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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Former ASU lecturer makes math videos to help students meet new standards

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Justin Toscano writes, "Retired ASU lecturer Susan Larson has created inquiry-based mathematics video lessons through a program called the Professional Learning Library to help students meet the new Arizona College and Career Ready Standards."

Larson, who designed the program for Humboldt Unified School District in Prescott Valley said the program is applicable to students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Larson said inquiry-based mathematics is centered on three basic principles for student learning: Students learn physically, visually and abstractly. Physical learning uses real-life scenarios to teach math concepts and abstract learning strictly deals with formulas and numbers.

“Inquiry-based mathematics deals with making sense of everything you learn,” she said. “You shouldn’t be doing something that doesn’t make perfect sense to you.”

PLL is used to house all of Larson’s video lessons, which are accessible to teachers around the world for free. 

Larson said the collection of videos, which feature her teaching the subject matter to a class of students, has spread by word-of-mouth and has had a tremendous impact on teachers around America. 

“I use user-friendly language and relate to the students because kids learn in a hands-on manner,” she said. “Humboldt Unified took away math textbooks for kindergarten through fifth grade and now solely uses the videos.”

She worked with a team of 18 teachers this summer for eight days creating lesson plans and videos for each grade.

“We made sure all of the lesson plans were inquiry-based,” Larson said. “Humboldt Unified wanted to continue to compile the best-of-the-best lessons for each math subject.” 

Larson said the change to inquiry-based mathematics had great success thus far, including in Humboldt Elementary School, which was named a top-10 Title l school in the nation for its strong proficiency in all subjects.

“It usually takes a long time to change the curriculum, so this type of success is incredible,” she said.

She used one phrase to describe a student’s learning experience with inquiry-based mathematics, which she said students often used to describe her class when she taught at ASU.

“You will learn a lot, but you will need to think a lot as well,” she said.

Heidi Blair, director of educational technology for the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, said the videos are very effective because Larson made a 12-minute introductory video and a PowerPoint presentation describing inquiry-based mathematics.
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Additional resources 

This collection provides an overview of inquiry-based Mathematics instruction. Sue Larson, a retired mathematics instructor for the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, provides a video overview that includes clips from classroom instruction.  
Inquiry-Based Mathematics Resources 

Source: The State Press

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