November 21, 2009
Mercer County Community College

    This was not an ordinary math meeting -- not an ordinary day of committee work either. This was not a just a forum, and not just a day of training.

    This was the "Beginning of a project" to

  • Create common understanding on the training of teachers of the pre-K, elementary, middle, and high schools of New Jersey.
  • Facilitate a seamless transfer for those undergraduates who desire to become teachers and must transfer from a county college to a 4-year institutions. [About half of all 4-year NJ college students transfer from a 2-year college.]

    In July of 2009, Sharon Sherman, Maria DeLucia, and Yvonne Greenbaun testified before the US Congress on the higher ed education status in NJ. Each of these doers is also a shaker and they returned with a desire for revision and a committment to working towards it.

    Pat Donohue, President of Mercer County Community College was crutial to that vision.

    Dr. Donohue hosted the day - with meeting space and food and equipment and staff. A math person by training, Dr. Donohue helped set this project on a solid footing. She also remained a part of the group for the entire day.

    MCCC Academic VP Donald Generals provided the greeting, but Pat Donohue made this first step a reality.

"Within Our Grasp: Developing Deep Understanding of Mathematics for Teaching"

    Using Heather C. Hill's Assessing Teachers' Mathematical Knowledge: What Knowledge Matters and What Evidence Counts? as a starting point, Janet Caldwell requested all to determine then discuss answers to a multiple choice test she uses with her preservice teachers.

    All teachers need to know:
  • how math is used.
  • mathematical communication & thinking skills.
  • logical and quantitative reasoning skills.
  • math used outside of the math classroom.
    They need:
  • motivation,
  • knowledge,
  • career-long professional development.

        Janet also stated and illustrated NJ requiements for teaching math at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. See

    Breakout Sessions on Preparation for PreService Elementary, Middle, and High School Teachers
    Jay Schifman,
    Nancy Schultz,
    Bonnie Gold,
    Sharon Sherman,,& Cathy Liebars lead breakouts.

        In the high school breakout session lead by Bonnie and Jay, both the curriculum for the secondary ed preservice teacher and other issues were discussed.

      Jay reported on an NCTM session's research results:
    • There is a 1% retention of material rate if material is presented in straight lecture format.
    • There is an 83% retention of material rate if material is presented in learner centered format -- discovery, group work.
      He spoke of ensuring that a curriculum encouraged a student to:
    • analyze
    • synthesize
    • conjecture
    • prove or refute
      He said "All courses ideally will encompass the four c's:
    • conceptualize
    • contextualize
    • constructivism
    • computational proficiency including the use of calculators and computers in a friendly, noncrutch, environment.
      Jay presented a kind of "wish list" of conceputal ideas a preservice teacher should have:
    • The concept of funtion ...
    • Knowledge of the properties of real numbers (precalculus, structure of mathematics , ...)
      Bonnie spoke of:
    • the inclusion of 3 gateway exams which permitted supervised growth rather than immediate failure.
    • a substantial faculty office hours support system.
    • This super support system has increased the number of math ed majors from 57 to 140!
    • "We don't flunk them out, we nurture them."

    TEACHER EDUCATION IN MATHEMATICS: Preventing Present Storms And Perfect Storms

        With many stories and examples Frank Gardella pointed out things "we" are doing wrong. He suggested / commented:

    See Frank's power point.

    Reporting, Discussion, Assignments, Next Steps

          The meeting of the whole which followed Frank's words began with reports on breakout session work. We then made progress on "the project," gained insight into obstacles, and agreed to some next steps.

    • County college administration is reluctant to introduce new courses.
    • County college administration will not approve a course unless it can transfer to "four-year institutions."
    • A one-course or two-course program taken at a two-year could decrease the time it takes to graduate from the four-year once transfer is complete.
    • See Yvonne A. Greenbaun's periodically updated Do Mercer's Math Courses Transfer? A Guide.
    • Participants aggreed to produce a wish list of things the preservice teacher should know or things one might "fix" as a vehicle for discussion on two-year coursework.
    • Enter your wish list by email or web page.
    • New Jersey City University? has funds to host a web site for the project.
    • No next meeting date has been set.
    toright mantoleft
    sharon cathypassaic felecian toleft
    maria union2 toleft
    nancy+ toleft

    Organizing Committee:
          Sharon Sherman, Dean of Education, Rider University
          Maria DeLucia Chair, Mathematics Department, Middlesex County College
          Cathy Liebars, Associate Professor and Math Education Coordinator, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, The College of New Jersey
          Reggie Luke, Dean, Division of Science and Health Technologies, Middlesex County College
          Darlene Yoseloff, Director, Office of School Relations, Middlesex County College
          Steven Barnhart, Chair, History and Social Science, Middlesex County College
          Edith Silver, Mercer County Community College
          Yvonne Greenbaun, Mathematics Department, Mercer County Community College

    © 2009, A. Azzolino
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