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WCPS Math Teachers Learn New Style of Teaching Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Friday, 01 July 2005
Reprinted from Wayne County Public Schools July 1, 2005.

Wayne County Public Schools (WCPS) teachers are looking at math in a new way. They are spending part of their summer learning a different teaching style in conjunction with the North Carolina Partnership for Improving Math and Science (PIMS) grant. The program aims to teach teachers how to guide students in their learning, showing them multiple ways to solve problems. “Our goal as teachers is to provide the ‘ah ha’ experience for our students so they can take ownership of their learning,” said Ann Price, a second grade teacher at Tommy’s Road Elementary School.


Michael Bosse, an Associate Professor in East Carolina University’s Department of Mathematics and Science led the class of more than 15 teachers throughout the week of June 20 at Goldsboro Middle School. The title of the class, K-5 Algebraic Reasoning, seems advanced for younger children, but he said the concepts and logic involved in solving problems is especially important for children in grades K-5 to grasp to excel throughout their education. Part of guiding students in problem solving focuses on teaching multiple techniques to accomplish the task. Teachers function more as facilitators with this style of teaching. They have a goal for a concept. Then they create an opportunity for students to learn themselves by asking probing questions to get their students to reach their own conclusions. “When students take ownership of their learning, it’s more powerful,” said Price. “This really produces life-long learners.”

The experiential learning sometimes means teachers must change their mindset to allow students to discover concepts. For Holly Lewis, a third grade teacher at Carver Heights Elementary School, “It’s [the training] given me a way to have my kids discover solutions to problems more on their own.” On Tuesday, Bosse stressed reasoning concepts involving number properties, number relationships, use of variable, relations and change, patterns, and sorting and classifying with teachers.

One of the strengths of the N.C. PIMS training is it provides a direct link between the expertise of university faculty and schools. Funding for the N.C. PIMS grant has enabled WCPS to identify two lead math teachers per elementary school and ten secondary teachers for the system. “These teachers are committed to a five-year plan of professional development that will enhance their teaching methods. Many are using the coursework to fulfill the requirements of a Master’s degree,” said Joyce Cunningham, Director of Math and Science. The teachers will serve as on-site instructional leaders at their schools. “I am proud of the leadership shown by the lead math teachers. They are responsible for delivering professional development to their peers on Early Dismissal Days. It is exciting to work with the lead math teachers as they work to improve the mathematics program for our students. They are modeling the idea that teachers are life-long learners,” said Cunningham.

Because leadership instruction is an integral part of the program, the training equips teachers to effectively share their knowledge with their colleagues. Now Lewis and the other teachers look forward to taking what they’ve learned to their schools.

Last Updated ( Friday, 01 July 2005 )
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NC-PIMS is a comprehensive partnership initiative awarded to the University of North Carolina General Administration by the National Science Foundation, Award No. EHR-0226877 and the US Department of Education, Award No. S366A020001. Opinions expressed within the website are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of UNC-GA, the NSF or the US DOE.

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