PROM/SE Overview: News and Outreach
What's New @ PROM/SE
PROM/SE Research Report "Content Coverage and the Role of Instructional Leadership"
PROM/SE has published volume 7 of The PROM/SE Research Report titled "Content Coverage and the Role of Instructional Leadership." This report examines the variation in reported science content coverage among 53 PROM/SE districts in Michigan and Ohio. Variation is also described among schools within participating districts and among classrooms within the same school. Data point to extensive variation in the amount of time allocated to science instruction at district, school, and classroom levels across elementary and middle grades. In a subset of 5 adjacent school districts, striking variation is noted in coverage of topics addressed as compared to the science curriculum of high achieving TIMSS countries. Similarly notable variability is found in the number of instructional days devoted to science topics in schools within the same district and in classrooms within the same school. Findings reflect the importance of instructional leadership at all levels of the educational system to ensure that district intentions and school-level implementation are aligned in promoting coherent and consistent enactment of rigorous standards. The need for strong instructional leadership by district superintendents as well as building principals is discussed in detail. Download full report
PROM/SE Research Report "Opportunities to Learn in PROM/SE Classrooms: Teachers’ Reported Coverage of Mathematics Content"
PROM/SE has published volume 6 of The PROM/SE Research Report titled "Opportunities to Learn in PROM/SE Classrooms: Teachers’ Reported Coverage of Mathematics Content." This report examines the pattern of reported mathematics content coverage in elementary grades classrooms in the PROM/SE districts. In these PROM/SE districts about 2625 teachers (about 525 teachers at each of the five grade levels) reported on their mathematics content coverage. Our results indicate that there is great variation across classrooms in the mathematics content coverage, suggesting the presence of enormous inequalities in opportunities to learn mathematics content. This surprising variability extends not only between districts but also across the hallway within the same school. Download full report
PROM/SE Research Report "Variation Across Districts in Intended Topic Coverage: Mathematics"
PROM/SE has published volume 5 of The PROM/SE Research Report titled "Variation Across Districts in Intended Topic Coverage: Mathematics." This report explores the extent to which implementing curriculum at the local level has created mathematics curriculum standards (grade level learning expectations) with vastly different learning expectations that in turn undermines any ‘intent’ to provide to all students an equal opportunity to learn mathematics. Given the cumulative nature of knowledge, especially in mathematics, differences in learning opportunities lost at a specific grade may not be gained at a later time. These disparities are not just experienced by children who live in poverty. This affects children who live in wealthy suburbs that surround urban areas as well. Data from across districts nationally are examined. Download full report
William Schmidt speaks at AERA-CNSF event on Capitol Hill
Pictured left to right: MSU Professor William Schmidt, NSF Director Arden Bement, Congressman Bill Foster (Illinois), Congressman Vernon Ehlers (Michigan), and AERA Director Felice Levine
University Distinguished Professor William Schmidt featured his current research on mathematics and science education during an exhibition sponsored by the American Educational Research Association and the Coalition for National Science Funding on Capitol Hill March 24, 2009. The 15th Annual Exhibition, “The Path to Innovation: Scientific Discovery and Learning,” was attended by U.S. Representatives and staff, as well as leaders of the National Science Foundation.
AERA invited Schmidt to feature research funded by NSF’s Division of Education and Human Resources. His exhibit, titled "Changing the Game: Working Together to Improve Mathematics Learning," outlined research of the K-16 mathematics and science education system. The need for reform in mathematics and science education is clear: Students in the United States demonstrate mediocre performance on international assessments, compared with economic peers and competitors. From such studies, three areas have been identified as possible foci for leveraging reform: curriculum, the substance of schooling; teachers, the knowledge, expertise, and resources deployed in classrooms; and parents, representing the broader cultural context of schooling. Click here to read the presentation abstract and AERA full announcement.
NSF releases special report "MATH: What's the Problem?"
The National Science Foundation has produced a multi-media special report called “MATH: What’s the Problem?” Most people agree that math smarts are essential to our country’s future, yet our U.S. students’ math scores still rank below those of many other countries. The report features research supported by the NSF which illuminates the role of teaching, curriculum and technology in math education, and demonstrates the importance of math education to all citizens.
As international assessment tests found US students being out performed by those in many other countries, a 2007 report, “Rising Above the Gathering Storm,” made improving math education key to improving the science and technology enterprise. Meanwhile, the National Mathematics Advisory Panel (NMP) diagnosed the delivery system for math education as being “broken and in need of repair.” A long list of recommendations highlighted the importance of research to guide effective teaching from the earliest grades, and algebra as a gateway subject to higher-order math learning.
Among the voices in this special report are two members of the NMP: Joan Ferrini-Mundy, NSF division director for the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings and MSU University Distinguished Professor; and MSU alumna Deborah Loewenberg Ball, dean of the School of Education at the University of Michigan. They are joined by William Schmidt, MSU University Distinguished Professor of education and statistics, and principal investigator of PROM/SE.
Save the Date- Summer Math Mini-Academy 2009
PROM/SE and the SMART Consortium will hold the Summer Mathematics Mini-Academy on June 22-25, 2009 in Cleveland, Ohio for K-8 teachers from participating PROM/SE districts (years 6 & 7). Download flyer for course descriptions and registration information. Registration deadline is May 29.
Courses include: Whole Numbers (K-4); Geometry and Measurement I (3-5); Fraction and Decimal Operations (4-7); and Proportionality across the Strands (5-8)
These courses are offered free of charge and teachers will receive a daily stipend. Graduate credit available. Registration is limited to teachers from the following districts: Beachwood, Bedford, Berea, Brecksville, East Cleveland, Euclid, Mentor, Newbury, Olmsted Falls, Orange, Painesville, Parma, Richmond Hts., South Euclid/Lyndhurst, and West Geauga.
Curriculum Coherence Institutes 2008-09
PROM/SE is holding a series of institutes to help districts develop a challenging and clearly articulated sequence of mathematical concepts within and across grades. A PROM/SE principle is that curriculum coherence matters in student achievement, but throughout our work with PROM/SE districts and Associates, signs of a lack of curriculum coherence have emerged. These issues are discussed at the institutes and districts are provided the opportunity and tools to analyze their own mathematics curriculum for coherence.
The institutes consider why the following questions matter for student achievement and curriculum coherence, and discuss how districts can address them:
- Does the mathematics that is taught in each grade have a clear focus on a limited number of topics?
- What ongoing system is in place for ensuring a coherent transition in the mathematics that is taught within grades, from grade to grade, and building to building?
- Are supplemental instructional materials chosen by teachers contributing to a lack of coherence?
- Does your curriculum provide opportunities for all students to do challenging mathematics?
FALL Science 2008 “More on the Evolution of Life”
Building on the “Origin and Evolution of Life” spring institute, participants will dig deeper into evolution led by Dr. Gregory Forbes. The FALL session titled "More on the Evolution of Life" will continue the theme of physical and organic change through time, as well as devote time to issues that teachers face in teaching organic evolution. How do you explain change on both a big and small scale to your students? The concepts of physical and biological change run through the entire K-12 science curriculum. Change is a fundamental property of scientific research and of the process of science itself. Understanding change is applicable to all areas and levels of science; therefore, it is especially relevant to all teachers of science, elementary as much as secondary. Courses will use an inquiry-based "how do we know what we know" approach.
K-12 science teachers and administrators from participating Calhoun and Ingham ISD districts are encouraged to attend. Principals, curriculum directors, and superintendents are invited. Attendance at a previous PROM/SE institute is not required to attend this session. The institute is free, but registration is required by Oct 30. Stipend provided. Sessions held at the Calhoun Area Career Center in Battle Creek. Contact your PROM/SE site coordinator for more information. Click here for flyer and registration information.
PROM/SE issues Research Reports on High School Tracking in Math and Science
PROM/SE has published two new issues of The PROM/SE Research Report - “Dividing Opportunities: Tracking in High School Mathematics” and “Dividing Opportunities: Tracking in High School Science.” These reports examine the extent of tracking in the 30 high schools that are part of PROM/SE. These schools represent over 14,000 seniors from nearly 18 districts. The reports reveal startling facts: 1) PROM/SE districts offer an incredibly large number of distinct high school math and science course titles and there is substantial variation across districts. For math, the number of courses offered by districts varied from 10 to 58. For science, the number varied from 7 to 55. 2) Analysis of the 14,000 students’ course selections and the order in which they took these courses showed the number of sequences varies appreciably by district. For math, there were over 200 distinct course math sequences in some districts while in others there were less than 30. Most districts had closer to 60 sequences. For science, sequences ranged from over 100 to less than 30, with most districts closer to 50. 3) Though there are not overt curricular tracks, the large number and types of math and science courses offered implies that many students are encountering wildly discrepant learning opportunities within and across districts. Download the full reports.
PROM/SE offers “The Evolution of Everything"
PROM/SE offers three inter-related sessions called “The Evolution of Everything”, which will help science associates and teachers explain change in the physical and biological systems from the big scale to the small, including the origin and evolution of the universe, Earth and life.
“The concepts of physical and biological change run through the entire K-12 science curriculum,” says Danita Brandt, PROM/SE director of science and a professor in MSU’s Department of Geological Sciences. For example, talking about the breakdown of rocks and the development of soil are two small-scale changes that lie along the continuum of changes that began at the Big Bang.
The series which continues through Spring started with the “Origin and Evolution of the Universe” and featured the Big Bang and the evolution of the elements from which all matter is made. Galaxies, stars and our solar system were discussed. The “Origin and Evolution of Earth” session picks up where “Universe” leaves off and addresses the driving question, “How did the surface of the Earth get to look like it does today?” Finally, “Origin and Evolution of Life” continues the theme of physical and organic change through time, and the issues that teachers face when teaching organic evolution.
Brandt notes that the PROM/SE science professional development helps teachers respond to questions about key scientific concepts from students at all levels. In parallel with the content, teachers also explore the nature of scientific inquiry and student scientific reasoning. Click here for dates and flyer.
SMART Sponsors Alternative in Mathematics Licensure
The SMART Consortium announces a unique opportunity for people who are interested in pursuing a career in teaching mathematics at the 7-12 level. Free graduate credit is available through the Alternative in Mathematics (AiM) Licensure Program with support made available through the ESC of Cuyahoga County, Ashland University and The SMART Consortium. Applicants with a 4-year undergraduate degree (any degree), a strong background in mathematics, and a desire to become a mathematics teacher for grades 7-12 are eligible. The AiM Licensure program is funded by the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Board of Regents. Ashland University tuition is fully covered by the grant (24 semester hours). The intensive 9-month program is taught by faculty and staff of Ashland University and SMART, and include: Algebra; Effective Instruction; Geometry & Measurement; Data Analysis & Probability; Literacy Theory; Curriculum & Instruction; Mathematical Processes; Psychology and Human Development. Participants are responsible for the cost of materials, books and Praxis Exams. Participants will be accepted based on an application process. For more information contact: Jennifer Felker, Director of Operations or Paula Kucinic, Professional Development Coordinator, ESC of Cuyahoga County, at 216-524-3000.
Michigan, Ohio teachers attend summer academies
Michigan and Ohio teachers went back to school this summer during the PROM/SE summer mathematics and science academies. Over 600 teachers representing 60 school districts attended the four-day academies held in the greater Cleveland, Cincinnati and Lansing areas.
Through the summer academies, teachers develop a deeper understanding of the mathematics and science they teach. “I learned a lot of new concepts to add to my math teaching,” said a teacher participant in the Proportionality Across the Strands: Number, Algebra and Geometry course for middle school teachers. Teachers in all courses learned to support and appreciate the power and complexity of student scientific and mathematical thinking and how to address common student misperceptions.
The summer academies help teachers understand mathematics and science concepts taught two grades below and two grades beyond their class so that teachers can tie together these concepts in their classrooms and help students understand broad themes that unfold in the disciplines.
Summer science courses were designed around the unifying theme of Systems and the unifying principle of Energy- both areas where PROM/SE data showed weak student test scores. Mathematics courses featured such topics as whole number, equations, fractions and algebra, as well as their complex interrelationships.
Thank you to all of the participants, instructors, course designers and PROM/SE partners for making the summer academies such a success. Click to see more summer photos, or to read about the summer math or science academies.
Dean George Leroi retires, Strategic Visioning Fund established
George Leroi, Dean of the College of Natural Science, is retiring after a distinguished tenure at MSU. Congratulations on your retirement from all of us at PROM/SE. George Leroi will remain active in PROM/SE as a co-principal investigator. We look forward to continuing to work closely with him and his thoughtful leadership.
The Campaigns for MSU Developments newsletter recently featured an article on George Leroi: “For 40 years at MSU, everywhere from the Leroi Lab in the basement of the Chemistry Building to the Dean’s Office at Natural Science, Dean George Leroi has played an instrumental role in teaching, research and leadership. He has touched the lives of thousands of students, faculty and staff at MSU. During his tenure, the college experienced growth in facilities, graduates, and research funding, and he never lost focus on the students and the fundamental importance of education. With this in mind, the college invited six former colleagues and students to return to campus on October 6, 2006 for a symposium honoring the Dean. At a dinner following the symposium, guests expressed their appreciation of Dr. Leroi and were informed of the creation of the George E. Leroi - College of Natural Science Strategic Visioning Fund, an endowment that will give the college flexibility to seize the benefits of continually evolving opportunities in science and mathematics. It will provide the resources necessary to compete internationally in the evolution of the physical, mathematical, and life sciences. Contributions to the endowment will ensure that the legacy of Dr. Leroi’s strategic vision will forever be a part of the College of Natural Science. For more information on supporting the fund, contact Suzette Hittner at (517) 353-9855 or firstname.lastname@example.org.” To view photos from the symposium and dinner click here.
Arden Bement, director of the National Science Foundation, recently visited PROM/SE while on the campus of MSU. PROM/SE is funded by a $35 million cooperative agreement from the NSF. Pictured from left to right are Sharif Shakrani, Bob Floden, Joan Ferrini-Mundy, Arden Bement and George Leroi.
Listen to Joan Ferrini-Mundy talk about PROM/SE in a new segment called Education Matters on WJR talk radio featuring MSU College of Education faculty and projects. The segment will air prior to the MSU home football games. Click here for more information and to download the 60 sec audio.
PROM/SE Announces 2006-07 PD Calendar
PROM/SE announces the 2006-07 professional development calendar. See the calendar section on the home page for dates. Click here for a content overview of each event. More details to be added soon.
PROM/SE Offers LessonLab courses for 2006-07
PROM/SE and Pearson Achievement are again teaming up to provide 3 opportunities during 2006-2007 to take LessonLab courses at no cost to registering teachers from PROM/SE districts. What's more, all PROM/SE affliated teachers completing a LessonLab course will receive a $100 stipend. We encourage you to sign up and invite a building colleague to join you. Register at http://orders.lessonlab.com/?view=msu. Courses include:
- Numbers and Numeration, grade K-2
- Concepts of Measurement, grade K-2
- Fraction Concepts, grade 3-5
- Geometric Shapes and Solids, grade 3-5
- Ratio and Proportion, grade 6-8
- Solving Equations, grade 6-8
Contact your PROM/SE site coordinator for more information. Click here to read full article.
William Schmidt elected to the National Academy of Education
William Schmidt, co-PI of PROM/SE and a University Distinguished Professor of Education at MSU, has been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Education. Schmidt is one of only three scholars in the world chosen for membership in recognition of their pioneering efforts in educational research and policy development. He was recently interviewed by WJR spartan podcast where he talks about the state of K-12 education in America today and how important national standards are to improving the system. Audio (21 mins) and press release.
2006 PROM/SE Summer Mathematics Academy
View course descriptions, brochure and registration information.
2006 PROM/SE Summer Science Institute
View course descriptions, brochure and registration information.
2006 May Superintendent Summit
Superintendents and district administrators from Michigan and Ohio met recently with PROM/SE leaders to discuss how to utilize PROM/SE resources, superintendent leadership, professional development and curriculum coherence. MSU’s Director of K-12 Outreach Barbara Markle and PROM/SE principal investigators Joan Ferrini-Mundy and William Schmidt opened the summit and set the context for PROM/SE work.
Keynote speaker Richard Elmore from the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University shared insights on going to scale with teacher quality in science and mathematics education. Elmore is the director of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, a group of universities researching state and local education policy. His participation in the PROMSE Superintendent Summit adds yet another dimension to the body of knowledge and resources PROMSE is bringing to education leaders.
After Elmore’s address, breakout groups reflected on how their leadership can advance mathematics and science education within their district. Ohio superintendents continued discussions led by Ohio Department of Education Deputy Superintendent Bob Bowers and Bill Schmidt while Michigan superintendents met with Michigan Department of Education Deputy Superintendent Jeremy Hughes and Joan Ferrini-Mundy.
Further discussions centered on the challenges facing districts in implementing state requirements and how PROM/SE resources can support districts in facing these challenges.
A reception and dinner at the Toledo Museum of Art capped off the summit.
Keynote speaker Richard Elmore discusses getting to scale with teacher quality.
PROM/SE Launches new Research Report Series
PROM/SE is pleased to announce the publication of a new series The PROM/SE Research Report. The series, targeted to Superintendents, highlights key findings from the PROM/SE data collected from over 60 participating school districts in Michigan and Ohio. Download the first issue Making the Grade: Fractions in Your Schools.
Science Education in the 21st Century: A PROM/SE Forum
A group of renowned scientists, science educators and science teachers recently convened in Chicago for Science Education in the 21st Century: A PROM/SE Forum. The meeting, sponsored by Michigan State University and the PROM/SE program, brought some of the brightest minds in science together to think about what K-12 science education, curriculum and instruction should look like in the 21st Century.
The forum panelists included a who’s who of science and education leaders including Nobel Laureate Leon Lederman, astrophysicist Carl Pennypacker, former astronaut and educator George “Pinky” Nelson, Rodger Bybee of BSCS, Michigan State University president Lou Anna K. Simon and MSU educators Joan Ferrini-Mundy and William Schmidt, among others.
Educators from the five PROM/SE partners participated in small group discussions that explored frameworks for science education throughout the K-12 years of schooling.
Challenged by the National Science Foundation to think outside of the box, PROM/SE is working with national experts and school districts to rethink what a rigorous and coherent curriculum would look like. International studies show that the top achieving countries teach a smaller number of issues, focusing in depth on the big issues in science. This approach results in a more coherent curriculum that builds upon itself and produces higher achieving students.
The U.S. curriculum, sometimes referred to as “a mile wide and an inch deep”, covers a larger number of topics that are introduced somewhat randomly throughout a student’s education.
Later in 2006 PROM/SE will further explore a more coherent vision for science education in the U.S. when it reconvenes the group of distinguished scientists and educators with high-level policy makers in Washington, DC. Visit this website for regular updates on the progress of this group.
Attending the forum are Joan Ferrini-Mundy, co-PI PROM/SE; Connie Duncan, Calhoun ISD; Emily Morgan, High AIMS Consortium; George Viebranz, SMART Consortium; Monica Hartman, St. Clair County RESA; William Schmidt, co-PI PROM/SE; Martha Couretas, Ingham ISD; and George Leroi, co-PI PROM/SE.
Scientists and educators discuss K-12 science curriculum at the PROM/SE forum. Pictured (l to r) are Rodger Bybee, BSCS; Leon Lederman, Nobel Laureate in Physics; and Jon Miller, public opinion expert.
Click here for more photos from the PROM/SE science forum.
One-day Math Academies #3, #4
PROM/SE will continue the one-day Mathematics Academies in 2006. Academies #3 and #4 will focus on Number Theory. Visit the calendar section on the home page for upcoming dates and locations. These one-day sessions help Associates deepen their understanding of mathematical concepts, grow as leaders in their educational communities, and raise student achievement.
Fall 2005 one-day academies focused on geometric principles and relationships, and examined angles – from every angle. “If teachers have a deep knowledge of mathematics, they will become more confident and comfortable, and this will help students develop their knowledge of mathematics,” says Gail Burrill, PROM/SE co-director of mathematics. “It’s not just teaching mathematical rules and processes, but digging underneath for a better understanding of why those rules and processes make sense.”
Throughout the 2005-2006 Mathematics Academy series educators spend time establishing what they know about an important topic in mathematics and discuss ways to explore that with their students. Hands-on learning activities and discussions are designed to provide Associates with innovative classroom approaches and as starting points for the improvement of mathematics teaching and learning.
“These insights will affect my focus in my classroom. My approach will need to concentrate more on having my students make essential connections,” says an academy participant. Associates are encouraged to take what they have learned from PROM/SE Professional Development workshops, like the Mathematics Academies, and share it with other teachers and colleagues in their buildings and school districts.
Save the Date – PROM/SE 2006 Summer Academies
Mark your calendars now for the PROM/SE 2006 Summer Science and Mathematics Academies. Associates and teaching colleagues are welcome. Course and registration information is posted on this website under the professional development calendar section.
Summer Science Academy:
June 12-15 for High AIMS
June 19-22 for SMART
June 26-29 for Michigan partners
Summer Mathematics Academy:
July 31-Aug. 3 for SMART
Aug. 7-10 for High AIMS
Aug. 14-17 for Michigan partners
PROM/SE Celebrates New Offices
The Center for Research in Mathematics and Science Education and PROM/SE recently held an Open House to celebrate their new offices in Erickson Hall and the continuation of funding for PROM/SE by the National Science Foundation. The Center is a joint venture of Michigan State University’s Colleges of Natural Science and Education, and houses PROM/SE and other initiatives. Taking part in the celebrations (l-r) were Dean Carole Ames, College of Education; Chris Wigent, Superintendent of Calhoun ISD; and PROM/SE co-principal investigators William Schmidt, Joan Ferrini-Mundy and Dean George Leroi, College of Natural Science.
2005 October Superintendent Summit
Superintendents and district administrators met in October with the PROM/SE principal investigators to discuss upcoming activities for the 2005-2006 school year and research plans as the project enters Year Three.
Facilitator Barbara Markle, MSU’s Director of K-12 Outreach, explained the scope of activities for PROM/SE. During the first year project activities centered on data gathering, an overwhelming task that developed and administered assessments to nearly 200,000 students, grades 3-12. Year two involved initial data analyses and the beginning of professional development activities by the PROM/SE staff and partners.
As the project moves into year three there will be greater autonomy for the districts as they look at their own data in conjunction with PROM/SE and initiate teacher and district-led professional development meetings.
William Schmidt, co-principal investigator, emphasized that PROM/SE was not “business as usual. No one knows what it takes to dramatically improve learning in mathematics and science.”
What makes PROM/SE different is the wealth of information coming out of the assessment data. As the project analyzes more data and trends begin to emerge, cooperation from the superintendents will be crucial to fully understanding what is going on within their districts. “You are partners with us on this,” stated Schmidt. “We need your leadership on behalf of PROM/SE within your districts and within the project as a whole.”
A fundamental goal of PROM/SE is to build capacity. “Our goal is that at every level (partner, district, building, Associate and teacher) relevant data will be used as a basis to enact coherent curriculum and instruction in mathematics and science so that all students learn to high standards,” stated Joan Ferrini-Mundy, principal investigator.
PROM/SE Professional Development sessions differ from traditional offerings. “PD which is aimed at developing knowledge in order to engage in discussions that build coherent curriculum is very different than coming to a PD training with exercises you can use tomorrow in the classroom,” says Ferrini-Mundy. “There will be some of that and we support that. However, PROM/SE seeks to deliver a new kind of PD which builds a distributed expertise that impacts curricular change.”
Superintendents discussed ideas for developing Associates as teacher-leaders, improving teacher content knowledge, and aligning curriculum, instruction and assessment in a PROM/SE context. Ideas were also discussed for creating buy-in for teachers, parents and the community. The summit closed with a commitment to meet regularly to share ideas across the project.
2005 Fall Science Institute Explores the Sun, Earth and Moon
At the PROM/SE Fall Science Institute held in October Associates adopted the dual roles of teacher and student to gain a better understanding of the relationship between the Sun, Earth and Moon.
Through a combination of activities that modeled inquiry-based learning and reflected an understanding of the work “How People Learn”, associates engaged in lessons to deepen their own understanding of the spatial relationships of the Sun, Earth, and Moon, the causes of eclipses and the phases of the moon.
The two-day Institute held in locations in Michigan and Ohio helped PROM/SE Science Associates think about important scientific concepts and how to organize instruction to promote greater understanding of these “big ideas” in science. Assessments indicated that teachers began the workshop with a diverse set of understandings about these relationships. Activities were designed to challenge those understandings and deepen the knowledge of teachers across all grade levels.
Through individual and small group exercises Associates built models and discussed how the Earth and Earth’s moon are in regular and predictable motion in the solar system. Those motions in relation to the position of the Sun explain such phenomena as phases of the Moon and eclipses - and common misconceptions related to that concept.
“This has shown me that I was wrong about what causes the phases of the Moon. I had a general background with some vocabulary, but I have not taught or studied this before,” remarked an Associate after the conclusion of day one. “It also created more questions than answers. I learned that people in different districts and grade levels had just as may questions and misconceptions as I did.”
Associates learned the Moon is a sphere which is always half illuminated by the Sun’s rays. Every 29.5 days the Moon orbits the Earth and at the same time, the Moon is also rotating on its own axis. As it does this we see different angles, or phases, of the lit portion of the Moon.
This is a cyclic process. The Moon transitions from not visibly illuminated to fully illuminated and then back again through eight phases. This complete cycle is called a lunation.
Armed with this information, PROM/SE Science Associates went to work. Using combinations of wooden skewers, Styrofoam spheres, cardboard, lamps and ingenuity, teams of associates designed and built models depicting the relationship of the Sun, Earth and Moon to each other. They also used the models to illustrate the eight phases.
“There were a lot of a-has,” said PROM/SE Ingham coordinator Marty Couretas, referring to the hands-on learning taking place.
As they worked, the Science Associates debated, questioned, and discussed the important issues, and clarified one another’s conceptions. Once finished, each group explained their model to their peers.
“It’s one thing to have a model and another thing to know how to explain it – it ups the ante. That’s what this exercise is illustrating. We’re able to share each other’s expertise when someone gets hung up,” an Associate remarked.
At the Institutes conclusion, PROM/SE Associates not only left with a deeper understanding of the sun, earth and moon system, but also gained a better appreciation of how to use explanatory models and promote the understanding of complex scientific concepts.
“I learned a lot by manipulating the objects, talking it out with my fellow students, and watching others model the concepts,” a Science Associate said. “As a leader I can tell my fellow teachers about this experience and suggest they try models with their students.”
2005 September-October District Contact Meetings
During September and October PROM/SE held meetings with District Contacts in Michigan and Ohio to discuss activities held during the summer and planned for the coming year. After a review of the Summer Mathematics Academies and Science Institutes, Mary Bouck led discussions on what knowledge Associates and teachers are bringing back to the classroom and how PROM/SE will support their continued growth this year. District Contacts discussed the PROM/SE professional development calendar for the year including training courses in Michigan and Ohio, and online learning opportunities. Finally the group discussed guidelines for PROM/SE mathematics and science capacity building at the local and consortia level for the 2005-2006 school year.
U.S. Congressional Aides Visit PROM/SE
Members of the U.S. Congressional staff for Michigan recently visited the PROM/SE project on the campus of Michigan State University. The tour coordinated by the Governmental Affairs office at MSU, along with federal relations staff from Wayne State University and the University of Michigan, showcased projects and initiatives on each of the campuses. Congressional aides from the offices of U.S. Senators Levin and Stabenow, and U.S. Representatives Dingell, Ehlers, Kildee, Kilpatrick and Rogers joined PROM/SE staff in an informative overview of the PROM/SE project and its impact on local school districts. While on the MSU campus the group also toured the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, Plant Biotechnology, and Environmental-Climate Science.
2005 Summer Mathematics Academies
During the first three weeks in August 765 PROM/SE Associates and their teaching colleagues were busy expanding their understanding of mathematics and teaching at the PROM/SE Summer Mathematics Academies. The five-day academies were held in three sites in Michigan and Ohio.
This year PROM/SE brought together Associates and their teaching colleagues so that a greater number of teachers and administrators could build on a shared expertise. It is hoped that this distributed expertise will have a significant impact within each building and district.
“The basic structure of PROM/SE is for teachers to come to a deeper understanding of the content themselves and then to develop shared strategies for children to develop a deeper understanding as well,” states Academy goer Deb Smith, a second grade teacher at Woodcreek Magnet School in the Lansing School District and recent appointee to the Teacher Advisory Council at the National Academy of Sciences.
PROM/SE worked closely with mathematics educators, mathematicians and K-12 representatives to design courses that addressed gaps in knowledge identified through the “Teachers’ Content Knowledge Study” conducted last year by PROM/SE. The Academy also utilized the Breakthrough Mathematics Modules produced by LessonLab, Math Solutions by Marilyn Burns Education Associates, and Developing Mathematical Ideas from the Center for the Development of Teaching, Education Development Center.
Courses for elementary teachers included fractions, geometry and measurement, and whole numbers. Middle grades teachers chose between geometry and measurement II, equations and lines, and rational numbers. Courses for secondary teachers included mathematics of change and making decisions based on data and chance. Associates also took a specially designed course on improving mathematics teaching and learning.
After completing the Academies participants were eligible to apply for continuing education credit (SB-CEU) and university graduate credit.
2005 Summer Science Institutes
Associates from Michigan and Ohio attended the PROM/SE Summer Science Institutes in June 2005. The three day institutes brought together experts in the field, PROM/SE staff and 283 Associates for explorations along three strands: strengthening content knowledge for teaching, understanding data, and building leadership skills.
Held in Lansing, Cleveland and Cincinnati, the Science Institutes gave Associates a chance to meet other teachers and administrators from their districts while building skills and a shared understanding of their students’ needs.
Presentations from BSCS kicked off the first day of the institute by asking teachers to explore how they know what they know and to explore how their students learn about science through inquiry and scientific method.
Day two was devoted to detailed presentations by PROM/SE staff skilled in data collection and analysis. Associates learned how to read data tables and box plots, and to interpret what the PROM/SE data is revealing about student achievement in their district and building.
The final day was devoted to building leadership skills among Associates who are assuming leadership roles in their building as they share PROM/SE data and workshop information with their fellow teachers, principals and administrators.
Early in 2005 PROM/SE worked with its partners and districts to identify teachers interested in becoming Science Associates. The science component of PROM/SE was initiated in spring 2005 and joins the mathematics component initiated in 2004.
PROM/SE Moves to New Offices
In March 2005 the PROM/SE staff moved in to new offices on the campus of Michigan State University. The new offices consolidate over 50 project advisors and staff members who were previously spread all over MSU's large campus. Included in the new space is a large conference room with state of the art video conferencing equipment, allowing regular "face-to-face" meeting with our partners in two states. Stop by and visit us next time you are on campus. Our new address is PROM/SE, Michigan State University, 236 Erickson Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824, phone 517/353-4884, fax 517/432-0132.
NSF Site Visit for June 1-3, 2005
As part of the regular review of funded projects, the National Science Foundation conducted a site visit of the PROM/SE project on June 1-3, 2005. The site visit comes after year two of the five-year grant. During the site visit, outside evaluators and NSF staff reviewed the project's progress towards fulfilling the stated goals of the grant. NSF evaluators met with PROM/SE staff and partners, university officials, district personnel and PROM/SE associates.
Our Website is Growing
Communications on a project this large are as important as they are challenging. One way we are meeting that challenge is through the PROM/SE website where associates and their colleagues can find a host of resources, and where anyone can learn more about the PROM/SE vision and the partnership. As the project has grown so has our need for a more comprehensive website. We are excited about the new web design and content. Thank you to Chris Fisher of cfd solutions and Jeane Marty for assisting with the redesign. We hope that you find the site easier to navigate and the content timely and useful. Send your comments and suggestions to Susan Pettit-Riley, Director of Communications, at email@example.com
In the coming months, we will launch several new features on the web. Associates and their colleagues will be able to join on-line learning communities to discuss topics and problems of practice that matter to them. The Virtual Professional Development initiative will give busy teachers of mathematics and science access to quality professional development tailored to their needs.
2005 March District Contact Summit
A Curriculum Director and District Contact Summit was held in Bowling Green, Ohio with 54 people attending, representing 27 school districts and 6 partners. Barbara Markle, Joan Ferrini-Mundy and Bill Schmidt gave overviews of the PROM/SE project. The facilitators explained how the curriculum directors were an important part of the project's efforts to effect change on the district level and in the classroom. Roger Bybee, from BSCS, gave a luncheon talk that used humor to point out that change is never easy but can be enormously rewarding. The summit provided an opportunity for curriculum directors to ask questions and provide feedback about their role in the project.
2005 Spring Mathematics Associates Institute
March 2005 was a busy month for mathematics associates in Michigan. Associates from the three Michigan partner sites attended a daylong institute at MSU. Topics included content trajectory, analysis of instructional materials and mapping to standards. Half-day institutes were later held at each partner site. Each partner developed an agenda and activities specific to their needs with support from the PROM/SE staff. Ohio associates attended institutes in April.