Letters and Science Distinguished Speakers Series, Sybilla Beckmann
Strand Union Building, Procrastinator Theater
How do we enact a vision of mathematics teaching in which mathematical reasoning and sense-making play a central role? How do we make mathematics teaching a strong and vibrant profession? In this presentation Dr. Beckmann will argue that widespread improvement in mathematics teaching and learning requires a community of mathematics teachers, from Pre-kindergarten through the college level, who discuss their work in depth, build on each other's ideas, and work towards a shared view of excellent mathematics teaching. Further, she will argue that opportunities to gain peer recognition and high standing within the community are more likely to be important drivers of excellence in mathematics teaching than are external measures of assessment or oversight. So to professionalize mathematics teaching, we should find ways to communicate across all levels of our discipline, and ways to vet and extend each other's work, as in the sciences.
Sybilla Beckmann is the Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor of Mathematics at the University of Georgia. She has a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Pennsylvania and taught at Yale University as a J. W. Gibbs Instructor of Mathematics. Beckmann has done research in Arithmetic Geometry, but her current main interests are the mathematical education of teachers and mathematics content for students at all levels, but especially for Pre-kindergarten through Grade 8. Beckmann developed several mathematics content courses for prospective elementary school teachers at the University of Georgia and wrote a book for such courses, Mathematics for Elementary Teachers, published by Pearson Education, now in a fourth edition. She is interested in helping college faculty learn to teach mathematics content courses for elementary and middle grades teachers and she works with graduate students and postdoctoral fellows toward that end. Beckmann has participated in a number of national initiatives in mathematics education, including as a member of the writing teams of NCTM's Curriculum Focal Points for Pre-kindergarten through Grade 8 Mathematics and the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. Several years ago Beckmann taught an average 6th grade mathematics class every day at a local public school in order to better understand school mathematics teaching. Beckmann has won a number of awards, including the 2014 Louise Hay Award of the Association for Women in Mathematics.
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