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Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences

Mathematics Education Seminar Series

department of mathematics

This monthly seminar series in Mathematics Education is supported by Teachers for a New Era (TNE), and is organized by Profs. Solomon Friedberg (Mathematics) and Lillie Albert (Teacher Education).

2011-2012 Seminar Schedule

Seminars will meet roughly monthly on Thursdays from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

  • October 27, 2011
    Richard Askey (University of Wisconsin)
    Location: Campion 139
    Title: Mostly Geometry with Some Algebra

    : Geometry is the part of school mathematics which is most in need of help. We will start with rectangles and triangles in late elementary school and show how some of the ideas used there can be used again in high school. The algebra part will involve setting up an algebraic version of a geometry problem, solving it and getting a surprising result, and then doing the same with another problem and also getting a surprising result. In both cases, factoring turns out to be very useful.
  • December 7, 2011
    Dan Chazan (University of Maryland)
    Location: Campion 139
    Special time: 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
    Title: New Technologies and Challenges in Depicting and Discussing Teaching

    : Teaching can be conceptualized as the ephemeral, time-bound activity that happens in classrooms among teachers, students, and the subject matter that is taught. A key challenge in discussing teaching is how to transcend the particular in order to have practitioners talk across differences of context (e.g., school, students, curricula, …). In this presentation, I’ll use analogies to representations of mathematics used in the high school algebra and geometry curriculum to consider how non-fictional videotapes of actual classroom interaction and fictional animations depicting scenes from classrooms can support talk about teaching. Examples will come from both research, the NSF-funded Thought Experiments in Mathematics Teaching (ThEMaT) project, and from professional development initiatives, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)’s nascent Digital Library of Practice.
  • March 22, 2012
    Natasha Speer (University of Maine)
    Location: Campion 139
    Title: Definitions of mathematical knowledge for teaching: Using these constructs in research on secondary and college mathematics teachers.

    : The construct  “mathematical knowledge for teaching” (MKT) has received considerable attention in the mathematics education community over the past decade. Much effort has been put towards the delineation and definition of particular types of knowledge used and needed by mathematics teachers, including Common Content Knowledge (CCK) and Specialized Content Knowledge (SCK). The various lines of research have yielded important and useful findings.

    These efforts have been pursued almost exclusively in the context of elementary mathematics teaching. But what happens when researchers look instead at secondary or post-secondary teachers? Do these descriptions of various types of knowledge fit as well with data from non-elementary contexts given differences in background and content knowledge typically possessed by these populations of teachers?

    I will present some theoretical questions that arose when using definitions of CCK and SCK in investigations into the nature of MKT at secondary and undergraduate levels. These questions will be illustrated with data from two mathematics instructional settings.
  • April 19, 2012
    William McCallum (University of Arizona)
    Location: Campion 139
    Title: Illustrative Mathematics: Building a discerning community of mathematics educators.

    Illustrative Mathematics ( provides guidance to states, assessment consortia, testing companies, and curriculum developers by illustrating the range and types of mathematical work that students experience in a faithful implementation of the Common Core State Standards, and by publishing other tools that support implementation of the standards. Equally important, it is building a discerning community that can discuss, critique, and revise tasks. I will discuss the project and engage the audience in examples of the work the community is carrying out.