Building strong math communities.
Building strong math communities.
Research shows that professional development has the most impact when it is done regularly with teachers in their own classrooms. I enjoy supporting teachers as they build their skills using the Bridges Math Program.
Building Math Proficiency
Teachers benefit from fine-tuning their own mathematical skill as well as thinking deeply about their teaching practice. Whether you are using Bridges or another math program, I can help your teachers build their math teaching skills.
Parent Math Events
Parents benefit from learning how math is taught in the 21st century Classroom. This knowledge empowers them to support their children and it develops a stronger home-school connection.
I lead workshops for parents of students in grades PreK-5th grade. These workshops consist of one night of background information for parents and then one afternoon spent with parent/child teams engaging in math activities with the support of a math consultant. Please visit our website for more information: www.buildingunderstandingmathworkshops.com
My first passion was teaching social studies. I grew up in San Francisco, a city full of Gold Rush history, and spent a lot of time in Boston, a city full of colonial history. My mind was full of stories from these cities and I loved teaching students about the history around them. It was so fun to take them on field trips and have them touch a wall that is 300 years old or stand on the sidewalk, knowing that ship is buried just below.
I still love teaching social studies but I experienced an epiphany one afternoon when Peggy McLean, math specialist, was teaching my second grade class about square numbers. She had the students building square numbers using math blocks. I knew that three squared was equal to nine but I had never seen anyone build a three-by-three square out of blocks and show that that was the visual model of three squared. I nearly fell over when she explained that square numbers are so named because they make a square shape. How could I have made it through college math without knowing this? I thought someone just decided to call it “squared.” I didn’t know there was a reason for it. I wondered what other math secrets were out there that I didn’t know. It was then that I became a convert to the visual math philosophy. I believe that students learn best when they build visual models of the math concepts they are studying. (This is also part of the new common core standards for math.) These models provide access to math concepts in a way that makes sense to students. There is no confusion with memorizing meaningless procedures. Math makes sense when one can visually see what is happening. I also believe that students learn mathematics best when engaged in discussion with others about what they have learned and discovered. Through these discussions students explore their own viewpoints and consider the viewpoints of others. Disequilibrium is essential to the process. When students encounter new ideas or new ways of thinking about old ideas they will deepen their own understanding. Even adults, who have learned math in a different way, will have their own “aha” moments when exploring math using a visual math philosophy. Most will say, “I would have been so good at math if I had learned this way.” My current passion is teaching children and adults math in ways that make it fun and meaningful.
Understanding Independent School Parents
written by Alison Fox Mazzola and Michael Thompson
published by Wise Teacher Press, February 2010, published by NAIS, September 2004
“My Inquiry Journey: A Field Guide for Learners” October 2009
Published in Knowledge Quest
“San Francisco From the Ground Up: Second Grade Cities”
Published in The Nueva Journal
Parent Presentations at Various Bay Area Schools 2010-Present
Presenter at California Mathematics Council Conference 2010-2014