The purpose of the project is to establish professional learning communities (PLCs) in order to provide collaborative and sustained professional development for teachers in targeted K-12 schools in East Alabama. The immediate focus of the professional development is the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards, especially the Standards of Mathematical Practice. To this end, we have established the following goals:
- Assemble a triad leadership team of mathematicians, mathematics educators, and AMSTI specialists to provide professional development for facilitating PLCs, monitor school and across-district PLC development, and help the school systems move toward sustaining the PLCs focused on continuous improvement and evaluation of instruction and learning.
- Provide professional development for administrators to help them become knowledgeable of issues related to mathematics instruction and versed in the dimensions related to successful PLCs.
- Provide Grade Level Leaders (GLLs) with professional development related to the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards for Mathematics (ACCRS-M), facilitating PLCs, and student data analysis.
- Provide teachers with professional development related to the ACCRS-M, participating in PLCs, and pedagogical analysis.
- Improve student outcomes through the work of the PLCs.
The ultimate goal is to prepare students who have the mathematics background to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) related careers. Evaluation of the development and implementation of the PLCs will be ongoing. We would like to eventually replicate the process with other districts.
Transforming East Alabama Mathematics (TEAM-Math) is partnering with the Alabama Mathematics Science and Technology Initiative at Auburn University (AMSTI-AU) and six targeted school feeder patterns from six districts, which have been involved with TEAM-Math, AMSTI-AU, or both initiatives. Four of the six participating districts are high needs districts. The school feeder patterns follow: Alexander City Schools, Elmore County’s Millbrook Region Schools, Tallapoosa County’s Dadeville Region Schools, Bullock County Schools, Barbour County Schools, and Tallassee City Schools.
Gadsden State Community College:
Aiming Higher High School Project
Gadsden State will offer three years of math and science professional development using Lean Techniques and pedagogically based training in anatomy/biology, geometry, algebra, physics, aquatic biology and integrated math and science. The goals of the Aiming Higher Partnership grant echo the goals of the overall MSP project:
- Identify and clarify core knowledge and skills in mathematics and science including unifying themes, big ideas, concepts, skills, and procedures, specific ideas, terminology, and formulas, embedded in the content standards and curricular objectives.
- Improve coherency of mathematical and scientific ideas as they develop over multiple grade levels. Make effective use of the research base on student learning to identify potential learning difficulties, developmental considerations, and alternative conceptions associated with a mathematics or science curricular topic.
- Apply effective content-specific pedagogical strategies and identify useful contexts for teaching mathematical and scientific ideas.
- Improve teachers’ abilities to make connections within and across mathematical and science topics.
In order to address these goals, the Aiming Higher partnership is adopting the objectives of the partnership grant.
- Improve teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge;
- Increase student achievement in math and science;
- Increased integration of reliable scientifically based research teaching methods and technology-based teaching methods into the curriculum;
- Increase students’ content knowledge that is aligned to the teacher professional development activities; and
- Provide evidence of growth in the teachers’ use of technology integration in mathematics and science.
Jacksonville State University:
The primary purpose of the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative (AMSTI) at Jacksonville State University (JSU) is to raise student achievement by providing instructional support that builds capacity in AMSTI schools and fosters sustainability at the school level.
The goals of this project are to:
- Expand math and science professional development opportunities and instructional support services within the AMSTI-JSU In-service Region, model effective instructional strategies to be used by Grades K-12 teachers, and promote awareness of and interest in current educational research,
- Provide strong collaboration and instructional involvement between colleges/departments of education and individuals from the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) faculty with Grades K-12 math and science teachers, and
- Improve and expand professional learning opportunities in the use of instructional technology and facilitate the effective integration of such technology into curricula and instruction.
These goals will be accomplished by providing professional development that has meaningful math and science content, incorporates technology and models research-based instructional strategies. AMSTI JSU will collaborate with school personnel to determine specific instructional needs and develop a framework for addressing these needs through mentoring, Professional Learning Teams and/or professional development designed to improve and sustain instructional skills. JSU will use videoconferencing to bring STEM faculty and math and science teachers in Grades K-12 together to increase the teachers’ subject matter knowledge and improve instructional skills. AMSTI JSU will provide math professional development that provides experiences in effective teaching strategies and provides opportunities to read and study current research. The math professional development will focus on implementing strategies from Ongoing Assessment Project (OGAP). Math teachers from partnering schools will participate in additive reasoning, multiplicative reasoning, fractional reasoning or proportional reasoning sessions according to their grade level. AMSTI JSU will partner with ASIM JSU to provide science teachers professional development opportunities to increase their content knowledge in engineering, science, and technology and to excite interest in STEM courses in the traditionally impoverished east central Appalachian region of Alabama.
University of Alabama/University of West Alabama (UA/UWA):
Improving Mathematical Practice for Alabama Classroom Teachers (IMPACT)
The primary goal of proposed program, Improving Mathematical Practice for Alabama Classroom Teachers (IMPACT), is to extend and enhance professional learning and instructional support services offered by the UA/UWA Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative (AMSTI) and Alabama Science In Motion (ASIM) through partnerships with area school districts, STEM and College of Education Faculty at the University of Alabama and the University of West Alabama. The goals of IMPACT are to:
- Provide in-depth professional learning in math and science for each participating school district,
- Collect and analyze student assessment data to support the premise that sustained, collaborative professional learning for teachers and school leaders will result in increased student achievement,
- Collaborate with schools to develop a framework of professional learning groups (PLG) that incorporate peer coaching, mentoring, focus on content deepening, and best practice,
- Facilitate professional learning for each school to guide instruction and to develop school-based professional learning teams (PLT), and
- Promote the sustainability of a culture of learning within schools that models collaboration among stakeholders including principals, teachers, community members, AMSTI/ASIM, the University of Alabama and University of West Alabama COE faculty and STEM faculty.
IMPACT will provide instructional support to teachers throughout the UA/UWA by (a) conducting in-depth math content deepening summer sessions followed by K-5 grade level PLGs with the entire faculty in at least five elementary schools; (b) conducting principal PLGs to enhance instructional leadership skills and offer guidance in sustaining PLTs within selected schools; (c) expanding PLGs at the end of the first year to include math teachers from middle and high schools (grades 6-12) that receive students from the K-5 IMPACT schools; (d) facilitating, concurrently, during the second year an interdisciplinary math and science approach incorporating best practice in the chemistry classroom. The proposed program is based on longstanding and seminal research in effective professional development for K-12 teachers (Guskey, 2000; Jolly, 2008; Joyce & Showers, 2001, and Loucks-Horsley et al, 2003).
IMPACT will include in-depth summer workshops (5 days) focusing on content deepening and research-based instructional models to address the identified system needs with five follow-up full-day PLG sessions during the school year. STEM faculty will attend training sessions and participate in PLGs at least three to five times during the year, contributing to content enrichment. Program goals will be evaluated to determine participation of system and STEM partners. Growth of principals, teachers, and students will be evaluated through journals, structured observation forms, curriculum and strategy implementation logs, LMT, and an abridged version of the RTOP. Student achievement will be measured by analyzing data based on yearly pre/post assessments, formative pre/post unit tests for K-5, and the ACT math and science scores for secondary students.
University of Alabama at Birmingham:
The 3E's: Efficacy, Effectiveness, and Empowerment
This project will greatly expand the available resources including professional development for AMSTI/ASIM in UAB’s in-service region. The professional development will aggressively integrate technology with face to face meetings to deepen math and science content knowledge and to build confidence in teacher classroom strategies that support inquiry instruction. The goals of the 3Es are:
- Provide content deepening in math for Grades K-5 and in science for Grades 6-12 for each participating school district.
- Collaborate with schools to create and sustain vertical Professional Learning Teams in participating school districts.
- Develop and sustain a format for virtual teacher collaboration.
The 3Es focuses on two high need areas of instruction: math in grades K-5 and science in grades 6-12. The professional development program will stress vertical Professional Learning Teams (PLTs), and include online and in-person courses, an online website for the repository and exchange of ideas and follow up on-site support from AMSTI/ASIM specialists and UAB faculty. Further, 3Es will be built on the Eight Math Practice Standards from the new Alabama College and Career Ready Math Standards, grade and subject appropriate course of study standards, as well as the Marzano Instruction Strategies which will anchor the learning.
All 3Es participants will attend a one day workshop that will lay the foundation for sustainable and successful PLTs. 3Es participants will be teachers in areas of “high need” districts (Midfield City, Fairfield City, and Leeds City), as well as Bessemer City and Tarrant City. Birmingham City and Jefferson County teachers (high needs districts as well) will also be invited to participate if space is available.
3Es will create a vertical PLT at each of the elementary schools in Midfield, Fairfield, Tarrant, Leeds, and Bessemer, irrespective of the school’s current AMSTI or non-AMSTI status. Each PLT will have one teacher for each grade level, for a total of 66 teachers, 11 schools, and approximately 1500 students. These PLTs will be facilitated by a new-hire who will give 100% effort to facilitating the PLTs, which will include 5 half days of professional development activities. 3Es teachers will also receive a minimum of 15 hours of PD provided by the Greater Birmingham Math Partnership (STEM faculty) and/or OGAP training and one-on-one coaching by AMSTI specialists. 3Es will also create an Administrators’ PLT that will be facilitated by the AMSTI Director and STEM faculty and will explore how the administrators can facilitate outstanding math learning in their schools.
3Es grades 6-12 science program will create vertical PLTs that will cross the middle and high school divide. There will be 3 discipline-based PLTs with an impact of 24 teachers and approximately 2400 students. These PLTs will be supported by existing AMSTI/ASIM Specialists as well as UAB STEM faculty. 3Es PLTs, online courses in three disciplines (Chemistry, Biology, and Physics), summer workshops and on-site support by AMSTI/ASIM specialists will provide 30-120 hours of professional development for each grade 6-8 teacher involved.
University of Montevallo:
Developing Local Mathematics Leaders Project
The Developing Local Mathematics Leaders project will partner the AMSTI-UM mathematics specialists with teachers from two local school systems and STEM and College of education partners from area institutes of higher education to develop a cadre of mathematics teacher leaders with deep content knowledge and well-rounded leadership skills. Approximately 40 teachers from the Bibb County School System and the Coosa County School System (a high-needs school district) will participate in professional development opportunities designed to engage teachers as learners and further develop their own deep mathematical understandings. These teachers will also be able to meet with their like-minded colleagues through the implementation of Professional Learning Communities. In this setting, teachers will participate in discussions about their own learning and also facilitate the collaboration of mathematical ideas and teaching practice. As teachers continue to increase their own mathematical knowledge and further refine their mathematical pedagogy through conversations with their peers, transformation will naturally extend into the classroom and into their teaching practice. The benefits of such a transformation will not only extend to these burgeoning teacher leaders, but to their students and the students’ mathematical achievement as well. As momentum grows in this exchange of ideas and facilitation of reflection on practice, teachers will begin to learn how to share their learning with other teachers as teacher leaders.
The goals of this project will be accomplished as the partners work together to:
- Provide a minimum of 30 hours per year of mathematics and science content and pedagogical professional learning opportunities for teachers that will positively affect student achievement,
- Involve STEM faculty from Institutions of Higher Education in in-service instruction of math and science teachers,
- Partner with other initiatives in providing hands-on, activity-based instruction that is strongly aligned to state and national standards and the AMSTI program,
- Assist teachers in providing hands-on, activity-based instruction that is strongly aligned to state and national standards and strongly supported by the AMSTI program, and
- Develop a culture of teacher leaders, over time, who can become peer mentors/coaches in order to build capacity for sustainability at the school level.
University of South Alabama:
The University of South Alabama in collaboration with AMSTI-USA proposes to implement a comprehensive three-year professional development program for middle school math teachers designed to:
- Deepen the content knowledge of participating teachers.
- Enhance fidelity to AMSTI methodology and best instructional practices.
- Create a culture of increased learning with respect to the Common Core Standards for Mathematics that will result in increased student achievement.
- Create a replicable, sustainable, and cost effective Professional Development model for teachers that uses scientifically based research, best practices, and identified student needs.
The professional development model will be hands-on, inquiry-centered, cooperative, and involve authentic assessment just like the AMSTI program itself. The AMSTI-Professional Development Program is designed to emphasize content and process skills through real world applications. We believe that if we increase teachers’ content and pedagogical knowledge, we will improve their self-efficacy and student achievement will improve as a result. Our research base is founded on the following core beliefs that student learning is more likely to improve if the professional learning that teachers participate in increases their understanding of the content they teach, how students learn that content, and how to represent and communicate that content in a significant way (Cohen & Hill, 2000). Deeper content will be facilitated in the teachers’ participation in Math Circles during the academic year. This PD program will be led by professors from the University’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics and facilitated by AMSTI and College of Education faculty. A second critical component is the summer PD program wherein math teachers will engage in AMSTI training in an authentic context with middle grades children during a four-week program designed to teach best practices and reinforce fidelity to AMSTI pedagogy. Teachers will also participate in professional learning teams and content focused coaching and PD. AMSTI-PDP will engage middle school mathematics teachers in AMSTI pedagogy and will provide a wide spectrum of inquiry-based teaching strategies proven to be effective with children from different backgrounds.