The Real Story of a Moore Victory

I was listening to NPR today and a commentator was describing how a victory for Roy Moore over Luther Strange would show a declining acceptance of Donald Trump. I must disagree with this statement. Donald Trump was never “really accepted” in Alabama. As with most everyone I talked with, he was described as the better of two options: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. To make my point more clear with evidence, look back at the original Republican primaries. He won 43% of the Alabamian vote ( There are a large number of people in Alabama who make their decisions on election day based on their faith. A Moore victory today will be more likely a turn out and victory in regards to the faith of Alabama rather than any political affiliation.

In addition, Trump won votes in Alabama as an outsider coming into the Republican party. Many people in Alabama are also very anti-establishment. A victory tonight for Moore will also be likely due to an anti-establishment vote. I received a number of letters asking for my support or vote for Strange. These were backed by the Republican party, McConnell, and Trump himself. Moore represents an anti-establishment that many people in Alabama are moving towards.



2014 AP Stat Reading: Best Practices Presentation

Josh makes an excellent point. Until students incorporate service learning, they have a harder time understanding sampling variability and sampling error. They also become more familiar with sampling bias. Many ideas in the statistics class come alive when they experience service learning.

GOD & MATH: Thinking Christianly About Math Education

I was fortunate enough to be selected to give a presentation on service-learning in statistics as part of the “Best Practices” evening of the AP Statistics exam reading in Kansas City. In case you are unfamiliar with the event I encourage you to check out “Best Practices” presentations from prior years over at APStatsMonkey (even if you are familiar with the event I still encourage you to check out these great resources and consider how you might implement some of those ideas in your own classroom).

Below you will find the PowerPoint that accompanied my short and sweet 5 minute presentation (click on the image below to access the PowerPoint). Due to time constraints, the meat of the information can be found in the resource documents that I have also included below.

The main question I aim to address  is this: what is the best resource that a teacher can…

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Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All

I am thrilled to announce the publication of NCTM’s Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All, which defines and describes the principles and actions, including specific teaching practices, that are essential for a high-quality mathematics education for all students.

Principles to Actions outlines the productive practices all teachers should adopt to improve their students’ mathematics learning, and it describes practical steps that math specialists and coaches, administrators, policymakers, and parents can take to support a high-quality mathematics education.  It also presents stakeholders the actions they need to dramatically improve mathematics education.

This landmark publication builds on NCTM’s Principles and Standards for School Mathematics and the Council’s previous standards publications. It also supports implementation of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. Principles to Actions spells out Guiding Principles and actions that must be taken in each of the following: Teaching and Learning, Access and Equity, Curriculum, Tools and Technology, Assessment, and Professionalism.

The Council first defined a set of Principles that describe features of high-quality mathematics education in Principles and Standards for School Mathematics in 2000. Now in Principles to Actions it articulates and builds on an updated set of six Guiding Principles that reflect more than a decade of experience and new research evidence about excellent mathematics programs, as well as significant obstacles and unproductive beliefs that continue to compromise progress.

Principles to Actions is now on sale from the NCTM Catalog and through Members receive a discount on both the printed publication and ebook. For information on quantity discounts contact NCTM customer service at (800) 235-7566 or

Linda M. Gojak

Qualitative and Quantitative Research Validity

So I spent a day or two really diving into attitudinal survey validity. Most of the research uses Cronbach’s alpha to determine reliability or validity. Many papers call for alphas .7 or greater to measure reliable or valid. During my qualitative course however, validity is found slightly different. I used saturation and member checking as proposed by Creswell (2007) as measures of validity that more commonly relate to statistical validity. After forming an analysis, I went back and sampled two individual students of whom were not included in the original analysis to see if what I observed and analyzed were true. Questioning during the interview process was very similar however, I had the ability to know more of what I was looking for as students described their experiences learning in the observed class. I was astonished at how well my observations and analyses matched during resampling. Though Creswell describes thick rich description as a way to produce validity, I used this more as a tool to prove robustness in my analysis methodology. Using the word validity in qualitative research is much different than in quantitative (Creswell, 2007). Perhaps the word understanding would be more appropriate for what most qualitative researchers view as reliability or validity.

Change of Angle… Slightly

After starting my literature review for my dissertation this summer, I’ve come to realize that the learning environment that I’m especially interested in is directly tied to one author with little to no empirical studies scrutinizing or confirming it. This learning environment however has been researched in mathematics education. It is also hard to find in many mathematics classes. I’ve also come to realize that just analyzing curriculum, instruction, and assessment can be hairy. These things can be aligned in any classroom environment and produce specific types of learning. The misalignment is not so much of curriculum, assessment, and instruction, but how these things are used to create certain types of learning that conflict with an instructors view of what is important mathematically. I also believe that the aligning of curriculum, assessment, and instruction are very easy to do; however, alignment of these as learning tools that promote specific depths of knowledge is more difficult. Assessment is most often used only as an evaluative tool for students and is really the key factor in promoting any certain type of learning or learning environment.

Evolving Methods or Emergent Design

I completed one interview and one observation two weeks ago with the teacher and his class. It was very interesting to watch his class and how he taught after interviewing him. I believe at times he was trying to backup his beliefs and other times he was caught in doing what he dreaded. It was also interesting to watch the students. I wasn’t sure if some of their actions were based on what instruction was happening at the time or just random observations at a moment. Based on the observation I could argue both; however, there were definitely more of actions like looking at a cell phone during certain parts of the lesson.

I plan to complete my intereview/observation process today. I am going to watch the class with a specific lens however. I’m going to pay attention to how students behave when the instructor uses specific methods while at the same time monitoring more closely the time it is taking place. After the class, I plan to complete a focus group with the class. I will ask certain questions about how learning takes place for them in the course while trying to draw information from curriculum, assessment, and instruction.

Thus far, this process has really made me think about my role in a qualitative study. Observing the class and interviewing the teacher/students without being a part of the class is very different than actually being a participant observer. I can see how they both have their strengths and weaknesses.

Pilot Test

So I have finally decided to go with a qualitative narrative for my pilot study on how assessment and instruction interact to shape student attitudes. I found a class to sample this summer. I am planning to just watch the class in a few hours to get an idea of how the class operates as far as student and teacher interaction. I will later meet with the teacher to get an idea of how he believes assessment and instruction interact in his class. I will also see how he believes these two things shape student attitudes. At the end of the class, I plan to introduce myself and my research question. I’m hoping for volunteers who will be willing to tell me about a 30 minute story regarding this interaction and their experience in this and other courses. I suppose if I constrain them to this class, I will have a type of case study; however, I hate to refrain students from sharing how their attitudes have been shaped. For this reason, I’m not going to refrain students from discussing other classes.