University of Massachusets, Amherst
Math 597T
Mathematics Knowledge For Teaching I
Fall Semester 2012

Catalog Description: In this course we present a detailed, rigorous, and hands-on examination of the fundamentals of arithmetic, geometry, and algebra as most applicable in the work of teachers in grades K-8. The instruction of the class will seek to model the 8 Standards for Mathematical Practice as set out in the Common Core Standards. A guiding principle for the course is to uncover the strands that connect mathematics as a unified and coherent discipline.

Class Meetings: The class is listed currently as meeting on Wednesdays 4:40 - 7:10 pm, Lederle Graduate Research Tower, Room 1114; but this will be revisited to accomodate the greatest number of students.

Prerequisites: There are no formal prerequisites, but permission of Instructor is required. Please contact:

Instructor: Farshid Hajir
Lederle Graduate Research Tower 1118.    Phone: 545-6015.    
e-mail: hajir atsymbol

Text:     There is no required textbook for the course, but notes will be handed out as needed. The highly recommended book is Fostering Algebraic Thinking by Mark Driscoll. The Common Core State Standards in Mathematics (K-12), available as a free .pdf online will be an indispensable resources for the course. See the link below.

Curriculum: In order to be effective, teachers require all kinds of knowledge: about, say, the cognitive skills of kids of different ages, classroom management strategies, etc. The focus of our course is Mathematcis Knowledge for Teaching (MKT): the knowledge of mathematics that is specifically demanded by the work of teaching mathematics (K-8 for our particular course). MKT is not the same as knowing the mathematics that adults know, nor is it knowing teaching strategies; it consists of specialized kinds of mathematical knowledge specific to the work of teaching school mathematics (this includes knowing the elementary mathematics curriculum but goes far beyond it).

Active Learning:    The goal of the course is to explore mathematics learning in classrooms. This requires the creation of a classroom atmosphere that models the 8 standards of practice for teaching K-12 mathematics as set out in the Common Core Standards. In other words, active participation and mathematical conversations in the classroom between students and instructor are the norm.

Why take this course?! On a small scale, this course represents an opportunity for in-service and pre-service teachers to work together in a focused way, on a topic of crucial importance for mathematics education in the US: how to unpack and implement the standards of matheamtical practice. Students will be challenged to improve a component of r skill set in mathematics content knowledge of a kind that is directly relevant to teaching. On a larger scale, there is a new 'education war' in progress (summed up in Deborah Ball's Jan. 1 article in the Huffington Post), which is taking us down the wrong path. I hope that this course can be a tiny contribution to an alternative strategy of educators working together at all levels to raise the level of student learning.

Grading: Homework and class participation (50%), Midterm (25%), Final (25%).