Mathematics 141 :  Mathematical Concepts for Elementary Education II
Spring 2023

Professor:           Jeff Johannes                Section 5    TR   11:00a-12:15p     Math Learning Centre - South 332 (sometimes, including exams, in Fraser 116)
Office:                South 326a                    
Telephone:          5403 (245-5403)
Office Hours:   Monday 5-6p Fraser 116, Tuesday 8-9p South 336, Wednesday 2-3p Fraser 104, Thursday 4-5p Fraser 116, Friday 12-1p Fraser 116, and by appointment or visit.
Email Address:

Course Materials  

    Lab Activity Manual by Jonathan Duncan
    Occasional additional handouts provided

Required Supplementary Materials


Course Goals and Philosophy

    The purpose of this course is to revisit the content of the elementary mathematics curriculum with the focus on understanding the underlying concepts and justifying the solutions of problems dealing with this material. The focus is not on being able to perform the computations (the how to do it), although that is a necessity as well, but on demonstrating an ability to explain why you can solve the problem that way or why the algorithm works that way. You will need to be able communicate your explanations both verbally and in writing with strict attention to the mathematical accuracy and clarity of your explanation. You will have the chance to work with mathematical concepts in an active, exploratory manner as recommended by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM):
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. Mathematics learning is not a spectator sport. 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.
    If you feel a need to review elementary school mathematics, this is your responsibility.  For this purpose, I recommend reading our textbook and consulting with me outside of class.  For a reference on the content of elementary school mathematics, here are the New York State Standards for Mathematics.
    It is also the purpose of this course to improve your ability to engage in mathematical thinking and reasoning, to increase your ability to use mathematical knowledge to solve problems, and to learn mathematics through problem solving.  The emphasis in this course is on learning numerical mathematical concepts through solving problems.  You will often work with other students for the following reasons:  Group problem solving is often broader, more creative, and more insightful than individual effort.  While working on problems with others, students practice putting their mathematical ideas and reasoning into words.  This ability to explain mathematics is clearly essential for future teachers.  While working in groups, students learn to depend on themselves and each other (rather than the instructor) for problem solutions.  In groups, students can motivate each other to excel and accept more challenging problems.  Motivation to persevere with a difficult problem may be increased.  Socialization skills are developed and practiced.  Students are exposed to a variety of thinking and problem-solving styles different from their own.  Interaction with others may stimulate additional insights and discoveries. conceptual understanding is deeper and longer-lasting when ideas are shared and discussed.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of Math 141 - Mathematical Concepts for Elementary Education II , a student will be able to:

    Upon successful completion of the R/ requirement, students will be able to



    Your grade in this course will be based upon your performance on participation, weekly questions, three exams, and the final project.  The weight assigned to each is designated on the left in the grade definition scale given on the right:
        10% - Participation                                                 
        10% - Weekly Questions                                         
        20% - In-Class Exam                  
        15% - Final Project                                             
        25% - Comprehensive Final Exam


    You are preparing to enter a profession where good attendance is crucial and expected.  It is important that you make every attempt to attend class, since active involvement is an integral part of this course.  Since much of the class is experiential, deriving the same benefits by merely examining someone's class notes or reading the textbook would be impossible.  Each class period you will be working on activities with your group.  If you are working in your group you will receive one participation point that day.  If you also participate to the class as a whole (answer a question, present a solution, ask an insightful question, submit a report if the entire group works remotely, or offer important relevant commentary) you will receive two participation points for that day.  If you are not working in your group, you will receive no points for that day.  Working each day and never speaking in class will earn 80%.  Speaking every other day on which there is an opportunity to speak will earn 95%.  Scores between will be scaled linearly. 

Opening Meeting

    Students will earn two extra participation points by visiting office hours during the first two weeks of classes, i.e. no later than 6 February. 

Weekly Questions

    On Thursdays, I will assign a question relating to the topic for the previous week.  They will be due approximately once a month as indicated on the schedule.  The goal of these assignments is for you to write substantial explanations of the main concepts presented in class.  They will eventually be incorporated into your final project.  Before the final project, they will be collected for completeness and marked with suggestions.  Assignments are due at the start of class and must be easy to read. Late assignments will not be accepted.
    These questions and papers will be graded on the following scale
        Question    (out of 2)                                                    
        0 - missing question                                                     
        1 - question attempted, but incomplete work
        2 - question addressed seriously and in depth
    In order to provide you with extensive comments, there may be delays in returning these papers.


     Two in-class exams will be given. Their focus is largely conceptual and problem solving based.  You should be able to explain the concepts behind any calculations, algorithms, etc. Material will come from activities, discussions in class, and the text. For example, you will need to be able to explain clearly and with mathematical accuracy why we can solve problems in certain ways or why various algorithms or procedures work mathematically. You will also need to be able to use and explain the use of the manipulatives relevant to the material.
    In-class exams will have two parts - the first part is devoted to a group exam, in which your group will complete an activity much like those done in-class.  You will submit one well-written presentation of your findings from each group.
    Individual exams will contain six questions:  four of the questions will be direct problems.  Two of the questions will be more open ended and ask you to explain key concepts from class.   The exams will be graded as follows:  you will receive 40 points for attempting the exam.  You may earn up to 10 points on each of the questions. 
    Make-ups for exams will be given only in extreme cases with arrangements made with the instructor prior to the exam or if there is a verifiable medical excuse or permission from the Dean of Students. If you miss an exam and we have not made arrangements prior to the missed exam, you must contact me before the next class.

Final Project

    This project will be a collection of weekly question items that you will write up throughout the semester. This collection could one day be included in your professional portfolio to demonstrate your level of mathematical understanding and preparation and your ability to communicate mathematics in a clear and correct manner. Details on this final project will be given out in class.


    I have created a web-site which accepts anonymous comments.  If we have not yet discussed this in class, please encourage me to create a class code.  This site may also be accessed via our course page on a link entitled anonymous feedback.  Of course, you are always welcome to approach me outside of class to discuss these issues as well.   Occasionally I will ask you to give feedback about particular details in the course using this website. 

Math Learning Center

    This center is located in South Hall 332 and is open during the day and some evenings. Hours for the center will be announced in class. The Math Learning Center provides free tutoring on a walk-in basis.

Academic Dishonesty

    While working with one another is encouraged, all write-ups of weekly questions and final projects must be your own. You are expected to be able to explain any solution you give me if asked. Weekly questions and individual portions of exams will be done individually. The Student Academic Dishonesty Policy and Procedures will be followed should incidents of academic dishonesty occur. 


    Occasionally you will be given anonymous feedback forms.  Please use them to share any thoughts or concerns for how the course is running.  Remember, the sooner you tell me your concerns, the more I can do about them.  I have also created a web-site which accepts anonymous comments.  If we have not yet discussed this in class, please encourage me to create a class code.  This site may also be accessed via our course page on a link entitled anonymous feedback.  Of course, you are always welcome to approach me outside of class to discuss these issues as well. 


    SUNY Geneseo is dedicated to providing an equitable and inclusive educational experience for all students. The Office of Accessibility will coordinate accommodations, auxiliary aids, and/or services designed to ensure full participation and equal access to all academic programs, activities, and services at SUNY Geneseo. Students with letters of accommodation should submit a letter and discuss needs at the beginning of the semester. Please contact the Office of Accessibility Services for questions related to access and accommodations.  Erwin Hall 22 (585) 245-5112

Religious Holidays

    It is my policy to give students who miss class because of observance of religious holidays the opportunity to make up missed work.  You are responsible for notifying me no later than February 7 of plans to observe the holiday.  

Military Obligations

    Federal and New York State law requires institutions of higher education to provide an excused leave of absence from classes without penalty to students enrolled in the National Guard or armed forces reserves who are called to active duty. If you are called to active military duty and need to miss classes, please let me know and consult as soon as possible with the Dean of Students.


    This is a course in the mathematics department.  This is your mathematics content course.  In this course, you will develop a mathematical background necessary in order to teach elementary school students.  You will deepen your understanding of gradeschool mathematics topics and connections.  You will not be learning how to teach mathematics to children, that is the purpose of your methods course in the school of education.  As a mathematician, I am trained to teach you mathematics, and I will do that.  I am not trained to teach you how to educate, and that is not the goal of this course.  Please keep this in mind.  
    We will be undertaking a great amount of interactive group work in this course.  You may view these as games.  If you come in eager to play, then you will be more likely to be successful and perhaps occasionally enjoy the games.  If you come in saying "I don't want to play this stupid game," we will all be annoyed and frustrated, and the course as a whole will be less successful.  Please play nicely.
    Out of necessity, I am more formal in class and more personal out of class.  If you ever want additional help, please come to see me either during my office hours, at an appointed time, or by just stopping by (I am frequently in my office aside from the times that I will certainly be there).  It is important that you seek help when you start needing it, rather than when you have reached desperation.  Please be responsible.
    Teaching is one profession where you have direct impact on hundreds of lives.  It is truly an incredible responsibility.  It is vitally important that teachers set high expectations for themselves and their students.  Daily preparation of interesting, instructive lessons for twenty-five or more active children of varying aptitudes is extremely challenging.  I am dedicated to helping you prepare for this exciting career, and will try to help you reach your full potential.  Best wishes for a challenging and fulfilling semester.  


(This schedule is subject to change, but I hope to hold mostly to this outline.)  Two numbers separated by a period refer to explorations that we will be studying that day in class from the manual linked above.  I will put needed supplies in [brackets].

January 24  Introductions, snowflakes [paper, scissors]
January 26  B8.8 + video#20 [paper, scissors]

January 31  7.1, 7.2 - Please use this map for the dining hall question. [notebook or stack of paper, rulers]
February 2  B10.6, B10.7 [dot paper in the role of geoboards]

February 7  7.3, start 7.4 [colour tiles, dot paper]
February 9  7.4, 7.5 [dot paper]

February 14  7.6, 7.7 [string, ruler, scissors, templates for circles and cones]
February 16  7.8, 7.9 Weekly Questions due [blocks, any cyclinder (can, water bottle, …)]

February 21  First Exam (Fraser 116)
February 23   15  [graph paper]

February 28 Diversity Summit
March 2  7.13,  B9.6  [only the activities themselves]

March 7  7.18, 6.5 [protractor (not a compass - please don't confuse them), ruler]
March 9  6.14 and extension [compass and ruler]

March 21   7.19, 7.20 [pattern blocks, dot paper]
March 23    B8.9, 6.2 [only activities and my directions]

March 28  7.22 [only activities] Weekly Questions due
March 30  6.4 [pattern blocks, protractor maybe]

April 4 Second Exam (Fraser 116)
April 6 6.8 [only activity]
April 11 6.3 [only activity]
April 13 6.10 [blocks; isometric dot paper]

April 18 8.10 [spinners, dice, items from a bag]
April 20 8.11 [items from a bag]

April 25 8.3 [only activity]
April 27   B7.15, 8.5 [items from a bag]

May 2   8.7 [only activity] Weekly questions due
May 4   8.8  [websites or coins]

May 9   Review (Fraser 116)

May 12 Final Project due by 5p

Thursday, May 18 12:00N - 3:00p Final Exam (Fraser 116)