Sections    Saturday February 16th, 2019
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The Expect More Arizona Tour of Excellence: Middle School Math Educators Developing Teaching Skills and Deepening Mathematical Knowledge via Scottsdale Community College Partnership

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  • April Strom/Scottsdale Community College

Math Teachers Learning New Ways To Teach At The Arizona Math Partnership. Photo Courtesy Arizona Math Partnership

In 2012, Scottsdale Community College became the second community college in the country to earn a grant from the National Science Foundation under the Mathematics and Science Partnership program to conduct teacher professional development with area educators. While these grants are more often awarded to universities, SCC clearly demonstrated their expertise and ability to deliver quality training for teachers.

Over five years, SCC created and implemented the Arizona Mathematics Partnership (AMP) to support teachers in advancing their knowledge about the teaching and learning of middle school mathematics.

Video: Arizona Mathematics Partnership

SCC, along with their partner school districts (Deer Valley Unified, Scottsdale Unified, Fountain Hills Unified, Chandler Unified, Florence Unified and J.O. Combs Unified School Districts, along with Salt River Pima – Maricopa Community Schools), implemented a systemic model of professional development to achieve the goal of increasing student achievement in middle school mathematics courses and better prepare them to make a successful transition to more challenging studies in high school. Supporting partners included Chandler-Gilbert and Glendale Community Colleges, Arizona State University, and Maricopa County Community College District.

To do this, they would need to increase teacher’s content knowledge and better prepare them to incorporate content standards into curriculum instruction.

As the program began, each teacher committed to two years as part of the AMP training, for a total of 200 hours. Training began in the summer with a week-long institute followed by four Saturday workshops during the course of the school year. Training facilitators covered everything from numbers and operations to patterns, algebra and statistics. Where students would typically learn rules to solve problems, they would now analyze why and how procedures work and how math works to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of the methods.

Each school was also armed with a collaborative community of learners, or small groups that were led by community college faculty. Participants received feedback on teaching methods and teams were able to collectively problem-solve and share best practices.

Data on the precise impact of AMP is being compiled, but the anecdotal feedback is telling:

With about 300 math teachers, 32 math teacher-leaders, 40 administrators and 140 pre-service teachers from Valley middle schools, the team has impacted an estimated 24,000 students. Training helped to develop teachers’ deep conceptions of the “big ideas” of middle school mathematics and to encourage shifting their thinking about mathematics as a set of skills and procedures to thinking about mathematics as a collection of well-connected ideas that anchors their curriculum and instruction.