Activities

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Converging Curriculum: As Delaware districts seek to place as many students as possible in inclusion instructional settings, teachers of special needs students may require additional work in mathematics content and pedagogy. The Converging Curriculum project, funded by grants from the Delaware Department of Education, seeks to train these teachers in core content and powerful mathematical representations. Student work is examined and exemplary lessons explored for use in extra-time settings. Offered for teachers of grades 6 and 7 during the 2007-2008 school year, the program will be expanded to include grade 8 in 2008-2009. Stipends are provided for a cadre of Converging Curriculum teachers. Call Val Maxwell (vmaxwell@UDel.Edu) at (302) 831-0646 for further information.

Powerful Pedagogical Practices: Begun this past year, this program of professional development was crafted by the leadership of the Delaware Mathematics Coalition in response to requests from curriculum directors around the state. Teams of high school math teachers and building administrators from seventeen Delaware school districts meet monthly to explore pedagogies that support math learning for all students. Teachers are presented with challenging tasks to implement in their classrooms. Student work on these tasks is analyzed as well as videotaped interviews of students discussing their work. An emphasis is placed on understanding student thinking through effective classroom tasks and questioning strategies. Administrators are included in the discussions of classroom practice with special sessions set aside to explore communication with their mathematics faculties. Powerful use of technologies including document cameras and Smartboards are also modeled. For additional information about the “P-Cubed” program of professional development, contact Jamila Riser (jqriser@gmail.com) at (302) 857-3393.

School-Based Teacher Leaders: Entering its fifth and final year in 2008-2009, this program of professional development, funded by a Mathematics & Science Partnership grant from the US Department of Education, seeks to solve the problem of effective instruction for students at-risk of failure in middle and high school mathematics. More than three score teachers from a dozen Delaware districts work on action research projects to study the behaviors of these target students and interventions that work. At-risk behaviors that have been observed and cataloged include avoidance behaviors, dependence upon excessive teacher scaffolding, and reluctance to produce detailed written work. Teacher interventions to address these behaviors have been piloted by teachers across the state. Each spring, SBTLfest is held at the University of Delaware to showcase the work of district teams in our SBTL program. For more information, contact Thomas Fernsler (rafiki@copland.udel.edu) at (302) 831-2303.

While professional development opportunities in science have not been as plentiful as in mathematics, several new programs are worthy of mention. The GK-12 program features UD graduate students from a variety of different disciplines working alongside high school teachers to explore teaching and learning in the high school science classroom. The newly funded Nature InSpired Engineering Research Experience for Teachers project will place pairs of high school teachers in University labs for six weeks each summer with the expectation that cutting edge research experiences will translate into transformed teaching for the participating teachers as well as their colleagues. For more information on these and other science initiatives, contact Richard Donham (donham@udel.edu) at (302) 831-2617.

Ultimately, the transformation of teaching and learning in math and science depends on strong partnerships between teacher leaders across the state. To promote these partnerships and strengthen the skills of our emerging teacher leaders, MSERC sponsors bimonthly meetings of the Mathematics & Science Specialist Team (MaSST). Deepening specialists’ content knowledge is a recurring focus of these meetings as well as an exploration of effective modes of professional development. This year, we have been comparing math opportunities provided by science as well as science concepts embedded within mathematics curricula. We have also explored ways to become more effective coaches for our peers and have begun a concerted effort to develop progress monitoring tools in our Response to Intervention (RTI) work.

MSERC also provides graduate level courses of study for Secondary and Middle School Teachers.

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