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This article was downloaded by: [Washington State University Libraries ]On: 29 November 2014, At: 13:28Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

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Mathematics Institute: An InserviceProgram for Training Elementary SchoolTeachersCathine Garner-Gilchrist aa Child Development, Laboratory School , Hampton University ,Hampton , VA , USAPublished online: 04 Jan 2012.

To cite this article: Cathine Garner-Gilchrist (1993) Mathematics Institute: An Inservice Programfor Training Elementary School Teachers, Action in Teacher Education, 15:3, 56-60, DOI:10.1080/01626620.1993.10463165

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01626620.1993.10463165

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MATHEMA~CS m s m : AN INSERVICE PROGRAM FOR TRAINING ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHERS

Cathine Garner-Gilchrist National research calls for the improvement of the quality of mathematics o f f e d in the nations schools (National Council of Teachers of Math- ematics, 1992; National Research Council, 1992; National Mid&:: School Association, 1990; and Mathematics Association of America, 1989). To improve the quality of mathematics, one would conclude that it is necessary to review some of the obstacles that impede mathematics teaching. It seems, then, that some of these problems may be related to inadequately-trained teachers. Research shows that some mathematics teachers in general seem to have a negative attitude toward mathemat- ics. Their negativeattitude may stem from the results of inadequate training and the lack of success in previous mathematics experiences. Some elemen- tary schoolteacherstakeonly six hoursof mathemat- ics content, but no specific hours in techniques of teaching mathematics (Virginia State Department of Education, 1988). These mathematics content courses have often been taught at the college or university level in an abstract manner with little or no relevance to real-life situations.

It seems, then, that it is imperative that elemen- tary school teachers have additional training in how to teach mathematics more effectively (NCTM, 1992). If this is to happen, teachers must study more mathematics than they are requircd to teach, and mustlearn how toteachmathematics using concrete, semi-concrete and abstract activities (NMSA, 1992; NCTM, 1990). In other words, teachers should be taught to do mathematics, to construct thcir own knowledge, and toapply higher-ordcrthinking skills

Cathine Garner-Gikhrd ir Director of Child Devel- opment, Laboratory School, Hampton University. Hamp- ton, VA.

Fall 1993, Vol. XV, No. 3 page 56

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in mathematics. Teachers must be able to analyze problems, explore solutions, construct models, col- lect data, and present arguments to help students develop their own mathemaa 'cs potential (Math- ematical Association of America W]. 1991).

It is critical that teachers change their attitudes about mathematics. develop competency, and feel comfortable with teaching marhematics themselves; consequently, these teachers can help students de- velop more confidence in theii own ability to use, study and enjoy mathematics (Lindquist, 1990).

This article shares the results of the Mathematics Institute that addressed the training of elementary school teachers.

The purpose of the Mahmaws . Ins t i t u t ep gram was to increase the mathematics knowledge and pedagogical skills of elementary school teach- ers. This was accomplished h g h a 16-week course and a four-week practicum that enabled the teachers to learn mahemah 'cs content 6rom selected topics in mathematics and to practice innovative

Institute was designed on three basic premises: 1. To improve the mathematics content

knowledge and pedagogical skills of elementary school teachers,

erswhocantrainotherteachers, 3. To show teachers how to integrate the

C u r r i c u l w n a n d E v a l ~ n S t M d m d s o f t h e N ~ into their alreadyexisting clmiculum.

A program based on these pwniseS provides opportunities for elementary school teachers to in- Crease their mathemaa 'cs knowledge. to improve their teaching strategies, and to develop a more positive aaitude toward mathemati csaswellasto trainacadreofmathematicsteacherswhocanassist other teachers in their respective schools. The Mathematics Institute was implemented on the campus of Hampton University with elementary school teachers from the local school systems.

The Mathematics Institute was implemented in three phases. Phase I included the establishment of an active network of pfmionals and the selection of the teachers. Phase II included the 16-week course, and the clinical experiences for the teachers, andphaseIIIincludedtheevaluatimoftheprogram.

ways of teaching mathematics. The Mathemati cs

2. To develop a cadre of mahemah 'CS teach-

Network of Professionals

To achieve the first objective, a network of pro- fessionals, consisting of mathematics teachers, spe- cialists, supervisors. directors from the local school systems, mathematicians, and college professors from the Departments of Education and Mathematics of Hampton University served in an advisory capacity. This team met in several round-table discussions to convey ideas about mathematics instruction at the elementary school level, and to make recommen- dationsregardingchangesthatwereneededintraining elementary school teachers. It recommended:

1. That the inservice teachers who have a special interest in mathematics be selected to par- ticipate in the project,

2. Thatthemarhematics training projectreflect the Curriculum andEvaluation Standardr and Pro- fessional Teaching Standards of the National Coun- cil of Teachers of Mathematics;

3. That the teachers usecalculators, computers and other handsa manipulatives to understand mathematics;

4. That the teachers apply mathematics to real-life situations, and

5. That the teachers develop curriculum that they can use in their respective classrooms. This diversity of professionals enhanced the Math- ematics Institute by providing feedback to the di- rectors on the selection and training of elementary school teachers.

Participants

Forty-five elementary school teachers from the local school system on the Virginia Peninsula and ten pre-servir,e teachers were identified to partici- pate in this project. The elementary school teachers ranged fiom teaching grades four through eight. They had taught at least five years in the public schoolsystem indifferentdisciplinessuchasscience, social studies, special education and mathematics. These teachers were asked to submit a letter of support fiom the principal and a peer in theirrespec- tive schools, and to write a 250-word essay describ ing their interest in mathematics.

The majority of the teachers had taken no more than six hoursof mathematics, and no specific course on methods of teaching mathematics. Twenty-five teachers were selected on the basis of their interest,

ACTION IN TEACHER EDUCATION page 57

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Supponandwillingnessto~cipQteinallphas the project. The inservice teachers received three hours of graduate credit and a stipend for the course and the practicum.

course Content

The 1 &week course focusedon a comprehensive treatment of selected topics in .The selected topics of the course included geometry,

identified in the Curriculum and Evaluation Stan- dards of School Mathematics. The selected topics were integrated to the extent possible, and the tools of estimation, approximation, measmment, pmb lem-solving, and problem-finding were infused throughout each topic.

Geometry: The unit on geometry focused on

statistics, probability and pre-algebra, which W=

1. shapesinname, 2. P a m of shapes and numbers, 3. Definitionofshapes, 4. Tracing, Copying and constructing shapes, 5. Measlningshapes, 6. Motion of shapes, and 7. Basic logic and elementary p f s using

Shapes. Slarisrics: The unit on statistics focused on

finding evidence; collecting, analyzing, and dis- playing data; computing the mean, mode. median, and standard deviation; and graphing data using pictographs,bargraphs,linegraphs,andcircl.

Probability: The unit on probability focused on understanding chance from a themctical and experi- mental approach. Activities included the chance of

test,andthechanceofgoingtoamovieonSaturday. Other activities included tossing coins and dice. making selections fxum a bag. and understanding Pascals Triangle and the 10- system.

Pre-Algebra: The unit on prealgebra focusedon writing equations usingsymbols,andonperfming the four basic operations using positive and negative numbers.

raining, the chance of passing the next mathemati cs

Instructional Approach

The innovative appmaches to instruction were taken from the Pr@essional Standards of Math- ematics and were infused throughout each class period. Teachers were encolnaged to talk, listen.

read and write about mathematics. For example, the instructors capaued the teachers attention, wrote the objectives on the board, and explained the ob- jectives to them. This process was designed to help the teachers know what was expected of them. Second, the insmctors modeled the objectives using concrete objects, semiconcrete objects and abstract activities. They used manipulatives to help connect the concrete with the abstract In analyzing geo- metric shapes, the teachers used cubes, prisms, cyl- inders, and cones and explained the amibutes of each. They used boxes to compute the perimeter. area, surface area and volume. l3ey measured the boxes to find the distance mund the box, computed theperimeter.andthendesignedaformulathatcou1d be used to compute the perimeter of all geometric shapes. Third, the teachers practiced the objectives in groups and individually, solved problems, and created mathematical problems for their peers to solve.

The phdosophy of this approxh is based on the notion that some teachers learn mathematics better by using handsm manipulatives, others learn it by using semiconcrete activities, while others learn it better by using abstract activities (NCTM, 1992). AU educators and researchers would agree that teachers, themselves, must understand the math- ematics concepts first, before they can teach effec- tively.

Finally,aftertheteachershadworkedtogether for approximately 15 minutes, the instructors summa- rized the lessons, reviewed the points of interest, and provided time for the teachers to share what they had learned and to write the concepts learned in their mathematical journals. The teachers were assigned homework activities to reinforce the concepts and skills that had been taught. This process provided an opportunity fortheteacherstopracticetheobjectives independently and toevaluate their own knowledge. Iftheteachershaddifficulty,theycouldaskquestions the next day during a review and diagnostic session.

Clinical Experiences

The teachers who took the course participated in a four-week clinical experience that included fourth through sixth grade students recommended by the teachers in the project Each teacher recommended ten students from their respective school. Four hundred students came to the campus of Hampton

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University to participate in the Mahmah 'cs camp for fourconsecutivesatmlaysessions. Twoteachers teamed with approximately 20 students per class, usingtheunitsandlessonplansthattheyhaddesigned. The teachers focusedonaproblem-solvingapproach to teaching the units, using collcrete objects, semi- concreteandabstract~tiviti~toincludecalculators and computers. The clinical experiences provided an opportunity for teachers to plan in cooperative teams and practicethe pedagogical skiilsleamedin a related setting.

As part of the course requimmts, the teachers were required to design units, develop lesson plans, teach two lessons to the students, create bulletin boards,anddevelopdiagnosticinshumentsthatcould be used in thepracticumandin theirclassooms.

Student Measures

A ten-item makmah 'cs wold poblem test was developed to evaluate the course. lhis instrument wasusedasapxdpost-test Thepretestwasad- ministered to all the teachers during the first session, and the posttest was administered at the end of the course. All of the teachers' performance data was included in the data analysis.

Results and Dicscussion

An evaluation of the Mathematics Institute de- termined the effectiveness of the total program. At the beginning of the course, the teachers took apre- test, completed a questionnaire about their attitude toward mathematics, their reasons for pdcipating in the come and what they expected from the course. At the end of the Institute. the teachers completed another questionnak that focused on the following questions:

1. what teaching style did you use in your classroom before taking the mathematrcs *

2. what different teaching style or strategy have you tried or used in your class after taking the course?

3. Whatfactorsaboutthematkmh 'CScoUTse did you like/dislike...