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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Principals' guide to supporting common core implementation

As an elementary school administrator you are tasked with supporting the transition to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Join Dr. “Skip” Fennell for this lively presentation and open Q&A dialogue around the latest thinking on the CCSS and implementation in elementary mathematics. 

World Maths Day Contest: March 5

On WorldMaths Day, students aged 4-18 years old team up to solve arithmetic and mental computation problems together in real time.
Open to schools, individuals, and homeschoolers alike, this free global event awards minted medals, world cups, and prizes, and recognizes each participant with a certificate.
Begun in 2007, World Maths Day has "united the world in numbers" ever since. 
This year's World Maths Day starts in the U.S. on the morning of Tuesday, 5 March, with challenges lasting for as long as an hour or as little as one minute.
Freely downloadable PDFs include a teacher guide, World Education Games poster, and Frequently Asked Questions.
Check out the World Maths Day's first ever apps for Apple iPadand iPad Mini or for the Android math app.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

New study shows kids who are behind in first grade math don't catch up

Repost from the Deseret News

One in five adults in the U.S. can’t do basic arithmetic problems such as adding fractions, working with measurements and doing whole number arithmetic problems, according to a new study about how math skills develop. More precisely, 22 percent of adult Americans are functionally “innumerate” — a word that sums up the inability to do math problems like the word “illiterate” describes lack of reading and writing skills. These millions of innumerate people don’t have the basic math skills for most modern jobs, including the low-level jobs open to people without college degrees.

The study, by mathematics researchers David C. Geary, Mary K. Hoard, Lara Nugent and Drew H. Bailey, found that before entering first grade, children need to understand that written numerals represent quantities. They also need to be able to solve simple arithmetic problems using methods other than counting. Children who don’t grasp the meaning of numerals and how to work with them before they enter first grade will fall behind their peers in math achievement, and most won’t catch up as years go by, the longitudinal study found.

“The analyses thus far indicate that children who begin first grade with low number system knowledge are at heightened risk for low functional numeracy scores in seventh grade,” the authors wrote.

It is especially important that young children develop the ability to arrange numbers in order of magnitude, and to combine or break them down into smaller and larger numerals — to recognize, for instance, that “nine” is the same quantity as four and five, seven and two, or eight and one. The presence of this ability at the beginning of first grade — called “number system knowledge” — was found to be more important in predicting a child’s likelihood of attaining basic math skills than improvements in math ability that happen in later grades.

Students who don’t gain basic number knowledge before first grade will continue to fall behind in math — and that is true even after statistical adjustments for differences in basic intelligence, working memory, attentive behavior, low-income status and ethnicity.

Spotting math deficits early and providing remediation can yield big benefits according to the study, which was supported by a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The findings underscore the importance of expertly taught preschool and kindergarten math curricula, especially for children who are at risk of poor school performance because of poverty and other social disadvantages.

“For now, the implication is that interventions to improve children’s early understanding of the relations among numerals need to be implemented before the start of schooling or in first grade, and fortunately such interventions are being developed,” its authors wrote.

A 2008 report from the National Mathematics Advisory Panel studied foundations for student success in mathematics, and included recommendations for parents that can help children succeed in math after they enter school. Those include:

  • Introduce your baby and toddler to numbers, counting and shapes.
  • Before kindergarten, help your child understand phrases related to math, such as “more than,” “less than” and “equal to.”
  • Do activities in counting, and in joining (adding) and separating (subtracting) objects.
  • Show your child that you value math achievement, even if you feel you are not good at math.
  • Help your child understand that being good at math is about working hard, not about being born "smart."

Your high school students are eligible for ACT Online Prep – Free

The Michigan Department of Education is pleased to announce the availability of the ACT Online Prep Program at no charge to all Michigan public and non-public high schools for students in grades 10–12.
This service will be available approximately one week after ACT receives your school’s order form through September 30, 2013.
The ACT Online Prep Program provides:

  • Diagnostic test and personalized Study Path
  • Practice tests with real ACT test questions 
  • Practice essays for the optional ACT Writing Test with real-time scoring—100 writing units per school
  • Anywhere, anytime access via the Internet 
  1. If you currently have a site license for ACT Online Prep: You'll maintain that license through its contract end date, and then this program will be renewed at no charge through September 30, 2013. 
  2. If you do NOT currently have a site license for ACT Online Prep: 
  • Download a copy of the MI ACT Online Prep Order Form from
  • Submit the order form to ACT by June 28, 2013.
  • The site administrator listed on the form will receive an email from within one week with access information and instructions.
For more information about the ACT Online Prep Program, contact ACT Customer Services at 1-800-498-6065 or

Questions?Please email us at  or call 877-560-8378 and select the appropriate menu option.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching - nominate your excellent teachers now!

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2013 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and ScienceTeaching. Teachers may nominate themselves or someone else may nominate them for this award. 


The 2013 Awards will honor mathematics and science (including computer science) teachers working in grades 7-12. Nominations close on April 1, 2013.


Before logging in, please review the
2012–2013 Application Packet (Adobe PDF). Applications must be completed by May 1, 2013.

Friday, February 1, 2013

New Spotlights From Education Week: Implementing Common Standards

Education Week Spotlights contain essential news and commentary on the big issues. These Spotlights provide the information you need to understand the most talked-about topics.

For a limited time, download these common-core Spotlights FREE:

Implementing Common Standards: Examine efforts to align textbooks to the common-core standards, learn about principal training efforts, and discover ways to reduce costs associated with common-core implementation.
Literacy and the Common Core: Learn how schools are meeting the English/language arts standards by incorporating literacy skills across the curriculum, emphasizing nonfiction texts, and collaborating with librarians.
Supporting Instruction in the Common Core: See how schools are getting ready for the common standards by using virtual professional development, forming educator cadres to prepare for assessments, and building capacity for new instructional approaches.

Also available for FREE download:

  • Dropout Prevention: Take a closer look at schools using early-dropout detection and online credit-recovery, and explore how early-college models are impacting student dropout rates.
Each Spotlight is delivered in an easy-to-read, easy-to-use digital format, with numerous in-depth articles in one convenient PDF file.