Seeing only the plusses
After spending six years teaching third and fourth graders in the Bay area, Esther Yoon knew young children have mathematical ability. She also fervently wished someone could do more to develop it in the earlier grades. Yoon enrolled in a master’s degree program in cognitive development at University of California, Berkeley, and there she learned of the work of Herbert Ginsburg, who is now her doctoral advisor at TC. “It’s a dream to work on curriculum development with Herb, who is so phenomenally respected in our field,” says Yoon, whose participation on the MathemAntics team is funded by the Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation.
The team is taking some risks. MathemAntics is making negative numbers, which are usually introduced in the fourth grade, a focus for third graders—but Yoon (who is heading up creation of the learning environment for that topic) is uniformly positive about the effort. “Most software is built around a theme or story,” she says. “It’s great to be designing software that is based on what the child needs to learn math.”