ABSTRACT: Year 1 Activities (AY 2012-2013)

The three-year STREAM project is intended to initiate, pilot, and embed a model for statewide support and education for teachers implementing the Montana Common Core Standards for Mathematics (MCCSM). Montana school districts have many avenues for acquiring information about the MCCSM; the state now faces the challenge of actually implementing the MCCSM. Our goal is to develop a model that will deeply embed implementation and bring the spirit of the CCSS content standards and mathematical practices to life. Our focus is on middle grades mathematics teachers (grades 4-7), and our ultimate audience is the entire state of Montana.

Our approach is to train a group of selected “seed teachers” who represent critical mass within a district. Through experience, application, and reflection, the seed teachers:

  • Interpret the content and practices outlined in the MCCSM in the context of their district’s unique setting
  • Use learning progressions and other available tools to enable implementation
  • Examine, model, and create learning environments that foster the MCCSM Mathematical Practices
  • Discover ways to align and integrate existing curriculum with the MCCSM
  • Prepare for MCCSM-based assessment within the SBAC consortium

The seed teachers will return to the classroom and “take root” as embedded experts and facilitators to promote and facilitate MCCSM implementation throughout their grade band, school, and/or district. They will approach this work with support outlined by six objectives.

Objectives for Teachers: These objectives promote teachers’ understanding of and ability to teach important mathematics content in a way that challenges and inspires students as mathematical thinkers.

  1. Common Core Content Knowledge: Teachers will increase their understanding of mathematics relevant to specific content domains. Teachers will improve mathematical content knowledge but also explore content in the context of learning progressions.
  2. Mathematical Practices and STEM: Teachers will experience and demonstrate how the eight mathematical practices of the Common Core must be embedded in teaching and learning. They will participate in and observe exemplary standards-based lessons, and create their own lessons that infuse worthwhile mathematical practices. They will understand how modeling and structure support STEM-integrated instruction and the common goals and practices shared by STEM disciplines.
  3. Demonstration and School-Based Learning: Teachers will be prepared to share their knowledge with colleagues in a learning community setting upon returning to their home schools. Partner districts will plan for coordinated dissemination of project materials across the district.

Objectives for System-wide Change: These objectives promote a sustainable statewide model for preparing teachers, schools, and districts to implement Montana’s Common Core.

  1. Implementation and Professional Development: The project will produce a collection of learning modules for use in face-to-face and online instruction. The topical modules can be used in a variety of settings and will focus on key content domains; learning progressions; mathematical practices; learning from reflection and self-analysis; and facilitating a learning community.
  2. Mentoring and Facilitation: The partnership will produce a cadre of outstanding teacher leaders (a) deeply knowledgeable about mathematics content and the Common Core; (b) qualified to demonstrate exemplary standards-based instruction; and (c) prepared to lead and facilitate professional development using project-created materials.
  3. Modeling and Metacognition: The project will produce a series of videorecorded “public lessons” for use by individuals and in professional development. Each lesson will include a plan-teach-reflect sequence and include verbal and visual examples of each phase.

STREAM deliberately built a partnership representing the diversity of Montana’s school districts and student audience. If we intend to serve the entire state, we need to learn how to effectively disseminate information in a variety of school settings. Year 1 partners include 17 school districts (ranging from isolated single-school rural districts to three of Montana’s larger cities), Montana State University and the University of Montana, and the nonprofit Montana Learning Center. In Year 1, we designed a sequenced set of high-quality materials to help teachers implement the MCCSM coupled with a professional development infrastructure and blended model that can be used across Montana and adopted by other states.

A subset of “seed teachers” from each partner district piloted these materials and our approach to school-based professional learning. The Year 1 seed teachers experienced three phases of professional development: a Launch Workshop to introduce key themes related to content, practice, STEM, and professional learning; a series of online modules where teachers studied these key themes more deeply and built lessons focused on specific content domains and the Mathematical Practices; and a Summer Academy that included mathematics content but also provided tools for teacher learning and leadership. Seed teachers developed Strategic Plans for disseminating information in their home districts.

The centerpiece of STREAM’s blended approach to professional development is a series of online modules that teachers complete during the academic year. Year 1 modules include:
Module 1: Mathematical Practices and STEM
–Focus on embedding mathematical practices; modeling; STEM integration
Module 2: Number Systems and Operations
–Focus on increasing content knowledge; learning progressions
Module 3: Fraction, Ratio, Proportion
–Focus on increasing content knowledge; learning progressions
Module 4: Teacher Learning and Leadership
–Focus on facilitating PLCs; leadership; embedding MCCS in the curriculum

The modules are designed as self-contained learning experiences that can be used in varied combinations. They are manageable for teachers with full-time school responsibilities. Key features of STREAM online modules include:

  • All work is asynchronous
  • Modules can be delivered using any learning management system
  • Each module is designed to last 3 weeks, but remains open for 4 weeks
  • Estimated workload: 4 to 6 hours per week x 12 weeks = 48 to 72 hours total
  • Modules are self-paced to some degree, with due dates for assignments and discussions
  • Module enrollment is limited to 15-30 teachers
  • Each module is moderated by a knowledgeable instructor/facilitator
  • Tasks include readings, videos, reflections, discussions, or lesson design
  • Many tasks are drawn from existing Web-based resources
  • Some teaching tasks make use of participants’ classrooms
  • A graduated sequence of lesson-planning activities runs through the four modules
  • Assignments and activities are scored using a 4-point rubric
  • Teachers may register for CEU credit or optional graduate credit