Torlakson Kicks Off 2016 STEM Symposium – Year 2016 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today kicked off California’s largest Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education symposium.

Torlakson, who started his public service career as a high school science teacher and coach, welcomed more than 3,000 teachers, parents, students, researchers, entrepreneurs and others to the two-day event at the Anaheim Convention Center.

“STEM education is a key pathway to success in 21st century careers and college, especially in the high-tech, international economy,” Torlakson said. “We want all of our students to get excited about STEM learning, dream big, and reach for the stars.”

The third annual event showcases the importance of STEM education. Speakers highlighted California’s Next Generation Science Standards, a revolutionary update in teaching California’s 6.2 million public school students about science.

Source: Torlakson Kicks Off 2016 STEM Symposium – Year 2016 (CA Dept of Education)

Fairfield-Suisun School District STEM camp helps dreams take flight – Daily Republic

By Bill Hicks

With graduation season in the rear view mirror, the school year for the Fairfield-Suisun School District is over – but that doesn’t mean the learning has stopped.

A group of 40 sixth- and seventh-graders returned, Friday night, from a five-day Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics camp, which included a trip to Vacaville-based ICON Aircraft, the Senate and Assembly chambers at the State Capitol and culminated with a trip to Vandenberg Air Force Base outside of Lompoc in Southern California.

This was the inaugural year for the program, which was developed in part thanks to a pre-existing connection Superintendent Kris Corey had with staff at Vandenberg AFB.

Source: Fairfield-Suisun School District STEM camp helps dreams take flight

Number of new math and science teachers declining in California | EdSource

By Pat Maio

Posing an ongoing challenge for California educators trying to tackle a critical teacher shortage area, the number of credentials issued to new math and science teachers in California continues to decline, according to new figures released Monday by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

In the 2014-15 school year, a total of 1,119 math credentials were issued, down 8.4 percent from the 1,221 in the previous school year. For that same year, there were 1,347 science credentials issued, down 6 percent from the 1,434 issued the year before.

The figures underscore the difficulty California still faces in addressing the longstanding shortage of math and science teachers in the state, a problem other states are also grappling with.

Source: Number of new math and science teachers declining in California | EdSource

Students can satisfy college math requirement while in high school | EdSource

By Nadra Nittle

Alyssa Wallace, a senior at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, was among the 29 high school students who took an unusual math class last summer; the course, taught at Cal State Long Beach, will allow her to get her college degree without taking another math class once she enrolls at the campus.

Math 103 is the only class offered at a CSU campus designed for high school students to earn college credit, say its organizers and CSU officials. It also aims to attract would-be teachers.

The course is part of an effort to address a major obstacle that has sabotaged the academic plans of numerous California students – satisfying college math requirements.

The three-week class, which kicked off last summer, allows high school juniors and seniors in the Long Beach Unified School District to earn three university credits.

Unlike Advanced Placement classes, Math 103 isn’t targeted at exceptional math students. Instead, the class is open to any student in 11th or 12th grade who’s passed Algebra II.

via Students can satisfy college math requirement while in high school | EdSource.

House Set To Vote On Education Overhaul : NPR Ed

By Claudio Sanchez and Anya Kamenetz

Its almost a decade overdue, but the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote later today on a bill to replace the No Child Left Behind law.

Since NCLB was signed by President George W. Bush in early 2002, the federal government has played a major role in telling states how to run — and reform — their schools. But this new bill signals a sea change in the federal approach.

Annual tests in math and reading, the centerpiece of the old law, would remain in place. But the consequences of those test scores would no longer be dictated by the federal government. The new law, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act, significantly shifts responsibility for improving schools back to the states.

via House Set To Vote On Education Overhaul : NPR Ed : NPR.

California districts moving to new ‘integrated’ high school math pathway | EdSource

By Jay Harlow

This fall 9th-grade students in virtually all California high schools are taking math classes aligned with the Common Core standards. But for many of them there is an additional twist: they are embarking on a sequence of courses that represents a significant departure from how high school math has traditionally been taught in California and the nation.

Every district has had to decide whether to stick with a “traditional” sequence of courses in grades 9-11 (Algebra 1, followed by geometry, then Algebra 2, with some probability and statistics in each course) or adopt a new “integrated pathway” that combines and re-orders content from those courses in a three-year sequence.

That sequence is typically simply called Math I, Math II and Math III. Each course includes algebra, geometry, probability and statistics that are “integrated” with each other.

via California districts moving to new ‘integrated’ high school math pathway | EdSource.

Educators try to come to terms with low math scores on Smarter Balanced tests | EdSource

By Fermin Leal

As parents across the state open the envelopes containing their children’s scores on the new Smarter Balanced assessments administered last spring, only a third of them will see that their children met or exceeded the math standard on the new Common Core-aligned tests.

In fact, only one-third of California students in grades 3-8 and grade 11 met the math standard – compared to 44 percent of students who met the standard in English language arts. That is also significantly lower than the percentage who scored at a proficient level in math on the old California Standards tests.

via Educators try to come to terms with low math scores on Smarter Balanced tests | EdSource.

Jim Simons: A rare interview with the mathematician who cracked Wall Street | TED Talk

Jim Simons was a mathematician and cryptographer who realized: the complex math he used to break codes could help explain patterns in the world of finance. Billions later, he’s working to support the next generation of math teachers and scholars. TED’s Chris Anderson sits down with Simons to talk about his extraordinary life in numbers.

via Jim Simons: A rare interview with the mathematician who cracked Wall Street | TED Talk | TED.com.

How Teaching With Symmetry Improves Math Understanding | MindShift

By Katrina Schwartz

There’s a part of the brain that enables us to perceive magnitude — we can compare loudness when hearing different tones or compare the number of dots in a group at a glance. Neuroscientists have identified this region responsible for perceptual comparison (the intraparietal sulcus) as linked to symbolic comparisons, including integers in math. That discovery led scientists to realize that symmetry plays a big role in how humans compare integers

Building on this background research, Stanford education researchers tested a teaching strategy explicitly focused on using symmetry to teach integers to fourth-graders. They wanted to see if recruiting the visual symmetry parts of the brain would improve students’ facility and understanding of the concept. Their findings, published in “Cognition and Instruction” in May, indicate that teaching with symmetry could have a big impact not just on students’ understanding of integers, but also on more advanced concepts that go well beyond the scope of instruction as well.

via How Teaching With Symmetry Improves Math Understanding | MindShift | KQED News.

Summer math program helps students hone skills – Daily Republic

By Susan Hiland

Student’s listened intently to Willie Hancock explain the results of the algebra test they had just taken.

Some of the students had begged their parents to be a part of the free, five-week algebra preparation course offered through the California State University Summer Algebra Institute. Others were placed in the class by concerned parents.

Hancock is a retired teacher from Grange Middle School who is donating his time this summer to help students learn about math in new ways.

via Summer math program helps students hone skills.

Vallejo Scouting for Science STEM event Sunday – Times Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

A simple family outing to a Bay Area science fair motivated one Vallejo woman to create her own closer to home.

That event — The Boy Scouts of America, Mt. Diablo-Silverado Council’s first ever STEM Activity Day — is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

At $5 per family of four, the event is open to everybody, and is being held at the Vallejo Veteran’s Hall on Admiral Callaghan Lane, organizer Melissa Edwards said.

“I took my kids to the North Bay Science Discovery Day in Santa Rosa in October — a huge event with a committee that works on it year round,” Edwards said. “I lamented that we don’t have anything like this for the kids of Vallejo, so I decided to just do it myself — albeit on a smaller scale (at least initially).”

via Vallejo Scouting for Science STEM event Sunday.

Dixon High School physics students put design, know-how into action – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Their floating devices would be no match, say, for the Persian navy during Battle of Salamis in 480 B.C., but their names were scary enough, battleworthy and might have made a Greek sailor proud (or certainly laugh in the face of danger): Shark Bait HooHaHa with “Nemo,” Team Icarus with “#lionswag,” and Vicious Pursuit with “The Determinator.”

And what would Greek scientist Archimedes have said if he spied the 85 Dixon High School physics students, juniors and seniors, in teacher Kim McGreevey’s class, who, on Wednesday, put the legendary ancient inventor and mathematician’s principle into action during the 13th annual Walk on Water Event at the Granucci Aquatic Center in Dixon?

via Dixon High School physics students put design, know-how into action.

Ten Benicia middle schoolers need fund to attend national math competition – Times Herald

By Irma Widjojo

Ten Benicia middle school students will soon pack their bags to face the best of the best at a nation-wide mathematics competition April 25 in Chicago.

Though they only have a week left before the trip, the group still needs to raise at least $4,100 to cover the lodging and transportation, and they are reaching out to the community.

“Without the support from the community and the school, these kids might not have been able to go,” said Lori With, head of the math department at Benicia Middle School.

Out of almost 45,000 fifth to 12th graders, from more than 330 schools in 42 states, the top 700 have been selected to compete at the finals, and 10 of them will come from Benicia. They have qualified for the finals because they tested in the top 1.6 percent in the nation in math, With said.

via Ten Benicia middle schoolers need fund to attend national math competition.

Why Math Might Be The Secret To School Success | MindShift

By Anya Kamenetz

Little children are big news this week, as the White House holds a summit on early childhood education December 10. The President wants every four year old to go to preschool, but the new Congress is unlikely to foot that bill.

Since last year, more than 30 states have expanded access to preschool. But there’s still a lack of evidence about exactly what kinds of interventions are most effective in those crucial early years.

In New York City, an ambitious, $25 million dollar study is collecting evidence on the best way to raise outcomes for kids in poverty. Their hunch is that it may begin with math.

via Why Math Might Be The Secret To School Success | MindShift.

Math decoded in fun, exciting ways at Alamo Elementary – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Alamo Elementary parent Kymberly Hawkins sat next to her son, second-grader Max Hawkins, who manipulated glue stick, scissors, colored oval-shaped paper cut-outs, and paper cupcake baking cups.

In the school’s multipurpose room, they sat at a table dubbed “Growing Equations,” one of 10 stations Wednesday evening at the South Orchard Avenue campus that were part of Family Math Night.

Max’s mission for the moment: Choose a number (he picked 11) and note four to six expressions that equaled it. 15 minus 4 was one, 13 minus 2 another, and so forth. He wrote them on several “petals” that he cut out, then splayed them out to create flower. Then it was on to another table — no time to waste during the 90-minute event that began at 6 p.m. — where he and others learned more details about shapes at “Pattern Blocks”; learned which numbers belong to certain geometric shapes in a simple equation at “Finding the Unknowns”; and learned what operation is performed when a letter is right next to a number in algebra (answer: multiplication).

via Math decoded in fun, exciting ways at Alamo Elementary – The Reporter.

Districts split on high school math choices | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

In moving to the Common Core State Standards this year, California school districts had to choose between serving up high school math as one big stew or as the curricular equivalent of separate courses. That option has created strong, sometimes passionate disagreements among parents and teachers who argue that a blended or “integrated” approach offers a clearer method of instruction and those who prefer sticking with a familiar sequence of courses. The latter group includes high-achieving districts in Silicon Valley.

A second look at accelerationThe adoption of Common Core and switch to local control have renewed the debate on when students should accelerate to take Calculus in high school and who should take advanced courses. See accompanying article.

In the “traditional” sequence, Algebra I will be taught in 9th grade, followed by Geometry, then Algebra II in the junior year, leading to pre-calculus, Advanced Placement statistics, or, if students are more advanced, Calculus in their senior year. In “integrated” math, as the name implies, the same standards for algebra, geometry, trigonometry and statistics are reassembled and woven together to show their interrelationships in three yearly courses of increasing difficulty. Proponents are also calling this Mathematics I, II, and III or International I, II and III, because, they point out, math is taught this way in most high performing nations.

via Districts split on high school math choices | EdSource.

VUSD trustees to hear update about ‘family math night’ – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

When they meet in open session tonight, Vacaville Unified trustees will hear a Measure V bond update and an update on Common Core family math parent involvement.

Measure V, a $101 million bond measure approved by 68 percent of Vacaville voters in 2001, paid for upgrades to schools and other projects, such as improvements to Zunino Stadium, a new gymnasium, and a new science building. Since that time, nearly all the money has been spent. Superintendent Ken Jacopetti will lead the discussion.

He also will lead the update about family math night.

Its primary goal is to “strengthen the mathematical aptitudes of students through the power of family interaction,” according to wording in the agenda packet.

via VUSD trustees to hear update about ‘family math night’ – The Reporter.

Forget Coding, Let’s Change Up How We Teach Math! – The Edublogger

by Ronnie Burt

As any math teacher will tell you, one of the most common questions students ask is:

“When will I use (enter math skill here) in real life?“

It can often be one of the hardest questions to answer too.

Because most students see right through the classic “real world applications” that have been part of math lessons forever.

You know the type. If train A leaves at 10am, and train B leaves at 10:30, blah blah blah.

Am I right?

via Forget Coding, Let’s Change Up How We Teach Math! – The Edublogger.

Common Core standards bring dramatic changes to elementary school math | EdSource Today

By Lillian Mongeau

Teaching elementary school math just got trickier, or at least deeper.

The new Common Core State Standards require students to demonstrate a deeper understanding of math concepts, which means teachers will have to change how they teach those concepts too.

The new standards, adopted in California and 44 other states, have ushered in a whole new set of academic standards for math, with significant changes in the early grades – kindergartners must now be able to count to 100 by the end of the year, for instance, rather than 30. Second graders will no longer learn multiplication tables; that’s now a third grade task. And geometry standards are now less about identifying and measuring shapes and more about building and deconstructing them.

via Common Core standards bring dramatic changes to elementary school math | EdSource Today.

First Common Core Math Materials Adopted – Year 2014 (CA Dept of Education)

SACRAMENTO—School districts now have a list of more than 30 instructional materials to choose from that are aligned to the Common Core State Standards for mathematics, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today.

This comes after the State Board of Education completed the 2014 adoption of kindergarten through grade eight mathematics materials for California students. The list is attached.

“Today’s step keeps us on track toward our goal of providing students the real- world skills they will need for college and career, in part through the Common Core,” Torlakson said. “These quality materials will help students achieve the proficiency in mathematics that California’s employers are looking for from this future workforce.”

via First Common Core Math Materials Adopted – Year 2014 (CA Dept of Education).