1. Kara Suzuka
  2. Assistant Specialist
  3. Developing Teaching Expertise in K-5 Mathematics
  4. http://www.umich.edu/~devteam/
  5. University of Michigan, University of Hawaii
  1. Tim Boerst
  2. Professor of Clinical Practice in Education
  3. Developing Teaching Expertise in K-5 Mathematics
  4. http://www.umich.edu/~devteam/
  5. University of Michigan
  1. Aileen Kennison
  2. http://sites.soe.umich.edu/devteam/our-team/#team_member5
  3. Administrative Specialist
  4. Developing Teaching Expertise in K-5 Mathematics
  5. http://www.umich.edu/~devteam/
  6. University of Michigan
Public Discussion
  • Small default profile

    Meg Bates

    Researcher
    May 15, 2017 | 11:05 a.m.

    Great project!  Your four key principles of PD seem well-reasoned.  I'm curious how you settled on the three topics for your pilot modules.

     
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    Kara Suzuka
  • Icon for: Kara Suzuka

    Kara Suzuka

    Presenter
    May 15, 2017 | 03:36 p.m.

    Thank you for watching our video and for your terrific question, Meg! Our colleagues/partners who originally carried out research in these areas of mathematics education and worked on developing the content for the modules will undoubtedly have important perspectives to voice regarding your question – I'll reach out to them and encourage them to respond to this thread.  However, I can share a bit about went into the selecting our partners and the specific areas of their work upon which we focused:

    1. Low-hanging fruit - We hoped to identify partners who had already done a lot of excellent work in important areas of mathematics education as both researchers and professional developers. It has been our hope to find ways to make the excellent work that is already going on in the field accessible and available to professional development (PD) groups everywhere.  
    2. Rich work in all (or most) of the four core elements - We wanted to test the idea of integrating all four core elements of PD into well-supported materials for PD facilitators so we sought out partners who were already paying close attention to (a) key areas of mathematics (especially with a focus on mathematical knowledge for teaching), (b) student thinking and learning of the math that would be in focus, and (c) teaching practices to support students in learning this math.  It was a bonus if our potential partners also gave a lot of thought to professional learning practices that teachers might engage in to study and learn from their teaching.
    3. Starting close to home and branching out – We had the great fortune to start this project with senior colleagues at our own institution, Deborah Loewenberg Ball and Hyman Bass, and together, we developed the first two modules.  We then expanded to work with colleagues at the University of Denver (DU), Doug Clements, Julie Sarama, and Douglas Van Dine, whose work we greatly admired but with whom we had not collaborated before. Our long term vision has been to learn what it would take to support this type of materials development work beyond this particular project.  The DU team has been invaluable in helping us toward that goal
    4. Diversity of content – Finally, we hoped to have each of our modules support different kinds of content so that we could see how or if the model could be adapted for a range of content.

    I know this is only a partial answer to your question but hopefully my colleagues will add to this thread!  I'll reach out to them now!

     
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    Sarah Hampton
  • Icon for: Kara Suzuka

    Kara Suzuka

    Presenter
    May 15, 2017 | 03:40 p.m.

    Thank you for visiting our video page!

    We would love to hear what questions it raises for you.

    We are also eager hear about ways you have worked to connect teachers and teacher leaders with professional learning materials/experiences.  Your experiences and suggestions would be greatly appreciated! This is something on which we are actively working.

  • Icon for: Wendy Smith

    Wendy Smith

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2017 | 07:42 p.m.

    Your project looks really promising! Can you say more about how you've trained facilitators to implement your materials with high fidelity? Are you recruiting additional pilot sites for modules? Is this work pretty firmly grounded in elementary mathematics, or might future work expand to middle level or high school mathematics? Have all of your pilot sites involved teachers who volunteered to participate, or did some sites implement the work as mandatory teacher staff development?

     
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    Kara Suzuka
  • Icon for: Kara Suzuka

    Kara Suzuka

    Presenter
    May 18, 2017 | 08:23 p.m.

    Hi Wendy,


    Thanks for your great questions!


    Here’s a partial response: 


    We've used three main types of facilitators supports that seem notable to me. Most of them are approaches we've borrowed and adapted from others:




    1. Detailed session plans – For each PD session, we've developed detailed lesson plans that remind me of lesson plans I’ve seen used in Japanese Lesson Study groups. These types of plans not only contain "plans" for the lesson activities, but also make a serious effort to anticipate what might come up – e.g. common conceptual struggles, potentially time-consuming steps, the range of learners' understanding and skill – and to prepare oneself as the “teacher” for addressing these things in the moment. Also, over time, these plans come to represent not just one individual's attempt to prepare for a lesson but a collective endeavor, developed through multiple attempts to implement the plan in different contexts, with different teachers and learners. (In our case, this happened through pilot testing and iterative cycles of revision.)


    2. Facilitator study groups – For each module, PD facilitators were organized into online "study groups" that met several times with a content expert to discuss a subset of sessions together. Although these sessions were challenging to schedule (facilitators started their PD groups at different times and they moved through the sessions at different speeds) they offered facilitators the opportunity to discuss upcoming sessions and/or reflect upon past sessions with others. Much like other study groups, these groups focused on particular content that participants reviewed in advance and came prepared to discuss with others. 


    3. Videos of PD sessions facilitated by experts in mathematics education – The modules comprise videos from professional development sessions, facilitated by mathematics education experts known for their work in the module’s topic area (i.e. Deborah Loewenberg Ball for our “fractions” module and “reasoning and explanation” module; Doug Clements and Julie Sarama for our “length, area, and volume measurement” module. These videos from actual PD sessions serve several purposes, including (a) offering facilitators a chance to see one instance of how the session activities and discussions played out, as facilitators prepare for their own sessions; (b) providing video “scaffolds” for facilitators that they can play for teachers to help them “talk” through content with which they are not yet comfortable or to voice a perspective they would like teachers to hear (but would like it to come from someone else); (c) allowing facilitators to show other teachers’ solution approaches, questions, ideas, or opinions that did not come up in their own sessions but they would like, nevertheless, like to have the group consider.


    We are planning to recruit additional pilot sites for the 2017-2018 school year, pending approval. (Are you interested??!)


    The work of the current project is very grounded in elementary mathematics but we believe the general model would work for secondary education as well (with different content).  We would love to see this tested and extended into the upper grades but have no current plans to do so ourselves.


    Offhand, I don’t know the answer to your question about whether we have run any pilots where this was part of a mandatory staff development.  Our project manager should be able to look this up for you.  She seems to be shy about posting here but I’ll see if I can encourage her to respond :)


    If you would like to raise the question with her directly, please feel free to write to us at dev-team@umich.edu and one of us will reply to you directly. 

  • Icon for: Miriam Sherin

    Miriam Sherin

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2017 | 01:11 p.m.

    What an ambitious and important project! I'm wondering how you handle alignment of the PD modules with curriculum materials teachers are using in their classrooms - and specifically if the assignments in-between sessions involve activities for teachers to implement their own classrooms? I'm also wondering what teachers and facilitators find most challenging about the PD program. Is there a base level of MKT that you think is important for participants to be successful with the program?

     
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    Kara Suzuka
  • Icon for: Kara Suzuka

    Kara Suzuka

    Presenter
    May 21, 2017 | 05:03 p.m.

    Hi Miriam,
    It's so nice to hear from you and, as always, your questions give me a lot to think about. Here are a few initial thoughts and responses –

    1. Alignment of the PD modules and teachers' curriculum materials – This is always challenging with PD that is focused on particular mathematics topics and it is something we've tried to address in a few ways (admittedly, this is only a beginning and we are very interested in this question ourselves). For example, in some cases, teachers are asked to examine, bring in, and/or discuss particular portions of their curriculum materials that relate to the content being focused upon in the PD (even if they are not using the materials with their class at that time). In other cases, teachers are provided with small activities – warmups, small group or individual student tasks, etc. – to integrate into their lessons or other parts of the school day. And, at times, the between-session activities can be done regardless of the particular mathematics content being taught – e.g. focusing instead on particular teaching practices or skills for learning from one's own teaching. However, notably, facilitators and teachers have also found ways to make connections and build alignment in creative and diverse ways, beyond our suggestions and designs.
    2. Things people find most challenging across the PD program– I can't immediately answer this but I will confer with my colleagues who have been working much more closely with the particular feedback we've received that might address this question. I can recall some of the challenges that teachers and facilitators raised for specific modules but this is an excellent question to ask in general, across the modules or PD program (as you have raised here).
    3. Base level of MKT that that is important to have for success with the program – Again, this is a great question to raise and one that we might be able to get some clues about from the data we've collected. This is not something that we've specifically dug into but the question is both interesting and helpful -- thank you!
  • Icon for: Miriam Sherin

    Miriam Sherin

    Facilitator
    May 21, 2017 | 11:39 p.m.

    These are great ideas for connecting the PD with teachers' classroom instruction. thanks!

     
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    Kara Suzuka
  • Icon for: Sarah Hampton

    Sarah Hampton

    K-12 Teacher
    May 18, 2017 | 12:10 p.m.

    I like that you differentiated between being able to correctly answer a math problem and being able to teach elementary math. Often, teachers can replicate processes to arrive at a correct answer without understanding the underlying concepts. Because of this, teachers may inadvertently lead students away from a fruitful strategy simply because that isn't the way that would do it. In my experience, this leads to the student misconception that there is only one correct way to do math, and that way must be affirmed by the teacher. This belief is hard to replace at the post-elementary level with the truth that there are multiple, valid algorithms for solving problems which students themselves should be able to create, verbalize, defend, and assess for efficiency.

     

    Are you planning to release the modules after field testing? Ten 90-minute sessions seems reasonable to implement over the course of one school year and would be a wise time investment if the modules have the potential to transform the pedagogy of elementary math educators.

     
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    Judi Fusco
    Kara Suzuka
  • Icon for: Kara Suzuka

    Kara Suzuka

    Presenter
    May 19, 2017 | 02:56 p.m.

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Sarah!

    I really appreciate your way of thinking about the important role teachers play when they are able to offer students various approaches to solving problems or are able to take up the diverse strategies that students generate and share.  

    Yes, we will be releasing the modules after field testing is done. We are working on a new website now to make them available through the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG). It isn't up yet but it will be announced their website (http://manoa.hawaii.edu/crdg/) and also on our project website where you can currently find information about our materials and pilot tests (http://www.umich.edu/~devteam/).  We hope you will check it out later! Thanks again for commenting -- your words are encouraging!

     
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    Judi Fusco
    Sarah Hampton
  • Icon for: Amanda McGarry

    Amanda McGarry

    Math Specialist
    May 19, 2017 | 03:46 p.m.

    What an interesting project! Thank you for tackling such an important subject.

     
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    Kara Suzuka
  • Icon for: Kara Suzuka

    Kara Suzuka

    Presenter
    May 21, 2017 | 03:30 p.m.

    Thanks so much for watching our video and for your comments, Amanda!

  • Small default profile

    Paula Ulloa

    Graduate Student
    May 19, 2017 | 11:22 p.m.

    What a great video to explain MKT.  The important concept of knowing how to compute mathematic problems doesn't equate to effectively teaching math is key.  Although it may be helpful, your video points out vital teaching elements for math.  Awesome!  The program looks interesting and effective!

     
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    Kara Suzuka
  • Icon for: Kara Suzuka

    Kara Suzuka

    Presenter
    May 21, 2017 | 03:47 p.m.

    I appreciate your thoughtful comments, Paula!
    Mahalo nui loa 🌺

  • Icon for: John Ward

    John Ward

    May 22, 2017 | 01:23 a.m.

    Hi Kara:

    This is quite a well-considered and designed project!  You mention in the video the 10 different 90-minute sessions, but also that you ask the participants to do some activities in-between the sessions.  Roughly how much of a weekly time commitment are you asking of participants in total?  Also, if each of the three modules has the 10 sessions, are you spreading out this program over 30 weeks, or are you taking a break in-between each module or at other times during the program?  Is any of this done over holiday breaks or summer, or do you find that it is best when done during the actual school year?

     
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    Kara Suzuka
  • Icon for: Kara Suzuka

    Kara Suzuka

    Presenter
    May 22, 2017 | 11:31 a.m.

    Hi John,


    Nice to hear from you! 


    In our pilot tests, the PD groups have tended to only use one module (containing 10 sessions) during a school year. I believe this is due, in large part, to the pilot process but also because the sessions need to be spread out over time in order for teachers to have time to do the between-session activities.


    Our pilot groups have run their PD sessions using a wide variety of scheduling configurations -- for example, some groups ran their sessions over one semester, meeting roughly once a week with adjustments to accommodate holidays and school events (e.g. parent conferences, school breaks, testing period); other groups spread out their sessions across the whole school year. Some groups combined 2 sessions to run half-day (3 hour) PD on Saturdays; sometimes, groups did a mix of weekend ”double sessions" along with a few single sessions after school. Scheduling has been quite varied.


    Also, although we've been approached about running pilot groups in the summer, I don't think we’ve ever run one (in large part because teachers need opportunities to work with students between sessions and this is usually difficult to arrange during the summer breaks). 


    It's hard to say what the total weekly time commitment might be for teachers. This has a great deal to do with the pacing of the sessions -- how much time do teachers have to work on the between-session tasks? Is it just one week or several? If only one, then teachers have to squeeze in their between-session activities into that one week rather than spreading it out over several weeks. Additionally, there is a lot of variability in how teachers approach the tasks... especially the classroom-based tasks. For example, in one activity, teachers are asked to do a given math task with two or three students (this might take roughly 30 minutes to do, if the teacher spent approximately 5 minutes with each of the three students she’s selected and another 15 minutes to write notes about each students' work and make shareable copies – a photo, digital scan, or a few hard copies – to discuss at the next PD session).  However, some teachers do the task with more than three students or invest more time having students work on additional tasks they feel will be helpful to themselves (to learn about students) or to the students.


    Thank you, John! We really appreciate your visit to our page and for the helpful terrific clarifying questions you've asked.

     
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    John Ward
    Sarah Hampton
  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.