The post Let’s Hit the Refresh Button (a couple of times): Reimagining Math Curriculum and Teacher Learning to Broaden Participation in the Math of the Future appeared first on Teaching Systems Lab - MIT.

]]>*In this series of provocations, we distill a series of arguments that we have heard from interviews with math researchers, teachers, teacher leaders, and publishers. We’ve chosen six of the most interesting lines of thinking to publish in advance of the Future of Math Teacher Learning conference to set the table with a set of ideas that we can debate, build upon, or discard. These provocations are not the “right” way to think about the future of math teacher learning, but they were six arguments that challenged our assumptions, sparked our thinking, and helped us imagine new ways of approaching teacher learning. *

**By Rachel Slama**, Justin Reich, Nancy Anderson and the INSPIRE-Math team

The results are in: Math teacher learning and math progress are stuck in a rut. We need something big to break out of our old patterns and habits. Something epic to catapult ourselves and our students into the twenty-first century and the future of work. And while we are at the re-invention wheel, can we broaden participation in the field of mathematics and computing too? Are new K-12 math curriculum tracks like computational math, data science, and computational statistics, ready to be that new thing that can help revive math teaching and learning?

Computers now seamlessly control nearly every aspect of our daily lives. Us mortals need to stake a claim in the areas where we have an advantage over the machine– such as abstraction, creativity and innovation. And our schools have a responsibility to help students learn the quantitative skills they need to be successful in the future of work. As it turns out, that does not rest on lots of hand calculations of math problems.

Math policy wonks have been sounding the alarm bell for more than a decade (i.e. traditional math is the Latin of the 21st century)–in most parts of the world, math is still grounded in hand computation and rote memorization–at the expense of deepening students’ reasoning, deep thinking, and logic skills.

As it also turns out, the future of work will leave many behind if no immediate action is taken by education stakeholders to chart a path for new math teaching and learning, particularly in our nation’s most poverty-impacted schools. While robots might not “usher workers off of factory floors” as was previously feared, something “equally pernicious” is lurking in the shadows of automation: as MIT labor scholars note: the fruits of economic innovation will be so vastly and unequally distributed that most workers will only “taste a tiny morsel of a vast harvest”. So what are we waiting for?

The new math curriculum should focus squarely on data literacy and computer technology to break the cycle of conceptually shallow mathematics instruction, and it should do that in a way that is meaningful and relevant to the lives of students of color and poverty-impacted students. Take the Skew the Script curriculum: an open-source math curriculum developed by a statistics teacher to counter what he describes on his website as “students eyes glazing over” when working through the traditional statistics curriculum.

The founding statistics teacher revamped the Advanced Placement (AP) statistics curriculum to create real world examples for his students that are grounded in social issues. Students explore core statistical concepts hands-on through datasets about social-justice oriented topics like police brutality, inequality in education, income segregation, water safety in poverty-impacted communities, and other engaging topics like sports and gambling (for more social justice-oriented curriculum ideas, see related blog post *The Power to Change the Equation*).

You could imagine a similarly-inspired data science curriculum that integrated real world problems in even younger grades, which is grounded in computational thinking and computation as well. The possibilities are endless.

Actually, math teaching and learning does not operate in a vacuum and thus, we cannot simply plop a brand new curricular track into schools and expect it to work at scale. No, we will need to integrate math and computer programming into math standards, and develop a high-quality and culturally relevant k-12 “computational literacy” curriculum. Then, we will need to create a teacher pipeline that prepares teachers to teach the new curriculum– both for current classroom teachers and those coming up the ranks through colleges of education and other alternate pathways. Oh and then what about meaningful assessments that help tell us if students are grasping the new curriculum?

The good news is that unlike traditional math tracks where a major barrier to teacher progress is a teacher’s own beliefs and confidence about teaching math, the opportunity to create new courses means that all teachers are novices. There are no preconceptions of what teaching should look like so we can reinvent the teacher professional learning experience alongside a new curriculum.

It will take the support and technical expertise of many education stakeholders– and some support from our cousins in computer science education (thanks, in advance for your time!) who have been in a similar decade-long revolution. But we’re pretty confident that we can hit the refresh button on math– a couple of times.

The post Let’s Hit the Refresh Button (a couple of times): Reimagining Math Curriculum and Teacher Learning to Broaden Participation in the Math of the Future appeared first on Teaching Systems Lab - MIT.

]]>The post The Power to Change the Equation: Mathematics Teacher Learning Reimagined appeared first on Teaching Systems Lab - MIT.

]]>*In this series of provocations, we distill a series of arguments that we have heard from interviews with math researchers, teachers, teacher leaders, and publishers. We’ve chosen six of the most interesting lines of thinking to publish in advance of the Future of Math Teacher Learning conference to set the table with a set of ideas that we can debate, build upon, or discard. These provocations are not the “right” way to think about the future of math teacher learning, but they were six arguments that challenged our assumptions, sparked our thinking, and helped us imagine new ways of approaching teacher learning. *

**By Greg Benoit, Justin Reich, and the INSPIRE-Math team**

While some of us are extremely glad 2020 has ended and are eager to look forward to the new year, we must not forget the humbling lessons about racial inequity, social justice (or lack thereof) and humanity the year taught us. The brutal killings of people of color, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and Ahmaud Arbery, have taught us that we are not as far removed from the Jim Crow era as we once imagined. As the news covered the Black Lives Matter protests, we were forced to revisit (or uncover) our nation’s long history of racial violence, injustice, and economic inequality. And, not to mention, a global pandemic crippled the nation and further exacerbated the discrepancies and divides mentioned above.

As bleak and dreadful as those times were, they did not call for us, as a society, to turn on one another, nor did they call for us to return to “normal” knowing normal was rooted in the marginalization of communities of color. At a time when racist acts were becoming normalized, many mathematics educators saw that as an opportune time to rupture traditional ways of instructing and doing mathematics (e.g. direct instruction with an emphasis on procedure). As an effort to be more culturally responsive, teachers have decided to make use of intricate connections to community and cultural knowledge for mathematical instruction, affirming the cultural and national identities of their student body. Teachers have also begun to leverage systemic issues of inequality, violence, policing, etc. for mathematics instruction as a way to help students understand issues/context, formulate mathematical arguments and become critically aware of the world around them.While some consider mathematics a “universal language”, rooted in objectivity and emotionlessness (Christensen, Skovsmose, & Yasukawa, 2008), it is not. Mathematics teaching and learning does not operate from an apolitical stance; immune from issues of race, power and social class (Valero, 2018). And just like any other discipline, mathematics is laden with social, cultural and political practices and expectations (Gutiérrez, 2013).

In particular, one example of culturally responsive mathematics instruction is social justice mathematics. Rooted in Macedo and Freire’s notion of ‘critical education’ (1987), social justice mathematics challenges traditional mathematics and empowers students to question, critique, understand and confront important inequities in their lives inside or outside the school walls. Social justice mathematics requires mathematics educators and learners to reflect ‘through’, ‘with’, and ‘on’ mathematics (Skovsmose, 2011). Reflecting ‘through’ mathematics calls for teachers and students to engage in meaningful mathematics where students are empowered to satisfy their goals, asking and answering questions they have; reflecting ‘with’ mathematics enables teachers and students to see mathematics as a vehicle to understand issues or context, whether they be political, social, cultural, or economic; and reflecting ‘on’ mathematics considers its privileged position as a discipline used to make and justify decisions (Wright, 2016).

While we agree with the tenets of mathematics of social justice mathematics, it should not be done superficially (e.g. just adding diverse names to a word problem) nor should the concentration be solely on mathematical content. Though teachers may have good intentions examining the mathematics behind social injustices, it can be demoralizing for students if the lesson is facilitated negligently. For example, a lesson can elegantly demonstrate the racial and ethnic disparities of the school to prison pipeline or the prison industrial complex. And as the lesson wraps up a student optimistically asks, “now what?” While the content goal was reached and the lesson is over, the student is in search and in need of more.

It’s not enough to simply examine and uncover social justice issues of significant caliber but it is also important to discuss future action. Students should be solutions oriented and begin to recognize and explore how they can become change agents in the world. For example, students can have their option of using data to prepare a letter, public service announcements, or other forms of civic engagement to advocate for justice and equality. If time does not permit such extensions, consider cross-curricular options with other teachers, perhaps a humanities teacher. These are sophisticated topics and should be instructed with care.

Moreover, not all social justice mathematics lessons have to use high-profile events or be geared towards inequities. While there are countless fields, including the environmental and health care fields that consist of inequities, if teachers are not comfortable facilitating such a lesson, then there are less controversial topics that still explore equity questions. For example, teachers can have students explore and critique the mathematics ranking scheme used to judge their favorite musician, movie, actor, or examine the growth of historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) or other topics that focus on joy and positive framings of people of color.

We do not see culturally responsive mathematics teaching as one more thing to be added to the continuously evolving list of expectations for teachers but instead as an anchor to a new model of professional growth. As students see tangible examples of real-world applications that are significant to their lives, they begin to see mathematics as a tool that permeates the world and develop a further appreciation of its purpose. While a long history of resource deprivation in segregated schools and segregated tracks certainly needs to be addressed to create more equitable outcomes, the future for math instruction isn’t merely about resource allocation (much like addressing racial violence in policing isn’t solved by giving more money to urban police departments). The future of mathematics teacher learning calls for teachers to reimagine mathematical spaces as places that disrupt and transform learning to be liberating experiences for students, especially those that have been historically and currently marginalized. When mathematics teacher learning sees mathematics as a tool for liberation that acknowledges the lived experiences and the reality of its students, then it will truly begin its journey of creating equitable mathematics outcomes.

For decades, math reformers have tried a variety of strategies to create the conditions for equitable math outcomes in a deeply inequitable society. The heart of most of those strategies has been to assume that affluent White students get the “right” math instruction, and poor Black and Brown students get math instruction that isn’t enough like the classroom learning afforded to affluent, White students. While a long history of resource deprivation in segregated schools and segregated tracks certainly needs to be addressed, a more equitable future for math instruction isn’t merely about resource allocation (much like addressing racial violence in policing isn’t solved by giving more money to urban police departments). The future of math teacher learning should be anchored around seeing mathematics as essential to the liberation of historically and currently marginalized students, and then recognizing that when liberation is the north star, everything from curriculum, to instructional practice, to teacher recruitment, to assessment needs to be revisited through a liberatory lens.

Looking for more? Join leading voices in the field on **January 28@2-5pm EST** and **February 2@5-8pm EST** at *The Future of Math Teacher Professional Learning. *

**References **

Christensen, O. R., Skovsmose, O., and Yasukawa, K. (2008). The mathematical state of the world—Explorations into the characteristics of mathematical descriptions. ALEXANDRIA Revista de Edu- cação em Ciência e Tecnologia, 1, 77−90.

Freire, Paulo & Macedo, Donaldo (1987) Literacy: reading the word and the world. Amherst: Bergin & Garvey.

Gutiérrez, R. (2013). The sociopolitical turn in mathematics education. *Journal for Research in Mathematics Education*, *44*(1), 37-68.

Skovsmose, O. (2011) An Invitation to Critical Mathematics Education. Rotterdam:SensePublishers

Valero P. (2018) Political Perspectives in Mathematics Education. In: Lerman S. (eds) Encyclopedia of Mathematics Education. Springer, Cham. https://doi-org.ezproxy.bu.edu/10.1007/978-3-319-77487-9_126-4

Wright, P. (2016). Social justice in the mathematics classroom. *London Review of Education*, *14*(2), 104-118.

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]]>The post Proving to Teachers, Not Teacher Proofing: How to Get Math Teachers to Order from the Menu of Published Curricula appeared first on Teaching Systems Lab - MIT.

]]>*In this series of provocations, we distill a series of arguments that we have heard from interviews with math researchers, teachers, teacher leaders, and publishers. We’ve chosen six of the most interesting lines of thinking to publish in advance of the Future of Math Teacher Learning conference to set the table with a set of ideas that we can debate, build upon, or discard. These provocations are not the “right” way to think about the future of math teacher learning, but they were six arguments that challenged our assumptions, sparked our thinking, and helped us imagine new ways of approaching teacher learning. *

**By Nancy Anderson, Rachel Slama, Christina Warren**,

To drive gains in student math learning, teachers need strong curriculum materials that include accurate mathematics presented in ways that highlight its logic and coherence (Charalambous et al., 2011). The good news is that the new millennium marked the creation of many high quality, field-tested published math curricula, such as Investigations and Connected Mathematics.

**Math problem solved? Not so fast. **

The challenge is that many teachers opt instead for an instructional *smörgåsbord*, creating their own curriculum using a myriad of commercial, published, and teacher-created resources. And worse — teachers spend significant amounts of precious planning time — up to seven hours a week according to one study (TNTP, 2018) — developing their own materials. Worse yet, teacher-created materials tend to be conceptually poor and not as well-aligned to student learning goals (Hill et al., 2019; Jackson & Makarin, 2016; Steiner, 2018). So why is *smörgåsbord* the instructional *menu du jour* for math teachers in America? And what can be done about it?

**Despite the proven effectiveness of published materials written by mathematical educators with expertise, teachers don’t want to use them.**

There’s a current trend toward teachers creating their own curriculum using a myriad of resources including commercial and published materials as well as teacher-created resources (Hill et al., 2019; Jackson & Makarin, 2018). Teachers like having autonomy over their curricular choices. With the introduction of state, regional, and local math standards, teachers have very little autonomy over what mathematics they teach. So even if policy makers and school administrators could provide every teacher with high-quality materials, teachers won’t be happy to receive them. Forcing teachers to use them with high fidelity may result in haphazard implementation, teacher dissatisfaction, and possibly teacher turnover.

**Even when teachers do follow a published curriculum, their delivery can change or reduce the efficacy of the program**.

Research shows that too often cognitively demanding tasks become less demanding and more procedural during teachers’ implementation, relegating students to the role of observers rather than deep thinkers. In essence, well-meaning teachers “take over the thinking” for students. With few opportunities to see examples of stellar math teaching, teachers get set in their ways (Hiebert et al., 2019; Stein et al., 1996).

**When teachers supplant curricula with their own materials, they may unknowingly shortchange student learning.**

Published curricula offer another important advantage: the continuity and context that comes with a fully planned program. Curriculum writers don’t write separate units; they write series. The mathematical models underlying the units are part of an overall framework that helps students develop and form mathematical insights in the future. This continuity also creates important context for students, which helps facilitate learning rather than pure concepts (National Research Council, 2000).

For example, imagine a curriculum uses the context of sticker sheets to help second grade students develop understanding of tens and ones. If this model arises again in third grade as a way to make sense of larger place values, students are more apt to connect these new ideas to previous concepts. These opportunities give students a more connected and longitudinal view of mathematical concepts. When teachers deviate from curricula, opportunities to help see the progressions in math concepts are lost.

These models become bootstraps for students to form new mathematical insights. This is especially important for students who have a history of struggles in mathematics as they tend to see ideas in mathematics individually.

**Now, how can we refocus on supporting teachers to reliably use high-quality curriculum at scale?**

It’s unlikely that teachers will develop new and ambitious practices working in isolation with idiosyncratic curricular materials. It is also unlikely that professional learning will impact student learning if it rests on the shaky foundation of teacher-created materials and a piecemeal scope and sequence. Here are some paths forward.

**Reboot teacher professional learning as an opportunity to connect to curriculum materials.**

Math coaching, professional learning communities, lesson study groups, instructional rehearsals — all are potential tools of professional learning. Inquiry should focus on curriculum and how to use them in ways that affect and improve student learning. Starting points involve high-impact skills like how to launch lessons, which problems and strategies to promote from a given set to promote during class discussions, and how to anticipate and react to common misconceptions.

By holding conversations about how to make published curricula work for students, teachers and their classrooms can reap the benefits of commercial programs while also remaining key decision makers in connecting the curriculum to students’ needs.

**Supplement, don’t supplant: Teachers should have autonomy to pursue interests that extend the core curriculum.**

Extra instructional days should be built into study units to allow for teachers to supplement lessons with their own chosen materials that might make new interdisciplinary connections with other teachers, address breaking current events, pursue topics of special interest to teachers, or engage with locally-relevant cultural or topical issues. This shouldn’t absolve publishers of the responsibility of making their materials culturally relevant to the increasingly diverse student population in U.S. schools, but core curriculum should be lean enough that teachers’ efforts to put their own personal stamp on curriculum doesn’t come at the cost of attention to the core curriculum.

**Funding sources should “require” participating schools to have an adopted, published and “verified” math curriculum. **

Placing the responsibility of imposing requirements with funding sources incentivizes schools to utilize this paradigm of development integrated with the curriculum.

Quality curriculum is critically important to a classroom’s success. To move forward, we need to find ways to refocus teacher professional learning in this high-impact area, improving outcomes for students as they receive higher-quality instruction, as well as for teachers to continue learning and improving far beyond the end of their own education.

Have ideas on where to focus the next investment in teacher math curriculum learning? Join the conversation in the second part of our conference on **February 2@5-8pm EST** at *The Future of Math Teacher Professional Learning. *

**Sources**

Charalambous, C., Hill, H.C. & Ball, D.L. (2011). Prospective teachers’ learning to provide instructional explanations: how does it look and what might it take?* Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education*, 16, 1-23.

Hiebert, J., Berk, D., Miller, E., Gallivan, H. & Erin Meikle. (2019). Relationships between opportunity to learn mathematics I teacher preparation and graduate’s knowledge for teaching mathematics. JRME, 50(1), 23-50.

Hill, H. C., Lovison, V., & Kelley-Kemple, T. (2019). Mathematics Teacher and Curriculum Quality, 2005 and 2016. *AERA Open*, *5*(4), 2332858419880521.

Jackson, C. K., & Makarin, A. (2016). *Simplifying teaching: A field experiment with online” off-the-shelf” lessons. *Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.

Jackson, K., & Makarin, A. (2018). Can online off-the-shelf lessons improve student outcomes? Evidence from a field experiment. *American Economic Journal: Economic Policy*, *10*(3), 226-54.

National Research Council. 2000. *How People Learn.* Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

TNTP. (2018). The Opportunity Myth: What Students Can Show Us About How School Is Letting Them Down—and How to Fix It. https://tntp.org/assets/documents/TNTP_The-Opportunity-Myth_Web.pdf

Stein, M.K., Grover, B.W., & Henningsen, M. (1996). Building student capacity for mathematical thinking and reasoning: An analysis of mathematical tasks used in reform classrooms. *American Educational Research Journal*, 3, 455-488.

Steiner, D. (2018). Materials matter. *The Learning Professional*, *39*(6), 24.

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]]>The post Soft Money and Hard Lessons: Investing in Math Teacher Learning in Poverty-Impacted Schools Requires, Well, an Investment appeared first on Teaching Systems Lab - MIT.

]]>**By Rachel Slama, Justin Reich, Nancy Anderson, Christina Warren, and the INSPIRE-Math team(1)**

Year after year, we hear about too-slow progress in student math learning and too-large gaps in achievement and opportunity. Policymakers and funders are constantly churning up new initiatives to address the persistent challenges of math education. But what if this work is redundant? What if we already know what works to drive gains in student math learning? And if so, what do we do next?

**Two decades of math teacher professional learning and curricular interventions has taught us that sufficient investments in the right places can drive gains in student math learning in the most poverty-impacted classrooms. **

Improving U.S. students’ math achievement scores and the quality of the math teaching force has been a longstanding focus of national reform efforts (Kamenetz, 2018; OECD, 2020). Yet, the odds are stacked against students attending the nation’s most poverty-afflicted schools where problems with teacher qualifications (Boyd et al., 2008) and teacher and principal turnover (Simon & Moore-Johnson, 2015) are even more pronounced– leading to severe math opportunity gaps for the diverse student bodies that they serve (Boyd et al., 2008).

A series of studies over the past decade has shown that pouring the right math technical assistance resources into challenged schools can drive meaningful student gains in mathematics (Chapin & O’Connor, 2004; Grant & Davenport, 2009; Silver & Lane, 1995; Silver et al., 1995). As funders seek to invest the next pile of “soft money” or grant funding to schools and districts, why do we keep looking for the next “disruptive” innovation in the field, instead of lobbying communities, states and the federal government to provide stable financial support to programs that work?

**Significant Professional Learning Investments Can Drive Student Math Gains**

*The Case of Systemic Math Reform *

From 2001-2006, the NSF awarded upwards of $5.6 million to researchers and eminent reform-minded educators* *in Boston to increase math achievement in the district. The “intervention” cast a wide net: a comprehensive program of math teacher professional development (over 100 total hours of support for each teacher, over the course of the program); the adoption of an elementary and middles school curriculum designed to support standards-based, inquiry-centered math, and a system of formative math assessments to inform and monitor math instruction.

The Boston project team used the grant money to help teachers engage in intensive math professional learning: stipends for out-of-school hours and to pay substitutes for teachers. Grant funds also paid for a specialized professional learning design shop to design and facilitate intensive professional development for math coaches. It is noteworthy that the school district chipped in to pay for math coach salaries and the cost of the adoption of the new k-8 curriculum materials.

Over three years, teachers participated in a thirty-hour curriculum institute and a case-based teacher professional learning approach called Developing Mathematical Ideas*. *In this approach, teachers read “cases” of other teachers making sense of student math thinking “in real time” which showcase how other teachers worked to understand students’ mathematical thinking in real classrooms. Math educators and math coaches collaborated to help teachers learn more math concepts– combining these cases with other targeted teacher learning initiatives designed to sharpen Boston teacher’s math knowledge.

Project staff observed real student math gains in Boston coinciding with the NSF program. The number of students passing the fourth grade math assessment jumped from 56 percent to 77 percent, while the percentage of students scoring proficient and advanced on the assessment doubled from 15 to 30 percent, and national assessments targeting improvements in urban schools showed that Boston lead the pack in biggest math improvements from 2003 to 2007 among urban districts (Grant & Davenport, 2009).

What happened next? The money ran out, and over time, the coaching positions were defunded, the math teacher professional learning budget shrank, and the math department along with it. In the 2019 administration of the state math assessment (albeit the “next generation,” harder test), 32 percent of fourth graders scored proficient or above in math.

Researchers have documented similar trends in other urban districts over the past few decades.

*The Case of Raising Math Expectations *

In the 1990s, a project called QUASAR (Quantitative Understanding: Amplifying Student

Achievement and Reasoning) was created as an equity-focused curriculum striving for math instructional excellence. It brought enriching and challenging math curricula to six poverty-impacted schools across the country with the motivation that students in these schools were underperforming because they did not have access to grade-level math content and had not been pushed to solve complex math problems (Silver & Lane, 1995). This teaching approach was in sharp contrast to the focus on rote memorization of math facts and basic arithmetic that best described these students’ math learning prior to participating in the program. And by the way, ramping up the rigor in the middle grades is critical to unblocking access to algebra as a “gateway” to higher level math courses and tech-focused careers (Cuoco, 2008; Katz, 2007; Kieran, 2008).

Students participating in the program outperformed their classmates from similar backgrounds in other parts of the country on national assessments in all math sections of the test. Student achievement soared particularly in the areas related to a deeper understanding of math and those that required students to solve open-ended problems — the program focus areas. QUASAR students also scored higher than their peers on statistics, probability, algebra and functions.

But, are there examples of programs that can have a lasting effect on student math achievement even after the money runs out?

*The Case of Listening to Students’ Mathematical Thinking ** *

Between 1998 and 2003, *Project Challenge* (2) identified and provided instruction to five cohorts of roughly 100 students each (500 students total), starting when they were fourth graders. The project had two goals: to identify elementary and middle school students who were dual language learners, students of color, and poverty-impacted who had potential talent in mathematics, and to provide them with a rich, challenging program that prepared them to continue with the study of advanced mathematics.

Over 75% of the students chosen to participate in *Project Challenge* performed at an “average” math level. At the time of the intervention, more than 78 percent of students were impacted by poverty and 4 out of 5 students spoke a first language other than English. Importantly, students enrolled in *Project Challenge* had the backgrounds as their peers across the district.

Developed by math education and linguistics experts at Boston University, math instruction for *Project Challenge *students focused on students’ thinking and reasoning and included deep discussions of mathematical concepts and procedures. In addition, *Project Challenge *provided extensive support and mentoring to teachers involved in the project. Weekly professional development time was spent exploring the mathematics of the elementary and middle school curriculum with a focus on understanding concepts and why procedures worked. The teachers also learned about a range of materials and pedagogies for teaching mathematics. One pedagogy that was highlighted was how to facilitate rigorous mathematical conversations in the classroom. Teachers were taught to press students to develop flexible math thinking by articulating and explaining their math reasoning. For example, teachers learned different math talk strategies such as partner talk, restating another student’s answer, and asking the class to comment on their peers’ reasoning and methods.

For *Project Challenge *students, mathematics instruction was provided five days per week, incorporated middle school topics in preparation for college-track math courses in high school, computational skills in the context of problems and games, and featured discussions of students’ strategies to complex problems. Students regularly engaged in project-based learning such as writing math books, building bridges and designing playgrounds. Students’ understanding was assessed using weekly quizzes that included both procedural items, problem solving items, and higher-level reasoning items that promoted generalization, synthesis, and justification. Formative assessment was gathered daily through observations and discussions.

A variety of achievement data were collected on Project Challenge students each year. There were significant gains in student math performance: scores on standardized tests improved across all five of the first *Project Challenge *cohorts. After four years in the program, student average test scores increased from the 75^{th} percentile to the 90^{th} percentile on the California Achievement Test. Statewide results on the Massachusetts state math assessment showed that students as a group went from 57% scoring “Proficient or Advanced” after one year in the program to 82% scoring “Proficient or Advanced” after three years. These results were comparable to achievement data in wealthier districts in the state.

So, what happened next?

Once funding ended for *Project Challenge*, experts involved with the district estimate that the program continued for over 10 years, using the developed curriculum and pedagogies. However, with time, many of the teachers trained by the project left the district, making it more difficult to implement the program with fidelity.

**The bottom line: students thrive when math teaching and learning is tackled head on**

Together, these three case examples show that when research-backed, systemic approaches tackled math teaching and learning head on in poverty-impacted schools and districts, students thrived. So, if we know what works, why not just fund more of that? Why keep throwing soft money at the re-invention of the proverbial math wheel? Why continue the eternal search for the next “disruptive” technology to save math teaching and learning? Perhaps we have already figured out how to disrupt the cycle of math underperformance: stop underfunding the coaching, curriculum, and professional development resources required for effective math teacher learning.

Have ideas on what to fund next in math teacher professional learning? Join the conversation on **January 28@2-5pm EST** and **February 2@5-8pm EST** at *The Future of Math Teacher Professional Learning. *

**Footnotes**

(1) The authors are grateful for the contributions of Linda Davenport and Suzanne Chapin to this blog post.

(2) *Project Challenge *was funded by the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program (#R206A980001, U.S. Department of Education)

**References**

Boyd, D., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., Rockoff, J., Wyckoff, J. (2008). The Narrowing Gap in New York City Teacher Qualifications and its Implications for Student Achievement in High-Poverty Schools. *National Bureau of Economic Research. *Retrieved from https://www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w14021/w14021.pdf

Chapin, S. & O’Connor, C. (2004). Project Challenge: Identifying and developing talent in mathematics within low-income urban schools. Boston, MA: Boston University.

Chapin, S. & O’Connor, C. (2007). Academically Productive Talk: Supporting Student Learning in Mathematics. In Martin, W.G., Strutchens, M., & Elliott, P. (Eds.), *The Learning of Mathematics*, 69th NCTM Yearbook (pp. 113-128). Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Chapin, S.H. & O’Connor, C. (2012). Project Challenge: Using Challenging Curriculum and Mathematical Discourse to Help All Students Learn. In C. Dudley-Marling & S. Michaels (Eds.), *High-Expectation Curricula: Helping All Students Succeed with Powerful Learning, *(pp. 113-127). New York: Teachers College Press.

Cuoco, A. (2008). Introducing extensible tools in high school algebra. In C.E. Greenes & R. Rubenstein (Eds.) Algebra and algebraic thinking in school mathematics pp. 51–62. Reston, Va.: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Grant, C. M. & Davenport, L. R. (2009). Principals in Partnership with Math Coaches. *National Association for Elementary School Principals*. https://www.naesp.org/sites/default/files/resources/2/Principal/2009/M-J_p36.pdf

Kamenetz, A. (2018, April 29). What ‘A Nation At Risk’ Got Wrong, And Right, About U.S. Schools. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2018/04/29/604986823/what-a-nation-at-risk-got-wrong-and-right-about-u-s-schools

Katz, V.J. (Ed.) (2007). Algebra: Gateway to a technological future. *The Mathematical Association of America.*

Kieran, C. (2008). Learning and teaching algebra at the middle school through college levels: building meaning for symbols and their manipulation. In F.K. Lester, Jr. (Ed.), Second handbook of research on mathematics teaching and learning, pps. 707 – 762. Reston, VA: NCTM.

O’Connor, C., Michaels, S. & Chapin, S. (2015).“Scaling down” to explore the role of talk in learning: From district intervention to controlled classroom study. In Resnick, L.B., Asterhan, C. and Clarke, S.N. (Eds.), *Socializing Intelligence through Talk and Dialogue, *(pp*. *111-126*)*. Washington DC: American Educational Research Association.

O’Connor, C., Michaels, S., Chapin, S. & Harbaugh, G. (2016). The silent and the vocal: Participation and learning in whole-class discussion. *Learning and Instruction*, December, 2016. Available on-line at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.learninstruc.2016.11.003

OECD. (2020). *Global Teaching InSights: A Video Study of Teaching.* OECD Publishing, Paris. https://doi.org/10.1787/20d6f36b-en.

Silver, E. A. & Lane, S (1995) Can Instructional Reform in Urban Middle Schools Help Students Narrow the Mathematics Performance Gap? Some

Evidence from the QUASAR Project, Research in Middle Level Education, 18:2, 49-70, DOI:

10.1080/10825541.1995.11670046

Silver, E. A., Smith, M. S., & Nelson, B. S.(1995). The QUASAR project: Equity concerns meet mathematics education reform in the middle school. New directions for equity in mathematics education,9-56.

Simon, N. S., & Johnson, S. M. (2015). Teacher turnover in high-poverty schools: What we know and can do. Teachers College Record, 117(3), 1-36.

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]]>The post Book Review of Failure to Disrupt appeared first on Teaching Systems Lab - MIT.

]]>“As the pandemic forces so many school systems and learning institutions to move online, the desire to educate students well using online tools and platforms is more pressing than ever. But as Justin Reich illustrates in his new book,* Failure to Disrupt*, there are no easy solutions or one-size-fits-all tools that can aid in this transition, and many recent technologies that were expected to radically change schooling have instead been used in ways that perpetuate existing systems and their attendant inequalities.”

Click** here** to read the full review.: https://blogs.sciencemag.org/books/2020/09/08/failure-to-disrupt/

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]]>The post What’s Lost, What’s Left, What’s Next: appeared first on Teaching Systems Lab - MIT.

]]>Click here to read the report.

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]]>The post Imagining September appeared first on Teaching Systems Lab - MIT.

]]>In May 2020, we conducted four online design charrettes with school and district leaders, teachers, students, parents, and other stakeholders to translate design-based practices for leading school change into an online context. In this report, we present two meeting protocols: one for multi-stakeholder meetings and one primarily for students. To accompany these protocols, we have sample agenda, online workbooks, and sample notes and exercises from our discussion to help school and district leaders facilitate these kinds of meetings in their own local contexts.

The goal of these meetings was to identify shared values and priorities for reopening schools, to build stakeholder engagement, to seed stakeholder leadership and involvement, and to develop new ideas and structures for reopening schools. In particular, we were interested in “tentpole” ideas, structures and routines that could define a reopening plan and provide an organizational frame for the hundreds of smaller curricular, programmatic, and logistical decisions that will need to be made next year. In a linked report– “Imagining September: Principles and Design Elements for Ambitious Schools during Covid-19”- -we have published “storyboards” for a variety of school reopening ideas and structures inspired by the participants in our charrettes.

Re-opening schools in the fall will be a community-wide effort, requiring leadership, innovation, and experimentation from all parts of school systems. Including diverse stakeholders early in the process of imagining September will bring forth a community’s best ideas and invite people through the system to join the work of retooling schools for the challenging year ahead.

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]]>The post Remote Learning Guidance From State Education Agencies During the COVID-19 Pandemic appeared first on Teaching Systems Lab - MIT.

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]]>The post Full STEAM Ahead appeared first on Teaching Systems Lab - MIT.

]]>The Teaching Systems Lab is excited to share a new website developed at MIT for kids, educators, and parents called Full STEAM Ahead, a collection of resources for teaching and learning online. These are meant as a rapid response to the need for online resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are curating existing resources for K-12, higher education, and lifelong learners. Additionally, the website will provide a weekly package of relevant materials for K-12 students and teachers.

Full STEAM Ahead is a collaboration between different labs at MIT including The Education Arcade and MIT Open Learning, and the Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL).

More information about Full STEAM Ahead

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