A Mathematics Specialist Program: Its Structure and Impact on Practicing Elementary Teachers Nadine Bezuk & Susan Nickerson.
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A Mathematics Specialist Program: Its Structure and Impact on Practicing Elementary Teachers Nadine Bezuk & Susan Nickerson
Overview Math Specialist Certificate Program –Goals & Components Impact of the Program on Teachers Lessons Learned
Mathematics Specialist Certificate Program-- Goals and Components
Why Mathematics Specialists? “Because of the increasing mathematical sophistication of the curriculum in grades 3 - 5, the development of teachers’ expertise is particularly important. Teachers need to understand both the mathematical content for teaching and students’ mathematical thinking.” (NCTM (2000) Principles and Standards, p. 146)
What is the Mathematics Specialist Certificate Program? University-based program designed to help inservice elementary teachers improve student achievement by enhancing their mathematics teaching.
Goals and Focus of the Program Goal of the program is to improve student mathematics achievement. Focus is on helping teachers acquire: –deep understanding of the mathematics taught at elementary grades and –the skills needed to teach mathematics effectively. Program coursework links content and pedagogy in order to help teachers develop pedagogical content knowledge.
Mathematics Specialist Certificate Program 12 units of coursework –6 undergraduate units of Mathematics including number, geometry, algebraic reasoning provides a close look at the content of topics taught at the elementary level –6 graduate units of Teacher Education focusing on effective mathematics instruction, students’ mathematical thinking, and reflecting on practice)
Other Program Details Two Options –For Primary (grades K - 2) Teachers –For Upper Elementary (grades 3 - 6) Teachers Two-year Program –Start with 5 days on SDSU campus –Continue with weekly 3-hour classes afternoon at a local elementary school
Integrating Teachers’ Knowledge and Practice “Effective programs of teacher preparation and professional development cannot stop at simply engaging teachers in acquiring knowledge; they must challenge teachers to develop, apply, and analyze that knowledge in the context of their own classrooms so that knowledge and practice are integrated” (National Research Council (2001), p. 380).
How We Connect Content and Pedagogy Course calendar is interwoven, with TE and Math classes offered on consecutive weeks. Our instructors: –Plan and debrief classes together. –Attend each others’ classes and work to make connections explicit. –Model good teaching in our courses. –Visit the classrooms of the program participants.
Developing Pedagogical Content Knowledge Examine effective teaching by analyzing video and written cases and readings to help develop a vision of effective math classroom. Discuss and model powerful strategies (e.g., ELL strategies, facilitating communication in math classroom). Consider how examining student work informs planning and determining whether instructional goals were met.
Developing Pedagogical Content Knowledge –Emphasize children’s thinking and the teaching practices that support their mathematical development. –Examine student work: –Reflect on how children come to think about and understand math topics. –View videos of classrooms and of students doing mathematics and consider the implications for teaching.
Measuring the Impact of the Program on Teachers Surveyed 71 teachers who completed the program in May 2004. Compared the performance of participating teachers’ students on the California Standards Test with that of all students who took the test.
Changes Reported by Teachers 100% reported having a better understanding of the mathematics they teach. 94% reported their mathematics teaching was better. 87% said that their beliefs about teaching and learning mathematics had changed over the course of the program. - Teachers who reported no changes said the program reinforced their existing beliefs.
Changes Reported by Teachers (cont.) 90% said their expectations for students related to mathematics had changed. - Teachers who did not report a change cited high expectations already for their students. More than 95% identified specific areas of mathematics that they would like to know more about.
Other Findings Teachers are interested in further study in mathematics and math education. –23 teachers out of approximately 90 teachers from the first two years went on to take additional math coursework –7 have enrolled in a Math Ed. Master’s Degree Program at SDSU Many teachers are serving in leadership roles in their school districts.
Nexus With Student Achievement Increased growth in mathematics achievement of students of participating teachers on the California Standards Test: –In grade six, the increase in the percent of students scoring at Proficient or Advanced level was 6.48% ; district-wide, sixth grade increase was 4.1%. [Note: CST has 5 performance levels: Advanced, Proficient, Basic, Below Basic, and Far Below Basic]
Less is More (depth rather than breadth). In-service teachers often need: –Support to be reflective, and –Examples of what effective practice looks like. Must find balance between support and rigor. Effective pedagogy is more than curriculum training. Two-year program allows time to support teachers as they make changes in practice.
Lessons Learned Incentives are important and encourage teachers to participate: –Units, certificate, stipends. Integration of Math and Teacher Education coursework is essential and requires ongoing collaborative planning. Cohort model fosters a sense of learning community among teachers.
One Teacher’s Comments About the MSCP’s Impact on Her Teaching “I feel my knowledge and understanding of mathematics has been expanded to the point where I will never teach math the same again. I know too much about group/partner work, using manipulatives; reflective writing, student-directed teaching, student responsibility. In short, I feel enlightened. I feel I finally understand math.”
References National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (2000). Principles and standards for School Mathematics. Reston, VA: Author. National Research Council (2001). Adding it up: Helping children learn mathematics. Kilpatrick, J., Swafford, J. & Findell, B. (Eds.) (2000). Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Contact Information Nadine Bezuk Center for Research in Mathematics and Science Education San Diego State University 6475 Alvarado Road, Suite 206 San Diego, CA 92120 619-594-3971 email@example.com http://pdc.sdsu.edu