, founded by creators of the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics (CCSSM), supports a “faithful implementation” of the standards “by illustrating the range and types of mathematical work that students will experience.” Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
, the web site provides examples of tasks for each standard by grade level, ranging from Kindergarten through High School.
Although the web site has been up for a number of months, the end of March marked a turning point for the project. Through a design overhaul, the site is now aesthetically pleasing, well-organized, and easy to navigate. Bill McCallum, one of the project chairs, blogged that in addition to the new design, “we have reached a milestone of 400 illustrative tasks.” The web site’s user-friendly design and impressive content database leaves me hopeful that the project will indeed support successful implementations of the math standards.
In addition, the site has added a Community feature where registered users can revise, discuss, and evaluate the tasks. According to the web site, the project hopes to enhance the impact of the Community by allowing registered users to share classroom videos related to the standards and lesson plans constructed around the tasks.
Explore Illustrative Mathematics and let us know what you think!
The web sites Worldometers
and USA Right Now
provide real time statistics on the world and the United States. These web sites are not only mesmerizing to watch but can also serve as sources to help math educators create contemporary word problems that engage students in the math curriculum.
Both sites include a Media category where users can view how many emails and tweets sent, how many cell phones sold, and how many items “Googled” thus far on the given day. Consider how many tweens and teens would find this type of information relevant to their own lives!
Worldometers, named one of the best free reference web sites of 2011 by the American Library Association, also provides opportunities to raise significant issues in fields such as Government and Economics, Health, Energy, and Food. For example, educators can create meaningful word problems through global data on the amount of forest lost this year, the number of people without access to safe drinking water, and the number of deaths caused by smoking cigarettes this year. Beyond word problems, educators can encourage students to use the data in practical ways, such as creating a school-wide anti-smoking campaign or raising money to build a fresh-water well in a third world country.
Check out the web sites and find data that will engage your students!
A recent brain imaging study
conducted by Christina B. Young, Sarah S. Wu, and Vinod Menon at Stanford University succeeded in identifying “the neural correlates of math anxiety for the first time.” In other words, the study shows how brain function differs in people who have math anxiety from those who don’t have math anxiety. Researchers discovered increased activity in the amygdala (the brain region linked with emotional responses) when children with math anxiety worked on math problems. At the same time, researchers noted decreased activity in regions of the prefrontal cortex (a brain region linked with problem-solving).
What does all of this brain talk actually mean? Basically, math anxiety leads to elevated activity in the “fear” brain region, which disrupts the brain’s ability to solve problems. In an online memo, the study’s lead researcher, Vinod Menon, explains, “The same part of the brain that responds to fearful situations, such as seeing a spider or snake, also shows a heightened response in children with high math anxiety.”
The study included 7- to 9-year-old children with varying levels of math anxiety. However, the students all had similar math and reading abilities, IQ levels, working memory, and levels of general anxiety. Therefore, the research shows that math anxiety-response exists independently of math skill and can affect math performance. Researchers conducted functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans while the children worked on addition and subtraction problems.
The researchers believe that this neurodevelopmental research on math anxiety has “significant implications for its early identification and treatment,” including the development of successful academic interventions and treatments similar to those used for other phobias and generalized anxiety. According to Menon, this research study “validates” math anxiety: “You cannot just wish it away as something that’s unreal.”