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Science, Technology Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)

Summaries of Massachusetts Mathematics and Science Partnerships: Grants Awarded September 2011

Collaborating to Create a Science Learning Community

Partners: Everett Public Schools, University of Massachusetts Boston, Chelsea Public Schools, Malden Public Schools, Medford Public Schools, Wilmington Public Schools, Mystic Valley regional Charter School and six private schools.

The Collaborating to Create a Science Learning Community project offers high-quality science professional development to grade 5-9 teachers in Everett, Chelsea, Malden, Medford, Wilmington, six private schools and the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School (MVRCS). The overarching goals of the project are to assist teachers, and ultimately their students, in better understanding scientific concepts using an inquiry-based approach that guides students in active science learning. Courses are specifically designed to meet identified content needs of upper elementary, middle, and grade 9 teachers (grades 5-9), but they are open to teachers of all grades. Teachers of special education and ELL students are also encouraged to participate.

The partnership consists of schools and districts responsible for recruiting teachers, providing resources and leadership support for the content knowledge to be transferred to practice. The Everett Public Schools is the lead high-need school district applicant in this initiative and serves as the fiscal agent. The University of Massachusetts Boston - Center for Science and Math in Context (COSMIC) delivers the courses: six, graduate-level, customized science lab courses (two annually) based upon successful courses currently offered to K-12 teachers through COSMIC. The Tri-City Technology Education Collaborative (TRITEC) provides project management expertise, and utilizes their electronic infrastructure and experience to create a science learning community among all participating teachers, faculty and project staff.

Supporting this effort are three, district-based, experienced, mentor teacher leaders (i.e., Teacher Learning Center Directors) who assist participating teachers in merging science content with appropriate pedagogy, resulting in each teacher developing and implementing an inquiry-based science lesson aligned to the Massachusetts curriculum frameworks for science and technology/engineering. Individual lessons will be distributed widely to schools through a supporting electronic infrastructure. The goal of the project is to build a science learning community consisting of teachers, faculty and project staff, supporting the development of teachers science instruction, and ultimately improving their students' achievement in science.

Over the 3-year span of the Collaborating to Create a Science Learning Community project, it is anticipated that 150 teachers from 5 districts, one charter school, and 4 private schools will each receive 92 hours of intensive professional development in science content and inquiry-based learning skills. The project will directly impact over 4,800 students in the classrooms of participating grade 5-9 teachers.

For more project information, contact the program coordinator: Molly Laden, Executive Director, TRITEC,Inc.

Intensive Immersion Institutes for Grades 5-12 Teachers of Mathematics

Partners: EduTron Corporation, Worcester Public Schools, Lowell Public Schools, Fitchburg State College, and WestEd

The effectiveness of the Intensive Immersion treatments, with respect to high-poverty and low performing schools, has been documented in various evaluation reports at the national level. The Intensive Immersion Institute (I3) approach has recently been named by the 2010 MSP Report by Abt Associates as the top project among the 12 exemplary MSP Programs nationwide. This project aims to derive synergy between two large high-need urban districts with complementary experience and different emphases. The proposed work spells out a continuum of professional development in two overlapping grade bands staggered in time. Worcester, a new start, intends to serve grades 5-12 math teachers in algebra with the Intensive Immersion courses to address its professional development needs. Lowell, in this proposed second phase, will focus on deepening the existing MMSP impact through building local capacity to continue the grades 4-8 work capitalizing on the momentum built up through Intensive Immersion courses in phase I. Cross-district activities will allow teachers and administrators to learn about vertical articulation from a wider pool of experience. The Partnership will have an opportunity to closely examine the transition of mathematical learning from elementary to middle school, and from middle to high school. The contrasting structures of the districts provide such a venue: Worcester's demarcation is K-6, 7-8, 9-12, while Lowell's is K-4, 5-8, 9-12. A rigorous study based on quasi-experimental design will be conducted on the partnership by WestEd.

Based on the analyses of the students' and teachers' knowledge gaps in the Worcester Public Schools (WPS) and Lowell Public Schools (LPS), three Intensive Immersion Institute courses will be developed. Conceptual understanding, computational fluency, and problem solving are emphasized with a balanced approach. These highly customized courses, aimed at deepening the mathematical understanding of grades 5-12 teachers will reach about 105 teachers and impact more than 6000 students on a yearly basis.

Supplemental site-based activities will be offered to induce positive changes in teachers' classroom practices. Assessment tools, including DTAMS of University of Louisville and EDA of EduTron, allow the partnership to simultaneously monitor student and teacher progress annually. In addition to the measurable content gain, the chemistry, dynamics, and positive peer pressure fostered in the intensive immersion experience will create qualitative changes in individual teachers to such an extent that some of them may become catalysts to transform their local math communities. These teacher leaders will play a pivotal role in sustaining peer-based learning beyond the project span. The courses provide an intensive yet non-threatening environment for teachers to acquire solid content knowledge, improve classroom practice, and improve student achievement in mathematics.

For more project information, contact the program coordinator: Andrew Chen, President, EduTron,

Last Updated: February 10, 2012
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