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Math Teachers’ Circles: What, Why, How, When and Where

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Math Teachers’ Circles: What, Why, How, When and Where

Judith Covington

Louisiana State University ShreveportAngie HodgeUniversity of Nebraska at Omaha

The mission of the national Math Teachers’ Circle (MTC) program, developed at the American Institute of Mathematics (AIM), is to establish the foundation for a culture of problem solving among middle school math teachers in the U.S. For more information visit: www.mathteacherscircle.org

By fostering the confidence to tackle open-ended math problems, middle school teachers become better equipped to initiate more student-centered, inquiry-based pedagogies in their classrooms.

Goals of Math Teachers’ Circles

- To engage middle school math teachers in mathematical problem solving and involve them in an ongoing dialogue about math with students, colleagues, and professional mathematicians.
- To provide guidance, materials, and resources to middle school math teachers that will enable them to promote open-ended problem solving as a way of learning, thinking about, and practicing mathematics in their classrooms.

Components of MTCs

- Immersion academy
- Teachers engage in various open-ended problem solving activities, guided by mathematicians and teachers
- Monthly meetings
- MTCs continue to provide a content-based enrichment outlet for teachers but also have a more pedagogical focus intended to help teachers bring problem-solving techniques into their classrooms

I felt that my pre-service teachers did not have strong backgrounds in problem solving.

This was a way to hopefully provide teachers with the means to give their students more problems to solve.

I wanted to work with teachers as a way to reach students.

The “creation of the team” challenge

Opportunity to network with local teachers

Opportunity for faculty and teachers to learn from each other

We both first heard about Math Teachers’ Circles at a RL Moore Conference.

AIM holds a workshop titled How to Run a Math Teachers’ Circle. These workshops are designed for teams of five—two mathematicians, two middle school teachers, and one administrator or other organizer—who are interested in starting a Math Teachers’ Circle in their area.

Started with an interested mathematics faculty member

Contacted two local teachers who were graduates of LSU Shreveport and former students of faculty member

Added a faculty member from Education

Contacted a third local school district to select a third middle school teacher for the team

Started with a team of two math faculty and two local middle school teachers

Applied for a state MSP grant

Added three faculty (education and math) and four lead teachers

Received support from a consortium of teachers in North Dakota to help promote the MTC as a professional development experience

- NLMTC held two events after returning from the training workshop in Washington, DC
- November 8, 2010 we had 40 middle school teachers for our inaugural meeting
- March 7, 2011 we had 25 middle school teachers for a second meeting
- Each meeting started at 5 pm with supper followed by two and a half hours of mathematics

NLMTC will have a summer workshop July 18-21, 2011

22 teachers have already registered for the 30 teacher workshop

The workshop will consist of several hands on activities as well as time spent working on solving a variety of problems.

First summer workshop will be held during the weeks of June 13th and June 20th

25 teachers are signed up to participate

4 more teachers will serve as lead teachers

4 faculty and 1 graduate student will help facilitate the workshop

1 guest speaker will present

http://www.ndsu.edu/pubweb/~kureczko/mtc/

Creative mathematical ideas to bring back to the classroom

Free graduate course credit

Free travel, hotel accommodations, and meals

A stipend of $50 per day

Networking with ND teachers and professors

Content knowledge focus linked to the state mathematics standards

“I have enjoyed participating in the North Louisiana Math Teachers' Circle. I find the program to be of immense value in enriching my understanding of mathematics, so that I can then better instruct my students.”

“I was able to figure out all of the problems, but I most enjoyed working the abstract problems that were beyond skills of my usual curriculum or where pattern recognition was important. I used some of the problems with my students, but others would be a little beyond their reach. My students most enjoyed the silliness of #4.”

- “The kids were interested to know about where I got the problems and what we did for the evening. They were amazed that I would voluntarily spend an evening doing math, but it allowed for a class discussion about how solving problems makes me feel like a detective on a case. It's sometimes hard to get kids at this age to understand the beauty of mathematics, but hearing about how I figured out some of the problems and some of my missteps seemed to help them understand how important it is to persevere. If nothing else, they understood that I believe that learning continues throughout life.”

- "Thank you for helping to implement such a wonderful way for gathering math teachers to share our "tools of the trade". I have used SET in my classroom, and my students love it. They were very excited to be able to play a game and learn at the same time. I think it provides a great way for them to understand different sets with different attributes. Thanks again."

- "The March meeting was the first meeting I attended. I learned a great deal from the presentations and taught the activity to all three grade levels the same week. The students grasped the concepts within five minutes because of the power points presented during the in-service. I used the game as a whole class activity and placed two cards on the projector and the students guess the card that completed the set. It became a competition, boys against girls. The students had to respond within ten seconds. It was a little wild at first, but the students look forward to the competition. The game helped me to reinforce the probability concept. Also, the meeting encouraged me to search for more game activities to implement in the regular curriculum."

That is up to you!

There is support available from a variety of sources.

For more information visit: www. mathteacherscircle.org