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Nurturing and Supporting Middle School Mathematics Teachers

“The Poincaré Institute for Mathematics Education” builds partnerships among faculty from Tufts University’s departments of Mathematics, Education, and Physics, researchers from TERC, and school leaders and teachers from nine New England public school districts. We nurture and support middle school math teachers’ expertise in order to foster students’ learning. More specifically, our goal is to broaden and deepen teachers’ understanding of functions and algebra, the role of math in modeling and science, and the importance of understanding students’ mathematical thinking. We will work with three cohorts of 60 teachers each, who will reach over 20,000 students during the five years of the project.

Over three academic semesters, each cohort completes a series of three graduate-level online courses that integrate math, science, and education, with an emphasis on the interrelation between topics that are usually presented in isolation in the middle school curriculum. Throughout the courses, teachers explore students’ reasoning about math topics by analyzing video cases and readings, interviewing their students, and analyzing their own teaching and their students’ work. Teachers also design and implement learning activities focused on the topics studied. We encourage and guide them to design their own activities, as well as make meaningful adaptations of existing curricular materials. The goal of our research is to analyze the impact of our program on both teachers and their students. We are using a variety of data sources for that purpose, such as written assessments, videotapes of classes, teachers’ work on course assignments, and state-mandated test scores.