Today, November 15, we are launching our Premium Subscription. Those of you who have followed our work since April will get a chance to see how all of the pieces tie together. Up until now, the emphasis has been on free teacher tools and a set of student activities. Now, the emphasis shifts to strategies for teaching fractions that include whole-class instruction, student practice targeted at district objectives, and student investigations into divergent and higher-order thinking.
We have learned a great deal over the past 6 months. Nora Ramirez and Barbara Dougherty have helped us focus on the language that we use in the software, emphasizing that students and teachers alike need exposure to the rich vocabulary of mathematics. Our colleagues in the Singapore Math movement, including folks from Staff Development for Educators, Inc., have reinforced the importance of progressing from concrete to abstract, and have shown us the brilliance in careful curriculum design. We think that Conceptua Fractions will reflect all of these qualities, with rich language, conceptual models to abstract, and well-crafted activities.
I have truly enjoyed visiting with educators in Denver, Baltimore, Minneapolis, Chicago, and Palm Springs over the past six weeks. I visited our first customer, the Paul Charter School in DC, and their Curriculum Specialist, Mia Abeles. 100% African American. 100% Title I. And 70% high achieving! Watching Mia interact with the students (she knows every student’s first name) was stunning, as the intention for excellence and deep mutual respect is so strong. I got a chance to see Honi Bamberger present for the first time, and I am pleased that her lively session placed a huge emphasis on fractions and teaching techniques that meld with our approach. I met over 500 people during this concentrated time period, and found a strong need for help with fractions. Many high school teachers told me that our software, advertized for grades 3-7, is just what they need for their 9th and 10th graders. Tough stuff, and very important. We talked about remediation, and about re-igniting fractions thinking as students start with algebra.
During these travels, I also saw some convergence between the special education world and the math world. I loved seeing Yeap Ban Har, the Singapore Math guru, strategizing with Cathy Bodine, the Colorado assistive technology leader. I found that my conversations around pedagogy with Brian Wodjik, a special education leader in Illinois, were virtually identical to those we’ve had with Susan Midlarsky, a technology and Singapore Math leader. I think there is hope in two directions; that special educators can teach math more effectively, and that math educators can increase their regard for conceptual and differentiated learning.
Enjoy the Premium Subscription. I am back on the road this week to visit more schools in the Washington, DC area. I’ll be in touch with more impressions soon.