COMET • Vol. 10, No. 29 – 4 December 2009


(1) Nominations are Sought for Members of the California Teacher Advisory Council (Cal TAC)

Source: Eilene Cross, Education Consultant for the California Council for Science and Technology

The California Teacher Advisory Council (Cal TAC), the California Council for Science and Technology (CCST), and the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning (the Center) request nominations for three new members of Cal TAC to replace those who are completing their three-year terms. Mathematics teachers are urged to apply for one of these openings.

The goals and objectives of Cal TAC are the following:

– Inform the education and policy community and industry on science and mathematics classroom practice.
– Serve as a proactive arm of CCST and the Center to strengthen science and mathematics teaching in California.
– Provide feedback to and from the National Academies’ Teacher Advisory Council (NTAC).

The CCST Web site contains a description of Cal TAC on its web site ( Cal TAC is modeled after the very successful Teacher Advisory Council, established in 2002 by the National Academies. Cal TAC works in conjunction with the National Academies Teacher Advisory Council (TAC) to provide a valuable and currently absent connection between the teaching community and the educational experts and policymakers who are shaping California’s educational system.

Criteria for selection of new Cal TAC members:

— Practicing classroom teachers in grades K-14 (Travel costs and substitute teacher costs will be covered.)
— Demonstrated teaching excellence in science, mathematics, engineering or technology
— Representative of the cultural, ethnic, and economic diversity of California’s schools (elementary, middle, high school, or community college levels)

Other factors considered:

— Awards and other recognitions of distinction
— National Board Certification

Nominators should submit the following:

— A paragraph describing the nominee’s work and indicating why the nominee should be selected for Cal TAC.
— Contact information for the nominee, including an e-mail address or school telephone number.

Please send nomination materials via e-mail to Eilene Cross, Education Consultant for CCST:   Nominations are due by December 8, 2009.

Additional information about Cal TAC can be found at


(2) Progress Report: Teaching Mathematics Advisory Panel

Source: California Commission on Teacher Credentialing

The agenda for the December 9-10 meeting of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) has been posted at

Of particular interest is agenda item 3F, a progress report on the work of the Teaching Mathematics Advisory Panel, which has met four times since its commissioning. A detailed summary of the charge of this panel, descriptions of some of its meetings (e.g., with Deborah Ball), and initial recommendations for discussion are available at


(3) Subject Matter Advisory Panel Application

Source: California Commission on Teacher Credentialing

The Commission is currently seeking California educators and professionals who have experience and expertise writing to standards for subject matter preparation programs to serve on an advisory panel concerning a review of the Standards of Program Quality and Effectiveness Category I: Standards Common to All Single Subject Matter Preparation Programs. An application can be downloaded from and is due by December 10, 2009.




(1) Wikipedia Co-founder Launches YouTube-like Web Site for Children (Over 1000 Videos for Math)

Source:  eSchool News Tools for Schools – 18 November 2009
URL (Math Videos):

Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia, has launched a new Web site designed to gather and organize educational videos for students ages 3 to 18. The site,, currently features more than 11,000 videos across 2,000 categories on subjects such as math, science, and history. The nonprofit site features new software, developed specifically for the site by Sanger, that allows wiki-style collaboration among users. “Think of it as YouTube meets Wikipedia, filtering out everything but quality educational videos,” Sanger said.

“ links together content from traditional sites, and also allows users of the site to improve the organization of the video categories, which makes finding the video you need much easier.” The site, which features videos from National Geographic, YouTube, and Google Videos, among other sources, is intended to complement and enhance the learning experience for students as they study concepts that are traditionally hard to learn.

“Many of our country’s educators are unaware of the enormous amount of good video content available for free online,” said Chareen Snelson, an advisory committee member and professor at Boise State specializing in online educational videos. “Having a central repository of organized, quality videos is a blessing for busy teachers and students.” is funded by the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi, which has set the goal of offering more than 50,000 videos on the site by the end of 2010. The site offers tips for video searching, separate pages for students, parents, and teachers, and a guide for contributors.


(2) NAEP to Release Results for the 2009 Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) in Mathematics on December 8

Source: IES Newsflash – 3 December 2009

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) invites you to learn more about the results of “The Nation’s Report Card: Mathematics–2009 Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA)” during “Ask NAEP,” an hour-long online Q&A with Associate Commissioner Peggy Carr. The program will be held at 11:30 a.m. PT on December 8.

Watch a live webcast of the release of the TUDA results on December 8 at 7 a.m. at  Then explore the report and submit your questions at

Prepare for the urban district results by taking a look at the recently released 2009 national and state mathematics results at

NAEP is administered by the National Center for Education Statistics within the Institute of Education Sciences (U.S. Department of Education).


(3) Free Webinar:  Supporting English Language Learners in Mathematics

Source: Math Solutions

Experts in mathematics professional development will discuss and answer your questions about improving teacher effectiveness, student learning, and test results in a free webinar on December 15 sponsored by Math Solutions.

Discussion Topics:

— How to best support teachers who have ELL students in their math classrooms
— Effective, research-based strategies for K-5 math instruction in mainstream classrooms
— How to simultaneously improve students’ mastery of math and their academic language skills


– Rusty Bresser:  Supervisor of teacher education in the Education Studies Program of the University of California at San Diego

Kathy Melanese:  Distinguished Bilingual Teacher in Residence in the Education Studies Program at the University of California at San Diego

Rusty and Kathy are co-authors of “Supporting English Language Learners in Math Class: A Multimedia Professional Learning Resource, and Equity for Language Learners,” which appeared in the October 2009 issue of Teaching Children Mathematics.                                                   

Date and time:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009
11:00 A.M. Pacific Time

Recordings of the webinars will be available at two days after the event.


(4) Nominate an Elementary School Teacher for a 2010 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching


The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) is the highest recognition that a kindergarten through 12th-grade mathematics or science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States. Enacted by Congress in 1983, this program authorizes the President to bestow up to 108 awards each year. The National Science Foundation administers PAEMST on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Awards are given to mathematics and science teachers from each of the 50 states and four U.S. jurisdictions… The teachers are recognized for their contributions to teaching and learning and their ability to help students make progress in mathematics and science.

In addition to honoring individual achievement, the goal of the award program is to exemplify the highest standards of mathematics and science teaching. Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education.


Anyone can nominate an exceptional elementary school (grades K-6) teacher of math or science for the 2010 Award Year. Self-nominations are encouraged. Nominations for teachers teaching in grades 7-12 will be accepted in 2011.

The deadline for nominations is April 1, 2010. The nomination form should be completed early enough to ensure that the nominated teacher is given enough time to thoroughly prepare an application that reflects exemplary teaching prior to the application deadline. Applications are due by May 3, 2010.

Recipients of the award receive the following:
– A citation signed by the President of the United States.
– A paid trip for two to Washington, D.C., to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities.
– A $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.

In addition to recognizing outstanding teaching in mathematics or science, the program provides teachers with an opportunity to build lasting partnerships with colleagues across the nation. This growing network of award-winning teachers serves as a vital resource for improving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and keeping America globally competitive.

Who Is Eligible?

Awards alternate between elementary and secondary teachers (K-6 teachers are eligible in even-numbered years; teachers in grades 7-12 are eligible in odd-numbered years).

The following are eligibility criteria for nominees. The nominees must:
– Teach mathematics or science at the K-6th grade level (2010 deadline) or 7-12th grade level (2011 deadline) in a public or private school.
– Teach in one of the 50 states or the four U.S. jurisdictions.
– Hold at least a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.
– Be a full-time employee of the school or school district as determined by state and district policies, and teach at least 50% of the time.
– Have at least 5 years of full-time, K-12 teacher experience prior to the 2009-2010 academic school year (2010 deadline) or prior to the 2010-2011 academic school year (2011 deadline).
– Not have received the PAEMST award at the national level in any prior competition or category.


State Coordinators for California:

In California, Diana Herrington is the PAEMST contact for K-6 mathematics:  Carol Piercy is the contact for gr. 7-12 mathematics:

James Miller is the PAEMST contact for grades K-6 and 7-12 science:

Visit the PAEMST Web site for more information:


(5) “Majoring in Math Not Always a Classroom Plus” by Sean Cavanagh

SourceEducation Week – 25 November 2009
URL (SOE Blog):

Ask a parent, politician, or school board member to describe the ideal qualifications of a math teacher, and most would probably rank having a college major in that subject high on the list.

Yet when it comes to improving student learning in elementary and middle school, research shows that the value of that academic credential is limited–at best.

On the one hand, recent nationwide test scores show middle school students taught by a teacher with an undergraduate mathematics major scoring better, on average, in that subject than those whose teachers did not have that degree. Yet many observers view those results with caution, saying the weight of evidence does not show a connection between teachers’ having majored in math and higher student math achievement, particularly before high school.

That disconnect might seem counterintuitive, given the broad concern among policymakers about improving math teachers’ credentials, and about how states and school districts can improve educators’ professional training and skills.

But researchers who have studied school and college math instruction say that while math content is obviously essential for teachers, educators also need a more refined set of classroom-ready tools than a college math major, on its own, is likely to offer.

Math teachers need to “know the subject matter well and how to teach it,” said Deborah Loewenberg Ball, a scholar who has studied math teaching extensively. “The problem is that the math major is not a good proxy for that.”

A report released last year by the National Mathematics Advisory Panel on which Ms. Ball, the dean of the University of Michigan’s school of education, served-found no evidence of a link between teachers’ degree attainment in college and student academic gains in elementary and middle grades. [See ] A slightly stronger connection was found between math majors and students’ high school performance…[From the UM SOE blog: Ball said this is probably attributable to a closer link between college content and high school lessons, as opposed to instruction in elementary or middle grades.] [See the full article for comments from Skip Fennell, NCTM President Henry S. Kepner, and others.]

See also the following article, available online at

Hill, H.C., Rowan, B., & Ball, D. (2005).  Effects of teachers’ mathematical knowledge for teaching on student achievement. American Educational Research Journal, 42 (2), 371- 406.