Math Collaborative Prepares Teachers to Meet New Standards

COLUMBUS, GA. -- New Georgia Performance Standards for mathematics reflect a growing national consensus to focus beyond routine ciphering, and Columbus State University's Columbus Regional Mathematics Collaborative is preparing K-12 teachers for the changes.

Increasingly, math teachers need to be adept at guiding and evaluating their students in open-ended, more complex learning tasks. For example, a high school math exercise might call for a student to analyze school dropout data by answering short-answer questions, writing an essay analyzing the trends and making predictions based on the analysis.

CRMC“These types of tasks require teachers to examine more than just correct answers to short questions,” said CRMC Director Kenneth Jones.

Thus, thinking and reasoning is increasingly vital in the math classroom, as students need to sharpen skills such as data gathering, interpreting, reasoning, modeling, and formulating hypotheses.

The math collaborative will address the matter during the coming school year, starting with a June 11-15 workshop (8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday and Friday) for about 70 area educators, representing kindergarten through high school, in the Elizabeth Bradley Turner Center.

In the mornings, large-group sessions offer an overview teaching and evaluation strategies across all grade levels with a particular focus on helping teachers develop skills in formulating and using rubrics, scoring guides, to assess student work. In the afternoons, in small-group discussions, teachers will focus on grade-specific content and tasks.

The workshop will set in motion a trio of concurrent math collaborative initiatives for 2007-2008, toward meeting the new Georgia Performance Standards:

• “Building Bridges and Digging Deeper: Phase Two,” having elementary school teachers, participate in a camp with students during year-round school intercessions, plus involvement in extensive support and follow-up provided by CRMC elementary resource teachers.

• “Crossing the Bridge from Instruction to Assessment,” giving middle grades teachers the opportunity to test-drive new lessons with students during a series of Saturday Math Days at the Columbus Public Library. Teachers also will receive follow-up and support during the year from the CRMC middle grades resource teacher.

• “Building Bridges to Performance Standards: Phase Two,” seeking to develop high school teachers’ knowledge and understanding of topics receiving additional emphasis such as statistics and the algebra of functions. Supported by the CRMC secondary resource teacher, teachers will have opportunities to participate in ongoing professional development, including Japanese-style lesson study.

Overall, the initiative will involve about 100 participating teachers from Muscogee, Harris, Troup, Talbot, Chattahoochee and Stewart counties; Phenix City, Department of Defense schools (including Fort Rucker, Ala., and Dobbins Air Force Base); and several private schools.

The University System of Georgia’s Teacher Quality Higher Education Program awarded a total of $219,500 through three grants to the math collaborative to facilitate this year’s overall initiative. The funding originates from the U.S. Department of Education as part of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Located on the second floor of Jordan Hall, the collaborative’s mission is to enhance the mathematics education of regional P-16 students through the development of teacher leaders, beginning with initial preparation and continuing through their professional teaching careers. For more information, go to http://crmc.colstate.edu/.