Reading group [#algorithmchat]

The article, “Standard Algorithms in the Common Core State Standards” by Karen Fuson and Sybilla Beckmann, published in the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics journal last fall, was recommended to me this weekend.

It’s a weighty one, and relevant to conversations we have had on blogs and on Twitter in recent months, so I didn’t want to read it alone. I asked who was in for a reading group and got quite a few responses.

The article is available through Beckmann’s website (scroll way down to the “Some Other Papers” heading).

I have no experience organizing this sort of thing, but it seems that a hashtag is appropriate. I have investigated the matter and #algorithmchat is both clear on Twitter and communicates at least part of our purpose.

I considered trying to organize synchronous discussion, but it seemed too controlling and impossible to establish. So I vote we discuss by hashtag on Twitter. Anyone who ends up being moved to go long form can include include the #algorithmchat hashtag in a tweet to their post.

I have not read the article yet. It was passed along to me  by a colleague with whom I was  leading a professional development session. She really appreciated the comprehensive nature of the piece (again—it’s a long one).

I have respect for the work of both authors. Fuson’s clear research-based descriptions of what children have to do in order to understand “number” has been very helpful in the work I do with elementary teachers, and I used Beckmann’s Math for Elementary Teachers book for a few years in my courses, where I found it to be the best of the available formal textbooks for these courses. I no longer use a textbook for these courses, but if I needed to, I’d go back to hers for sure. I met Beckmann at a conference a few years ago and I found her thoughtful and open to conversations about learning (not always the case in mathematicians writing textbooks, I have found).

It will probably be midweek before I can carve out time to read the piece and weigh in. In the meantime, I encourage you all to dig in as you are able, say ‘hi’ on Twitter and pass along your longer tidbits in the form of blog posts, and (if you are so inclined) interpretive dance.

Oh, and invite your friends, relatives and enemies to the party. This will be fun.


5 responses to “Reading group [#algorithmchat]

  1. I don’t know that I’ll have time to participate, but thanks for encouraging longer-form writing outside of Twitter. I find Twitter very frustrating for having multi-person conversations around big ideas, but I might try to sneak in a blog post if I get a chance to read the article.

  2. Wow! Thanks for organizing this. It’s such an important topic!

  3. Compelling read. All of it is worth reading, but really enjoyed this:

    It is easier to carry out the single-digit additions with Method E because you just add the two larger numbers you see and then increase that total by 1, which is waiting below. In Method G, students who add the two numbers in the original problem often forget to add the 1 on the
    top. Many teachers emphasize that they should add the 1 to the top number, remember that number and ignore the number they just used, and add the mental number to the other number they see. This is more difficult than adding the two numbers you see and then adding 1.

    In other words, adding, say, (1 + 6) + 3 is more challenging than (6 + 3) + 1.

  4. Man. Christopher thanks for introducing us (maybe just me?) to Sybilla Beckmann. She’s awesome.

    The paper “Solving Algebra and Other Story Problems with Simple Diagrams: a Method Demonstrated in Grade 4–6 Texts Used in Singapore” has one of the most elegant, simple representations of an algebra problem I’ve ever seen. Beckmann’s commentary on it is accessible and well worth a read.

    For those interested, go to Figure 6 on page 45.

    I agree with Raymond and Margaret: Setting up a reading group is a great idea.

  5. Pingback: Wrapping up the [#algorithmchat] | Overthinking my teaching

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