One Point of View: Elementary School Mathematics Specialists: Where Are They?

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  • One Point of View: Elementary School Mathematics Specialists: Where Are They?Author(s): John A. DosseySource: The Arithmetic Teacher, Vol. 32, No. 3 (November 1984), pp. 3, 50Published by: National Council of Teachers of MathematicsStable URL: .Accessed: 12/06/2014 22:34

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  • One Point OF X7GCD

    Elementary School Mathematics Specialists:

    Where Are They? By John A. Dossey

    Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61761

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    1984 The multitude of national reports

    calling for the upgrading of the school cirriculum has once again brought the focus of educational reform on mathe- matics. The source materials for Edu- cating Americans for the 21 st Century (1983) contain the suggestion that school systems "reassign interested teachers at the 4-6 grade level to become specialists at teaching mathe- matics. ..." This call for mathemat- ics resource teachers at the elemen- tary school level is not new. However, it is an idea that has not received the attention it warrants.

    The NCTM Board of Directors sup- ported this need in 1981 by recom- mending to state certification agencies that they make "provision for a math- ematics specialist endorsement on teaching credentials for elementary teachers." The reaction of the certifi- cation boards to the suggestion was not encouraging. Many indicated that they had not considered such en- dorsements, whereas others said that the use of specialists at the K-6 level was inappropriate. Thus, if mathemat- ics specialists are to be employed and recognized in our nation's schools, the mathematics and mathematics education community must speak out now with a loud voice to schools, teacher education institutions, and state agencies on the merits of, and need for, such teachers. To ignore this need or delay its implementation to higher levels of schooling misses the critical foundations developed in mathematics in these grade levels.

    Most educators acknowledge the role that elementary school mathe- matics resource teachers can play in a

    November 1984

    departmentalized teaching setting at the intermediate level, but few consid- er the other forms of support such specialists can provide for a school system's total mathematics program. These other roles include the follow- ing: Serving as a "visiting teacher of

    mathematics" in self-contained pri- mary level classrooms. This use of specialists serves several purposes. It provides for the expert handling of difficult topics and for the systematic introduction of special district-wide programs, such as computer literacy. It allows the regular classroom teach- er both to see the use of new methods and materials in the classroom and to receive in-service suggestions on their effective use from the visiting mathe- matics teacher. Giving assistance in the diagnosis

    and remediation of difficulties in learning mathematics. The mathemat- ics specialist can assist in the evalua- tion of students' difficulties and in the design of programs to meet identified needs. The classroom teacher is thereby allowed more time to focus on delivering the instruction required. Educators have consistently used spe- cialists in the area of reading; why has mathematics been ignored? Developing and delivering special

    programs in mathematics for gifted students. If sufficient numbers of mathematically gifted students exist in a given school or school district, the elementary school mathematics specialist can offer special accelerated classes for them. If not, the specialist can work with students individually,

    designing and delivering the best pos- sible program of acceleration and en- richment. Serving as the coordinator of the

    elementary school mathematics cur- riculum for a school or school district. In such a role, the mathematics spe- cialist can direct and monitor the goal- setting process, arrange and conduct necessary in-service training for teachers, coordinate the acquisition and use of needed curricular materials in mathematics, and supervise and suggest improvements in mathematics instruction in the classroom.

    These are but a few of the ways in which elementary school mathematics specialists can help our mathematics programs at the K-6 level. These rec- ommendations require changes in cur- rent school staffing patterns - changes that must not be delayed any longer if American schools are expected to prepare their students to face the mathematical demands of the twenty- first century.

    Teacher education programs in mathematics must enlarge their con- tent and offerings in mathematical methods if elementary school teach- ers are to meet the needs outlined in the national reports. These changes will require work in dealing with stu- dents having special needs at both ends of the aptitude continuum, in teaching and evaluating problem solv- ing in mathematics, and in integrating and using new forms of mathematics and technology in the curriculum. State legislative commissions and teacher certification agencies must re-

    (Continued on page 50)


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    (Continued from page 3)

    quire increased levels of mathematical competence and preparation from all prospective teachers preparing to en- ter the elementary school classroom, while establishing new endorsements for those desiring to become mathe- matics specialists.

    These changes require a total com- mitment from the mathematics and mathematics education community. Will you do your part in bringing mathematics specialists to our ele- mentary school classrooms? w

    Authors Sought The Editorial Panel of the Arithmetic

    Teacher is seeking prospective authors or editors for "Computer Corner." Au- thors will be asked to submit three manu- scripts for review by 15 January 1985. For detailed information, write to the managing editor, Arithmetic Teacher, 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 22091.

    Correction In "Teaching Rational Number Division: A

    Special Problem" (February 1984), by Paul Trafton and Judith S. Zawojewski, the section beginning on page 21, "Teaching division by a whole number," was printed incorrectly. The proper order follows. This section should have begun after the last full paragraph in the second column on page 21. The Editorial Panel very much regrets this error.

    Teaching division by a whole number

    For students to find mathematics meaningful, time must be spent in making sense of the work. Three brief activities can be used to help stu- dents see the plausibility of a rule.

    Stages of work

    Two main types of examples are included:

    Dividing by a whole number

    6)25.32 Dividing by a decimal


    This work should be divided into two or three stages, perhaps over two years so that students can deal with a few conditions at a time. Also, the level of computation should be reasonable in the beginning so that students can focus on the decimal aspects of the work.

    Stage 1 : Divide by whole numbers (terminating quotients)

    This stage needs careful attention to specific sources of difficulty.


    1 . Recognizing when the quotient is less than 1 .

    0.86 6)5.28

    5 + 6 is less than 1 .

    2. Inserting zeros in the quotient. 0.043


    3. Annexing zeros to the dividend

    5.8 4)23.40

    Stage 2: Divide by decimals (terminating quotients)

    In this stage, the rule for moving the decimal point is developed, and attention is given to the three situations in stage 1 .

    Stage 3: Rounding quotients

    In most examples the division does not termi- nate. To find


    to the nearest hundredth, the division is carried out to thousandths and the quotient rounded. The quotient is an approximation. Nontermin- ating quotients can be treated in both stages, or they can be the final item in division. Also, students should reexamine the treatment of remainders for whole-number divisors and changes from fractions to decimals.

    1 . Model the work once or twice with base-ten blocks (fig. 4).

    2. Use estimation to determine sensible an- swers. a) Choose the sensible answer.


    About 2 About 20 About 200

    b) Place the decimal point so that the quo- tient is sensible.

    12.54 - 3 = 417

    3. Check division using multiplication. 2.38


    factor factor product 3 x 2.38 = 7.14,

    so product factor factor 7.14 + 3 2.38.

    Yours for the Asking

    The Council's financial report for fis- cal year 1983-84 and the minutes of the 1984 Annual Business Meeting in San Francisco are available on request from Dept. E at the Headquarters Office.

    Arithmetic Teacher

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    63d ANNUAL MEETING San Antonio, Texas 17-20 April 1985

    WINNIPEG CONFERENCE SAN DIEGO CONFERENCE Winnipeg, Manitoba San Diego, California I '| |/^^'| II ' / 18-20 October 1984 31 January-2 February 1985 U | '/ MEMPHIS CONFERENCE CEDAR RAPIDS CONFERENCE r^4w Memphis, Tennessee Cedar Rapids, Iowa ' .J^^kLj 1-3 November 1984 14-16 February 1985 E^^wvf ^^ BILOXI CONFERENCE YAKIMA CONFERENCE

    E^^wvf ^ ^^ ~ - Biloxi, Mississippi Yakima, Washington '--'^^ li" 8-10 November 1984 14-16 March 1985

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    T'ilsa, Oklahoma Parsippany, New Jersey 8-10 November 1984 21-23 March 1985

    A regional listing of "Professional Dates" is yours free for the asking from the NCTM. Complete program booklets for NCTM conventions, conferences, and seminars are available on request three months before each meeting.

    NATIONAL COUNCIL OF TEACHERS OF MATHEMATICS, 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 22091

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    Article Contentsp. 3p. 50

    Issue Table of ContentsThe Arithmetic Teacher, Vol. 32, No. 3 (November 1984), pp. 1-60Front MatterOne Point of View: Elementary School Mathematics Specialists: Where Are They? [pp. 3, 50]Readers' Dialogue [pp. 4, 44]Let's Do ItThe Power of 10 [pp. 6-11]

    Research ReportAttitudes toward Mathematics [pp. 12-12]

    Children's Difficulties in Subtraction: Some Causes and Cures [pp. 14-19]Uncovering the Algorithms [pp. 20-20]Mainstreaming and the Mathematics Classroom [pp. 22-27]Ideas [pp. 28-32]What's Going On [pp. 33-33]Report on Primary School Mathematics Education in the People's Republic [pp. 34-37]Computer Sorting with Kids [pp. 40-43]Problem Solving: Tips For Teachers [pp. 46-47]Computer Corner [pp. 48-49]Correction: Teaching Rational Number Division A Special Problem [pp. 50-50]Reviewing and ViewingComputer MaterialsReview: untitled [pp. 52-52]Review: untitled [pp. 52-53]Review: untitled [pp. 53-53]Review: untitled [pp. 53-53]Review: untitled [pp. 53-54]Review: untitled [pp. 54-54]

    New Books for PupilsReview: untitled [pp. 54-54]Review: untitled [pp. 54-54]

    New Books for TeachersFrom NCTMReview: untitled [pp. 54-55]

    From Other PublishersReview: untitled [pp. 55-55]Review: untitled [pp. 55-55]

    EtceteraReview: untitled [pp. 55-55]Review: untitled [pp. 55-56]

    Officers, Directors, Committees, Representatives, and Executive Staff (1984-85) [pp. 58-60]Back Matter


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