Math Alumnus Awarded Sontag Prize in Urban Education

Congratulations to Central Catholic High School Mathematics Department Chair/Teacher Jarrod Brown (UML Class of ’04) on receiving the Sontag Prize in Urban Education for Mathematics.
The Sontag Prize in Urban Education recognizes outstanding teaching in Mathematics, English Language Arts (ELA) and other disciplines. Educators chosen for the Sontag Prize will lead classes as part of the LPS Acceleration Academy, a program designed to provide targeted small group support for students.
Any educator from within the city of Lawrence, MA or across the country is eligible to apply for the Sontag Prize. In addition to an honorarium, new Sontag Prize awardees participate in a weekend of professional development at Harvard University February 14th and 15th. The opportunity provides motivated and successful educators like Jarrod the chance to share best practices with their fellow awardees. Most importantly, this award recognizes excellence in teaching and provides students with an extra week of high-quality instruction. This program is generously supported by the Lynch Foundation.
This isn’t the first time Jarrod has been recognized for his teaching, In 2013, Jarrod received a Math Hero Award and grant of $2,500 through Raytheon Corporation’s ‘Math Moves U’ program. He was nominated for this award by current and former students for his instructional creativity and patience, varied use of technology resources, and his ability to share his enthusiasm for mathematics with his students.
Jarrod earned a B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell and a M.Ed from American International College. In his 12th year as a math teacher, Brown’s teaching experience includes leading classes in Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 & Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus, and Calculus.
Jarrod has also served as an assistant coach in football and track in addition to being the instructor for the Karate and Martial Arts Club at Central Catholic. Brown and his wife and two children make their home in Dracut, MA.

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Curriculum Guides in Mathematics: JMM2014 update

I attended a panel discussion on curriculum guides at the 2014 Joint Mathematics Meetings last week. Here are a few comments on them.

  • The CUPM Curriculum Guide is produced by the MAACommittee on the Undergraduate Program in Mathematicsto guide mathematics departments in designing curricula for their undergraduate students.The 2004 version was the last to come out. The new version will be out in 2015. We were told that a draft will appear in the near future.
  • In 2012, the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences issued the latest recommendations for teacher preparation in mathematics: The Mathematical Education of Teachers II (MET2). A few highlights of the new recommendations:
    1. Elementary teachers should take four mathematics courses on elementary school mathematics. This doesn’t mean that the mathematics they are taught are elementary. The objective is to give teachers a deeper understanding of the mathematics that is taught in elementary grades. For example, while an elementary school teacher may teach division, coursework might include continued fractions or a study of the periodic nature of decimal fractions.
    2. Recommendations for middle school teachers include at least 24 credits of mathematics, including at least 15 credits designed specifically for future middle grades teachers that address essential ideas in the middle school curriculum.
    3. It is still recommended that prospective High school teachers complete coursework equivalent to that of a mathematics major. One change is that at least nine credits involve advanced study of secondary mathematics.
  • TheAmerican Statistical Association (ASA) will be releasingThe Statistical Education of Teachers (SET)in 2014. It is expected to put a greater emphasis on data analysis.
I think that a few developments at UMass Lowell have put us in a good position with respect to these recommendations. A few years ago, the College of Education and Mathematical Sciences Department collaborated with other UMass campuses on the development of mathematics courses for prospective elementary school teachers. This gives us a good start toward being in line with recommendations at that level.
UTeach UMass Lowell helps us at the middle and high school levels. Functions and Modeling (92.210), which is required for mathematics certification, revisits many high school topics from an advanced point of view. Research Method (UTL.302), which is required of all UTeach students, is a data analysis course that matches both MET2 and SET recommendations. Finally, the inquiry-based approach that many UTeach courses emphasize is consistent with that of all three curriculum guides.
There will be more for us to do to address these recommendations, but I think we are on the right track!