A mathematics three-part series professional development update

This year, the Maine Department of Education is bringing together approximately 200 teachers of mathematics to learn about and implement practices that support student engagement and learning in a professional development series titled, “Connecting Mathematics Instruction to Support Student Engagement and Understanding (K-12).”

Educators will come together in four locations, three times over the course of the school year. The following is a summary of the first two sessions from September and this month and next. The third session will be held in March.

The primary focus of the training is to support teachers in implementing the eight effective teaching practices outlined in the text Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All.  Through face to face discussions, classroom application, and practice throughout the school year, teachers will apply the research-based teacher and student actions identified in the text. Educators will then bring back evidence of implementation and impact on teaching practices for discussion into the third session as well.

The eight practices, listed below, have been demonstrated to positively impact student learning:

  1. Establish Mathematics Goals to Focus Learning
  2. Implement Tasks That Promote Reasoning and Problem Solving
  3. Use and Connect Mathematical Representations
  4. Facilitate meaningful Mathematical Discourse
  5. Pose Purposeful Questions
  6. Build Procedural Fluency from Conceptual Understanding
  7. Support Productive Struggle in Learning Mathematics
  8. Elicit and Use Evidence of Student Thinking

Participants will also spend time learning about instructional shifts that support student learning. They will identify connections between the ten instructional shifts and the eight mathematics teaching practices as a way to better support their work in implementing best practices. Accessible Mathematics: 10 Instructional Shifts That Raise Student Achievement, describes each of the shifts, the associated research, and a summary of what one should expect to see in an effective mathematics classroom. Educators can take advantage of this resource to implement the following:

  1. Incorporate ongoing cumulative review into every day’s lesson.
  2. Adapt what we know works in our reading programs and apply it to mathematics instruction.
  3. Use multiple representations of mathematical entities.
  4. Create language-rich classroom routines.
  5. Take every available opportunity to support the development of number sense.
  6. Build from graphs, charts, and tables.
  7. Tie the math to such questions as: “How big?” “How much?” “How far?” to increase the natural use of measurement throughout the curriculum.
  8. Minimize what is no longer important.
  9. Embed the mathematics in realistic problems and real-world contexts.
  10. Make “Why?” “How do you know?” “Can you explain?” classroom mantras.

Additional resources that are being used during the training to support participant understanding of the eight teaching practices include the NCTM Principles to Actions Toolkit webpage and the 30-day free trial course Making Math Far More Accessible to Our Students to support understanding of the ten instructional shifts.

Last year, Maine DOE provided an administrators Dine and Discuss session to assist principals in understanding how to support teachers to implement the eight mathematics teaching practices. During these sessions, administrators learned about the practices, observed a classroom lesson, and discussed what evidence could be seen supporting effective mathematics teaching and learning. Principals can access these materials archived in the School Improvement Webinars under the title Instructional Leadership: Principals as Instructional Leaders in Effective Teaching and Learning in Mathematics.

For further information, contact Maine DOE Mathematics Specialist Michele Mailhot at michele.mailhot@maine.gov or 624-6829.