Monthly Archives: August 2015

Summer Report, 2015

This has been an exciting summer for PMI!

  • We offered the first (of what will be several) “second tier” workshop.  This second tier of workshops is designed for participants who have completed Math as a Second Language and are looking for more professional development based in math content.   July 6-7 we offered a two-day workshop on geometry, taught by Andrew Baxter and Shaun McMurtrie.  Shaun is a former high school geometry teacher, the current K-12 Mathematics Coordinator at Bellefonte Area School District, and a 2014 PMI participant.
    We hosted 14 participants, spread across 8 districts, for valuable discussions on topics like the precision of language, the progression of geometry through K-5, dispelling common misconceptions, and a broadened perspective on how reflections, translations, and rotations fit into mathematics as a whole.
  • We also offered the same week-long workshops as last year: Mathematics as a Second Language (MSL) ran July 20-24 and Functions and Algebra (FA) ran July 27-31.  Andrew Baxter and Fran Arbaugh, who facilitated the workshops last year, were joined by Andrea McCloskey from the College of Education and an expert on math education in the elementary grades.
    We saw 20 participants for these workshops, spread out across 13 different Pennsylvania districts.  These included some new districts, including Philadelphia, Big Spring, and Shippensburg.
    The paired post-test and pre-test comparisons showed statistically significant improvement on a test of mathematical content knowledge for teaching (for the second year in a row). The aggregate data for the past three years’ of participants showed statistically significant improvement for both mathematical content knowledge for teaching and a direct test of computation skills.
  • We began our plans to expand these workshops to other Penn State campuses.  Charles Helou and Marina Skyers of PSU Brandywine, and Beth Lindsey and Kuei-Nuan-Lin of PSU Greater Allegheny, each joined us during the workshops to see how they are run.  The expectation is that similar workshops will run at these campuses as soon as the summer of 2016.
  • We have won a $10,000 grant from the Whitaker Fund for Science and Math Education to bring teachers from Cumberland, Perry, and Dauphin counties to PMI workshops in 2016.   We thank them for their support.   We are preparing more proposals for funding from other sources, as well, as we expand our offerings.
  • Andrew Baxter presented a contributed talk, “PMI: The first three years” at MathFest 2015 this August as part of a session on preparing elementary school teachers.

PMI would like to thank its supporters: the Eberly College of Science, the College of Education, the Mathematics Department, and the Earth and Space Science Partnership.  Without their help we would not have been able to do nearly so much this summer.  Thanks also to Mandy Biddle and the rest of the Science U team for their logistical support.

Blog Recap: Functions and Algebra, Day 5 (July 31, 2015)



It’s hard to believe it’s the last day!

Today we….

We started with the post-test, to be compared by your code to the pre-test you took.  If you wish to know about your performance, you can email Andrew.

After the post-test Fran and Andrea led a discussion about the math problems participants posted the previous day.   This brought up topics such as the importance of vertical integration across grade levels, and how to achieve this goal (maybe re-create the activity with teachers at your school).

Andrea then orchestrated more discussion about “Math Talk.” She handed out a sheet with 7 talk moves on it (e.g., turn and talk, revoicing, repeating). We then watched three video clips, looking for the teachers’ uses of the talk moves.

Our abbreviated working lunch was spent filling out the course evaluations.  Afterward we did the Bungie Barbie activity: collecting data, using a best-fit line to make predictions, and then testing those predictions [in a theatrical manner].  Wrapping all this in a layer of friendly competition (congratulations, Nicole, Susan, and Trevor) made this an enjoyable application for our discussion of linear relationships.

We ended the day with a circle talk about professionalism, and making the most of professional development.  We then went around the circle to say what we gained from the workshops, both pedagogically and mathematically.  We also each set concrete goals for ourselves for the coming school year for something we would like to change in our classrooms.

PMI Instructor Emails (use them!!):

  • Andrew Baxter:
  • Fran Arbaugh:
  • Andrea McCloskey:


Participate in the discussion group on Piazza, and read the articles in the Google Drive folder.  Read the solutions and commentary on the math problems, too.

Work to become the teacher you want to be.  Look the mathematics full in the face and don’t shy away from it.