Article by Michelle Hines
NC Quest, which administers federal funds to train and support North Carolina’s teachers, has set aside just under $300,000 to fund a proposal submitted by UNCG’s School of Education.
The project, “Core Math II: Assisting Teachers’ Implementation of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics with Learning Trajectories, Reform-Oriented Pedagogy, and Instructional Support,” will empower public school teachers to better implement the state’s new math standards in their classrooms.
“It’s exciting,” says Dr. Holt Wilson, the project leader and a professor in the Teacher Education and Higher Education Department within the School of Education. “It’s a difficult time for teachers with the changes in standards.”
The state’s new Common Core Standards were approved in 2011. Teachers put them into practice starting with the 2012-13 school year.
The major shift in math education standards involves a new focus on critical thinking – understanding the process of doing mathematics, not just the answers – Wilson says. The idea is to make sure students understand why a mathematical rule exists and can explain how they applied that rule to solve a problem. That means students must be able to justify their conclusions and critique other students’ mathematical arguments.
Wilson, other faculty members from various departments in the School of Education and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics in the College of Arts and Sciences, will work with about 30 K-5 teachers from three schools in the region. Those teachers will receive about 100-hours of training over 18 months.
“We will go to them,” Wilson says. “If you imagine that each teacher has about 20 kids in a class, that translates to about 600 students who will be impacted this year.”
UNCG recruited teachers for the project from three schools across the region — elementary schools in Asheboro, Ramseur and Rockingham County. UNCG already had a close working relationship with the schools in Asheboro and Ramseur and tailored the program to the needs of those teachers.
Participating teachers will attend a summer institute this summer, support meetings throughout the school year, and another summer institute next summer. School administrators will take part in the sessions as well.
NC Quest funds come from federal moneys as part of No Child Left Behind legislation. For each grant cycle, the UNC system’s General Administration considers one proposal from each of its 16 campuses.
For more information on the Core Math II project, contact Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.