ABSTRACT: Year 2 Activities (AY 2013-2014)

The three-year STREAM project is intended to design, initiate, and implement models 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, but the state now faces the challenge of actually implementing the standards. STREAM’s goals include developing models that will deeply embed implementation and bring the spirit of the CCSS content standards and mathematical practices to life. Our focus in Year 2 continued to be middle grades mathematics teachers (grades 4-7), but our ultimate audience is the entire state of Montana.

In Year 1 we trained a group of selected “seed teachers” in each of 15 districts to become embedded experts and facilitators of the MCCSM. In Year 2, the seed teachers were charged to promote and facilitate MCCSM implementation throughout their grade band, school, and/or district. Through school-based workshops and meetings, the seed teachers helped colleagues:

  • 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

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

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

  1. Implementation and Professional Development: The project is producing 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; reflection and self-analysis; and facilitation of learning communities.
  2. Mentoring and Facilitation: The partnership is producing 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.

The STREAM partnership represents the diversity of Montana’s school districts and student audience. Year 1 partners included 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 2, two small districts withdrew from the partnership and three additional partners were added.

In Year 1 we designed an initial set of high-quality materials to help teachers implement the MCCSM, coupled with a blended model. “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, 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, during the summer seed teachers developed Strategic Plans for disseminating information in their home districts.

In Year 2 a similar sequence of activities was carried out with teachers from three new districts. At the same time, Year 1 seed teachers enacted their Strategic Plans for in-school professional learning about the MCCSM. The seed teachers became the deliverers rather than recipients of professional development as they shared their knowledge of the MCCSM with K-8 colleagues.

In Year 3 the online modules and workshops developed for seed teachers will be made available statewide by (1) inviting individual teachers to participate in online modules and (2) recruiting teacher cohorts to commit to the STREAM Guide program (3 online modules, 3 school-based workshops, and guided facilitation). Two modules, Mathematical Practices and STEM and Geometry, were offered to the public in Summer 2014. In addition, STREAM offered a 3-day summer workshop for K-8 teachers on adapting and designing lessons to incorporate other STEM disciplines.

Central to STREAM’s blended approach to professional development is the series of online modules available to teachers during the academic year. Four modules were created in Year 1:

  • Mathematical Practices and STEM
  • Number Operations/Number Systems
  • Fraction-Ratio-Proportion
  • Facilitating Professional Learning

Two additional modules were created and offered in Year 2:

  • Geometry
  • Data and Statistics

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 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: 6 to 8 hours per week
  • 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
  • Some form of lesson design or application to practice is built into each module
  • Assignments and activities are scored using a 4-point rubric
  • Teachers may register for CEU credit or optional graduate credit