# Events

**2012 Mathematics Leadership Academy (MLA) Conference**

April
28, 2012

Click here for more information

**Spring 2012 Speaker Series in Mathematics Education**

The Center for Research in Mathematics Education, the Department of Mathematics, and Teachers for a New Era at the University of Connecticut proudly announce

**Al Cuoco**

**"Making sense of elementary algebra"**

Algebra continues to be a major obstacle for students. Many stumble over the beginnings of the subject, and even those who fare well in two years of high school algebra are unable to see its power and utility in mathematics and related fields. Part of the reason for these difficulties comes from the disconnect between school algebra and algebra as a scientific discipline. Drawing on examples from common core, the monograph “Reasoning and Sense Making in Algebra,” the recently released PARCC “content Frameworks,” and a four-year high school curriculum that my colleagues and I have developed, I will talk about some ideas for making algebra more meaningful, coherent, and tractable for students and their teachers.

Al Cuoco is Distinguished Scholar and Director of the center for Mathematics Education at Education Development center. He is lead author for “The CME Project,” an NSF-funded high school curriculum, published by Pearson. He also co-directs “Focus on Mathematics,” a partnership among universities, school districts, and EDC that has established a community of mathematical practice involving mathematicians, teachers, and mathematics educators. The partnership evolved from his 25-year collaboration with Glenn Stevens on Boston Universityss “PROMYS for Teachers,” a professional development program for teachers based on an immersion experience in mathematics. Al taught high school mathematics to a wide range of students in the Woburn, Massachusetts public schools from 1969 until 1993. A student of Ralph Greenberg, he holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from Brandeis, with a thesis and research in Iwasawa theory. He draws constantly on his experience both as a mathematician and a teacher in his work in curriculum development, professional development, and education policy, most recently as part of a team revising the CBMS recommendations for teacher preparation and professional development. His recent book, published by MAA, is “Mathematical connections: a companion for Teachers and Others,” but his favorite publication is a 1991 paper in the American Mathematical Monthly, described by his wife as “an attempt to explain a number system that no one understands with a picture that no one can see.”

Click here for the full flyer (PDF)

Directions to the Storrs campus

(we recommend parking in the North garage for this event)

# Past Events

**Mark Myers**

**"If It Pleases the Court: The Use of Mathematical Reasoning in the Courtroom"**

For most of the 300 years since Nicholas Bernoulli submitted his thesis Usu Artis conjectandi in Jure (“The Use of the Art of conjecturing in the Law”), the use of mathematics — particularly, probability and statistics — in legal reasoning was contemplated by courts in the U.S. and England with considerable suspicion. However, the passing of the civil Rights Act in the 1960s ushered in a wave of state and federal cases that presented unique issues of proof, and began the slow process of legitimizing the use of statistical evidence in the courtroom. These decisions, together with the rise of increasingly advanced technologies at issue in the disputes between parties, has opened the door to the introduction of other mathematical arguments that must be harnessed by attorneys, presided over by judges and decided by juries. This talk begins with a review of some of the mathematical principles and techniques that regularly make appearances in U.S. courtrooms — whether applied correctly or incorrectly — sometimes with dispositive consequences. Moreover, the increasing use of mathematics in court raises significant pedagogical questions: For example, what is the most effective way to integrate mathematical training into the curriculum of students entering the legal profession? How can ongoing education most efficiently be structured for judges who must decide cases in an increasingly technical world? And how do the rules and procedures that govern the presentation of expert testimony in court support — or hinder — the ability of jurors to quickly grasp the essence of a mathematical assertion? This talk explores a few of these connections between pedagogy and jurisprudence, with the aim of highlighting opportunities to improve the quality of mathematical discourse in both the legal classroom and the courtroom.

Mark Myers is the General Manager of a Connecticut-based consulting firm, Point Break Associates, LLC that specializes in providing competitive intelligence services to small and medium sized companies. Prior to founding Point Break Associates, he was a UTC Fellow in Embedded Systems & controls at the United Technologies Research Center, Manager of Business Development and Strategy for UTC Fire & Security and Vice President of Research Services at Nerac, Inc. Mark has a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Cornell University and a law degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law.

Click here for the full flyer (PDF)

Directions to the Storrs campus

(we recommend parking in the North garage for this event)

**Professor Robert Devaney**

**"Chaos and Fractals: Exciting Students About Mathematics"**

One of the things that bother me about teaching mathematics is the fact that very few students ever get to see what's new and exciting in mathematics. What do we show them in their twelve years before college (and often their four years in college)? We teach them 4th century BC geometry, 11th century algebra, and, if they are really good and motivated, some 17th century calculus. Unlike the other fields in science and engineering, where everyone knows that interesting and important things are going on, our students rarely get that impression about mathematics.

One of my goals over the past twenty years has been to change this mindset. There are plenty of ways to insert contemporary topics in math into the standard curriculum. In this lecture, I will give one such example, namely, how chaos games and fractal images provide a wonderful opportunity to blend together various ideas from middle and high school mathematics. This is a talk I routinely give to students at this grade level, so don't worry about the mathematical level!

Robert L. Devaney is Professor of Mathematics at Boston University. He is the author of over one hundred research papers in the field of dynamical systems as well as a dozen pedagogical papers in this field. He is also the (co)-author or editor of thirteen books in this area of mathematics. He has received numerous national honors for excellence in teaching such as, the Award for Distinguished University Teaching from the Northeastern section of the Mathematical Association of America, the Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished University Teaching, the National Science Foundation Director's Award for Distinguished Teaching Scholars, the ICTCM Award for Excellence and Innovation with the Use of Technology in Collegiate Mathematics, among others. In 2010 he was named the Feld Family Professor of Teaching Excellence at Boston University.

Click here for the full flyer (PDF)

Directions to the Storrs campus

(we recommend parking in the North garage for this event)

**Professor Eric Mazur**

**"Memorization or understanding: are we teaching the right thing?"**

Education is more than just transfer of information, yet that is what is mostly done in large introductory courses -- instructors present material (even though this material might be readily available in printed form) and for students the main purpose of lectures is to take down as many notes as they can. Few students have the ability, motivation, and discipline to synthesize all the information delivered to them. Yet synthesis is perhaps the most important -- and most elusive -- aspect of education. I will show how shifting the focus in lectures from delivering information to synthesizing information greatly improves the learning that takes place in the classroom.

Eric Mazur is the Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Harvard University. An internationally recognized scientist and researcher, he leads a vigorous research program in optical physics and supervises one of the largest research groups in the Physics Department at Harvard University. In addition to his work in optical physics, Dr. Mazur is interested in education, science policy, outreach, and the public perception of science. He believes that better science education for all - not just science majors - is vital for continued scientific progress. To this end, Dr. Mazur devotes part of his research group's effort to education research and finding verifiable ways to improve science education. In 1990 he began developing Peer Instruction a method for teaching large lecture classes interactively. Dr. Mazur's teaching method has developed a large following, both nationally and internationally, and has been adopted across many science disciplines at the K-12 and university level. Mazur is Chairman of the Instructional Strategy Advisory Group for Turning Technologies, a company developing interactive response systems for the education market. Dr. Mazur is author or co-author of 219 scientific publications and 12 patents. He has also written on education and is the author of Peer Instruction: A User's Manual (Prentice Hall, 1997), a book that explains how to teach large lecture classes interactively. In 2006 he helped produce the award-winning DVD Interactive Teaching.

Click here for the full flyer (PDF)

Directions to the Storrs campus

(we recommend parking in the North garage for this event)

**William McCallum (University of Arizona) **

**Title TBD**

Directions to the Storrs campus

(we recommend parking in the North garage for this event)

**Kenneth I. Gross (University of Vermont) **

**"Elementary teachers as mathematicians: Turning challenges into opportunities"**

As the mathematics learned in the elementary grades forms the foundation for the mathematics taught at the middle and secondary levels and in college, the role of the elementary teacher is of crucial importance in laying the foundation for students’ success in later mathematics courses and ultimately for pursuing scientific and technological careers. If we are to raise student achievement at all educational levels and for all students, we must provide elementary teachers with a more broad and deep understanding of mathematics and the capability to translate that knowledge into the elementary school classroom. In this presentation we will discuss mathematics content needs of elementary teachers, why primary teachers need to know “higher mathematics”, the Vermont Mathematics Initiative (VMI), a successful statewide, content-based professional development program for K-8 teachers, understanding arithmetic and algebra through English language grammar and time permitting, enduring mathematical motifs that stretch from the kindergarten classroom to the research frontier. The presentation is designed for a general audience and has no mathematics or education prerequisites.

Directions to the Storrs campus

(we recommend parking in the North garage for this event)

**Dr. Wilfried Schmid**

**"Conflicts between Mathematics Educators and Mathematicians, and Ways to Overcome Them"**

Though neither mathematics educators nor mathematicians hold uniform views on K-12 mathematics educators, in both groups there exists what might be called a mainstream consensus. I shall outline the disagreements between the two communities, analyze their origins and consequences, and describe successful efforts to defuse them.

Dr. Wilfried Schmid is the Dwight Parker Robinson Professor of Mathematics at Harvard University. He holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley. Schmid has served as Mathematics Advisor to the Massachusetts Department of Education, as member of the Steering Committee of Mathematics NAEP, and as member of the Program Committee of the International Congress of Mathematics Education 2004. He has lectured widely on the subject of mathematics education, to audiences of mathematicians. Together with Deborah Ball, Jeremy Kilpatrick, Joan Ferrini-Mundi, Jim Milgram, and Richard Schaar, he wrote the declaration ``Reaching for Common Ground in K-12 Mathematics Education".

Click here for the full flyer (PDF)

Directions to the Storrs campus

(we recommend parking in the North garage for this event)

**Dr. Liping Ma**

**"The learning of fractions: How can it be built on the learning of whole numbers?"**

There may be two approaches to teaching fractions: Teaching fractions "in parallel" with whole numbers or first teaching students about whole numbers, then building their understanding of fractions. The first is a well-known and widely used approach in U.S. elementary schools. This talk will describe the second approach: How students' understanding of the concept of fraction as well as their skill in computing with fractions may be built on their learning of whole numbers and how students' learning of whole numbers may be carefully designed so that it serves as a sound foundation for learning fractions.

Dr. Liping Ma is the author of the book Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics. Her book is quoted on all sides of discussions about how to teach mathematics in elementary schools in the United States. She holds a master's degree in education from East China Normal University and a Ph.D. in curriculum and teacher education from Stanford University.

Click here for the full flyer (PDF)

Directions to the Storrs campus

(we recommend parking in the South garage for this event)