ED 220: Changing Pedagogies in Math and Science Education


Fall 2011 7:00-10:00pm Tuesdays, 

Rm. 336  Park Science Building, Bryn Mawr College




Victor Donnay, Professor of Mathematics, Bryn Mawr College, Office: Park 330             

Phone: 610-526-5352,                        vdonnay@brynmawr.edu                                          


Anne Bradley, Course Placement Coordinator,           abradley@brynmawr.edu


Allison Letts, Course Technology Advisor,                 allisonhletts@gmail.com


GoogleDocs system: we will use googledocs for the materials in our course. Please fill

in this survey to give Allison your email address so she can add you to our googledocs folder.  


Description: This praxis course will examine research-based approaches to teaching mathematics and science. What does research tell us about how people learn? How can one translate this learning theory into teaching approaches that will help all students learn mathematics and science?  How are these new approaches, that often involve active, hands-on, inquiry based learning, being implemented in the classroom?  What challenges arise when one tries to bring about these types of changes in education? What is the regional, state, national and international context for math and science education? How do issues of equity, discrimination, and social justice impact math and science education?


The course will meet once a week (Tuesday 7-10pm, Rm 336 Park Science Building). During the weekly meeting, there will be a variety of activities including:

§  presentations by visiting educators who will discussion their experiences in education and educational change and related issues. These sessions will provide the theoretical framework to help students understand their praxis experiences.

§  discussions of weekly readings. Students in the course will take turns leading discussions and giving presentations.

§  reflection sessions in which students will make connections between the theoretical material they have been learning in class and their practical experiences in the field.

§  field journal sharing in which students report on their experiences in the field.

§  teaching self-study in which we examine the teaching strategies used in that week’s presentations and the associated successes and challenges.


The course will make extension use of GoogleDocs for our course materials, except for course readings which will be on the Blackboard. All students will need gmail accounts.


 The outline and timeline are tentative and subject to change as our course evolves.


Field Placement: Students in the course will each have a field placement with a local K-16 teacher who is engaged in some aspect of educational reform in math or science. The students will observe and assist their host teachers for a total of 4 - 6 hours per week, typically 2 visits per week, for a total of 8 weeks.


Objectives: Students will


*Ed 220 is not a ‘methods’ course in math/science education so the primary focus of the course is not on practicalities of day-to-day teaching.


Course Assignments: See following pages.



  Schedule: The course schedule with a list of topics, readings, assignments and discussion topics are outlined in the electronic Ed 220 course outline.  This schedule is tentative and subject to change.



15%       Attendance and participation in classroom activities

15%       Fulfillment of Praxis expectations: attendance, professional demeanor, fulfilling agreement with teacher.

30%       Class assignments

10%       Journal

30%       Final project


Class Structure: There will be a mixture of presentations on new material (including guest presenters), discussion of readings, and discussion of placement experiences and their link to material in the class as well as reflection on the teaching methods/choices that were used in the class. A continuous theme will be to link what we learn back to the basic principles of how people learn so we can develop an understanding of how to apply those principles.



Readings: There will be a variety of readings for the course: some from books, some from reports on the web. The readings will be available on the course Blackboard site (http://blackboard.brynmawr.edu/) as pdf files or accessible on the web.   There will also be hard copies of some of the reading on reserve at Collier Science Library and whenever possible a hard copy of the complete book from which the readings came.  Below are some of the materials that we will use.





Web Based Resources:

Education 220: Changing Pedagogies in Math and Science Education

Fall 2011



Overview of Course Assignments:


1.     There will be weekly readings. Students will be asked to write short responses (typically one page) to the readings in preparation for classroom discussion. This will be due by 8pm on Monday evening so that the discussion leaders will have time to look at them as they prepare. Each week, a different team of two students will lead the classroom discussion.


2.     Field Placements. A key component of the course will be a field placement with a local math or science teacher who is involved in some aspect of educational change. Students will be expected to visit their placement for 4 – 6 hours per week (typically two visits per week) for 8 weeks.  Students have found that the placement stimulated their thinking and helped them make sense of the concepts we discussed in class.


3.     Placement Journals: After each visit to your placement site, you should write about your experience in your own line journal. Your writing should have three components: 

a.     What?             What did you see? Description. No judgment. Observe and Describe. Do not interpret – might interfere with your really understanding what is going on.

b.     So what?        Questions, reflections, “I wonder why …”, connections to classroom – “here is an example of xxx that we talked about in class”.

c.      Now what?    What do you need to do to follow up on your observations? Talk to teacher/professor about something you wonder about? Review something from reading? Find something on the web?.


In addition to making posts about your placement, you will make one post per week commenting on another student’s journal. 


4.     Investigations: During the course of the semester, there will be several assignments in which you will investigate various educational  topics as they relate to your placement. Topics could include:

a.     School setting and environment. Describe the setting of your school and placement.

b.     Annual Yearly Progress (AYP). How is your school doing on the state standardized exams? 

c.      Educational Standards. What standards are being covered in the course at your placement? Give an example of a lesson from your placement and link it to the standards that it covers.

d.     Teaching techniques. What techniques do you see being used in your placement? Create a teaching artifact that makes use of a particular technique that relates to your placement.

e.     Teacher interview. Find out about your teacher’s background, thoughts on teaching and on the new approaches she/he is using.

f.      Technology. What type of technology is being used in your classroom? Find some technology related materials/resources that are relevant for your placement.

g.     Research articles. Read three articles related to your final project (see below) and prepare a brief presentation (poster?) on your findings.


5.     Leading class meetings. Students in the class will get practice teaching by taking turns leading class discussions and by giving presentations to the class on material related to the course. Potential topics that students will present include:

a.     Intro to PSSA and Annual Yearly Progress (AYP).

b.     State Standards in Math and Science

c.      Civic Engagement (Sencer), Service Learning, Problem Based Learning (PBL).

d.     Schools designed to teach using these hands-on approaches: High Tech High School and associated schools.  

e.     Marzano’s 12 most powerful teaching techniques.


6.     Joint Class Products:

a.     Teaching Techniques. Over the course of the semester, the class will jointly develop a web based site that lists a variety of teaching techniques, how and when the technique can be used and gives examples of the technique. The goal is to create a resource that you (and others) can use in their teaching.

b.     Technology Resources. Similarly, we will create a site/page giving web based/technology resources of relevance to your placement sites.


7.     Final Project (Due Last Day of Written Work):  Examine some topic of interest with reference to ideas/concepts from course. Demonstrate you have learned material from the course.  Should include research base. Possible topics include:

a.     Unit/Lesson Plan related to your placement. Ideally, this would be something your teacher could use in the classroom. You should discuss with your teacher what type of product/material would be helpful for her/his classroom.

b.      Analysis of the curriculum materials that are being used in your placement.

c.      A case study of your placement. Describe what you have observed in your classroom over the course of the semester. What theme has emerged?


Regardless of what topic you have chosen, you should ground your discussion in the various topics we have covered in the course. For example, if you make a lesson plan, you should explain the rational for the choices you have made in the lesson in terms of the concepts of the course.   The project is your opportunity to demonstrate that you have learned the material from our course. Your project should include a discussion of the research results related to your topic. Note that many of the investigations and other assignments during the term are aimed at preparing your for your final project and you can incorporate material from these assignments into your project.


Suggested length: 10 - 15 pages. This project will be part of your course portfolio (see below).


8.     Project Presentations. During exam week, we will meet at our regular class time and students will give short presentations about their projects.


9.     Course Portfolio (Due during Exam Period): Includes

a.     4 artifacts from the course. Each with 2 paragraph discussion. These items should address an inquiry/theme/issue you wish to explore from the course. Comments should include link/reference to materials from course. Why is your theme important?

b.     Look back over placement notes. Discuss in 2/3 pages – what theme/take away/message emerges from your notes.

c.      Bibliography. For at least five of the references, include a one paragraph description of what is in reference. Can include links.

d.     Final Project.

e.     Summary statement: 2 pages: What did you get out of course? What are next steps for you in this area? Action Plan