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Teaching Reflectively: Extending and Sustaining Use of Reforms in the Mathematics Classroom Annual Report Overview

published: 01/03/2001
posted to site: 01/03/2001
Preview before Submission[NSF Project Report - Version 1.2]


Kay Coleman ; Madison School District #3
Teaching Reflectively: Extending and Sustaining Use of Reforms in the Mathematics Classroom

Participant Individuals:
CoPrincipal Investigator(s) : James A Middleton; Alfinio Flores
Other -- specify(s) : Kim Hertzog; Alloway Lynn; Debbie Gordon; Laura Harnish; Sandy James; Debbie Ong; Regis Troy; Robinson Janet; Paula Schmitt; Nikki Serafin; Rhonda Sobon; Angella Valencia; Jim Wittevrongel
Graduate student(s) : Teruni DeSilva

Partner Organizations:
Arizona State University: Collaborative Research

Arizona State University College of Education is a collaborative
partner in this project.? The Co-PIs of the TREASURmath project, Jim
Middleton and Alfinio Flores are Professors of Mathematics Education
at ASU. Dr. Middleton? teaches an algebraic thinking content course
for the project and Dr. Flores teaches a geometry content course for
teachers.? Both Co-PIs also assist in workshops and summer institutes
for the project.? In all cases teachers may use their stipends to
purchase graduate credit for the mathematics courses.
The school district has also developed a partnership with the
university to offer a Master's degree cohort program in-district for
beginning teachers.? The mathematics content courses and summer
institutes are required as part of the cohort's planned course of
study.? This has provided great incentive for teachers to further
their education and meet the learning needs of the project.
This partnership has been incredibly powerful and it extends beyond
teacher development into pre-service training. Madison School District
classrooms are serving as lab settings for undergraduate students in
mathematics, courses are being taught at the local schools, and
university students spend time in the classroom settings. This work is
also supported financially by the U. S. Department of Education AZTEC
grant with Dr. Middleton as the Principal Investigator.

Vanderbilt University: Collaborative Research

Kay McClain, Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education at Peabody
College at Vanderbilt University meets monthly with 6th - 8th grade
teachers of mathematics and science to extend their understandings of
statistics. Teachers are enthusiastic about what they are learning and
the challenges they are receiving.

Arizona State University West Campus: Collaborative Research; Personnel Exchanges

Arizona State University West Campus is collaborating with the Madison
School District in developing a Professional Development School which
will be housed at Madison Park and Madison Camelview Schools.? The
faculties have worked throughout the spring and summer of 2000 to
develop the pre-service program which will be a fast track program of
12 months.? The target date for beginning this program is January of

Other collaborators:

The TREASURmath Project has also had a collaborative relationship with
EDC in field testing 'Lenses for Learning' with all district
principals and mathematics teacher leaders.? The 'Lenses' classes
provided an opportunity for the teacher and administrative leadership
within the district to work together to increase their understanding
of mathematics teaching and learning.

Activities and findings:

Research and Education Activities: 

The overall goal of the TREASURmath project is for teachers and
principals to implement and sustain reflective strategies for
mathematics instruction.? The specific objectives of this project
1: Pre-school-Grade 8 teachers of mathematics will learn, develop and
use reflective teaching strategies as a regular component of their
instruction and professional development.
2: The mathematics content background of Madison teachers of
mathematics will be enhanced in a manner to support reflective
3: The district will articulate a philosophy of using children's
thinking as a basis for instructional decisions across the district,
Pre-K through 8, in all content areas.
4: A mechanism for the professional development and support of
reflective teaching strategies with new teachers will be developed and
put in place.
5: The levels of teacher engagement with children's mathematical
thinking will be monitored using a scheme developed by Franke, et al
6: District and building administrators will develop and use practices
that support reflective teaching practices.
7: Madison students will demonstrate high levels of understanding of
mathematics on classroom, state, and local district assessments.
8: The parents and community at large will receive information that
will lead them to understand and support reforms initiated through
this project.
The project was funded mid-year so there were several major tasks for
the TREASURmath staff at the outset including: 
*Hiring and training the Math Wizards(sub cadre) who would relieve
mathematics teachers to allow time for grade level planning and
reflection during the school day facilitated by Math Teacher Leaders.
*Extending the leadership training for Mathematics Teacher Leaders in
preparing them to work alongside their colleagues in planning
instruction and developing reflective teaching skills. 
*Communicating with district stakeholders regarding the Project and
the implications for all involved.? 
*Taking care of logistical needs including scheduling the entire
school district for the grade level planning sessions with the Math
Wizards teaching meaningful lessons to students during their teacher's
planning time, scheduling the content courses with the university,
organizing the advisory council meeting to help finalize plans for the
life of the grant, scheduling community meetings with parents,
scheduling the various consultants that were needed for workshops,
planning the summer institute, organizing for administrative training,
planning the new teacher workshops, and learning how to manage a
project of this magnitude.


The initial lessons learned include:
*It is important to communicate widely and quickly about the
implications of an NSF project, specifically the requirements for the
130 hours of professional development.? Quickly map out the plans for
the life of the project and have teachers work with their principals
in planning for when they will take their training.
*The Math Wizards (sub cadre) have been an incredible success even
beyond the obvious of easing the burden for classroom teachers of
preparing for a substitute during their grade level math meetings. 
The unexpected gain from this is the training of the Wizards
themselves (all of whom were new to teaching during the first
semester) and the development of their understandings of quality
mathematics teaching.? Three quarters of the first group of Math
Wizards were hired for teaching positions for this year and are doing
a great job and clearly well grounded in pedagogy as well as content.
*There is much pressure on Mathematics Teacher Leaders (MTLs) in their
new role of supporting teachers.? Plan for training in coaching,
developing rapport, and the entire leadership piece.? Institute a
regular time for MTLs to meet with principals to discuss and problem
solve regarding the needs of the school.? We call these meetings
'Critical Triangle Meetings' because generally there are two teacher
leaders and one principal involved.
*Strategies need to be developed to work with parents in understanding
why mathematics instruction needs to change. This is a point of needed
research. We must figure out how to bring parents on board to support
their children and their schools in this very important work.

Training and Development:

*The first Algebraic Thinking class was offered in the spring of 2000.
This is one of the content courses offered in the project to extend
teachers' mathematics understanding.? 
*A Summer Mathematics Institute was offered for Level One and Level
Two teachers for 135 participants.? These institutes will be offered
each summer of the project and are facilitated by consultants, the ASU
partners, and the teacher leaders.
*Grade Level half-day planning meetings were extremely successful
during the spring of 2000.? Mathematics Teacher Leaders facilitated
these meetings which were held approximately two times a month during
the spring semester of 2000.? Teachers reported the importance of
these meetings in supporting their reflective practice, extended
understanding of pedagogy and content.? All classroom teachers of
mathematics participated in these planning meetings.? Their classrooms
were covered by Math Wizards who were hired mid-year to provide
meaningful lessons for students while their teachers were involved in
their own learning.
*Math Teacher Leaders had continued learning experiences provided by
consultants to the project.? They met twice a month as a group to
extend their content knowledge and understanding of how to work in
this role of facilitating their colleagues' growth.
*Lenses on Learning (an EDC project funded by NSF) was field tested
with all principals and teacher leaders in the district.

Outreach Activities:

The TREASURmath project and the implementation of a standards based
mathematics program has caused some turmoil within the community. 
There is a group of very active parents within the district who have
had a great deal of difficulty accepting and valuing the change in
mathematics instruction.? As a result of this conflict the district
has at times been in a reactive mode but this funding has supported
some more proactive approaches in communicating with parents.? 
The first outreach under the auspices of TREASURmath was a Community
Forum on the first evening of the TREASURmath Advisory Panel's work in
Phoenix. The Advisory Panel which includes Tom Carpenter of Wisconsin,
Norm Webb of Wisconsin, Elizabeth Phillips of Michigan and consultants
including Megan Franke of UCLA and Tom Rowan of Maryland responded to
questions which had been submitted prior to that evening.? Since this
panel has such vast expertise and knowledge in the field it was a
great evening which answered critical questions for many people in the
Aditionally, each school held Family Math Nights or parent seminars
during the first semester of the project.? The parent seminars were
new to the community and appear promising.? These activities were well
received and helped to calm the concerns of many parents in the
A number of articles were distributed in the community newsletters
including the NCTM press releases on 'Mathematics That Make Sense,
Mathematics for the Future' as well as information pieces on helping
children with mathematics at home.