The conference will include the esteemed speakers listed below:
Daniel Ansari, Conference Chair
Daniel Ansari received his PhD from University College London in 2003. Presently, Daniel Ansari is a Professor and Canada Research Chair in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience in the Department of Psychology and the Brain & Mind Institute at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, where he heads the Numerical Cognition Laboratory (www.numericalcognition.org). Ansari and his team explore the developmental trajectory underlying both the typical and atypical development of numerical and mathematical skills, using both behavioral and neuroimaging methods. He has a keen interest in exploring connections between cognitive psychology, neuroscience and education and served as the President of the International Mind, Brain and Education Society (IMBES) from 2014-16. Ansari has received early career awards from the Society of Research in Child Development, the American Psychological Association as well as the Government of Ontario. In 2014, Ansari was named as a member of the inaugural cohort of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada and in 2015 he received the E.W.R Steacie Memorial Fellowship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
Dr. John Mighton is a playwright turned mathematician and author who founded JUMP Math as a charity in 2001. His work in fostering numeracy and in building children’s self-confidence through success in math has been widely recognized. He has been named a Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year, an Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year for Canada, an Ashoka Fellow, an Officer of the Order of Canada, and has received three honorary doctorates.
John developed JUMP Math to address both the tragedy of low expectations for students and that of math anxiety in teachers. What makes JUMP Math unique is the premise that anyone can learn math and anyone can teach it. His national best-seller, The Myth of Ability: Nurturing Mathematical Talent in Every Child, describes his approach and successes with the program.
John began tutoring children in math as a financially-struggling playwright, though he had abandoned the subject for years after having nearly failed first-year calculus. His success in helping students achieve levels of success that teachers and parents had thought impossible fueled his belief that everyone has great untapped potential. The experience of repeatedly witnessing the heart-breaking paradox of high potential and low achievement led him to conclude that the widely-held assumption that mathematical talent is a rare genetic gift has created a self-fulfilling prophecy of low achievement. A generally high level of math anxiety among many elementary school teachers, itself an outcome of that belief system, creates an additional challenge.
John had to overcome his own “massive math anxiety” before making the decision to earn a Ph.D. in Mathematics at the University of Toronto. He was later awarded an NSERC Fellowship for postdoctoral research in knot and graph theory. He is currently a Fellow of the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences and has taught mathematics at the University of Toronto. He has also lectured in philosophy at McMaster University, where he received a master’s degree in philosophy.
As a mathematician and a playwright, John believes that there are more connections between the arts and sciences than people generally see, as mathematicians are often led by a sense of beauty or elegance in their work. His own plays have been performed across Canada, Europe, Japan, and the United States, and he has won several national awards including the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama, the Dora Award, the Chalmers Award, and the Siminovitch Prize. In a twist of fate, he played Matt Damon’s math tutor in the 1997 movie, Good Will Hunting.
Dr. Tracy Solomon is a Developmental Psychologist and Health Systems Research Scientist in the Child and Youth Mental Health Research Unit at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). She received a BSc Hon. from Trinity College at the University of Toronto, an MA from the University of Toronto and a PhD from the University of St. Andrews in the United Kingdom. She conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Chicago and as a Research Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. She joined the Child and Youth Mental Health Research Unit (formerly Community Health Systems Resource Group) at Sick Kids in 2007.
Dr. Solomon is primarily interested in early symbolic and spatial reasoning and in the development of mathematical skills. She is keenly interested in how research in the cognitive and neurosciences can inform classroom practice. Hence, most of her research takes place in mainstream preschool and elementary school classrooms. Her primary line of work focuses on identifying effective ways to teach children mathematics. She has been involved in a large-scale study investigating the effectives of two different approaches to math instruction (JUMP Math and problem-based mathematics), in diverse learners. She is also investigating the impact of different interventions on mathematical skills learning and recovery in long-term cancer patients who have returned to school. In a secondary line of work, she has been investigating the impact on self-regulation skills of two preschool curricula (Playing to Learn and TOOLS of the Mind).
Dr. Solomon is passionate about making the scientific evidence on early learning in general, and on early math learning in particular, accessible to educators. She enjoys working with teachers to determine how to translate evidence into effective classroom practice.
Dr. Immaculate Namukasa
Dr. Namukasa is an associate professor of education at Western University in Ontario and distinguished as a teaching fellow with the teaching support center at Western University, 2017 to 2020 based on her work on pedagogies incorporating maker activities in teaching.She is a past journal editor for the Ontario Mathematics Gazette – a magazine for teachers and educators and a current editor of the Math + code ‘Zine. Her research work spans three public Ontario school boards and one private school system, and she has worked with international researchers in China and Africa. Dr. Namukasa completed her Doctoral work in the department of Secondary Education. Prior to undertaking her PhD, Dr. Namukasa taught and engaged in school-level curriculum leadership in several roles in secondary school mathematics in Uganda.
Dr. Namukasa teaches and has supervised several graduate students in mathematics education, curriculum studies and research methodology and assessment in initial teacher education, academic graduate programs as well as in professional graduate programs at Western University.
Dr. Namukasa’s current research interests lie in mathematics teacher education and professional development, integration of technology and computational thinking in mathematics education, mathematics learning tools, resources and activities, and curriculum and pedagogical reforms. Her past research includes: problem solving and its role among learners and teachers; theoretical discussions on use of virtual or concrete teaching materials; and the role schooling, specifically school mathematics plays in globalization. Dr. Namukasa has produced video resources on math-for-teaching through problem solving in which Ontario teachers are featured. She has also collaboratively produced knowledge mobilization products.
Other projects that she has worked on during her spare time include STEM inclusion and excellence outreach. For more information visit http://bit.ly/IKNamukasaWesternEducation.
Dr. Erin Maloney
Erin Maloney is an Assistant Professor at the University of Ottawa and the Director of the Cognition and Emotion Laboratory. Her research, which sits at the intersection of cognitive development and education, focuses on the cognitive and emotional factors that influence math learning and the impact of parents and teachers on children’s learning. She has authored numerous academic articles and chapters, publishing in some of the highest-tier scientific outlets, and has been the recipient of two prestigious international academic awards for excellence in research. Dr. Maloney’s research has been covered in several media outlets worldwide including the New York Times, the Globe and Mail, and on CTV and the BBC. Her research is funded by grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). In addition to answering basic questions about learning, Dr. Maloney’s goal is to inform educational practice and policy.
Before accepting her position at the University of Ottawa, Dr. Maloney worked as a Senior Researcher for the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario where she investigated issues pertaining to post-secondary education in Ontario.
Dr. Jo-Anne Lefevre
Jo-Anne LeFevre is a Chancellor’s Professor of Cognitive Science and Psychology and the Director of the Institute of Cognitive Science at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Alberta in 1988. Dr. LeFevre has conducted research in the area of numerical cognition for over 30 years. She is interested on individual differences in the mathematical skills of children and adults; and in the role of parents in children’s early numeracy learning. Most recently, she has explored cross-cultural and cross-language differences in children’s early numeracy. Dr. LeFevre has received support for her research from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC) since 1988, and is also currently funded by the Social Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for a cross-cultural study of children’s home numeracy experiences. Dr. LeFevre is the Secretary of the Mathematical Cognition and Learning Society.
Sara Caruso-Taccone has worked as an educator in the Ontario public school system for the last 25 years. She has been an elementary school principal for 12 years and is currently the principal of an elementary school in the GTA. While in agreement with educational research stating effective classroom instruction is the most essential factor in student achievement, Sara’s experience as a principal has significantly broadened her understanding of the importance of strong instructional leadership in fostering and guiding teacher efficacy. Consisting of both teachers and administrators, the instructional team’s mission is to work collaboratively on a pedagogical vision that promotes a growth mindset, sustained by professional development that emphasizes a balanced, comprehensive instructional approach that enhances the learning capacity of all teachers and scholars.
Responding to teacher and parent frustration regarding students’ continued challenges in learning mathematics and retaining knowledge, Sara and the school instructional team began to use the JUMP Math resource. Since then, JUMP Math has proven to be an outstanding resource in enhancing students’ mathematical ability. Students demonstrate a positive attitude towards math learning and are excited to participate in the daily one-hour math lessons. Equally relevant and important is that JUMP Math has considerably increased the instructional capacity of classroom teachers, in all areas of the mathematics curriculum. The detailed JUMP Math Teacher Guide serves as a professional development tool, and provides a balance of guided practice and student inquiry activities. JUMP Math has bolstered student and teacher confidence, and delivers a renewed passion for mathematics learning in the school community.
Tracy White is a K-8 Mathematics Learning Coordinator for the Thames Valley District School Board. Alongside her colleagues, she has been instrumental in creating a board-wide Professional Development Series aimed at building capacity in teams of Principals, Instructional Coaches, and Math Lead Teachers. She believes that all students can learn mathematics with creative pedagogy. Finding ways for students to understand number operations and relationships starts with concrete manipulatives that connect to visual representations prior to engaging in abstract algorithms. Challenging teachers to question the traditional ways of North American standard algorithms, Tracy looks for simple ways to demonstrate basic operations. New curriculum pathways make connections between all strands of mathematics based on numerical concepts. Known as the lady who carries an abacus wherever she travels, Tracy uses this ancient mathematical tool to demonstrate mathematical concepts from Kindergarten to Grade 8. As a classroom teacher, she has been a first-hand witness to incredible growth in student achievement and school improvement in mathematics. Her main tenet of mathematics pedagogy is “Seeing math is believing math”.