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Annual Report Overviews


Annual Overview

submitter: Joint Proposal for the Dissemination of the Interactive Mathematics Program Throughout New England
published: 12/17/1998
posted to site: 12/17/1998

New England Regional Center for the Interactive Mathematics Program

Annual Report 1997-98


This project has as its main goal the dissemination and implementation of the reform mathematics curriculum of the Interactive Mathematics Program (IMP) throughout New England. During the four years of the LSC grant, we plan to establish focus schools throughout the region. Each of these focus schools will have at least 80% of their teachers receiving IMP training and will have lead teachers trained in three or four years of the curriculum. Thus we intend to establish these schools as strong centers for implementing reform mathematics and pedagogy, serving as resources for neighboring schools. We are also providing an opportunity at these focus schools for students to become better problem solvers, better communicators, and better at mathematical applications while learning concepts of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, pre-calculus, statistics and discrete mathematics.

Our training consists of having teachers attend a week of summer workshops in each year of the curriculum. The workshops weave together hands-on experience with the philosophy, curriculum and pedagogy and also in-depth exploration of the mathematics they will be teaching. This is followed by a series of school year workshops which not only include continuing look at curriculum, pedagogy and mathematics, but also provide an opportunity for teachers to discuss their on-going implementation problems and to share solutions to these problems. Co-directors also visit teachers in their classes to provide support and feedback. Ideally this cycle continues for four years.

Leadership issues are included in our workshops, starting in the first two years with fundamental issues such as informing parents and guidance counselors and in later years with issues surrounding giving workshops. Leadership training continues with the hands-on experience of a lead teacher conducting workshops with a co-director. We plan the workshops together and at the end of each day discuss how the workshops went. Thus we are developing a core of teachers who can train others.

Major Accomplishments 97- 98

This is the second year of our LSC grant. During the school year of 1997-98, the New England Regional Center (NERC) added fourteen new school to the IMP family, giving a total twenty-nine schools that were implementing the IMP curriculum. A grant from the Balfour Foundation provided funds for two of schools from Boston and for bilingual teachers from Cambridge to purchase the necessary books and materials.

During the summer of 1998, an additional seven schools sent teachers to workshops. A total of one-hundred and twenty-two teachers attended one of the six week-long workshops. Combining the two years of our grant we have now had have one-hundred and sixty teachers attending training, averaging 150 hours per teacher. Above and beyond these hours are the additional hours of one-to-one coaching by the co-directors during classroom visits, and discussing issues on the phone or via e-mail. After the second year of our grant 37% of our schools had at least 80% of their teachers participating in workshops. And 50% of our schools having at least 67% of their teachers participating, which seems to be a sufficient percent to create a major impact of departmental policies.

We have also developed a core of twelve high quality lead teachers. These teachers have now been trained in and taught all four years of the IMP curriculum. Since the start of this our lead teachers have conducted IMP training workshops. Many have also lead workshops for a variety of teachers organizations, for other teachers in their own schools or neighboring schools, and for parents.

Perhaps most importantly, we are beginning to see systemic impact in our focus schools. IMP has made a major impact at four of our original schools: Arlington, Brookline, Cambridge, and Silver Lake Regional. Due to the success of IMP, Arlington and Cambridge have now adopted reform mathematics as their middle and elementary curriculums. Due to the success of IMP, Silver Lake has rewritten its traditional curriculum to be problem based and student centered. Due to the success of the curriculum and the heterogeneous IMP classes, Brookline is experimenting by adding depth to its traditional ninth grade curriculum and making it problem based and taught in a more student centered fashion. This is allowing it to combine two of its ìtracksî. This has been so successful this year that teachers are now meeting to design such a curriculum for its tenth graders.

As for our students, the SAT test scores continue to be good, with IMP students doing as well or better than their counterparts. It is getting harder to get comparison groups at our schools, since so many teachers have now been effected in some way by IMP's presence. We also had our first set of IMP 4 students who graduated and are now attending college. Several reported back that their college interviewers were very impressed with the mathematics they had taken. A Providence College admissions counselor even stated that they were looking for students with this type of math background.

Lessons Learned

One important lesson we've learned is the importance of including resource room teachers and special needs teachers in our workshops. Although our original proposal did not include these teachers, it seems vital to include teachers to whom IMP students turn for help. Many of these teachers do not understand the mathematics. And if they do understand the mathematics, many at a lose as to how to coach IMP students rather than showing them how to do things. At the workshops resource teachers learn the math and questioning techniques which help them in their one-to-one sessions.

Another lesson we have learned is that the distance some teachers have to travel to attend our workshops has been an impediment to having all the teachers at a system trained. Many teachers who would like to attend workshops have family obligations that prevent them from staying in Boston for a week of summer training. Also, New England winters can make a long commute for a one day follow-up school year workshop unappealing. We are working with CESAME and the Vermont school systems to allow for summer workshops in other locations. And, when we have a sufficient number of teachers in a region, we are having our lead teachers in that region conduct school year workshops in coordination with a co-director.