Early Math goes to college

by Cody Meirick

The Early Math Education Project is doing something it has never done before: it’s going back to college. With funding from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, planning is underway to spread the project’s brand of foundational mathematics to community colleges throughout the Chicago area. The new model: train the trainers, which involves using materials and learning already developed during the Early Math Project’s five years of in-service professional development with CPS.

During the 2011-12 year, data have been collected from community college instructors and students through interviews, focus groups, syllabus reviews, and surveys. This is informing the planning for a pilot implementation program in 2012-2013. Early childhood education faculty from community colleges will complete a Summer Institute — which includes a day of learning at Erikson and a month of learning online, all designed to encourage them to think deeply about foundational mathematics and how to encourage their students to deepen their understanding.

“As we continue to grow,” says instructional coordinator Lisa Ginet, “we realize that a train the trainer model makes a lot of sense. We can’t be everywhere at once. Providing ideas and materials to instructors at community colleges allows us to influence early math teaching on a larger scale and earlier in a teacher’s learning process. Plus, we’ve found that many colleges don’t spend nearly enough time focused on math content.”

Faculty will be asked to develop a plan to incorporate materials from four content modules into their math methods courses in the upcoming academic year.

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