Mathematics Blog

Prove It: Math and Education Policy

From September 2015 to September 2017, John Troutman McCrann, a high school math teacher, NBCT, and MfA Master Teacher Fellow in New York City, wrote about his quest to integrate inquiry- and performance-based learning into his instruction, and how these concepts might inform education policy. Follow him on Twitter: @JohnTroutMcCran This blog is no longer being updated, but you can continue to explore these issues on by visiting our related topic pages: performance assessment.

Teaching Opinion Final Post: Did We Prove It?
I started this blog more than two years ago. And this last post will soon join all of the others I've done in the great Internet Archive in the sky (luckily still searchable!). But before we say goodbye (for now), I want to gather up part of what I've learned, contributed, and where I went wrong.
John T. McCrann, September 24, 2017
7 min read
Teaching Opinion Put Me in, Coach: Reworking Social Studies for Participatory Democracy
Civic duties involve doing things in the world—pushing us to go beyond knowledge, thinking skills, and values within our classrooms. Civic education requires practice working with others to take action.
John T. McCrann, August 8, 2017
7 min read
Teaching Opinion Teaching From a Textbook Makes My Class More Student-Centered
My high school math textbooks felt like a barrier preventing me from connecting with the teacher and discipline, but I think I have found a way to use the CPM resources to forge deeper relationships with my students.
John T. McCrann, July 29, 2017
3 min read
Teaching Profession Opinion Two Years Is the Worst Amount of Time to Teach
Instead of accepting the premise that high achieving young people won't be engaged by teaching for an entire career we ought to attack it. Share stories of the ways in which our 10th or 20th or 30th year teaching has changed our thinking or challenged ideas we used to hold.
John T. McCrann, July 24, 2017
4 min read
Families & the Community Opinion Worth a Disruption: Prioritizing Education from South Korea to New Jersey
We need traditions that show a value for big educational moments. Ones that point younger students towards meaningful goals and reaffirm the work that we all do to raise the next generation of citizens. Learning and celebrating learning should be a priority. This means that it should take precedence over life-as-usual for ALL people in a community, not just those with direct connections.
John T. McCrann, July 5, 2017
4 min read
Teaching Profession Opinion Proud of Her Public School: A Teacher's Appeal to Secretary DeVos
Kindergarten teacher Sharon Davison provides an example of how educators can serve as advocates in the current political climate.
John T. McCrann, June 25, 2017
4 min read
Equity & Diversity Opinion Don't Cut Students Off From Their School's History
I hope that our school will be around long enough for future students to look at 100 years worth of picture in our hallway, but it won't unless we instill value for this kind of knowledge in our students and our leaders.
John T. McCrann, May 30, 2017
4 min read
Teaching Profession Opinion Teaching Work-Life Balance: Be the Worker You Want to See
As one of the professionals whose work life they know as well as almost any other, I owe it to my students to model what healthy labor looks like. Here's an annotated list of a handful of ways I try to teach them about healthy work through example.
John T. McCrann, May 25, 2017
4 min read
Teaching Opinion Have a Plan for Success
It is a complicated world and it feels like it gets more complicated every day. I'd never suggest to a student that I know how to navigate this complexity, but I do believe that there are some etablished principles that can help. One of these is to develop a road map to use to track where you are going and evaluate whether or not you've gotten there. Requiring students to devise a plan for a complex problem and discuss that plan in detail in order to graduate high school will help them develop that map for the problems to come.
John T. McCrann, April 30, 2017
3 min read
Teaching Opinion Inspired by Pitchers to Develop a Teaching Mantra
t). Early in my career, I tried to teach with a running internal monologue. I would scroll through the various external factors that were changing moment-to-moment and search for ways to effectively respond to individuals while maintaining fidelity to my class and school goals. I needed a .mantra. The following phrase help to quiet the constant chatter and re-establish focus on a few things that I can control.
John T. McCrann, April 5, 2017
4 min read
Assessment Opinion I Used to Think...Creating Aha Moments by Proving Our Intuition Wrong
Math teachers ought to look for situations where we can leverage the "aha" power of situations that conflict with our initial intuition. This task utilizes a redirection by setting students up to intuit an incorrect solution at first glance. They then explore the context and realize that what was the "obvious solution" is not even close to the best choice.*
John T. McCrann, March 30, 2017
3 min read
Equity & Diversity Opinion This Tool Fights Fascists: The Power of the Two-Column Proof
Evidence-based reasoning provides bulwark against superstition and demagoguery. It forms the basis of most of the life-changing institutions we interact with: from science to law, journalism to business. This foundational principle is beautifully encapsulated in a simple form that starts with a "given" and moves, evidenced step by evidenced step, towards a desired assertion.
John T. McCrann, March 27, 2017
3 min read
Teaching Opinion You Got It Wrong: Combating Alternative Facts With Straightforward Evaluation
One's perspective inevitably influences one's understanding of the world. The process that you use to get to a solution is interesting, useful, and should be explained/understood; however, this doesn't mean that everything is up for debate. We can and should identify right and wrong claims even in a complex problem or world.
John T. McCrann, February 27, 2017
3 min read
Assessment Opinion The Motivating Value of High-Stakes Assessment
The movement against high stakes assessment is in danger of throwing out the motivational and organizational benefits of assessment with the proverbial bath water. Many "opt-out" activists (a movement of which I am generally supportive) seem to suggest that any increase in stress or consequences for students is inappropriate. Perhaps this perspective is well-intentioned, but it seems misguided to try to shield students from healthy stress which could build their resilience.
John T. McCrann, January 26, 2017
4 min read