Athens State University:
AMSTI - Athens

AMSTI-Athens State University and AL Science in Motion submit a grant proposal to the Alabama State Department of Education to strengthen existing service and sustainability for both initiatives with three significant goals:

  1. To provide AMSTI and ASIM support services in our in-service region by offering math & science training opportunities to teachers, in the form of module/lab specific and content deepening experiences with STEM faculty.  These trainings will occur both during the school year and summer breaks and will be focused on a specific career target each school year.
  2. To partner with Athens State University and Calhoun Community College STEM faculty to provide a technology-based content and pedagogy resource network for our K-12 math and science teachers and AMSTI/ASIM specialists.
  3. To ensure the implementation and sustainability of AMSTI/ASIM within our schools by providing instructional on-site support services and promoting the development of professional learning communities (PLCs) in our region.

The first goal is an effort to maintain the current level of AMSTI/ASIM trained teachers in our schools through the use of compressed training for those who have changed grade levels and new hire training for those who have been hired to replace retiring or non-renewed teachers in our schools.  As changes like these are inevitable, we do not want to lose the momentum and level of implementation of AMSTI/ASIM teaching practices within our region.  We also plan to offer content deepening opportunities, supported by our STEM faculty partners, to teachers in areas of need in math and science content.  Elementary teachers often struggle with math and science content as it is not a primary focus in their undergraduate program, so these content deepening opportunities will build their knowledge base and confidence with these concepts in the classroom.

The second goal will create a collaborative network between our K-12 teachers and STEM faculty members from Athens State University and Calhoun Community College using the online resource Edmodo.  Teachers will be able to post content-related questions to the site that will be answered by the STEM faculty members.  We will also use this technology to share math and science resources with the teachers i.e. research articles, interactive web sites, lesson materials, free materials from business partners, etc.  

The third goal of the proposal will be directed toward ensuring the implementation and sustainability of AMSTI and ASIM within our schools by providing adequate instructional support services to our schools.  We provide this classroom support through a coaching model based on three phases, modified to fit the teachers’ needs: modeling lessons by site specialists, team teaching with the teacher and specialist, and independent lessons by the teacher.  At each phase of the coaching cycle, specialists meet with the teachers to collaboratively plan, debrief, and reflect on each lesson.  During this support, we also offer professional development on data analysis to identify areas of need and best practices such as the 5E learning cycle and formative assessment.  Professional learning communities are another aspect of support that can involve teachers from multiple schools within a district or even cross district lines. 


Auburn University:
The RE2-FoCUS Initiative

Robotics and Engineering Education
Fostering the Conceptual Understanding of Science
(The RE2-FoCUS Initiative)

The RE2-FoCUS Initiative outlines a plan to stimulate project-based STEM education throughout the state of Alabama by facilitating teacher professional development in engineering and robotics education.  The purpose of RE2-FoCUS is to increase the number of middle schools in Alabama that participate in STEM-centered, project-based learning activities and programs that promote teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking skills, and authentic, real-world situations.  This goal aligns with the Alabama State Board of Education’s Plan 2020 that aims for every Alabama high school graduate to “possess the ability to apply core academic skills to real-world situations through collaboration with peers in problem solving, precision, and punctuality in delivery of a product”. To achieve this goal, 176 middle school science and math teachers from across the state will participate in professional development focused on using engineering design as a means of deepening science and math content knowledge and engaging students in high-interest project-based-learning opportunities. 

The RE2-FoCUS initiative will incorporate the expertise of STEM faculty and staff through teacher training in a number of ways including the following:

  1.  Engineering Teaching Kits developed by Co-PI Prof. Christine Schnittka
  2.  Science and math content in robotics guided by PI Prof. Allen Landers
  3.  Coordination of teacher training through AMSTI specialists and BEST Robotics Hubs throughout the state by Co-PI Mary Lou Ewald (Co-PI for AU-AMSTI and director of AU-Science in Motion)
  4. Collaboration with BEST Robotics, Inc. through BEST Executive Director Dr. George Blanks of the AU College of Engineering
  5. Overall program evaluation by Prof. Schnittka as part of her active research program in science education

 The use of robotics in the classroom has been shown to positively enhance students’ attitudes toward and knowledge of STEM subjects.  We plan to fluidly connect existing AMSTI and BEST Robotics (an AMSTI-affiliated program) infrastructures to enable teachers to seamlessly incorporate engineering and robotics education into their classrooms.  Similar in regional organization to AMSTI, BEST - Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology - is a non-profit organization designed to encourage and empower middle and high school students to pursue STEM-related careers through participation in a robotics program (www.bestinc.org ). We propose here to enable middle school teachers to use engineering and robotics education to enhance STEM education in the classroom and facilitate their transition from basic classroom engineering and robotics to participation in national programs such as BEST Robotics.

The RE2-FoCUS initiative aims to teach middle school science and math teachers how to integrate the fundamental math and science concepts associated with engineering design and project-based learning into their curriculum using (1) innovative Engineering Teaching Kits developed by Prof. Christine Schnittka, and(2) VEX robotics kits at the core of BEST Robotics. This two-pronged approach will allow for both a broad and deep impact on STEM education in the state of Alabama.


University of Alabama Birmingham:
Greater Birmingham Mathematics Partnership: Professional Development to Support Teachers Implementation of CCRS Project Summary

Alabama teachers and administrators face many challenges as they begin to implement Alabama's College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS), which include the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). During the 2011-2012 school year, the Greater Birmingham Mathematics Partnership (GBMP) gathered qualitative data that supports the need for professional development to address two critical areas: 1) Lack of understanding of what the mathematical practice standards actually mean, and 2) uncertainty about how to implement the practice and content standards.

For the CCRS to be widely and well implemented to impact student learning, it is crucial to develop and research coherent, comprehensive, and sustained professional development approaches that give teachers tools to knowledgeably and faithfully implement the CCRS and to gather empirical evidence that this approach results in greater student achievement. With tests that purport to validly assess the content and practice standards scheduled to be released in 2014-2015, the importance of helping teachers move decisively toward instruction aligned with CCRS content and practices cannot be overstated. 

The GBMP professional development model is designed to transform mathematics instruction to support implementation of Alabama’s College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) with emphasis on the Mathematical Practice Standards. The specific goals are to (1) improve teacher content and pedagogical knowledge in mathematics; (2) shift instructional practice consistent with CCRS; (3) impact teacher attitudes and beliefs; (4) improve the quality of the professional learning community in the school; (5) strengthen the principal’s role as instructional leader within the school, and (6) increase student achievement. 
 

The GBMP professional development model includes Summer Courses, PLCs, Family Math Nights, Individual Classroom Coaching, and the Math Studio. In the Math Studio, a selected teacher teaches a pre-planned lesson to his/her students while the other teachers, administrators, IHE mathematics faculty, etc. observe, and the GBMP Mathematics Coach does on-the-spot coaching while also talking with the observers about what is happening in the lesson. The entire model and comprehensive evaluation will be implemented at Irondale Community School. In addition, the Summer Courses, PLCs, and Family Math Nights will be offered to the other Irondale K-6 teachers and K-6 teachers from a demographically matched Jefferson County feeder pattern.
 

GBMP is a collaboration among Jefferson County Schools, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), Birmingham-Southern College (BSC), and the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative (AMSTI) UAB. Faculty who will participate in the professional development include John Mayer, Mathematics (UAB), Bernie Mullins, Mathematics (BSC), Sherry Parrish and Ann Dominick, Mathematics Education (UAB). 

The Collaborative Partnership to teach mathematical Reasoning through Computer PRogramming (CPR^2) is designed to impact STEM education throughout Alabama.  As colleagues in a Math/Computer Science Department, we developed a strategy for explicit instruction in mathematical reasoning.  Universities and high schools share the need for this type of instruction.  With Alabama’s recent adoption of the College and Career Ready Standards for Mathematics (CCRS)  our high school partners need explicit instructional techniques for students in making sense of problems, reasoning abstractly and quantifying a solution, constructing viable arguments, modeling using mathematics, and finding and quantifying the structure and regularity in a posed problem.  There is currently no specific instruction available to the high school math curriculum to address these state-mandated requirements. Our program not only provides explicit instruction in mathematical reasoning and sense making, it provides the organizational framework to disseminate it statewide. 

Our instructional design is grounded in a theory of mathematical learning that uses computer programming to induce students to build the mental frameworks needed for a wide range of advanced math concepts.  This theory has been tested and proven effective in mathematical conceptual development in numerous research studies spread over several continents.  Our team has applied this theory to develop explicit instruction in mathematical reasoning and sense making as found in the Standards for Mathematical Practice.

We have piloted our Instructional Treatment in professional development for high school math teachers and regional specialists, in high school math classes, at the ACTM Fall Forum 2012 and in math and computer science undergraduate classes.  Our research has shown that this is an effective delivery system for instruction in mathematical reasoning and that it can be applied successfully to the secondary classroom.  Furthermore, we have found significant collateral effects including improved mathematical dispositions or habits of mind such as perseverance in problem solving.
 
Our three year program plan is founded on this work and begins with a collaborative partnership between four founding math/CS faculty, four high school math teachers who we have previously trained and mentored, and four newly trained IHE STEM team members. This group of twelve highly motivated, skilled, and like-minded professionals will train twenty-four new high school teachers in Year One.   Year One culminates in an intensive 10 day summer institute with all previously trained and novice IHE and HS participants working collaboratively in various roles to transform the way the high school math curriculum addresses mathematical reasoning and computational thinking skills.  By year three, we will have an army of high school teachers and IHE faculty trained to deliver explicit instruction in mathematical standards of practice. In three short years, the intrinsic, self-replicating structure of the program plan will train over 75 high school math teachers to be mentors, twelve new IHE STEM faculty to collaborate and partner with state high school math teachers and administrators, and will improve the mathematical reasoning and sense making skills of over 8000 Alabama high school students.  


University of North Alabama:
Collaborative Partnership to teach mathematical Reasoning through Computer PRogramming (CPR^2)

The Collaborative Partnership to teach mathematical Reasoning through Computer PRogramming (CPR^2) is designed to impact STEM education throughout Alabama.  As colleagues in a Math/Computer Science Department, we developed a strategy for explicit instruction in mathematical reasoning.  Universities and high schools share the need for this type of instruction.  With Alabama’s recent adoption of the College and Career Ready Standards for Mathematics (CCRS)  our high school partners need explicit instructional techniques for students in making sense of problems, reasoning abstractly and quantifying a solution, constructing viable arguments, modeling using mathematics, and finding and quantifying the structure and regularity in a posed problem.  There is currently no specific instruction available to the high school math curriculum to address these state-mandated requirements. Our program not only provides explicit instruction in mathematical reasoning and sense making, it provides the organizational framework to disseminate it statewide. 
 

Our instructional design is grounded in a theory of mathematical learning that uses computer programming to induce students to build the mental frameworks needed for a wide range of advanced math concepts.  This theory has been tested and proven effective in mathematical conceptual development in numerous research studies spread over several continents.  Our team has applied this theory to develop explicit instruction in mathematical reasoning and sense making as found in the Standards for Mathematical Practice.
 

We have piloted our Instructional Treatment in professional development for high school math teachers and regional specialists, in high school math classes, at the ACTM Fall Forum 2012 and in math and computer science undergraduate classes.  Our research has shown that this is an effective delivery system for instruction in mathematical reasoning and that it can be applied successfully to the secondary classroom.  Furthermore, we have found significant collateral effects including improved mathematical dispositions or habits of mind such as perseverance in problem solving.
  

Our three year program plan is founded on this work and begins with a collaborative partnership between four founding math/CS faculty, four high school math teachers who we have previously trained and mentored, and four newly trained IHE STEM team members. This group of twelve highly motivated, skilled, and like-minded professionals will train twenty-four new high school teachers in Year One.   Year One culminates in an intensive 10 day summer institute with all previously trained and novice IHE and HS participants working collaboratively in various roles to transform the way the high school math curriculum addresses mathematical reasoning and computational thinking skills.  By year three, we will have an army of high school teachers and IHE faculty trained to deliver explicit instruction in mathematical standards of practice. In three short years, the intrinsic, self-replicating structure of the program plan will train over 75 high school math teachers to be mentors, twelve new IHE STEM faculty to collaborate and partner with state high school math teachers and administrators, and will improve the mathematical reasoning and sense making skills of over 8000 Alabama high school students.  


University of South Alabama:
The AMSTI-USA Fellows Program for Middle School

The AMSTI-USA Fellows Program for Middle School

The AMSTI-USA Fellows Program for Middle School is a collaboration between the University of South Alabama (USA) Colleges of Education and Arts & Sciences, the Center for Integrative Studies in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (CISSTEM) at USA, the Alabama State Department of Education through its Alabama Math Science and Technology Initiative (AMSTI), and the Mobile County Public School System (MCPSS).

AMSTI-USA Fellows Program for Middle School will develop and assess replicable instructional and professional development strategies that bridge the gap between successful and innovative short-term practice and the long-term institutionalization required to sustain AMSTI in an effective yet economical manner.  The proposed program will: (1) strengthen teachers’ knowledge of the AMSTI curriculum by providing them with experiences that will allow them to reach a mastery level; (2) enhance the teaching skills of selected AMSTI teachers (Fellows) by providing an opportunity to help mentor in-service teachers and induct new teachers into the AMSTI teaching methodology through peer coaching; and, (3) develop highly positive dispositions for selected AMSTI trained teachers. The proposed program creates two Teacher Leaders in AMSTI Math and raises the content and pedagogical knowledge of every middle school math teacher in MCPSS who chooses to participate. This program provides a wide spectrum of inquiry-based teaching strategies proven to be effective with children from diverse backgrounds.

            The goals and outcomes of the AMSTI-USA Fellows Program for Middle School are to:

  1. Involve Mathematics and Education faculty from the University to assist in increasing the pedagogy and content knowledge AMSTI Fellows, AMSTI Specialist, and 51 middle school mathematics teachers in MCPSS as it relates to the new common core standards.
  2. Prepare two teachers over the three-year granting period who will be trained as AMSTI math specialists. These AMSTI-USA Fellows will, support mathematics teacher development at their home schools and support district led professional development activities in mathematics.
  3. Assist in increasing teachers’ mathematics content knowledge and comfort level with the AMSTI curriculum and the new common core standards in mathematics. As a result, more effective instruction will occur that will in turn increase student achievement in mathematics.