Annual Report Overviews
Annual NSF Progress Report
Award # ESI-9555691Submitted by:
University of Washington
Creating a Community of Mathematics Learners
September 1, 1997 - August 31, 1998
Part I. Annual Overview
Creating a Community of Mathematics Learners (CCML) is a five-year local systemic change project targeting all teachers of mathematics (middle/junior high and high school teachers) from the Bellevue, Lake Washington, Mercer Island, Northshore, Seattle and Shoreline School Districts. The project is based on the belief that creating a community which supports ongoing exploration and improvement in teaching of mathematics is critical to making significant progress towards meeting national, state and district goals in mathematics education. Professional development activities focus on increasing teachers understanding of probability and geometry and issues related to content, pedagogy, and assessment; on preparing them to use exemplary curriculum materials; and on fostering a sense of a functioning community. Faculty from the University of Washingtons Mathematics Department and College of Education partner with teachers and school district personnel in planning and facilitating project activities.
The project is offering 132 hours of professional development activities in the form of workshops and summer institutes. Activities for middle/junior high school teachers began in 1996 and will continue through 1999. Activities for high school teachers of mathematics begin in 1998 and extend through 2001. CCML expects to work with approximately 600 teachers over the five years of the project.
During the 1997-98 school year, workshops continued to focus on probability (content of the 1997 summer institute), encouraged the use of exemplary curriculum materials to teach a probability unit and addressed special issues, such as, "Communicating with Parents" and "Meeting the Needs of All Students." Community building experiences were integrated into all of the workshops. The summer institute on "The Glorious Features of Geometry" offered opportunities for teachers to increase their understanding of geometry so that they can better support their students learning of geometric concepts in middle school curriculum. The institute also emphasized shared leadership for ongoing community building and provided experiences to assist teachers in planning and implementing study group sessions within their buildings.
In addition to these core experiences, the project offered teachers an opportunity to select sessions for which they had a special interest. These offerings included graphing calculators, classroom management with inquiry lessons, writing in the mathematics classroom, and classroom assessment. For teachers new to the project, the project offered an abbreviated orientation session and repeated the mathematics content of the first summer institute on four Saturdays during January and February.
Designing professional development activities to support and encourage systemic change in six different school districts has been a challenge. The teachers need for and interest in deepening their own understanding of mathematics continues to be the common ground that brings all six districts together. The state focus on education reform is also a common focal point. The project has also learned that activities related to curriculum implementation need to be designed with a great deal of latitude to allow districts to adopt to their particular circumstances.
The project made real progress in clarifying a vision of "community of mathematics learners" and in designing activities to make that community a reality within schools and across districts. These local learning communities are already considering ways to carry on the work of the project when funding is no longer available. The project intends to incorporate these ideas on community building into the high school component at an earlier stage than was done in the middle school component.