Course Overview and Introduction

ED526b - Learning and Assessment in Secondary Math (Online)
Arcadia University
School of Continuing Studies
Summer II, 2010

Instructor: Dr. Maria Droujkova
Phone: 919-454-8930
email: droujkova at gmail dot com
Skype: maria_droujkova


Hello, I am MariaD, your guide for the ED526b Arcadia University online course. Welcome to the wild side of Learning and Assessment in Secondary Math. The general purpose of the course is to develop our skill in creating meaningful and significant mathematical experiences with students. We will connect with active educator communities and grow our personal learning networks. During the course, we will explore a variety of instructional strategies including problem-solving, modeling, computational tools, and online collaboration. We will design formative and summative assessment including performance-based, peer reviews, media-centered, and tests, and integrate assessment with our teaching.

Musical interlude

Math Values

One of the goals of the course is to promote mathematical values. These include:
  • Meaningful work: knowing "Why?" for every "How?"
  • Focus on patterns and underlying structures of everything
  • "Working with our hands, head and heart" to make math an art
  • Trying new things, being playful and curious, appreciating geekiness
  • Using multiple representations and notation to understand the same idea or object deeper

Assignments and Grades

Mark Chagall. Self-Portrait with Seven Fingers
Details of assessment (rubrics) are described separately. The goal of the course is for you to expand the set of ideas and tools for helping others learn meaningful math. Toward this goal, every week you will take some tools developed by others and reflect on them, and you will make and share some of your own.

The schedule of each week is organized by dates and types of activities, including:
  • Taking or making
  • Representation (text, visual, manipulative and so on)
  • Common assignments (for everybody) and individual assignments (your picks of destinations)

The course grade consists of 7 equal parts, each contributing 100/7=14.2857(142857)% In turn, each week's grade is equally divided among all assignments due that week. The assignments are short and, hopefully, sweet, but there are many of them and they involve live community participation. Keep up with the live pace of the course!

The week ends on midnight of each Sunday, at which time I collect that week's contributions from the schedule for the record.

Starter Technology

This course uses web as a platform, meaning your coursework will happen at many different sites. A part of the first week is to set everybody up with all the software and social web sites we use. Some people prefer to have separate personal and professional accounts on social sites. Here is the starter technology to-do list:

  1. Join the course's wiki (link)
  2. Make a blog if you do not have one (use WordPress or BlogSpot)
  3. Join the email group (see below)

There will be more technology as the course goes on.


Much of the first week will be devoted to introductions and establishing communication.

Use comments in blogs to leave messages to others in the course about that week's topics.

*blogroll to appear here after the first week*

Use the email group to send a question or comment to everybody. After the first week, you will also receive a list of individual email addresses of class members.

Visit this group
Google Groups
Subscribe to ED526B

Come to live meetings for voice, chat and web tour communications. See the schedule for weekly meeting times.

I strongly prefer for everybody to have a means of instant messaging (chat, text, phone) available. We will use it, for example, to notify others we can't make a live meeting appointment, or to ask a quick question about an assignment. I am available in Google Chat (droujkova at, Facebook chat (, Skype (maria_droujkova) and phone (919-454-8930)

We can also find other course members on social networks such as Facebook. We will share this information during our first week.


Kung Fu master, from Flame Warriors by Mike Reed

The content you create should be valuable to you and other teachers. Most of your course assignments will be live online, which means students (including children) and other educators will use them.

You can use your real name and real photo, or an alias and an avatar, for course work. I need to connect your aliases to your name. It will help other students if you use the same or similar alias on different sites.

Use your best judgment (and my occasional advice) about the formality of your English. For example, article comments should probably be formal, using full sentences and the standard grammar. Twitter chat events can benefit from standard abbreviations, such as "PLN" for "personal learning network" or "u" for "you."

I expect you to quickly (within hours) tell me if something in the course does not work for you. If an assignment does not make sense, if you don't know how to start, if you see a link going nowhere, if you can't resolve a group assignment conflict - please get in touch. This means something is broken with the course and needs to be fixed!

You can find Arcadia University code of conduct in the student handbook.

Some of the assignments may involve critiquing the work of others, or evaluating materials, communities or programs. This can easily lead to hurt feelings. Here are a few suggestions for constructive discussions:
  • Focus on content, not personalities. Constructive work is personal and lovable in its own right, and people behind it are better supported through discussions of the work, not themselves.
  • You may experience, first-hand, some skirmishes of ongoing math wars. Help ever, hurt never. Avoid hurting people, even in retaliation for horrible breaches of conduct. Instead, gently stop their behaviors if you can, ask for moderator support, and in case it happens in an unfriendly forum, leave.
  • When in doubt about posting something, ask yourself: "When I am running for president, what will media say about this?"

I fully expect you to reuse other people's work in your assignments, extensively. When you do, please link and reference the source, respect intellectual property laws, and contribute enough of your own content when the assignment calls for it.

logo_math20.jpgTechnical Skills and Required Materials

There are no textbooks for this course. We will use existing OERs (open educational resources) and materials we make.

If you are able to use email, you will be able to learn how to use all technical parts of this course. Just give yourself enough time, as needed, and ask for assistance quickly.

You will need to learn 2-5 new software tools and online platforms per week, more during the first week when there are fewer other assignments to accommodate this work. I select tools for their ease of use, though your opinion on this may be different. All sites and software we use in the course are open and free. Here are examples of technical activities you may need for course tasks:
  • Use blog search to find a relevant discussion
  • Participate in a live chat using Twitter
  • Install a screen capture program and use it to highlight parts of the interactive web site you visit
  • Download and install GeoGebra modeling software
  • Modify a spreadsheet formula to work for a different type of activity

You can expect to spend 10-15 hours a week on the course, depending on the week.

You need reliable, high-speed internet access for most of the course work. For many parts, you will need a headset with a microphone. Cheap headsets ($10-15) should be sufficient for what we do.