
mathematics and to problems in other disciplines, and knowing
when, why,
and how prospective teachers will need to draw on this knowledge
in the
future. This depth of understanding includes a rich reserve of
examples
that illustrate different aspects of the topic, together with
good questions
that probe and test student knowledge at all levels from basic
recall
through sophisticated analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. It
includes
knowing when and how technology can be useful in helping
students through
a difficult conceptual point. It means knowing where this topic
lies in
the great web of mathematical ideas and how it relates to the
ideas around
it, those that should come before, those that will come after,
and those
that students might never see.

Four years of undergraduate mathematics is
not sufficient to create this depth of understanding. Not even
the additional
years of graduate work will complete it. This is a bed of
mastery that
takes a lifetime to create, but it must be begun, and begun
well, by the
time the future teacher graduates with the bachelor's degree.
This includes
beginning to string together the connections. This is why it is
so critically
important that future teachers receive a mathematics education
that emphasizes
connections. They need to learn to look for them. Whether
learning analysis,
algebra, or geometry, prospective teachers need to understand
how the
mathematics they see as undergraduates is connected to the
mathematics
they will be teaching.

There are now many excellent resources
to assist in putting together such a program. The __Illustrative
Resources__ (http://www.maa.org/cupm/illres_refs.html)
lists many of them. An article that I consider particularly
insightful
is H. Wu's "On the education of mathematics teachers" (__http://__math.berkeley.edu/%7Ewu/teacher-education.pdf)
. For those who are interested in working with pre-service
teachers, the
PMET program (Preparing Mathematicians to Educate Teachers; http://www.maa.org/pmet/)
runs workshops, publishes information, helps to create and
maintain networks,
and provides mini-grants to support work in this area.

**
**

**
****(3)** **Google for
Educators**

**
****URL: **http://www.google.com/educators/

[Promotional description of Google for Educators]
Google recognizes the central role that teachers play in
breaking down
the barriers between people and information, and we support
educators
who work each day to empower their students and expand the
frontiers of
human knowledge. This website is one of the ways we're working
to bolster
that support and explore how Google and educators can work
together.

As a start, we're inviting you to share your
best ideas for using technology to innovate in the classroom.

[On the Web site--http://www.google.com/educators/],
you'll find a teacher's guide to Google products, including
basic information
about each tool (e.g., Book Search, Maps, Docs &
Spreadsheets, Calendar,
Personalized Home Page, etc.), examples of how educators are
using them,
and lesson ideas. You'll also find lesson plans and videos from
our partners
at Discovery Education focusing on two of our most popular
teaching tools:
Google Earth and Google SketchUp.

We think of this site as a platform of teaching
resources--for everything from blogging and collaborative
writing to geographical
search tools and 3D modeling software--and we want you to fill
it in with
your great ideas.

You can explore a Google tool you've never
tried before, then tell us what you think about it. Or road test
our lesson
ideas, then follow the links to submit your own. And if you'd
like to
share your expertise with fellow educators, we encourage you to
send us
your story--we'd love to feature it on this site.

We also invite you to subscribe to the Google
Teachers' Newsletter--your source of authoritative updates on
Google tools
and features, tips, and other information relevant to teachers.

**
**

**
****(4) Rose Math Professor's Formula Featured on
CBS's NUMB3ERS"**

**
****Source: ***The Tribune Star*
- 28 November 2006

**URL: **http://tinyurl.com/y3azg8

A formula developed by Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
[Terre Haute,
Indiana] mathematics professor David Finn was featured on a
recent episode
of "NUMB3RS," a CBS television show in which mathematics is
used to help the FBI solve a wide range of challenging crimes in
Los Angeles.

During the Oct. 13 episode, Finn's model that describes the
shape of
a sugar cookie during the baking process appears on a
blackboard. Above
the formula is the phrase "From David Finn, R.E.U. "
Finn's
model is based on viewing cookie dough during the heating
process as a
liquid so it can be modeled as essentially a drop of water on a
table.
The equation arises from minimizing energy of the configuration
(gravitational
potential energy plus surface energy). The trick is that the
interaction
between the cookie sheet and the cookie also adds an energy
term, wetting
energy, that also defines the cookie's final shape..

In a perfect world, this term is independent of position on the
cookie
sheet, and defines the angle of contact between the cookie and
the cookie
sheet as a constant. Theoretically, this means that drop-sugar
cookies
should be perfectly round, and defined uniquely by the size of
the drop
(volume and diameter of the cookie) once one knows the necessary
parameters
of the cookie dough.

"However, as any baker knows, cookies are not necessarily
perfectly round," Finn states. "Cookies are only mostly round,
meaning that the angle depends on position on the sheet. The
question
then is to understand how the geometry of the 'wetted domain'
[the area
where the cookie sits on the cookie sheet] affects the shape of
the cookie."

This investigation into the shape of a cookie is part of a
summer Research
Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program at Rose-Hulman,
funded by
the National Science Foundation. The mathematical study of
baking cookies
caught the attention of Ed Pegg Jr., who writes a column on
mathematics
for the Mathematical Association of America and serves as a math
consultant
for "NUMB3RS," which resulted in Finn's work appearing on
"NUMB3RS."

In the episode, Charlie Eppes (played by David Krumholtz) is
seen writing
equations on a blackboard, explaining to his colleague Amita
Ramajuan
(played by Navi Rawat) that he "is using differential geometry
to
perfect the chocolate chip cookie."
That's when portions of
Finn's investigations and mathematical calculations appear on
the blackboard.

"It was a thrill, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, to see
my name on television," Finn said. "It is great to see
mathematics
and mathematicians being highlighted on a national televised
show, and
it is 'real' mathematics. This shows the applicability of
mathematics
in the modern world, and hopefully will lessen some of the
general complaints
about mathematics that one always hears: 'I just was never good
at math'
and ‘Math just never made sense to me.'"

The episode might be rebroadcast during the holiday season.
Texas
Instruments is using "NUMB3RS" to highlight its "We All
Use Math Every Day" math education initiative, in partnership
with
CBS and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. The
program was
specifically designed to help students (and their parents)
realize how
relevant math is to everyday activity and to understand the
importance
the subject plays in their future success.
By tying the math
used
within each episode of "NUMB3RS" to classroom activities,
teachers
can increase student interest, especially among grades 9-12,
with real-world
examples such as baking cookies.