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Annual Report Overviews


Creating a Community of Mathematics Learners (CCML) Annual Overview

published: 12/21/2000
posted to site: 12/21/2000


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 six districts: Bellevue, Lake Washington, Mercer Island, Northshore, Seattle, and Shoreline. 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 mathematics and issues related to curriculum, instruction and assessment; on preparing them to use exemplary curriculum materials; and on fostering a sense of a functioning community. Faculty from the University of Washington’s Departments of Mathematics and Statistics, College of Education and Educational Outreach partner with teachers and school district personnel in planning and facilitating project activities.

The project offers 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 continued through 1999. Activities for high school teachers began in 1998 and will extend through 2001. CCML expects to work with approximately 600 teachers over the five years of the project.

The fourth year signaled the completion of the middle school component of the project and the further extension of the high school segment. While the middle school teachers celebrated the conclusion of their phase of the project at a dinner meeting and a mini-conference held at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center in November, project staff hosted the orientation sessions that introduced the second cohort of high school teachers to CCML. Participants were encouraged to incorporate and build on the work of the feeder middle/junior high schools as they planned and extended the work of their Local Learning Communities.

The Local Learning Communities (LLCs) began with middle school teachers in the third year of the project. Recognizing the value of these communities, the project staff introduced high school teachers to the LLC concept at their first orientation meeting. LLCs are groups of teachers within a school who take responsibility for assessing their needs and designing appropriate in-service experiences. During the academic-year workshops teachers worked in planning teams to create Community Action Plans, which involved: setting immediate and long-term goals, defining strategies to reach those goals, identifying the necessary structure and resources, and developing indicators to monitor success. The goal in forming LLCs was to create a structure within schools that would support long-term systemic change.

Continuing to articulate the change process at the site level, staff members divided their focus between delivering professional development workshops, supporting the work of the LLCs, and sustaining participant growth and needs at the district level. Activities for year four were built around a three-pronged approach as illustrated by the following graphic:

chart of CML community relationshsips


All workshops were designed to address these components:

    1. Increasing participants' content knowledge
    2. Increasing pedagogical knowledge (Using the ACT model of assessment, curriculum, and teaching.)
    3. Preparing for the work in their LLCs.

Workshops continue to challenge participants’ mathematical and pedagogical assumptions against the framework provided by the NCTM’s Principles and Standards. In addition, participants were encouraged to evaluate their teaching practices within the requirements outlined by the Washington Assessment of Student Learning. Providing Standards-Based curricula as models, project staff encouraged the LLC’s to employ action research as they evaluated the effectiveness of the pedagogical practice within their schools and began the process of reflection and adaptation.

During the year, project staff moved increasingly to support the work of the project at the district level. Along with the district representatives, staff members worked to anticipate the needs of the LLC’s. As a result, a Focus Group Dinner was held in March that encouraged a representative sampling from all six districts to assist the staff in identifying the evolving needs of the various schools. It became clear that a number of factors were impacting the work of the LLCs:

    • Amount of district support provided for incorporation of the "new" Washington state standards in preparation for the 10th grade Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL). Increasing anxiety over the results of the 1999 10th grade WASL scores. Timeframe for district adoptions of Standards-Based curricula.
    • Degree of district support for ongoing professional development as districts began to note the scarcity of available substitutes and shifting district resources.

The resulting feedback from the dinner allowed staff members to be proactive in their efforts as they designed the spring and summer workshops to more accurately reflect the expressed needs of participants. Consequently, Struggling Student and Standards-Based curricula workshops were added to the summer schedule. Project staff also reinforced their efforts to meet with individual principals and district administrators as they continued to identify and support the needs of the LLCs.

Year four ended with a one-week Summer Institute on Data repeated over three separate weeks, as well as a three-day Struggling Student workshop, a three-day Standards-Based Curricula workshop and a Calculus course offered by George S. Monk. Participants were able to sign up for one or all of the offerings. The various summer offerings provided participants with the following professional development opportunities:

    • An intense look at data analysis, statistics and/or mathematical modeling
    • Strategies for supporting students who struggle with mathematics
    • A view of the content participants teach against a Standards-Based model, with consideration for how best to modify individual participants’ instructional practice
    • A hands-on approach to calculus.

As the high school cohort ended the first year of their involvement in the project, project staff continued working to identify and target the needs of participants at the building level. Clearly high school teachers respond best to professional development that is specific to their expressed needs, and that takes into account limitations of time and resources that affect their involvement. Consequently, the work of the project in year five will continue to emphasize the work of the LLCs at the building level in an effort to further develop and expand the cohort structure, as well as the sense of shared leadership among participants.