
Re: Liping Ma
Posted:
Jul 21, 2000 1:20 PM


Thanks, Carol. Well done and very helpful.
Wayne. 
At 01:42 PM 7/20/00 0700, Carol Fry Bohlin wrote: >>At 09:33 PM 7/15/00 0400, Michael Paul Goldenberg wrote: >> >>>Since I'm seeing Liping Ma on Wednesday, loaded with questions >>>for her, and since I'm now nearly done with her book, ... >> >>Report please? Thanks in advance. >> >>Wayne. > >Hi, AllA few folks who have read my informal report of Liping Ma's >visit to Fresno last week have asked me to share it on this listserv >as well as the NCSM list. I've hesitated a bit since it is a rather >informal report & because it hasn't been edited by Liping for 100% >accuracy (although I do take pretty decent notes and we do have a >backup videotape for verification :) . With those caveats, I offer >my recollection of Liping's visit! > >July 12, 2000 > >This afternoon, Liping Ma provided a 3hour presentation for the San >Joaquin Valley Mathematics Project's Summer Institute in Oakhurst and >then participated in a dinner/presentation for 3 hours tonight in >Fresno. She was a big hit at both places! The Fresno County Office of >Education and SJVMP sponsored the events. We all found Liping to be >very friendly, personable, interesting, and knowledgeable. (She >expressed great interest in returning to the institute next year, >with a side trip to Yosemite with her family.) > >Liping described the research in her book to the folks tonight, >answered questions, and autographed books (she was provided earlier >with 100 book plates to sign, so each person in attendance received >one). She's under contract with Education Partners to write >elementary math curriculum. She's not interested in writing anything >for teachers now, believing that if she writes elementary curricula >(books) with excellent math content, teachers will learn from >teaching out of the books. She believes the evidence shows that in >China teachers learn math by teaching it (doesn't happen in the US, >where beginning teachers have the same math knowledge as seasoned >teachers; she thinks it's because of the textbooks). Someone asked >about the books from Singapore that have been translated into >Englishwhether these were good to use. She said she thinks it's a >mistake to translate/use these or other books (from other countries) >because the cultures are so very different and "this aspect really >matters." > >She did say at the beginning of the discussion of her book that "my >research is not a strict comparative study" (she wasn't sure if she >interviewed the "best" US teachers, whereas she tried to get some >excellent teachersin fact, a range of teachersfor her Chinese >interviews). Deborah Ball had already interviewed the US teachers >with the same 4 questions/scenarios that Liping used for her study >with Chinese teachers. > >Ma's book shows that students are given lots of opportunities to >develop number sense (she didn't use that term)decomposing numbers >readily and solving arithmetic problems in multiple ways. She said >that many weeks are spent in first grade on the numbers 1 to 10. The >students spend several days working with just one number (how to >compose the number, how to write it, etc.). In China, they believe >that if you learn the concept WELL the first time, you can pick up >speed with other concepts later. They teach addition and subtraction >together, and multiplication and division together. Students learn >their 25 multiplication tables during the latter half of first grade >(cutoff date for being 6 years old and entering first grade is in >Sept., not Dec. like in California.). Teachers believe that learning >the multiplication tables helps the children to understand better the >numbers through 100. > >She reiterated that future elementary teachers don't go beyond 12th >grade themselvesmany start teaching when teenagers. (It's a matter >of finances.) They don't understand very high level math, but they >understand the math that they teach very deeply (conceptually), as >evidenced in her book. Their explanations are quite sophisticated. >She believes that K6 teachers don't need upper level math courses >like calculus, but need to focus more on studying elementary >mathematics concepts. > >She was asked what she thought of algebra in the 8th grade. She >laughed and said that students in China take it in 7th grade and >think it is easier than arithmetic. "If you learn arithmetic well, >algebra is easy." > >If a student does not master a concept during school hours (and in a >typical class of 60, that isn't rare!), he or she would stay after >school to work on the concept. Discipline problems are not rampant; >the rare disobedient student is sent out of class to the >officeparents always support the teachers. > >Someone asked about calculator use. She said that there's no strict >policy on calculator use in China, but they don't teach how to use >calculators in grades 14. They don't say "you cannot use them," >though; students have the option. In fact, she said her 7yearold >son has learned a lot of math by playing around with a >calculatorthe latest thing he has learned is negative numbers. (Her >16yearold daughter confirmed that she didn't teach him about them.) > >In the cities (in China), math teachers only teach 16 periods of math >each week (they have 4 hours per day free to plan lessons, grade >papers, etc.). In rural areas, they would teach more subjects. > >To get moved up on the pay scale in China, you need to give public >lessons and publish something (like a lesson). It didn't sound like >they had as organized a collection of "lesson study" lessons as in >Japan. > >I asked about pendulum swingsI imagined that they didn't experience >them as much in China as we do here. She said that China is very >conservative and careful about changethey have adopted many new >ideas that they learned in the U.S. (e.g., group work, >studentcentered classes, manipulatives, etc.), but they didn't throw >away the old when they did. In fact, they keep the same textbook for >at least 10 years. In Japan, it's 20 years. However, the philosophy >and structure are much the same revision to revision. (And, of >course, you can hold the entire elementary curriculum in one hand.) > >It was a great evening! (After New Jersey next week, she's heading >home for a welldeserved break!) > >Carol >7/12/00 > >***************** >Carol Fry Bohlin >California State University, Fresno > > >

