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Science, Technology Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)

MMSP 2012-2013 Project Abstracts

Berkshire Math and Science Partnership Program

Partners: Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), Pittsfield Public Schools, Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public School, and Adams-Cheshire Public Schools.

The vision of the Berkshire Mathematics and Science Partnership Program (BMSP) is to provide an effective and systematic professional development program for middle school teachers in Berkshire County schools. The three goals of the program are to: 1) improve math and science content knowledge of middle school teacher participants in MSP courses, 2) improve the integration of math, science and literacy curriculum standards in math and science instruction, and 3) improve student performance in math and science. This program is informed by a planning group that includes administrative leadership from each partner institution, as well as program and curriculum development by science and math experts, yielding the design of an effective and responsive professional development program. Each member of the planning team has worked to build a program that reflects the identified professional development needs of their respective teachers, the school improvement plans of participating schools and districts, as well as links to plans and initiatives of the Berkshire County STEM Pipeline. MCLA serves as the lead institution for the Berkshire MSP Program for teachers in Pittsfield Public Schools (PPS), the Berkshire Arts and Technology (BART) Charter School, and Adams Cheshire Regional School District, and most recently North Adams Public Schools (NAPS) all of which are identified as high need schools for Title II-B programs.

MCLA, also the lead partner for the Berkshire STEM Pipeline, has a long history of providing teacher education and training, and is committed to meeting the professional development needs of district teachers in the service of their students. In 2013 the Berkshire MSP Program will offer a three-credit graduate course titled Geometric Modeling that will highlight Massachusetts Mathematics Frameworks. We will continue to use Professional Learning Communities (PLC) to provide teachers opportunities to share and comment on student work, explore collectively how students learn about specific concepts, and share course plans and instructional strategies to promote learning. PLC takes place through the Learning Management System, Canvas, where documents, comments, and assignments can be shared. Outcomes of this interdisciplinary approach will be a robust program that will help teachers make explicit connections across subjects as they teach middle school students. This is an effective method, yielding greater student achievement in math and an effective method to help students apply mathematics to everyday life. Berkshire MSP Program performance and outcomes will be reviewed by a highly qualified, objective evaluator to track, compile, analyze and disseminate formative and summative evidence of program performance. Program information will also be shared pursuant to the statewide plan and process for evaluation. This year's Berkshire MSP course will also be integrated into MCLA's graduate education curriculum to further the systematic impact of this program.

For more project information, contact the program coordinator: Christopher Himes, STEM Pipeline Program Manager, c.himes@mcla.edu.

Collaborating to Create Science Learning Communities

Partners: Everett Public Schools, Chelsea Public Schools, Malden Public Schools, Medford Public Schools, Wilmington Public Schools, and Mystic Valley Regional Charter School, University of Massachusetts Boston, and Tri-City Technology Education Collaborative(TRITEC)

Since receiving Massachusetts Math and Science Partnership funds, the Collaborating to Create a Science Learning Community project has offered high-quality science professional development to teachers with the goals of: assisting teachers in better understanding scientific concepts using an inquiry-based approach that will guide their students active learning of science; improving students' content knowledge and attitudes toward science; and building a science learning community consisting of teachers, faculty and project staff.

The Everett Public Schools has served as the lead high-need school district applicant and the fiscal agent. Tri-City Technology Education Collaborative (TRITEC) has provided project management expertise, and has used their existing electronic infrastructure and experience to create a science learning community among all participating teachers, faculty and project staff. To date, the University of Massachusetts Boston - Center of Science and Math in Context (COSMIC) has delivered three and is about to deliver a fourth, graduate-level, customized science lab course based upon successful courses offered to K-12 teachers through COSMIC. Three district-based, experienced, mentor teacher leaders (i.e., Teacher Learning Center Directors) have assisted participating teachers in merging science content with appropriate pedagogy. Participating teachers have completed the development of inquiry-based science lessons aligned to the Massachusetts Curriculum frameworks for science and technology/engineering.

To date 18 teachers completed the Physics: Waves, Electricity and Magnetism course, 25 teachers completed the Biology: Cell Biology and Genetics course, 24 teachers completed the Earth Science: Weather and Water course and 18 teachers completed the Biology: Ecology, Evolution and Diversity of Life course. Analysis of teacher assessment data for the Physics and Cell Biology courses reveal that 92% and 74 % of teachers demonstrated statistically significant content gains for these two courses, respectively. Similar data analysis for the second year courses has not yet been completed. In addition to the content knowledge measures, surveys indicated that participating teachers' knowledge of teaching science content using Web 2.0 strategies significantly increased. Teachers reported feeling more confident using technology for teaching and learning and also reported greater use of inquiry-based teaching methods.

In year three, two additional courses are being offered: Physics: Forces, Energy and Motion and Earth Science: The Solid Earth, with anticipated enrollments of 25 teachers in each course.

For more project information, contact the program coordinator: Molly Laden, Executive Director, TRITEC,Inc. mladen@tritec-inc.org

Greater Boston South-Shore Science Partnership (GBSSSP)

Partners: Northeastern University, Quincy Public Schools, Boston Public Schools, The Archdiocese of Boston and the University of Massachusetts Boston

The Greater Boston-South Shore Science Partnership (GBSSSP), a collaboration between Boston and Quincy Public Schools, the Archdiocese of Boston Catholic Schools, Northeastern University, (NEU) and University of Massachusetts-Boston, (UMB), seeks to increase student performance in science by providing rigorous professional development to science teachers in high needs school districts within Massachusetts. Over the three years of the project, the Partnership will offer a total of 12 specially-designed graduate-level science courses that focus on strengthening teachers' content knowledge as well as modeling current pedagogical practices based on "How Students Learn" research. Partner district teachers will be recruited with the help of the corresponding Science Directors and be given priority. Each year, the courses offered are selected in consultation with the partner districts. It is expected that a total of 104 slots will be available this year (about 310 in 3 years)

These courses have been uniquely designed and honed at NEU and UMB over the past six years through funding provided by the National Science Foundation and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. In fact, through previous and existing partnerships, close to 400 teachers have taken these courses (about 1,200 participant slots in total), from 45 school districts in Massachusetts since summer 2005. Evaluation results published by the Education Development Center (EDC) have indicated that students of teachers who have taken one of these courses demonstrate a higher performance level on the biology, chemistry, and unified science MCAS than students of non-participating teachers.

We have a portfolio of eleven different courses, which have been developed in the following content areas: biology, chemistry, earth science, physics, engineering, and mathematics for middle school science teachers. The courses are focused on teaching the middle school curriculum in Massachusetts classrooms, but we have found that the courses are relevant to high school and elementary level teachers as well. Each course consists of 60 hours of classroom instruction and 10 hours of follow-up activities and grants teachers, 4-quarter hours of graduate credit. In order to maximize teachers' exposure to all levels of the curriculum and we have designed to courses to be co-taught by an instructional team consisting of a university STEM professor, a high school teacher leader and a middle school teacher leader experienced teaching that discipline in Massachusetts classrooms. Furthermore, these courses are part of a specially designed Master of Education in Middle School Science graduate degree offered by Northeastern University, which incorporates eight of the courses developed and offered through the GBSSSP. This degree has been institutionalized at Northeastern University through the School of Professional Studies and was recently approved for professional licensure by the state of Massachusetts. At the conclusion of this degree, teachers will have received close to 500 hours of science content and pedagogy in five science discipline areas focused on enhancing teachers' abilities to teach science in Massachusetts classrooms. In these classes, teachers from a variety of grade levels and district backgrounds meet weekly for four hours per session across thirteen weeks, or 6 hours per day for two weeks in the summer. Not only do teachers learn from their instructors, they benefit strongly from the community of peers as they work intensively alongside other teachers and gain knowledge, experience, and best practices. By the end of this summer, 26 teachers will have graduated with their Master's degrees through this program, with close to sixty other teachers matriculated into the degree. Counting those who have already graduated, as well as those who will receive their degrees this summer, 25 of the 26 teachers who will have received an M.Ed. in Middle School Science from Northeastern by the end of this summer are from high needs districts in Massachusetts

We have found the existence of the Master's degree to be a powerful motivator for teachers and one that has driven interest in the courses to unprecedented levels. The depth and breadth of science content and pedagogy, the powerful environment created by the teacher learning community, and the noted impact upon student performance have made these courses into "must have's" for teachers, as evidenced by our ongoing waiting lists.

Twelve courses will be offered through this MMSP, 4 each year. Of the four courses in Year 1, 96 slots were filled with 85 unique teachers (some took multiple courses). It is anticipated that an additional 100-110 teachers will participate in the courses that will be offered in Year 2. These courses include: Mathematics for MS Science Teachers, Chemistry II (The Energetics of Chemical Change), Physics I (Forces, Energy & Motion), and Biology II: Ecology, Evolution & Diversity of Life.

For more project information, contact the program coordinator: Dr. Christos Zahopoulos, Associate Professor, College of Engineering, Northeastern University, c.zahopoulos@neu.edu.

Intensive Immersion Institutes for Grades 5-12 Teachers of Mathematics

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

This project aims to derive synergy between two large high-need urban districts, Worcester and Lowell Public Schools, with complementary experience and different emphases. This MSP provides a continuum of professional development in two overlapping grade bands staggered in time. Worcester, primarily serves grades 5-12 math teachers in algebra with the Intensive Immersion courses to address its professional development needs. Lowell focuses on deepening the existing MMSP impact through building local capacity to continue the grades 4-8 work and to build a mathematics learning community (MLC).

Based on the analyses of the students' and teachers' knowledge gaps in the districts, six Intensive Immersion Institute courses have been developed and delivered in the first two years of the project. Conceptual understanding, computational fluency, and problem solving are emphasized with a balanced approach. These highly customized courses are aimed at deepening the mathematical understanding of grades 5-12 teachers. A total of 146 seats have been filled in these courses. A number of teachers took multiple courses; hence there were about 111 unique teachers. In addition 51 unique teachers participated in Math Learning Communities. The project has impacted more than 6000 students in the preceding years. In this final year, three Intensive Immersion courses will be offered.

Based on pre-and post- tests, 95% of teachers showed significant gains in content knowledge for all six courses. In addition to these measurable content gains, the chemistry, dynamics, and positive peer pressure fostered in the intensive immersion experience creates qualitative changes in individual teachers such 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 span of the project.

For more project information, contact the program coordinator: Andrew Chen, President, EduTron, schen@edutron.com.

Intensive Immersion Mathematics for STEM Teachers

Partners: EduTron Corporation, Revere Public Schools, Everett Public Schools, Saugus Public Schools, Worcester State University and Fitchburg State University

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 Abt MSP report (published by Federal DOE) as the top project among the 12 exemplary MSP Programs out of 575 programs nationwide. This proposal aims to leverage the experience to serve STEM teachers in the context of phasing in the Common Core mathematics.

Based on the analyses of the students' and teachers' knowledge gaps in the Revere Public Schools (RPS), Everett Public Schools (EPS) and Saugus Public Schools (SPS), three Intensive Immersion Institute courses will be developed and offered in years two and three. These courses will be aligned with the 2011 Massachusetts Mathematics Framework based on the Common Core Standards (CCSS-M). Conceptual understanding, computational fluency, and problem solving are emphasized with a balanced approach. The Standards of Mathematical Practice are modeled and made explicit. These highly customized courses routinely integrate science/technology content and practices. The MMSP courses reached about 78 STEM teachers in [the compressed] year one. It is expected that approximately 105 teachers will participate and more than 4400 students will be impacted in years two and three of the program.

An eclectic ensemble of supplemental site-based activities will be offered to induce positive changes in teachers' classroom practices. Assessment tools, including 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 trigger qualitative changes in individual teachers to such an extent that some of them may become catalysts to transform their local math communities into learning machines. These transformations are expected to play a pivotal role in sustaining peer-based learning beyond the span of the project. The courses provide an intensive yet non-threatening environment for teachers to acquire solid content knowledge, improve classroom practice, and improve student achievements in mathematics. A rigorous study based on quasi-experimental design will be conducted on the partnership by WestEd.

For more project information, contact the program coordinator: Andrew Chen, President, EduTron, schen@edutron.com.

Making Math Meaningful

Partners: Lesley University, Springfield Public Schools

Making Mathematics Meaningful, a partnership between Lesley University and the Springfield Public Schools, is designed to increase the mathematics content knowledge as well as the pedagogical content knowledge of teachers in Level 3 and Level 4 middle schools. This project builds upon seven successful years of standards-based mathematics professional development in Springfield in conjunction with a former MMSP and an USDOE Teacher for a Competitive Tomorrow grant. Students of those teachers who participated in previous partnerships are outperforming their counterparts whose teachers did not complete the same coursework. Unfortunately, the majority teachers in the middle schools targeted for this project chose not to participate. With the underperforming status of the schools, administrators can now require teacher participation and anticipate gains not only in teacher content knowledge but also in student achievement on the ELA, science, and mathematics MCAS.

The inclusion of problems directly related to the MA Curriculum Frameworks will include contexts that are required knowledge in the science frameworks. Through collaboration Lesley and Springfield will be adapting the problems used in the math courses to include appropriate science to enable teacher participants to understand how and why the mathematics taught to middle school students is so important. Lesley has begun working with the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Department within Lesley University to work on incorporating science based problems and problem solving in the math content courses. The goal is to show a seamless connection between the two content areas and foster connections between the mathematics classroom and science classroom.

In response to Springfield highlighting the need of the large percentage of English Acquisition Learners in their school district, Lesley has made a commitment to incorporating strategies for teaching students who are non-native English speakers in all its courses and programs. To effectively meet this goal, faculty from Lesley University's Literacy Division are part of the planning process and will elaborate on the most effective instructional strategies which will be modeled and overt attention brought to those strategies throughout each course. In addition, Lesley will commit to training all faculty who plan to teach these courses in Sheltered Content Instruction and have these techniques explicitly modeled in the mathematics courses. If the trend continues, participants who complete the first five of the mathematics content courses will be successful in passing the middle school math MTEL and becoming highly qualified to teach middle school mathematics.

For more project information, contact the program coordinator: Dr. Anne Collins, Director of Math Programs, Lesley University, collins2@lesley.edu.

Putting the M Back in STEM

Partners: Lesley University, Brockton and Quincy Public Schools

Too often STEM is divided into STE and M. This partnership will bring the two together in a systematic and synergistic way such that mathematics is an integral and visible component of science, technology, and engineering. This program is designed to focus on the mathematics of science in a compelling, synergistic program comprised of inquiry science laboratories and problem solving mathematics. Participating middle school and elementary school teachers will engage in working through the necessary mathematics as they investigate particular disciplines of inquiry-based science with faculty from the Science and Mathematics disciplines in the Divisions of STEM and Natural Science and Mathematics at Lesley University.

Due to a change in partners, Lesley University and Brockton Public Schools have met multiple time to create a program that meets the needs of both math and science teachers. Quincy Public Schools has joined the partnership for year two as both districts are looking to enhance the mathematics content knowledge of their elementary teachers while creating an integrated view of math and science. Program offerings will include mathematic of science courses, aligned with the Massachusetts Frameworks for science, mathematics, English Language Arts Frameworks, and the Massachusetts English Language Proficiency Benchmarks and Outcomes for English Language Learners. Participants will be co-taught by core and adjunct faculty from Lesley University mathematicians, scientists, mathematics educators, and science educators. Careful attention will be made to incorporate research-based strategies for building understanding in mathematics and science for English Language Learners in collaboration with professors recognized for their expertise in this field who have agreed to serve as advisors. In addition graduate level mathematics courses that already exist will begin to include more scientific concepts. For example, Functions and Algebra I will pay special attention to the activities related to Hook's Law and tension. All courses will have both a math and science lens through which they can be viewed.

Since all teachers are responsible for teaching language and literacy in their disciplines, this grant will explicitly address and include the importance of using the language of science and mathematics in ways of talking and representing the natural world through discourse, interaction, multiple representations, and collaboration which will meet the College and Career Readiness Standards for Reading and Writing in Science Technological Subjects. The discourse of both science and mathematics have their own vocabulary and organization so each content course will explicitly include pedagogical strategies for making the content accessible to all students but the focus is on strengthening the content knowledge of inquiry based science and problem solving based mathematics for teachers.

For more project information, contact the program coordinator: Dr. Anne Collins, Director of Math Programs, Lesley University, collins2@lesley.edu.



Last Updated: October 15, 2012
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