COMET • Vol. 7, No. 25 – 29 September 2006



(1) Curriculum Commission Approves IMAP and CRP Members, Votes to Extend Recruitment Deadline

Source: Mary Sprague — California Department of Education, Curriculum Frameworks Office — (916) 319-0510;

At this week’s meeting of the Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission (“Curriculum Commission”), a motion to extend the deadline for recruitment of evaluators for materials submitted for the statewide 2007 Mathematics Primary Adoption was passed, as was a motion to add a second deliberation session (July 30-August 2, 2007).

The Curriculum Commission also approved 85 applicants for service on an Instructional Materials Advisory Panel (IMAP), as well as 5 applicants for service on a Content Review Panel (CRP).  (Three CRP applicants were recommended for service on an IMAP rather than a CRP, as they did not have a doctorate in mathematics, engineering, or physics.)

The publishers of at least 60 programs have indicated that there is “no doubt” or that it is “highly probable” that their programs will be submitted for consideration. (The number of possible submissions is close to 100.)

This is “by far the most programs we have ever had submitted for a state adoption,” said Mary Sprague, Lead Consultant for the Mathematics Adoption. “We need at least 140 IMAP and 20 CRP members to review the Basic, Algebra Readiness, and Intervention programs. The application deadline will be extended until the positions are filled, but it will be very difficult to obtain Board approval if applications come in later than the first of November,” Sprague added.

Application packets for IMAP members are available online at

Application packets for CRP members are available online at

Feel free to contact Mary Sprague (contact information above) with any questions. (Also see for more information regarding the adoption and details regarding service on a review panel.)


(2) Connell Congratulates Four California Teachers Chosen As State Finalists for National Award

Source: California Department of Education

On Thursday, September 28, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’ Connell congratulated four outstanding California teachers selected by a national panel as state finalists for the 2006 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

Mariana Alwell and Tapp Hancock were selected as state mathematics finalists.  Debi Drab and Anne Marie Wotkyns were selected as state science finalists.

Mariana Alwell teaches sixth grade at Garden Gate Elementary School in the Cupertino Union School District, Santa Clara County. She was selected teacher of the year by her district and has participated in the Noyce Foundation’s Silicon Valley mathematics initiative that develops leadership strategies and curriculum in developing challenging math content. Alwell received the Goldin Foundation for Excellence in Education Award, the Malti Prasad Excellence in Mathematics Teaching Award, and the Santa Clara Valley Math Association Award for Outstanding Mathematics Teaching. She has also served as a co-leader of the district’s math lead teacher network.

“Mariana has demonstrated superb leadership in finding ways to make math interesting and fun in children’s lives,” said O’Connell.  “She challenges her students to become active learners by sometimes play-acting in roles to help them learn math hands-on.”

Tapp Hancock is a second grade teacher at Wayside Elementary School in the Bakersfield City Unified School District, Kern County. She has served as a district mentor teacher and a Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment program provider.  Hancock was awarded a U.S. patent for a mathematics system she developed, and is a Fulbright Scholar.  She was also named outstanding teacher for Kern County and is a member of the San Joaquin Valley Mathematics Project, the California Mathematics Council, and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

“The system Tapp developed teaches students division and multiplication using their fingers.  This method is innovative and empowers students to solve any math problem,” said O’Connell. “She is also an excellent mentor to other math teachers.”  [See for a related story.]

Debi Drab is a sixth grade teacher at Tincher Preparatory School in the Long Beach Unified School District, Los Angeles County.  She teaches gifted and talented education students and English-language learners.  In addition to teaching regular science, Drab also teaches a marine biology elective…

“Debi helps her students develop a passion for learning by allowing them hands-on experience with science,” said O’Connell.  “She has also demonstrated strong leadership as a mentor to other science teachers.”

Anne Marie Wotkyns teaches fourth grade at J. B. Monlux Math, Science, and Technology Magnet Elementary School in the Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles County.  She serves as the school’s lead science specialist…

“Anne Marie has developed an innovative curriculum that is designed to improve and enhance the learning experience for children,” said O’Connell.  “She believes in challenging students to be more involved and responsible for their own learning that she hopes will inspire them to be life-long learners.”

As PAEMST state finalists, these four teachers are automatically nominated to receive the nation’s highest teaching award, the Presidential Award.  Up to three teachers in both the math and science categories may be nominated yearly by each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. territories, and schools operated worldwide by the Department of Defense Education Agency.  Each year a national panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators recommends as many as 108 teachers nationwide to receive the prestigious Presidential Award. One mathematics teacher and one science teacher will be chosen from each state. The White House will announce the national awardees in March of 2007.

Teachers selected as Presidential Awardees receive a $10,000 award, a citation from the President, and a paid trip to Washington, D.C. for a series of recognition events, information exchange programs, and an awards ceremony.

The four 2006 California finalists and the two 2005 California Presidential Awardees will be recognized at a fall meeting of the State Board of Education. They will also receive a plaque signed by both O’Connell and State Board of Education President Ken Noonan at a luncheon following the board meeting.

More information on PAEMST, including the 2007 nomination form for teachers of grades 7-12, may be found at


(3) SB 472 Signed into Law–Reauthorizes AB 466 Training

Source: California Department of Education

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell announced yesterday (September 28) that a bill he sponsored to continue high-quality teacher professional development was signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

SB 472, by Senator Elaine Alquist (D-Santa Clara), reauthorizes the law which provides incentive funding to local education agencies to offer high-quality teacher professional development programs, commonly called AB 466 training. This training includes 40 hours of professional development and 80 hours of follow-up training for math and reading teachers. The measure provides an additional incentive for teachers of English learners. This law will sunset on July 1, 2012.

“California has set the bar high for student success, and good teachers are the most important element in students’ ability to meet that bar,” O’Connell said. “This new law will allow California to continue to provide high quality professional development for all reading and math teachers. We need to do more to ensure that every student in every school has a well-trained teacher. This measure is a vital step in that direction. I would like to thank Senator Elaine Alquist for carrying this legislation. Because of her hard work, thousands of teachers across our state will be able to continue to improve their skills which, in turn, will help the 6.3 million K-12 students in our state meet the challenge of higher expectations.”

For the full text of SB 472, visit the following Web site:



(1) National Mathematics Advisory Panel Update

Source: U.S. Department of Education

The third meeting of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel (NMP) was held in Cambridge, Massachusetts on September 13-14. Minutes from this meeting have not yet been posted, but a transcript of the welcome by MIT President Susan Hockfield is available at

The fourth meeting of the NMP will be held in Palo Alto, CA on November 6-7.

The following are excerpts from President Hockfield’s address:

“I am pleased to welcome members of the National Math Advisory Panel and the public to MITs campus and to the Broad Institute, a breakthrough collaboration in genomics research between MIT, the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, and Harvard University and its affiliated hospitals.  We are delighted to have you here with us, because MIT shares a commitment to improving mathematics education in the US.  We are grateful to the members of the National Math Panel for taking on this vital and substantial task.

“As we look to the future, it could not be more clear that a solid foundation in mathematics will be crucial for every citizen in this country, because we are now in an era when technical and scientific literacy has become as important as language literacy.  The future of the US economy and our standard of living depend on innovation and technological advances.  Nobel laureate Robert Solow, a member of MIT’s economics department, was the first economist to demonstrate the relationship between innovation and the economy.  He showed that more than half of US economic growth since World War II derived from technological innovation.  We are only now beginning to grasp the profound implications of Professor Solow’s work.  An important moment came during last January’s State of the Union Address, when President Bush drew an explicit connection between economic growth and investments in research and talent.  Science and math education is a prerequisite for innovation….

“To compete successfully in the global marketplace, our future engineers and scientists will need more than technical skill: They will truly have to be leaders. In addition to the standard mathematics and engineering coursework, our students need interdisciplinary skills: business acumen, policy knowledge, foreign language facility, and the ability to work effectively with diverse teams of collaborators. One member of the MIT faculty, Professor Woodie Flowers, who is renowned for his inspirational leadership in the nationwide FIRST High School Robotics Competitions that now reach tens of thousands of high school students, talks of a new model for engineering students, one that is technology literate and philosophically grounded.  In order for the US to sustain its preeminence in science and technology, we need to assure that our students are prepared to be engaged leaders. A strong early math foundation is essential…

“One of the truly innovative approaches MIT has taken toward education has been through MIT OpenCourseWare, known as OCW. [See below article for more on MIT OCW.] This Institute-wide initiative offers web access, free of charge, to the teaching materials used in over 90% of MITs undergraduate and graduate courses, including syllabi, course notes, assignments, and problem sets. OCW now includes about 1200 courses. This is not a distance learning program; instead, it allows educators, students, and self-learners around the country and around the world to benefit from the materials created by our faculty and to join a learning community in which knowledge and ideas are shared openly and freely. As one measure of OCWs impact, every day it receives over 36,000 visits to content, not just hits. We hope in the near future to develop a similar model for the best high school teaching materials in math, engineering, and science, gathering the knowledge of exceptional high school teachers into an online dynamic curriculum for the benefit of all.

“MIT’s iLabs, another innovative approach to learning at a distance, allows students to conduct real laboratory experiments remotely from any Internet browser.  In the future, such remote laboratories might allow high schools to access college laboratories or to share labs and instrumentation.

“Finally, we need to think about how colleges and universities can help strengthen the use of technology in primary and secondary education.  While technology will never replace the face to face teacher-student relationship, computers can provide a powerful supplemental tool for bolstering problem solving and invention.  Today, my office is wherever my laptop and I are: future classrooms may be similarly mobile.

“The Panel’s assessment of pedagogy will be as important as its study of curriculum.  And even as we examine the current best practices for math education, it is crucial that we continue to fund research in education and learning, including supporting new tools for education.  We are still far from knowing all we can about learning.  As a neuroscientist, I can tell you that we can expect to see critical breakthroughs in understanding cognitive processing.  We need to keep the door open to those advances…”


(2) MIT OpenCourseWare–Mathematics Course Materials and Textbooks Online

Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

MIT OCW is a large-scale, Web-based electronic publishing initiative funded jointly by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, MIT, and generous support of the Ab Initio software company.

MIT OCW’s goals are to:

— Provide free, searchable access to MIT’s course materials for educators, students, and self-learners around the world.

— Extend the reach and impact of MIT OCW and the “opencourseware” concept.

MIT OCW would not be possible without the support and generosity of the MIT faculty who choose to share their research, pedagogy, and knowledge to benefit others. We expect MIT OCW to reach a steady–though never static–state by 2008. Between now and then, we will publish the materials from virtually all of MIT’s undergraduate and graduate courses…

With 1,400 courses published as of May 1, 2006, we are still in a learning stage of this MIT initiative and we will benefit enormously from your feedback, as we strive to make MIT OCW as rich and useful as possible for our users.


COMET readers are encouraged to visit and peruse the MIT mathematics course materials available online.

In addition, two mathematics books (and related resources for Strang’s book) are available online at :

(a) Calculus for Beginners and Artists by Daniel Kleitman

b) Calculus by Victor Strang


(3)  Authors Sought for NCTM books on Empowering Mentors of Teachers of Mathematics

Source: Gwen Zimmermann – (847) 634-4000, ext. 1833 or


Current teacher shortages have led to major concerns regarding the recruitment and retention of highly qualified teachers of mathematics in the nation’s classrooms. In response to this issue, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) published the Empowering the Beginning Teacher of Mathematics series in 2004. This new companion series will be designed to assist and support mentors in developing positive and productive mentoring relationships.

Suggested Topics for Submission

To help potential contributors, the editorial panel has identified several broad issues and questions reflecting major concerns of the mentor and of mentor programs, including specific topics related topics not listed. Major topics include the following (see Web site above for guiding questions within each topic area):

I.    Research on Mentoring

II.   Professional Development of Mentors

III.  Mentoring Tools and Guidelines

IV.  Mentoring the Beginning Teacher

V.   Mentoring the Experienced Teacher (e.g., one who is changing grade levels, changing preparations, transferring between schools or districts, teaching mathematics for the first time, or needing mentoring on specific goals such as assessment, questioning, technology, new programs, new curriculum)

VI.  Other Possible Scenarios, Vignettes, or Cases

General Guidelines for Preparing Submissions

…The primary audience for this publication includes mentors; those interested in becoming a mentors, schools or districts implementing a mentoring program, mathematics educators, supervisors, and other professionals concerned about the needs of the mentor of teachers of mathematics.

Submissions ranging from one paragraph up to three double-spaced typewritten pages (12 pt. font) are encouraged. The panel especially seeks submissions focusing on vignettes and examples.

Submissions by groups of two or more authors are welcomed. In particular, collaboration among classroom teachers, district personnel, and university faculty or other concerned professionals is invited.

Procedures for Submitting Materials

The editorial panel encourages authors to submit all contributions electronically as e-mail attachments in Microsoft Word or Excel by 1 February 2007. Submissions should be emailed to Gwen Zimmermann at [See the above Web site for more details.]