Math 200 * Mathematical Concepts for Future Teachers I* Fall 2012

Course Syllabus


Instructor:                  Dr. Perla Myers                                   Office:                        Serra Hall 133A

Email:                                     Phone:            260-7932        

Web Page:        

Meeting Times:          Tuesdays and Thursdays: 10:45am-12:05pm


Office Hours:             Monday 9-10:30pm, Tuesday 9-10am, Wednesday 1-3:30pm or by appointment.


Mathematics Learning Center (MLC) Drop-in Hours: The MLC will be open starting Wednesday, September 12th.  The MLC drop-in tutoring hours are free and available for all USD students:  Monday through Thursday, 11am-2pm and 7pm-9pm; Friday 11am – 2pm; Sunday 7pm-9pm. 


Prerequisites:             Math 115: College Algebra with a grade of C or above.


Required Supplies:    Mathematics for Elementary Teachers by Baldridge and Parker packaged with five Singapore Primary Mathematics books (3A, 4A, 5A, 6A Textbooks and 5A Workbook).

A large three-ring binder with dividers and loose-leaf paper, graphing paper, ruler, compass, protractor, a small shoebox, stapler, scissors, and colored pens/pencils


Computer Account: I will send out notices via email, and post assignments and place other relevant information on the course web page.   


Purpose of the Course:  Math 200 is a content course for people intending to become elementary school teachers.  It is designed to improve, broaden and deepen your proficiency, appreciation and understanding of mathematics, to appreciate that mathematics is universal and understand issues that transcend culture and those that do not, and to help you acquire some specialized mathematical knowledge for teaching.  Issues such as “the mathematics kids need to know” and “methods for teaching elementary school mathematics” will be addressed in the mathematics methods courses you will take through the School of Leadership and Educational Sciences. 


As future teachers you will be responsible for the mathematical education of children.  One of the most important gifts you can give children is to help them grow as discoverers, inventors, and users of mathematics in order to better understand the world.  Children can become powerful mathematical thinkers if the learning environment is structured so that children's work in mathematics more closely resembles the work of mathematicians in the field.  Since doing mathematics often involves ill-defined situations and complex problems, young mathematicians must develop persistence and flexibility, build on one another's ideas, and communicate and justify their findings.  In order for you to help children develop these life-long skills, you too must be a successful, confident problem-solver with a deep understanding of fundamental mathematics.


We will spend a lot of our class time working on problems and explaining problem-solving approaches to help you develop reasoning, problem-solving, and explanation abilities.  You will practice explaining and interpreting other students’ explanations to determine their mathematical validity.  The skills you gain while making sense others’ thought process and helping them grasp concepts will be essential when you become a teacher.  An important part of learning to solve problems is the willingness to struggle with a problem even after you get stuck, and this is one of the first things you will face this semester.  You may be surprised by how much you can do if you just keep working!  The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) recommends:


Knowing mathematics means being able to use it in purposeful ways.  To learn mathematics, students must be engaged in exploring, conjecturing, and thinking rather than only rote learning of rules and procedures… When students construct knowledge derived from meaningful experiences, they are much more likely to retain and use what they have learned.  This fact underlies the teacher’s new role in providing experiences that help students make sense of mathematics, to view and use it as a tool for reasoning and problem solving.


One of the main purposes of this course is to increase your problem-solving abilities.  To this end, many of the problems you will encounter are not at all similar to examples you will have seen, and some of the individual homework and exam problems will probably take you longer than you may be used to.


As you gain more knowledge and experience, you will:

·         Become more confident in your ability to do mathematics with understanding.

·         Become a persistent and successful mathematical problem solver.


Learning Outcomes: 

By the end of the semester, you should be able to:

1.          Solve problems involving number and operations concepts effectively in multiple ways.

2.          Explain the standard algorithms for addition multiplication, subtraction, and division, as well as non-standard algorithms.

3.          Explain place value and different models for arithmetic effectively in order to help others understand why a claim is true or false.

4.          Apply the arithmetic properties (commutative, associative, distributive, identity, inverse) to justify procedures.

5.          Apply and explain the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic.

6.          Work with and explain fractions, rates, percentages, and ratios.

7.          Identify and work with numbers from different sets (rational, real, integers, etc.)

8.          Identify, define, classify and draw models of numbers according to their characteristics.

9.          Make and test conjectures.  Identify invalid reasoning and provide counterexamples to disprove statements that are not always true.

10.      Write and explain complete proofs of theorems and formulas involving number and operations concepts (recreate a proof, prove something different that uses the same principles, and explain why certain specific steps of a proof make sense and what their purpose is). Determine and explain when particular theorems apply to a situation and apply them correctly. 

11.      Perform mental arithmetic effectively.

12.      Identify when it is appropriate to introduce a variable.

13.      Identify and explain the validity of others’ statements and explanations and compare them.

14.      Select and apply representations (verbal, symbolic, visual, material, manipulative, technological) and examine correspondences and equivalences among representations.

15.      Clearly communicate complete solutions to problems verbally and in writing. This involves using complete sentences to explain individual steps in the solutions, correct notation and proper units.

16.      Explain, interpret and correctly apply definitions.  Provide examples and non-examples to illustrate definitions.

17.      Summarize and apply information based on the reading of mathematical information and develop your own questions to guide your reading.

18.      Apply methodologies for mathematical concept development used in other countries. 

19.      Incorporate ideas, techniques and styles for teaching mathematics from other countries.

20.      Apply correct terminology associated with numbers and operations and explain the role of language and precision in mathematics in oral and written communication.

21.      Discuss cultural differences in mathematical terminology.

22.      Apply knowledge gained in class to real teaching experiences with children.






Course Expectations:

What I expect from you:

You are expected to conduct yourself maturely and respectfully in the classroom so that the classroom atmosphere will remain supportive and positive:

·         You will come ready to ask questions, explore, make mistakes, reflect and grow while helping others grow.

·         You will not settle for answers, rules and formulas—you will work until the rules and formulas are fully understood, and the answers are justified and connected to other ideas.


This will be a difficult course and most of you will find it challenging.  We will face the challenge together with a positive attitude. Although there may be times when you feel overwhelmed at the quantity or difficulty of the work, keeping a positive attitude is essential to your success and the success of those around you.


Expect to spend at least 6 hours per week studying for this challenging college-level course. 



What you can expect from me:

·      Respect and Encouragement.  I respect your decision to pursue a degree in education in order to take on such an important role in our society—that of teaching our future generations.  I assume you are in this class because you want to be, just as I am.  We share a common desire to grow as teachers and learners.  You can expect our time together to be productive.

·      I want you to succeed!  I will provide the learning environment and opportunities for you to improve, broaden and deepen your understanding and appreciation of mathematics.  I will provide the support necessary for you to succeed in this course, both in and out of class.  I am available during my office hours and by appointment, as well as via email.


Attendance Policy: I expect that you are committed to learning and will attend every class on time and ready for a prompt start.  The time in class is crucial for achieving the goals of the course. 

The learning community we create in class will benefit from the sharing of ideas, questions and mistakes. 

For those students that miss no more than one class (excused or unexcused) the final exam score may replace the single lowest exam grade.


Grading:   Your grade will be determined by 2 exams (35%), quizzes (10%), cumulative final exam (30%), homework (10%), community service learning (10%) & class participation (5%).


* Weekly quizzes: You will have a short quiz most Thursdays in the beginning of class. There will be no make-ups for quizzes you miss, but your lowest quiz score will not be counted in your quiz grade.  These quizzes are designed to give you an idea of areas where you need more work and, therefore, you may make up quizzes for some credit after they are graded.


* Two exams:  The first exam will be a written exam.  The second exam will consist of two parts, a written part, and an oral part.  The exams are tentatively scheduled: Exam #1: Thursday, October 11th, Exam #2 (written part): Tuesday, November 20th, Exam #2 (oral part): TBA.


* A Cumulative final exam (may include written/oral parts): Tuesday, Dec. 18th, 11:00am – 1:00 pm.


* Homework and Writing Assignments:

1)       Reading Questions: The elementary school curriculum is in constant flux, and teachers are expected to adjust to the new methods.  Thus, you will be required to learn new mathematics on your own.  Searching for information and reading to learn mathematics (or any other technical material) are skills that take practice.  The reading questions provide opportunities to develop these important skills.

2)      Practice/Exploration questions/Projects: Questions from the book and additional questions from other resources will help you practice your math skills and your problem-solving abilities.  Budget your time wisely, and start working on the homework as soon as you receive it.  You may ask homework questions during office hours and via email. 


Late homework will only be accepted with your attached “late voucher” up to one class after the due date.


** Community Service Learning Components:

Pen pal letters: Each pair of future teachers will correspond with two or three children in 5th or 6th grade about mathematics weekly.  You will describe and explain some of the concepts you are learning in class and will read about the mathematics the children are learning.   The purpose of this experience is for you to interact with children mathematically.  You need to create opportunities to explain mathematics and to have the children explain mathematics to you.  Each letter should include at least:

·      A pleasant greeting and some getting acquainted conversation (example: sharing some weekend activities, your favorite books, your pastimes, your family background, and asking the children about theirs).

·      Careful/thoughtful responses to the children’s questions and problems (you may write notes to the individual children within your letter).

·      A description/explanation of one of the concepts you are learning in class: “Talk” to the children about the concepts.  You can also ask questions about these topics, or ask them what they think they are.

·      A worthwhile mathematical problem for the children related to the concepts we are learning in class and questions about the mathematics the young students are learning in order to find out about the children’s understanding.

·      You may also include puzzles, drawings, math games, etc.


Family Math Night (scheduled for Wednesday, November 28th, 5:00 pm-8:00 pm at Longfellow School):

Our class (and a couple other classes) will hold a Family Math Night for Elementary School families. Each pair of students will develop a "worthwhile mathematical task" appropriate for elementary school children and their parents.  Our goals for the school are to provide positive mathematics experiences for the families, to engage children and their parents in mathematical thinking, to give children an opportunity to see that their parents value mathematics and to help students discover the fun of doing mathematics, reinforcing their positive attitudes.  More information will be provided later.


Benefits of the Community Service Learning components for you:

·        Making connections between the mathematics you are learning and that which is taught in elementary school. 

·        Reinforcing your understanding by creating an activity and writing about your learning and composing explanations/solutions to children’s questions.

·        Practice formulating explanations appropriate for school-age children.

·        Satisfaction of becoming children’s role model, helping them reinforce their understanding and become more successful in mathematics.

·        You may include these activities in a job application, résumé, school application, etc.


Your commitment:

·        Communicate with your pen-pals each week throughout the semester.  Turn in your letter on time, as the children look forward to receiving them. 

·        Learn about the children’s mathematical thinking and share your insights with the class.

·        Develop a 25-30 minute worthwhile mathematical task appropriate for 4th-5th) using the concepts we have learned in class (or will learn in class).  A worthwhile mathematical task:

·         is accessible to everyone at the start, is extendible, involves students speculating, explaining, justifying, etc, encourages collaboration, and is engaging.  Be sure to satisfy all the characteristics of a worthwhile mathematical task.  Your activity should be a “why” activity; not just a “how” activity.

·        Be ready to share your activity with several groups of children.

·        Provide handouts so children can remember, continue and extend the activity at home.

·        Turn in the letters and a reflection paper at the end of the semester.


Academic Integrity Policy: Cheating and Plagiarism are serious offenses and will be treated severely

(see  Although I encourage you to work with others, the work you turn in should be your own.  Always cite your sources and your collaborators.


 “Those who can, do.  Those who understand, teach.”  --Lee Shulman