The Pennsylvania Mathematics Initiative is dedicated to strengthening math content knowledge, as it applies to teaching, and promoting research-tested pedagogical practices. Our target audience is in-service elementary school teachers in Pennsylvania, and since 2013 far we have worked with over 120 teachers spread over more than 30 school districts. The importance of mathematical knowledge for teaching is supported by the research of Deborah Loewenberg Ball and others (See here and here).
Teacher-participants engage in week-long summer workshops hosted on Penn State campuses. These workshops strive to improve mathematics content knowledge, which leads participants to begin to view themselves as mathematicians, to view mathematics as part of their lives, and to see the world around them in a mathematical light. This leads to impacts in the teachers’ classrooms as they feel more comfortable with mathematics (and so less likely to transmit math-phobia), can offer better explanations for “the rules” of mathematics, and model good mathematical habits. Ultimately the participants can become teacher-leaders who can act as resources to other teachers in their districts for the teaching and learning of mathematics.
The PMI is based on the model developed by the Vermont Mathematics Initiative (VMI), which was developed by Ken Gross and has operated continually since 1999. Formal program evaluation, begun in 2004, has indicated that the VMI has had a profound and important impact on the teachers themselves, their classroom practice, and most importantly students in schools having VMI teachers. In particular, a six year longitudinal study of students of VMI trained teachers revealed significant growth in student achievement in general along with a significant narrowing of the socio-economic achievement gap. The VMI has already been adapted for use in Cinncinati, OH and Little Rock, AR.
Workshops are taught by a combination of math and math education faculty members at Penn State, including Andrea McCloskey, Matthew Katz, Charles Helou, Kim Schultz, Marina Skyers, Kuei-Nuan Lin, Beth Lindsey, Gwendolyn Lloyd, James Sellers, and Hartono Tjoe. Additional logistical support comes from the staff at the Science Outreach office.
For more information, feel free to contact us.