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Mansfield, Lucas teachers to study algebra techniques

EHE News
Wed, 2014-04-02 12:58

Grant provides math professional development to K-8 teachers

Three professors from Ohio State at Mansfield will teach math to elementary teachers this summer through a $203,789 grant from the Ohio Board of Regents.

Kindergarten through fifth grade teachers in the Mansfield City and Lucas local school districts will participate in a professional development program based on the national Algebra Project.

The Improving Teacher Quality State Grant comes at an opportune time for the Mansfield schools, which just declared a fiscal emergency.

“CAMP: Collaborative Applications of Mathematics Pedagogy” is led by principal investigator Terri Bucci, associate professor of mathematics education, in collaboration with Lee McEwan, professor of mathematics, and Michael Mikusa, visiting assistant professor of mathematics education.

Goal to ease algebra anxiety

“Most students think algebra is incredibly hard and utterly useless,” said McEwan. “We are working with elementary teachers to dispel that myth at an early age.”

In a recent report from the Ohio Board of Regents, 50 percent of Lucas Local School District graduates entering college and 48 percent of Mansfield City graduates required remedial math classes before they could begin college math courses.

The national Algebra Project, which McEwan has led locally for more than five years, works with high school students in the bottom quartile of their class, with the goal to make them college-ready in mathematics. McEwan’s first cohort is now entering college.

Bucci and McEwan have tested a K-8 summer program with Mansfield mathematics teacher leaders. This summer, CAMP will include Lucas schools. The program also will expand to include a year's worth of professional development with course credit through Ohio State.

“The focus is to provide teachers with an opportunity to see practices learned through their course in action with children,” Bucci said.

The key to preparing students for college, the professors say, starts with enabling teachers to create programs “where students can be mathematicians rather than receptacles of mathematics.”  Local school districts make a huge investment in terms of time and training in algebra program teachers, McEwan said.

“It will take a generation of teachers to make this work,” McEwan said. “But the most phobic teachers are now the most passionate.”

The Improving Teacher Quality State Grants Program is funded under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The program increases the academic achievement of all students by helping schools and school districts improve teacher, instructional paraprofessional and principal quality.

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