Online Education

Bank Street Recognized for Online Math Tutoring Program

Posted by Nick Gray on September 21, 2012
Math Place Online collaborators Barbara Dubitsky and Steven Goss
Barbara Dubitsky and Steven Goss

One of the hallmarks of a Bank Street education is a focus on collaborative learning, which recognizes that human interaction is key to reaching all learners where they are. That legacy continues today as the College explores how new technologies can facilitate those connections.

The Math Place Online, a joint project of the Graduate School’s Mathematics Leadership programs and Bank Street Online, exemplifies that effort. The project, a free online community that helps teachers and parents strengthen their math skills and their comfort teaching those skills, has been recognized by the Sloan Consortium for excellence in contributions to online learning at the K-12 level.

Math faculty member Barbara Dubitsky and Steven Goss, Bank Street’s Director of Online Learning, will deliver a presentation on the project at Sloan’s International Conference on Online Learning to be held in Orlando, Florida, October 10 - 12. Their presentation proposal, submitted over the summer, earned Sloan’s “Best in Track” award for K-12 Online Education—an honor that qualified them for a major conference slot to be live-streamed on October 12.

Says Goss,

That in itself is exciting. But what’s even more exciting is that this award implies an interest from practitioners in the online education community in Bank Street’s efforts to develop and improve accessible programs that use technologies to support the work of parents and educators.

Dubitsky describes the Math Place Online as a series of online tutoring sessions for teachers and parents who feel like they don’t know the math they’re supposed to know. For the pilot, which ran in spring 2012 and focused on fractions, there was no cost to participants, and sessions were open to all. When participants logged on, they worked at their own pace with digital materials and games while reaching out to peers and tutors to help each other learn. Future sessions will deal with other K-8 math topics that many find to be stumbling blocks, including decimals, percents, multiplication and division, and the basics of algebra. 

Dubitsky notes that it’s not at all uncommon for teachers and parents to feel fearful of math. She says,

Parents’ and teachers’ lack of understanding of math can lead to a vicious cycle of learning procedures and formulas that have no real mathematical meaning and don't engage the intelligence of the learner.

The Math Place Online helps to build confidence in these individuals so they can actually get excited about teaching math, which is essential to engaging children. And it makes that support available to participants no matter where they live and work. 

Sessions will begin again soon, and all it takes to participate is to email themathplace@bankstreet.edu. All registrants will be contacted by the school with necessary details for logging onto the environment.

Keep up with details from Sloan’s conference, including the October 12 Math Place presentation, at Sloan’s website.