Virginia Bastable

Mathematics education

Virginia Bastable is a leader in Developing Mathematical Ideas, a national program specializing in teacher training.

Bastable and her collaborators, including Jill Lester, SummerMath for Teachers assistant director, are the authors and creators of five books and three videos in the Developing Mathematical Ideas series (Dale Seymour Publishers). This series grows out of "Teaching to the Big Ideas," a joint National Science Foundation Teacher Enhancement Project with SummerMath for Teachers, Educational Development Corporation, and TERC, a not-for-profit education research and development organization.

"The books are fascinating," says MHC dean of faculty and mathematics professor Donal O’Shea. "My favorite is Examining Features of Shape; it has topics that you don’t see in texts but that bother first-time learners.... Even if you hate math, these books are for you; you come away with the sense of it as a profoundly human activity."

In 1998, Bastable received $24,000 from the Massachusetts Department of Education for a collaborative project with the town of South Hadley, Massachusetts, which was aimed at redesigning the teacher preparation experience. In 1996, she and Lester received a grant for $19,000 from the Exxon Foundation for their project "Inquiry into Mathematics Education: A Seminar for Undergraduates." The grant funded the development of a case-based mathematics education seminar for undergraduate students who are preparing to become elementary school teachers.