Other Journal Articles

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This page is for my responses to the other journal articles I am to read.

-- Anonymous, January 26, 1999


Other Journal Article I

For my other journal article I read an article written by Marilyn Burns in the Mathematics Teacher journal. She addressed the validity of timed tests as a method of assessing children on the knowledge of their basic math facts. I choose this article in particular after having a conversation with a former classroom parent and teacher.

Marilyn Burns suggests in this article that timed tests do not support the idea of using numbers to problem solve. Instead, she says that the idea of timed tests create a negative attitude toward math in the students and reinforce wrong practices for solving the problems because of the time pressure. She also believes that timed tests are not an accurate measurement of a childs understanding. Here she cites research done by the National Assessment of Educational Progresss. They both feel that it is far more important to use math skills in problem-solving situations and timed tests do not promote this type of learning. Finally, she states that mathematical prowess has nothing to do with timed tests and more to do with analyzing situations and using numbers to solve problems.

I agree with Marilyn Burns on this subject for two reasons. In school I remember taking timed tests and the fear that I had for those tests. Timed tests did cause me to have a negative attitude toward math and particularly toward myself. These tests are not very good confidence boosters. As I recently spoke to a former parent she related to me how her child hated third grade math because of the timed tests. He thought he was too stupid to do them. This really got me thinking especially when I remember him in my class as always loving school and having some great ideas for solving problems. I myself have occasionally had my students do timed tests in basic math facts and I have not seen that I was a great motivator or teaching method for teaching basic math skills.

-- Anonymous, January 26, 1999

I agree wholeheartedly on your response to time math tests. I agree that they don't have much impact on a students learning. When I was in the classroom we had to have timed tests on multiplication tables everyday. I thought it was a waste of my math time. For children who know there facts they pass easily and go on, but for those that don't they are easily frustrated to the point of them not doing them at all or writing in wrong answers.

I would have prefered to do math timings once or twice a month, and the students who were behind would get one-on-one or small group instruction. It would be a more positive approach to helping children learn their math facts.

-- Anonymous, February 01, 1999

Other Journal Article 3: Choosing Success by Sam Stringfield, American Educator, Fall 1998

Reviewed by Heidi Mlynarczyk

This article talked about how to carefully choose curriculum programs for your school district. The author states that this decision is an important and complicated consumer decision. There are three important questions to be considered according to the author; first are the goals and objectives of the program in line with the goals and objectives of your school, second how strong is the research supporting claims of success, and third is the plan practical for you district given financial and time considerations. When considering these three questions the author went on to grade programs according to a criteria he felt important. An A-level program would follow this criteria; - a number of studies of the programs effectiveness, - detailed information about the kinds of students the program is designed to serve, - studies that include carefully matched control groups, - the indicators of success are related to what the program promised to deliver, - at least two or more years in duration, - proof that the program schools produced educationally significant student gains in target areas, - a number of case studies, - an even-handed article written by a third party, - the designers must be willing to provide a full list of participating schools, names, addresses, and phone numbers, paying particular attention to schools like your own.

B-level and C-level programs follow the some of the same guidelines with less rigor. All of this should be followed up on before making any decisions on what type of program your school or district should consider.

I found the information in this article very informative and interesting. It will be helpful to me in the future to know this information when I am considering any new materials for the district. I am currently on the social studies curriculum committee and I know we did not consider all of the things laid out in this article but given our time constraints we did the best we could. However, our best may not be good enough. I think we need to leave more time for this type of investigation. On our committee we spent most of the time rewriting the outcomes and very little time looking into the types of programs available. We need to spend more time on the later issue, after all we only get new texts once every few years.

-- Anonymous, April 27, 1999

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