Friday, October 3, 2014

Jo Boaler Math Talk @ Presidio Middle School SF 10/2/14

Jo Boaler spoke to an audience of parents about the shift to Common Core and about fixed versus growth mindsets. She is a Stanford professor and founded the website which has a wealth of information and resources for teachers, parents, and students. I have taken her online MOOC and students can take her course for free via the web site. Coincidentally, I have also already read her great book, What's Math Got to Do with It?

She spoke at length of mistakes creating brain synapses and the brain's plasticity which lends itself to an amazing ability to learn.

Fortune 500 companies don't value computation skills anymore, problem solving and teamwork lead the list. Interpersonal skills (modeling and teaching etiquette, tact, and behavior anyone?) and of course oral communication is up there.

Research to back Common Core principles.

Mothers: take this advice. Even if you are terrible at math, HIDE it. Encourage your child.

Do's and don'ts for how parents can help their kids at home.

OK, if you can't get them off their smartphone, at least get them these apps.

Featured on BBC Radio 4 along with Sal Khan, though she doesn't recommend Khan ever to be used in classroom, which I agree with. Class time is VALUABLE time to be used for collaboration, synthesis, low floor high cieling problems. Link to her interview.

And finally, SF board of supervisors voted to detrack middle school classes. Acceleration point is in students' junior year of high school where they can compress 2 classes or they can continue their path and take AP Stats in their senior year.

At my school I am teaching one section of 32 students Math 7 and 8 curriculum this year and finishing Math 8 and CC Algebra next year. I am following CPM's 3 years in 2 compression guide.

I had a great time hearing her speak. I honestly believe the CPM curriculum backs a lot of the core values she talks about but there is no perfect curriculum. She mentioned that the best teachers use a variety of resources to introduce multidimensional math to students.


  1. Jo is awesome. I started math talks with my students after hearing her speak at CMC-South a year ago. Thanks for the recap, Marty.

  2. I have been reading about Kahn's Growth Mindset and Sir Ken Robinson and many others (Edutopia, Ted Talks) and trying to bring discussion elements into my teaching that will empower students to take a direction in their education, set goals, make mistakes (b/c you learn so much from the process), take creative risks, and see learning as a process not an outcome. I hope we can make this message a school wide effort and all look for ways to have a growth mindset. It is a great outlook.