Orlando Meetings: Presentation Summary

Back to Orlando: Pre-Service Teacher Ed

This is the summary of a presentation given at the Joint Mathematics Meetings, January 10-13, 1996, Orlando, Florida.

Changing the mathematics courses for elementary teachers:
Examples, suggestions and insights

At the University of Kansas, preservice elementary teachers take a 2-course sequence of 6 semester hours in the Department of Mathematics. The first course focuses on number systems and algebra; the second focuses on geometry, probability, and statistics. Particular features of the course that promote active learning are a weekly 2-hour lab, group problem solving, and writing activities. In the lab, taught by an elementary teacher from the local school district, students have hands-on experience with different manipulatives used as models for mathematical concepts and as tools for exploring mathematical ideas. Such experiences engage students in new ways to look at concepts and serve to strengthen conceptual and procedural understanding by helping students develop links between concrete models sad abstract concepts. Students have said that work with manipulatives in the lab helps them see a different view of mathematics, often one different from what they experienced themselves. Problem solving is usually conducted weekly in small group settings during the lecture time. The experiences are designed to improve students' confidence in their problem-solving skills and to broaden their experiences with different types of problems, including many which have more than one correct solution and solution strategy Students engage in writing activities and projects in both the lecture and the lab. Some projects are completed individually while others are extended group problem-solving activities. These experiences serve to broaden students' ideas of assessment by giving them experiences with a variety of ways to assess mathematical knowledge and to allow them to express their own knowledge of mathematics in various ways.

Dr. Susan Gay
Department of Mathematics
405 Snow Hall
University of Kansas
Lawrence, KS 66045

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