Dr. Jo Boaler is Professor of Mathematics Education at Stanford University, editor of the research commentary section of JRME, and author of seven books, including What's Math Got To Do With It? Formerly, she was Marie Curie Professor of Mathematics Education, University of Sussex, England and a mathematics teacher in London comprehensive schools. See https://ed.stanford.edu/faculty/joboaler.

The purposes of this IAE Blog entry are to advertise a free online no-prerequisite math education staff development course she will be offering starting in July 2013, and to make a few comments about the course. I strongly recommend the course.

The following is a statement from Jo Boaler quoted from https://class.stanford.edu/courses/Education/EDUC115N/How_to_Learn_Math/about:

In July 2013 a new course will be available on Stanford’s free on-line platform. The course is a short intervention designed to change students’ relationships with math. I have taught this intervention successfully in the past (in classrooms); it caused students to re-engage successfully with math, taking a new approach to the subject and their learning.

In the 2013-2014 school year the course will be offered to learners of math but in July of 2013 I will release a version of the course designed for teachers and other helpers of math learners, such as parents. In the teacher/parent version I will share the ideas I will present to students and hold a conversation with teachers and parents about the ideas. There will also be sessions giving teachers/parents particular strategies for achieving changes in students and opportunities for participants to work together on ideas through the forum pages. The ideas I will share will be really helpful as teachers prepare to implement the new Common Core State Standards.

Brief Overview of the Course

Here is a brief outline of the 8-session course. It is quoted from https://class.stanford.edu/courses/Education/EDUC115N/How_to_Learn_Math/about. I have inserted a few parenthetical comments using [ ].

1. Knocking Down the Myths About Math

Math is not about speed, memorization or learning lots of rules. There is no such thing as “math people” and non-math people. Girls are equally capable of the highest achievement. This session will include interviews with students. [Notice how the course gets quickly to the point of math being a problem-solving, higher-order thinking subject, and that all students are capable of learning math. See http://iae-pedia.org/What_is_Mathematics.]

2. Math and Mindset

Participants will be encouraged to develop a growth mindset, they will see evidence of how mindset changes students’ learning trajectories, and learn how it can be developed. [Mindset is a key issue. Each student who grows up believing “I can’t do math” represents a failure of our math education system.]

3. Teaching Math for a Growth Mindset

This session will give strategies to teachers and parents for helping students develop a growth mindset and will include an interview with Carol Dweck. [Information about Professor Dweck is available at https://www.stanford.edu/dept/psychology/cgi-bin/drupalm/cdweck.]

4. Mistakes, Challenges & Persistence

What is math persistence? Why are mistakes so important? How is math linked to creativity? This session will focus on the importance of mistakes, struggles, and persistence. [I believe one of the more important things a student can learn about problem solving in math and other disciplines is the need for creativity and persistence. See http://iae-pedia.org/Problem_Solving.]

5. Conceptual Learning. Part I. Number Sense

Math is a conceptual subject—we will see evidence of the importance of conceptual thinking and participants will be given number problems that can be solved in many ways and represented visually. [Learn more about conceptual thinking at http://psychology.wikia.com/wiki/Conceptual_thinking.]

6. Conceptual Learning. Part II. Connections, Representations, Questions

In this session we will look at and solve math problems at many different grade levels and see the difference in approaching them procedurally and conceptually. Interviews with successful users of math in different, interesting jobs (film maker, inventor of self-driving cars, etc.) will show the importance of conceptual math. [Math is a routine part of our lives and is an important component of many different disciplines. See http://iae-pedia.org/Math_Maturity.]

7. Appreciating Algebra

Participants will be asked to engage in problems illustrating the beautiful simplicity of a subject with which they may have had terrible experiences. [Algebra is often called “the language of mathematics.” Mastery of a language includes learning to think and communicate in the language. See http://iae-pedia.org/Communicating_in_the_Language_of_Mathematics.]

8. Going From This Course to a New Mathematical Future

This session will review where you are, what you can do and the strategies you can use to be really successful.

Final Remarks

You are probably familiar with Marshall McLuhan’s statement, “The medium is the message.” Part of the message of Jo Boaler’s course is that it is now possible to do effective math education staff development using an online medium.

What You Can Do

Take advantage of this excellent, free opportunity. If you teach math at any K-12 level, this course provides a great chance to gain experience in online education. Parents can benefit from her suggestions for working with their children. The course will also provide you with the opportunity to gain insight into the mind and work of Jo Boaler, one of the world’s leading math educators. See short video presentations by Jo Boaler at http://nrich.maths.org/7013 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ien-86bXCrI.

You know that computer-assisted learning of math content and using computers to help solve math problems are two more components of the online medium. For ideas on using computers and other instructional technology in your teaching see http://iae-pedia.org/Computational_Thinking.


Follow-up Information

Here is information about a new version of the course that will be offered:

Last summer I taught a course online that communicated the latest research on the brain, and the learning of math through 8 interactive sessions. The course was really successful; 40,000 teachers ands parents took it. At the end 93% of people said they were "very" or "extremely" satisfied and 95% said they would change their teaching or ways of helping their own children as a result. The course is for elementary, middle and high school teachers and anyone helping students learn math. It helps teachers prepare for the Common Core and parents know how to help their students learn and love math.
The course is now being re-released and is open for registration here:

This time there is a fee of $125 for the course (the course is very expensive to produce). I am hoping that districts will pay this for their teachers. Last summer many districts gave their teachers professional development credit if they completed the course, resulting in salary advancement.

Suggested Readings from IAE and Other Publications

You can use Google to search all of the IAE publications. Click here to begin. Then click in the IAE Search box that is provided, insert your search terms, and click on the Search button.

Click here to search the entire collection of IAE Blog entries.

Here are some examples of publications that might interest you.

Communication in the langauge of mathematics. See http://iae-pedia.org/Communicating_in_the_Language_of_Mathematics.

Free math education materials. See http://iae-pedia.org/Free_Math_Education_Materials.

Free math software. See http://iae-pedia.org/Free_Math_Software.

Mathematics and visual thinking. See http://iae-pedia.org/Mathematics_and_Visual_Thinking.

Two brains are better than one. See http://iae-pedia.org/Two_Brains_Are_Better_Than_One.