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Archived Information

Science, Technology Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)

Title IIB: Massachusetts Mathematics and Science Partnerships Program
Summaries of Funded Projects - September 2006 thru August 2007

January 2007

The Science Improvement Partnership (SIP): Improving Physical and Earth Science Education in Southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod

Partners: The public school districts of *Brockton, Barnstable, Fall River, New Bedford, Plymouth; Cape Cod and North River Collaboratives; and Bridgewater State College, Bristol Community College, and Cape Cod Community College

The goal of the project is to improve the content knowledge of science teachers, grades 4 - 8, through a series of graduate level science courses. The targeted teachers are those who are not yet highly qualified in science or not yet licensed in science in elementary or middle school. The courses include "Energy and the Environment", "Chemistry of Matter and Atoms", and "Earth Science and Geology." The courses have been designed to address the weaknesses in the areas of science as determined by an analysis of the science MCAS results from the last three years in each of the partner districts. Each course is being offered at all three higher education sites on a rotating schedule for teachers from the partner districts. The first course, "Energy in the Environment," was held in the fall in Bridgewater and is now being offered at Bristol Community College. The second course, "Chemistry of Matter and Atoms," is now being offered at Bridgewater State College. The third course is in the development stage. As teachers complete each course, they become part of a follow-up focus group that meets monthly with a science mentor from their home district to discuss ways in which they are using the lessons learned from the courses in the classroom. An online discussion forum, using the Blackboard platform, is being launched for further sharing of material and ideas. Each year in the spring a carousel sharing of projects from all participants will be held to further disseminate work from the participants. As teachers complete the courses, they are becoming highly qualified to teach science, and are applying the graduate credits towards initial or professional licensure in elementary or middle school science.

An advisory Committee made up of representatives from the partner districts and higher education partners meets monthly to discuss the implementation of the grant and plan for grant activities. An outside evaluator, Pamela Kelley of Kelley Research Associates, also attends these meetings to coordinate data collection for the grant.

For more project information, contact the program coordinator, Linda A. Santry, Coordinator of Math and Science, K - 8, Brockton Public Schools.

Intensive Immersion Institutes in Mathematics for Grades 4-8 Teachers

Partners: *EduTron Corporation, Lowell Public Schools, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Fitchburg State College and Bristol Community College

Based on the analyses of the students' and teachers' knowledge gaps in the Lowell Public Schools, two Intense Immersion Institute courses are 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 4-8 teachers, are delivered annually. The math faculty from Fitchburg State College works with the EduTron instruction team and has integrated the courses of study into the Fitchburg State offerings for pre-service teachers. The partnership reaches about 120 teachers and impacts (indirectly) more than 2000 students on a yearly basis.

Assessment tools developed as an integral part of the course 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 trigger qualitative changes in individual teachers to such an extent that some of them may become catalysts to transform their local math community into a learning machine. These transformations are expected to 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 effectively. The outcomes are: (1) more teachers meet the NCLB Highly Qualified Requirements for Massachusetts Teachers, and (2) more students perform at higher levels in MCAS.

For more information, contact the program coordinator, Andrew Chen, President, EduTron Corporation.

School-Based Intensive Immersion Intervention

Partners: *Fitchburg Public Schools, Gardner Public Schools, Leominster Public Schools, EduTron Corporation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Fitchburg State College and Bristol Community College

Based on the analyses of the students' and teachers' knowledge gaps in the partnering districts, two Intense Immersion Institute courses are 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 4-8 teachers, are delivered annually. The math faculty from Fitchburg State College works with the EduTron instruction team and has integrated the courses of study into the Fitchburg State offerings for pre-service teachers. The partnership reaches about 120 teachers and impacts (indirectly) more than 2000 students on a yearly basis.

Assessment tools developed as an integral part of the course 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 trigger qualitative changes in individual teachers to such an extent that some of them may become catalysts to transform their local math community into a learning machine. These transformations are expected to 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 effectively. The outcomes are: (1) more teachers meet the NCLB Highly Qualified Requirements for Massachusetts Teachers, and (2) more students perform at higher levels in MCAS.

For more information, contact the program coordinator, Andrew Chen, President, EduTron Corporation.

The Coalition for Higher Standards Math Partnership Program

Partners: *Lesley University, Mass Insight Education, University of Massachusetts at Boston, Haverhill Public Schools, Holyoke Public Schools, Fall River Public Schools, and Fairhaven Public Schools.

This project focuses on improving teacher quality in Haverhill, Holyoke, Fall River, and Fairhaven, three urban and one suburban school district. All of the districts are high need in mathematics and two are priority districts since they have two or more schools identified for aggregate improvement in mathematics. Additionally, on a space available basis, this initiative also serves selected teachers from other districts that have developed long-term partnerships with Lesley University in part through the earlier MSP grant.

Approximately 110 teachers from across these districts will complete the 3-year program. The primary focus is on teachers in grades 4-8, with a small number of teachers from both lower and higher grades also enrolled in the program. The specific goal is to provide strong, intensive, and sustained professional development leading to improved instructional practice and satisfying requirements for professional licensure and/or HOUSSE plans in Middle School Mathematics. Over the three years of this project, each teacher-participant will complete a program of study consisting of nine courses, all of which emphasize strong mathematics content, consist of 45 hours of in-class instruction, award three Arts and Sciences graduate credits, and serve as models for effective classroom pedagogy. Thus, at the end of the three years, a teacher will receive 27 graduate credits which can be used towards Lesley's Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS) or a Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction, with a Specialization in Elementary or Middle School Mathematics. In addition to the 45 class hours, each course will support mathematical learning and classroom teaching by: additional contact hours in which content is expanded through practice and problem solving; and a classroom implementation in which content knowledge is applied to classroom practice, the aim of which is to raise student achievement.

For more information, contact the program coordinator, Polina Sabinin, Associate Director of the Center for Mathematics Achievement at Lesley University.

The North Shore Science Partnership (NSSP)

Partners: *Revere Public Schools, Somerville Public Schools, Northeastern University and Saugus Public Schools.

The North Shore Science Partnership (NSSP) consists of three Core Partners (Revere and Somerville Public Schools, and Northeastern University) and a Supporting Partner (Saugus Public Schools). The NSSP uses a distributed management model where each Partner shares some management responsibilities. Revere Public Schools serves as the Lead Partner, handling the fiscal responsibility. Northeastern oversees the course delivery, content and follow-up activities and monitors the evaluation and research component of the program. The Director of the program is Dr. Christos Zahopoulos, Research Professor at Northeastern's College of Engineering. He has overall responsibility for overseeing the entire project with Deirdre Weedon, as the Assistant Director, responsible for all day-to-day operations.

The goal is to provide science professional development, leading to a Master's Degree of Science, to a cohort of between 20 and 30 science teachers as well as provide current teachers the opportunity to pass a science licensure test. Primarily, this 3 year program will focus on middle level teachers, but there will be courses for high school as well.

The first course (Motion, Forces and Energy) begins in January, and the expectation is that the cohort will take one course each semester and two in the summer.

For more information, contact the program coordinator, David Lyons, Coordinator, Revere Public Schools, Christos Zahopoulos, Program Director, Research Professor at Northeastern, Deirdre Weedon, Assistant Director, (Northeastern).

Project SALEM (ELL and SPED Teachers)

Partners: *Salem State College, and the public school districts of: Lynn, Salem, Everett, Malden, Gloucester, Hamilton-Wenham, and Danvers

As part of a comprehensive three-year professional development plan this partnership responds to the increasing demands in North Shore communities for well-trained and licensed Mathematics teachers at the middle school level. The heart of this plan is a new graduate program, the Master of Arts in Teaching Middle School Mathematics, appropriate for prospective or current teachers of mathematics in grades 5 to 8. The courses developed for this MAT program are specifically designed to increase teachers' content knowledge in areas of mathematics essential to implementing the

Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. Tools for teaching and learning, including hand-held graphing calculators as well as CBL and CBR data collection devises and dynamic geometry software such as Geometer's Sketchpad are utilized in these courses. Essentially all of the courses in this program make effective use of technology, particularly for visualization, discovery, and insight as well as computation. Teachers are provided with opportunities to learn mathematics using a variety of instructional methods, appropriate for use in their own classrooms.

For more information, contact the program coordinator, Martha Hunt, Mathematics Department chairperson, Salem State College. See also Project Salem.

PV STEMNET Pipeline Middle School Science Technology/Engineering and Mathematics Partnership

Partners: *University of Massachusetts Amherst, and the public school districts of: Holyoke, Westfield, Springfield, Mohawk Trail Regional, Pioneer Valley Regional, Amherst-Pelham Regional; and Springfield College, Western New England College, Springfield Technical Community College, Westfield State College, Holyoke Community College, and WGBY Radio.

The PV STEMNET Pipeline Mathematics Partnership Grant was designed to deliver a course of study that prepares in-service and pre-service teachers to be highly qualified mathematics teachers in grades 4-8. Six mathematics courses and corresponding follow-up activities, which constitute this program, will provide subject matter knowledge for middle school (grades 5-8) mathematics teachers in those areas of mathematics as specified in Massachusetts Frameworks. The courses include the Teaching of Algebra, Geometry, Algebra (Part 2), Discrete Mathematics, Trigonometry, and Statistics; all are at the Middle School Level.

In-service and pre-service teachers are able to use these courses to achieve highly qualified status, as applicable to HOUSSE plans, and providing preparation for the MTEL exams [middle school mathematics (5-8), elementary mathematics (1-6), and middle school mathematics/science (5-8)]. The complete set of courses comprises the equivalent of a major in mathematics. These courses can also be used for recertification and the attainment of the Professional License in middle school mathematics (5-8), elementary mathematics (1-6), and middle school mathematics/science (5-8). They provide a set of content courses: for an approved masters degree, as well as the 18-credit, post-graduate degree option for professional licensure. These options are available because the PV STEMNET includes multiple institutions of high education that have approved initial licensure programs and are in the process of seeking approval of programs for the professional license.

For more information, contact Allan Feldman, Principal Investigator, Kathleen Baker, Project Manager. See also PV STEMNET at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Building a Better Science and Technology/Engineering Background

Partners: *Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester Public Schools, and Winchendon Public Schools

The Building a Better Background is a three-year project, which combines core physics concepts with technology/engineering. The first year will focus on Motion & Forces, while years two and three will focus on Energy Transfer and Electricity & Magnetism.

The content is provided during a seven-day summer workshop that will run on the WPI campus. Dates for the first workshop are July 5 - 13th, with the instruction being provided by physics and engineering faculty members. The total contact hours for each community are the same and include 45 hours of class time and 20 hours of follow-up time. The goals of the program are to: increase content area knowledge for grade 5-9 science and technology teachers, to increase student performance in the sciences, and to develop of a set of courses at WPI that can be used by in-service or pre-service teachers towards licensure.

For more information, contact the program coordinator, Martha Cyr, Director K-12 Outreach, WPI.

Worcester Math Initiative

Partners: *Worcester Public Schools, Clark University, Mass Insight Education, EMC Corporation, and the Milford Public Schools

The Worcester Mathematics Initiative is building off of EMC's successful, privately funded mathematics institutes, with Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education MMSP support to create a targeted mathematics intervention program. These institutes are focused primarily on three elementary schools in Worcester where MCAS mathematics proficiency is nearly 25 percentage points below the state average. Our goal is to raise their students' achievement in mathematics by substantially improving instruction through rigorous content-based professional development on three levels:

(1) Intensive content courses focused on the mathematics of the K-8 classroom. These courses include "Making Sense of Numbers" and "Functions and Algebra".

(2) Workshops that help teachers apply the content they have learned to the Worcester Public Schools curriculum. These workshops specifically buttress the district's elementary mathematics standards-based program, Everyday Mathematics.

And (3) Mathematics coaching for teachers, in their own classrooms by capable, trained coaches. Coaches will spend considerable time in k-6 classrooms and address student needs in a way that gets to the heart of issues of understanding.

Through the Worcester Mathematics Initiative we are also experimenting with such features as online discussions, classroom visits by mathematicians, mathematics clubs, and teacher-run elementary mathematics conferences. We intend to engage all teachers who need mathematics content training, not just those who routinely volunteer for mathematics institutes.

For more information, contact the program coordinator, Joan Fitton, Manager of Governmental Relations and Elementary Initiatives, Worcester Public Schools.

Strengthening Teaching and Learning in Middle School Science in Northern Berkshire Schools

Partners: *Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams Public Schools (Silvio Conte Middle School), North Berkshire School Union, Adams Memorial Middle School.

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), in collaboration with the Berkshire County school districts of North Adams, Adams-Cheshire, and North Berkshire School Union (Florida, Clarksburg, Monroe, and Savoy), is conducting an intensive and innovative course of professional development of middle school science teachers. The rigorous, content-based program of instruction that includes on-site mentoring of teachers was selected based on organized assessment of teacher professional development needs and student achievement data in the participating schools.

The seasoned MCLA science faculty have developed an instructional series in Physical Science, Biology, and Environmental Science, each course delivered over two semesters beginning in the 2004-05 academic year (Physical Science); followed by Biology (2005-06) and Environmental Science (2006-07). For each course all participating teachers receive 48 hours of direct instruction and 20 hours of follow-up, including on-site coaching and mentoring.

The third course Environmental Science for Teachers, is to be co-taught by Adrienne Wootters (Assistant Professor of Physics) and Michael Ganger (Associate Professor of Biology). This course models a traditional undergraduate introductory course in environmental science, but it will have a substantial laboratory component. Additionally, unlike many introductory environmental science courses, we will focus on the scientific method, and we will leave economics and politics out of the course, except as a side-conversation. The overall goal of the course is to cover the subareas that were missed in the first two courses, namely chemistry and earth science. In teaching through these topics, we will cover the following subareas:

  • Chemical changes (Subarea 07) (Pollution, Fossil Fuels, Solid and Hazardous Waste)
  • Energy (Subarea 10) (Energy Production, Alternative Energy)
  • Geologic History (Subarea 17) (Earth Science, Global Warming, Biodiversity)
  • Hydrosphere (Subarea 18) (Water, Cycles)
  • Weather and Climate (Subarea 19)

Ultimately, the three-year goal of the project is to substantially increase teachers' knowledge of scientific content and concurrently improve grade 6-8 student academic achievement on MCAS science and technology assessments. Success in achieving goals and objectives will be measured via student testing with MCAS and locally-designed assessments; pre- and post-teacher testing of content knowledge using course-specific assessments designed by College faculty; and quantitative measurements of content-specific professional development undertaken by teachers and number of teachers earning licensure.

For more information, contact the program coordinator, Adrienne Wootters, Assistant Professor of Physics, MCLA.

Middle School Math Teachers Program

Partners: *MCLA, North Adams, North Berkshire School Union, Pittsfield Public Schools, Mt. Greylock Regional School District, Adams-Cheshire School District

The Middle School Math Teachers Program will conduct an intensive and innovative course of professional development for middle school mathematics teachers. This rigorous, content-based program of instruction that will include onsite mentoring of teachers was selected based on organized assessment of teacher professional development needs and student achievement data. Ultimately, the three-year goal of the projects is to substantially increase teachers' knowledge of mathematics content and concurrently improve student academic achievement on MCAS. The math teachers' program is intended to complement the MMSP middle school science teachers' program. Such curricular synergy will benefit both programs and all of the middle school math and science curricula in this region.

Year 2 courses included modules in Problem Solving and Numeration and Patterns, and Relations, and Algebra. Year 3 courses include Geometry and Measurement and Data Analysis and Beyond. Follow-up activities will include discussion of student work, sharing insights and ideas, and developing activities for the classroom.

For more information, contact the program coordinator, Dr. Freda Bennett, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.



Last Updated: February 6 2007
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