All posts by Jim Ryan

Jim Ryan no longer works with Key Curriculum Press. His posts and biography have been preserved for the archives. -- I began teaching math at Carlmont High School in the early 90s in the Academy program (read, high-risk students); after 5 years of teaching I moved next door to the San Mateo Union High School District to be an administrator. In 2002 I joined Apple to work on their PowerSchool software. And now, I’ve been with Key for over 6 years. During that time I’ve been the Textbook Product Manager, Professional Development Director, Director of Marketing and now Vice President of Marketing. Yet, when I am asked to evaluate an educational service or product, the first question I ask myself is: How would this help my Academy students learn math?

The Basis for Life on Earth

Schools should use open-source textbooks rather than traditional textbooks. That’s the case David Thornburg makes in a recent blog post on Edutopia. Dr. Thornburg bases his reasoning on last month’s discovery by NASA that a microorganism living in Mono Lake uses arsenic rather than phosphorous to construct its DNA. He is entirely right … Continue Reading ››

Teaching to Standards and Teaching to a Test: What’s the Difference?

I’ve engaged in discussions trying to answer this question ever since I started teaching AP calculus in 1995. Since 2001, when the No Child Left Behind assessments and high school graduation exams were implemented, this question has become even more relevant. In fact, it has raised more questions than answers. For instance: Continue Reading ››

“Never Give Up!” Really? Do You Mean It?

During the past 20 years of working in and visiting schools, the most common slogan I have seen in classrooms is “Never Give Up!” The poster below is just one example of the many that we have all seen hanging on classroom walls, encouraging students to persevere when learning becomes difficult. Continue Reading ››

So, What Counts as Mathematics?

Last week Andres referenced the Washington Post op-ed, How much math do we really need? This is an important question, particularly since more states are requiring students to take advanced algebra to graduate from high school.  But, I am more interested in the question:

Does taking math matter if students can’t use it?

Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There: Words of Advice from a Common Core Author

“Don’t just do something, stand there.” That’s a line Dr. Bill McCallum, one of the writers of the Common Core State Standards, used in his presentation at the California Algebra Forum in San Jose, CA, which I attended last week.

Dr. Bill McCallum, one of the writers of the standards, used the line, “Don’t just do something, stand there,” when introducing the Standards for Mathematical Practice. He described a how he uses this line frequently in his teaching and it immediately struck a chord with me.

Will the Common Core State Standards change math instruction?

I regularly tell my colleagues that teaching AP Calculus made me a much better pre-algebra teacher. Why? It's not like 17-year-old calculus students and 17-year-old pre-algebra students have similar learning styles and needs. A calculus course takes pre-algebra skills for granted. So I can’t point to a great deal of content overlap. The reason is simple: … Continue Reading ››