Communication Center  Conference  Projects Share  Reports from the Field Resources  Library  LSC Project Websites  NSF Program Notes
 How to Use this site    Contact us  LSC-Net: Local Systemic Change Network
Newsclippings and Press Releases

LSC Reference Materials

LSC Case Study Reports

Annual Report Overviews

Summer Workshop Plans

Annual Report Overviews


InMath Annual Overview

submitter: Implementing Investigations in Mathematics (InMath)
published: 11/19/1999
posted to site: 11/19/1999
Implementing Investigations in Mathematics (InMath) LSC Annual Overview

March 1, 1999-August 31, 1999

Implementing Investigations in Mathematics (InMath) is a partnership between Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo, MI) and 6 school districts in west Michigan--Battle Creek Public Schools, Holland Christian Schools, Lakeshore Public Schools, Portland Public Schools, Traverse City Public Schools, and Vicksburg Community Schools. The twenty participating schools across these districts have 293 teachers and about 7,000 K-5 students. These school districts are committed to district-wide reform of their elementary mathematics program through their adoption of the NSF-funded elementary mathematics curriculum, Investigations in Number, Data, and Space. Investigations is a K-5 mathematics program aligned with national and state standards in mathematics teaching and learning. Organized around four major strands--number, geometry and measurement, data, and change--there are six to eleven modules for each grade level. The focus of the program is on reasoning and problem solving where students are required to explain their thinking orally and in writing. Successful implementation of Investigations requires that teachers understand the mathematical content, use questioning to probe students' reasoning, and promote discussion and sharing of ideas to encourage construction of knowledge by students rather than dispensing of knowledge by the teacher. The InMath collaborative is designed to help participating schools implement Investigations.

Specific project objectives are to: improve teachers' mathematical content knowledge, including knowledge of the technology employed by the curriculum; extend elementary school teachers' understanding of the pedagogical underpinnings of the Investigations program; facilitate participating teachers' abilities to critically analyze the processes of teaching and student learning; foster development of teacher leaders; foster the development of communities of learners within and across schools; and support schools' efforts to communicate positively with the community about issues pertaining to reforming mathematics teaching and learning

To accomplish these goals, week-long summer workshops, grade level meetings, annual conferences, bi-monthly school meetings, community outreach sessions, and Coordinating Council meetings are held each year. Week-long summer workshops are planned for each of the three summers of the project -- 1999, 2000, and 2001 -- on the number strand in 1999, geometry and measurement in 2000, and data analysis and change in 2001. Bi-monthly school meetings serve as school-year follow-up to summer workshops. Districts have agreed to arrange four building-wide meetings during the school year. The nature and format of these meetings is determined at the district level. Grade level meetings serve as another school-year follow-up to summer workshops and will provide teachers with opportunities to deal with issues and concerns at their particular grade level and share ideas and experiences with colleagues from different districts. During the first year, there will be one meeting held for each grade level facilitated by Project Directors. The Coordinating Council will meet bi-monthly to assess project activities, plan professional development, and discuss plans for school/district meetings. Council membership consists of one teacher from each of the 20 schools, mathematics coordinators from each of the six districts, and one parent liaison from each of the six districts. Finally, all-day annual conferences held mid-year will provide teachers with opportunities to interact with colleagues, share experiences they have had with the Investigations curriculum, develop relationships with teachers of similar interests, learn mathematical content beyond the elementary school level, and become familiar with the uses of technology in the program.

In the first few months of the project, we have had several major accomplishments to report. First is our meeting with major stakeholders in April of 1999. Math coordinators from 4 of the 6 districts (2 of the districts do not have math coordinators) attended as well as teachers and principals from all 6 districts to solidify plans for the next three years, to discuss ways of supporting teachers through this change process, and to further develop the collaborative tone necessary for the success of this project. There is a strong support system in place for teachers and a solid commitment to long-term efforts considering the fact that all districts have chosen to implement the Investigations program as their mathematics curriculum.

Second, is our strong attendance at our professional development sessions, particularly the first week-long summer workshop. Thus far, a total of 297 teachers have participated in 8,639 professional development hours for an average of 29 hours per teacher. We offered the summer workshop twice, in June and in August. It focused on the number strand, which is the primary concern for elementary teachers. A total of 234 participants attended the week-long workshop, including 13 administrators and 14 special education or resource teachers. As can be seen in the evaluation report, the workshops were considered a success by the participants. We tried to achieve a balance between doing and learning mathematics content and pedagogy in morning sessions (and some afternoon sessions) and discussing specific implementation issues such as pacing, classroom management, managing materials, etc., in afternoon sessions. The blending of content and pedagogy seemed to have a major impact on the participants. Some of the more experienced teachers, who had been using Investigations for several years, commented on how it was evident that they were not doing enough questioning and probing of their students thinking. They explained that "seeing that in action" by workshop facilitators made them reflect more deeply on their own practice and ways to improve. Less experienced teachers were challenged as well during the week-long workshop to rethink their beliefs about effective mathematics teaching and learning at the same time as explore Investigations for the first time.

The Project Directors have also worked on site at two of the districts in the project. We have done module walk-throughs in Battle Creek and Vicksburg as teachers begin to implement new units. We have also worked with teachers in Vicksburg individually by observing/videotaping classroom lessons and discussing them with teachers afterwards. Several have agreed to allow us to use these videotapes for future professional development sessions with other InMath teachers, so that we can better address pedagogical and content issues around specific lessons.

Finally, the creation of this K-5 collaborative has helped support these districts in their efforts to institute a consistent and united vision for mathematics teaching and learning in grades K-12. Four of the six districts currently have reform initiatives at the middle school and high school levels and are participating in another LSC that provides long-term support and professional development. While most of these districts believed in the necessity of including elementary teachers in the reform initiative, they were also concerned about the difficulty, given the sheer numbers of teachers, limited mathematics backgrounds, and limited teacher leader resources in mathematics at the elementary level. The InMath project is helping these districts reach their goal of high quality mathematics education at all levels.