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January-February 2008

Selected Articles from the NCTM News Bulletin

1. Get Ready to Celebrate Pi Day
2. Newly Elected Board Members
3. Report from the October Meeting of the NCTM Board of Directors
4. NCTM Position Statement on Early Childhood Mathematics 
1. Get Ready to Celebrate Pi Day

March 14 is Pi Day. It is the perfect time to have some fun in your math classroom with pi-related activities. Many teachers will celebrate with mathematics games and competitions to see how many digits of pi students can recite. Some students will connect pi (the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter) with food that is round, such as pizza pie or apple pie.

Ideas for making Pi Day special can be found on the Internet. Here are a few examples of free resources that can be found on the Web:

2. Newly Elected Board Members

Last fall, NCTM members elected Frederick L. Dillon, Karen Karp, Jennifer J. Salls, and Christine D. Thomas to the NCTM Board of Directors. The new Board members will officially begin their terms in April 2008 at the conclusion of NCTM’s Annual Meeting and Exposition in Salt Lake City.

The new Board members will become part of the 14-person Board of Directors, which meets four times a year. Each will also serve as a liaison to one of NCTM’s many working committees. The Board members retiring this year are Ruth Casey, Shelley Kim Ferguson, Audrey Jackson, and Nora G. Ramirez.

Frederick L. Dillon is a mathematics teacher and department chair at Strongsville High School in Strongsville, Ohio. A former president of the Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics (OCTM), Dillon has worked on curriculum issues extensively at the state and local levels.

Karen Karp is currently a professor of mathematics education and the department chair at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky. Karp is the author of many publications, and her experience includes service as a classroom teacher.

Jennifer J. Salls is a mathematics teacher and department leader at Sparks High School in Sparks, Nevada.  A recipient of numerous awards, including “Nevada Teacher of the Year,” Salls is also a facilitator for the PBS TeacherLine professional development resource.

Christine D. Thomas is an associate professor and chair of the Mathematics and Science Education Division at Georgia State University in Atlanta. A former classroom teacher, Thomas focuses on professional development of middle and secondary school mathematics teachers for urban schools.

3. Report from the October Meeting of The NCTM Board of Directors

The NCTM Board of Directors met in Reston, Virginia on October 18–20. At its meeting, the Board accomplished the following:

  • Decided to establish an Iris M. Carl Equity Address for each Annual Meeting and Exposition, starting with the upcoming conference to be held in Salt Lake City.
  • Accepted the report from the Intervention Criteria Writing Group, and voted to post the group’s report on the NCTM Web site.
    Developed the following statement for the organization’s strategic priority of Equity: Develop and actively promote a culture of equity in every aspect of mathematics education.
  • Discussed issues to address in future position statements and decided to develop position statements on Technology, Algebra, and Research before the February Board meeting.
  • Decided to run a monthly column in the NCTM News Bulletin that is devoted to equity. It will replace the current Intervention column at the end of this volume year.
  • Approved guidelines for task forces to clarify the scope of their responsibilities.
    Approved sending a delegation to represent NCTM at the International Congress on Mathematics Education (ICME-11) in Mexico City in July 2008.
  • Approved a policy to ensure internal review of manuscripts of major publications before they are distributed to external reviewers.
4. NCTM Position Statement on Early Childhood Mathematics

Question
Why is mathematics important for early childhood learners?

NCTM Position
The National Council ofTeachers of Mathematics affirms that a high-quality, challenging, and accessible mathematics education provides early childhood learners with a vital foundation for future understanding of mathematics. Young children in every setting should experience effective, research-based curricula and teaching practices. Such practices in turn require policies, organizational support, and resources that enable teachers to do this challenging and important work.

ncreasing numbers of young children are in settings where they can encounter mathematics in experiences that build on one another, expanding early understanding sequentially, in developmentally appropriate ways. Research on children’s learning in the first six years of life validates the importance of early experiences in mathematics for lasting positive outcomes. A growing body of research also supports curricular resources for early mathematics. Teacher preparation programs, education agencies, policymakers, and other partners must commit resources and mobilize to support teachers and collaborate in developing effective early childhood mathematics programs.

In a high-quality mathematics program for early childhood learners, teachers and caregivers can enhance children’s natural interest in mathematics and their instinct to use it to organize and make sense of their world. Mathematical experiences for young children should take advantage of familiar contexts, building on relationships within families, linguistic and cultural backgrounds, and the informal knowledge of early learners. Mathematics curricula and teaching practices should rest on a solid understanding of both mathematics and the development of young children.

Teaching practices should strengthen young children’s problem-solving and reasoning abilities in experiences that are both informal and involve more formal, prepared materials. Teachers should connect ideas within mathematics as well as with other subjects, and they should encourage children to communicate, explaining their thinking as they interact with important mathematics in deep and sustained ways. Finally, early childhood educators should actively introduce mathematical concepts, methods, and language through a range of appropriate experiences and teaching strategies. These should be monitored by observation and other informal evaluations to ensure that instructional decisions are based on each child’s mathematical needs.

Teacher education programs should give attention to the mathematics component of early childhood programs, and continuing professional development opportunities should support high-quality mathematics education. The development of institutional policies that promote teachers’ mathematical learning, teamwork, and planning can provide the necessary resources to overcome the classroom, community, institutional, and system-wide barriers to young children’s mathematical proficiency. Such initiatives will ensure the future of young children, who are our next generation of mathematics learners.

(Adopted September 2007)


 

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