During a semester observing first-grade math instruction, I call into question how math is taught to younger children. I explore the idea of “developmental readiness” for abstract concepts, while exploring methods that might make these concepts more accessible for K-2 students. While evaluating the appropriateness of common core standards for mathematics, I try to define what good teaching looks like in a classroom with pressures from states, parents, and students.
The goal of the elementary education system is to provide children with the support and direction necessary to develop the intellect, independence, stability, skills, and motivation to thrive and be successful in childhood and the later years of their lives. The definition of “successful” varies though, and may include anything from being able to manage disabilities to achieving great awards. However, many elementary schools provide the same basic structures and supports to help all children strive towards and achieve their potential. Schools provide the basic necessities of life, space for the children to learn and move, other resources and school supplies, teams of professionals trained to meet the education, mental, and emotional needs of the children, and the classroom teacher who fights for, works with, and focuses on the students every school day. The classroom teacher is also often undervalued despite all the work he or she does for the students, the children’s parents, the administration, and the school. While it is the school system that provides the teacher for the students, it is the teacher who gives the students the guidance, enthusiasm, and aptitude for learning the things that are crucial for a meaningful life. For this reason, it is not surprising that many people can conjure up an image of a “good” teacher they have had in their life without necessarily crediting the school where they met that person. What, though, are the qualities that this individual has to be remembered so positively? Was he or she fun, enthusiastic, or inspiring? Did she get to know and take an interest in each child individually? Did he push you to do what you thought you were not capable of? It is difficult to put into exact words why a teacher had an important impact on a life, but the reason could possibly be seen through their teaching.
This is a book that is meant to teach readers how to program by exposing them to beginning programming concepts while walking them through the making of a simple webpage. The idea is that as people read the chapters, they pick up programming experience, and when they're done, they will know enough about web development to immediately apply their newly learned skills. The book is aimed at people relatively comfortable with computers who have never programmed before. For this document in the archives, I wrote three sections of the book: a preface whose goal is to allow readers to judge whether the book is right for them, as well as the first two chapters of content.