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Summer Workshop Plans


Summer Workshop Agenda

submitter: Mathematics: Applications and Reasoning Skills (MARS)
published: 09/10/1998
posted to site: 09/10/1998
The MARS Project conducted a 3-week summer workshop for approximately 270 teachers in grades K-5. All teachers were from the Baltimore City Public School System. The workshop was run by (a) Instructional Support Teachers (ISTs), who are being enhanced monthly by the MARS project to serve as school- based instructional support specialists for mathematics and science and (b) MARS Project staff from the University of Maryland. The ISTs have completed a 3-credit graduate course associated with the Project, a 3-week summer enhancement, and spend one day each week during the school year either sharing experiences, planning/preparing for upcoming in-service actions to be offered to teachers in their schools, or attending their own professional development sessions as presented by staff from the University of Maryland. During the school year, each IST rotates between two schools on a bi-weekly basis, providing on-site support.

In designing this workshop, the MARS Project took into account two concerns cited by IST's from the previous year's workshop: (1) Last year, they had provided teachers with activities which could be used in the classroom, and teachers often came to them during the year to ask for other activities that they could use. The ISTs wanted to help the teachers design, access and integrate more inquiry-based, problem-solving or undestanding-focused activities into the curricula for themselves, and (2) The ISTs thought that teachers should receive more instruction addressing mathematics content. Further, the ISTs were concerned that during the summer school for children last summer, there did not seem to be enough focus.

The objectives for this year's workshop were for teachers (1) to learn more mathematics content, (2) to develop a better understanding of the revised elementary mathematics curriculum objectives for their grades, and (3) to reflect upon and connect that content knowledge and curricular objectives in the creation of either components of or complete lesson plans that could be used in a classroom focusing on mathematical understanding.

Organization of the Summer Workshop

Approximately 270 K-5 teachers were placed in 11 grade-level cohorts of approximately 25-30 members each. There was only one cohort of Kindergarten teachers, and two cohorts of each other grade. The determination of one or two cohorts was due to pre-registration demand. Teachers of a given grade from a given school were placed in the same cohort. The ISTs identified which grade or grades they wanted to work with. The ISTs who selected grades K-3 decided to remain in grade-level instructor teams, only addressing a single grade, but together addressing all the mathematical topics in the summer session for that grade. The ISTs who selected grades 4 and 5 taught decided they would prefer to be instructors for fewer mathematics topics, but then teach those topics to teachers of both grade levels.

Agendas for one cohort in each grade level K-2, 4-5 follow. Agendas for both cohorts of Grade 3 follow to give a sense of how the topics and instructors were rotated across two cohorts of a grade.

Weeks One and Two

For each mathematics content topic, ISTs designed three sessions, each acting as a building block for the work of the next session. As you look at the agendas that follow, you will see, for example, Geometry I, Geometry II, and Assessing Geometry as the topics for three timeslots. These were three related sessions that had a common framework.

In Session I the instructors (IST or U of MD staff) presented teachers with an "adult, high-level" content problem, modeling in their own teaching the techniques that they wanted the teachers to use with their students. The intent was to engage the teachers in mathematical activity that would enrich their own problem solving and understanding. The teachers were consistently reminded that the problem being addressed was not selected for use with their students, but was selcted for their enrichment.

Session II was designed to help teachers transition from what the teachers knew about the topic to how they could teach it, with the goal of having teachers develop more pedagogical understanding for conducting, selecting, implementing, or designing activities for the classroom. Initially in Session II, the teachers examined the system's revised curriculum guide, to identify the objectives addressing that topic at their grade (same topic as in Session 1). This session could also look at the implications of research regarding children's learning of that mathematical topic. Then the session shifted to engage the teachers in developing lesson plans or components of lessons to support that mathematical topic, or a particular objective addressing that topic, at their grade level. For example, one activity was to have the teachers look at the different grade-level objectives for a topic to help teachers develop a developmental perspective on children's learning. In another activity, teachers were given a partially written lesson plan, noting the curriculum objective and the procedural gist of an inquiry-based activity, and the teachers had to work in groups to come up with questions that they could use to foster the children's analysis and understanding of the intent of the activity (actually writing the questions). On another day, the teachers were to examine some grade-level appropriate activities on the same mathematics topic and consider what were the differences in terms of mathematical objectives or goals that the activities supposedly fostered. Later in the summer workshop, the teachers actually worked in groups to write lesson plans. Throughout, the mathematical topic in Session 1 and Session II remained constant.

In Session III (noted as that same mathematical topic with "Assessing" on the agendas below), teachers looked at children's understanding of a topic and their own assessment of that understanding. Teachers might look at and discuss children's work, or a video of children explaining their approach to solving a problem, or test items, or teachers might write their own test items for children. This session attempted to focus on seeing assessment as a process for supporting reflection about students' understanding, including but not limited to paper and pencil test items. So, journaling and performance items were also possible components of Session III's in the agenda.

The 2:00 pm timeslot each day was a chance to step back and provide general information about a topic that would be applied in more depth later in the workshop during either a Session II or III format. For example, this session might discuss the use of journaling or examine aspects of using/defining rubrics. So, for example, later in the workshop during a Session III slot teachers would be asked to think about how, for example, journaling might be use to assess student's understanding of a particular mathematical topic, or they might be asked to generate and defend a rubric for a sample performance assessment item. In this way, teachers received both general background and specific training in a variety of techniques.

Week Three

Week Three was a chance for teachers to apply their training in practice--they would teach in a summer school (of over 300 children) run by the MARS Project. Teachers were placed in groups of 10-15 with teachers from the same school and grade remaining together. (Teachers from the same school remained together to help them learn to work together in a supported setting which could then be carried over to increase their in-practice collaboration.) Teachers in each group then taught a 1-hour math class and a 1-hour science class to the summer school students. (The MARS Project hired other instructors to teach reading and to monitor lunch. The children had three hours of instruction and lunch. The Project did not provide transportation.) The third week also afforded time for teacher debriefing and planning for the next day. Each day ended with a general session in which teachers either attended a session with an outside consultatnt speaker, met with their principals or prepared for the school year. This preparation period addressed long-range planning, mapping out their mathematics goals and objectives for each week in September.

To view agendas, click on appropriate grade:

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