- Year 2018
- NSF Noyce Award # 1136392
- First Name Sandra
- Last Name Madden
- Discipline Math
Sandra Madden, Umass Amherst, email@example.com
Eleni Doulis, Lynn Public Schools, firstname.lastname@example.org
Supporting STEM Teaching and Learning through Communities (S2TLC) is a Master Teaching Fellow (MTF)/Teaching Fellow (TF) six year project (2011-2017 + 2018 for extension) working with high need schools in western Massachusetts designed to: 1) Provide in-service secondary mathematics and science teachers (MTFs) with professional development in effective inquiry-, place-based, and culturally responsive instructional practices and leadership and mentoring skills; 2) In collaboration with MTFs and partnership schools, revise and implement an initial licensure teacher program for secondary mathematics and science teachers in order to better ensure their retention in the profession and successful instruction; 3) Develop virtual and face-to-face communities of practice to provide MTFs, TFs and other teachers with support for effective instruction and to lessen the traditional isolation of classroom teachers; 4) Develop mathematics and science content courses that integrate cognitive tools.
Both the MTF and TF aspects of the S2TLC project are grounded in theory and practice that supports 1) shared learning, 2) leadership, 3) challenges to beliefs about science, mathematics, and learning, and 4) attention to the lives of students. These shared visions manifest as research based understandings of: 1) teacher learning, 2) development of communities of practice, 3) engagement of teachers in authentic use of mathematics and science in research, and 4) development of counter-narratives to negative perceptions of low SES and diverse students.
The conceptual framework situating the S2TLC project included a focus on teacher learning (Loucks-Horsley, Love, Stiles, Mundry, & Hewson, 2003; NAE, 2009; NCTM, 2007); communities of practice (both face-to-face and virtual) (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002; Palinscar, 1998; Little, 2006; Woolis, Restler & Thayer, 2008; Tremblay, 2004; Rogoff, 1994; Grossman, Wineburg, & Woolworth, 2001; Wenger, 2005; Kaulback & Bergthodt, 2008; Chiu, Chiu & Chang, 2007; Wasko & Faraj, 2000; Nichani & Hung, 2002), authentic use of mathematics and science in research (NRC, 1996), and the development of counter-narratives in high needs schools (Milner, 2008; Feldman, 2009; Grant & Gillette, 2006; Duncan-Andrade, 2007).The goals of the project have been achieved through sustained professional learning opportunities for teachers through face-to-face and virtual communities of practice and ongoing support for high quality STEM teaching.
Throughout the S2TLC project, we have been investigating characteristics of lessons-as-enacted in fellows’ STEM classrooms and will present findings from the study conducted during the 2016-2017 school year (n=58). Each fellow’s (n=29) classroom was observed twice during the academic year. The study utilized a modified lesson observation protocol from Western Michigan University’s Science and Mathematics Program Improvement (SAMPI) group to collect data. Findings indicate that Teaching Fellows (in Year 04 of independent teaching) demonstrated similar patterns of lesson characteristics as the MTFs in the project. Strengths and challenges of lessons-as-enacted will be highlighted. Classroom culture is a general strength, yet attention to orienting students toward each other, lesson closure, and use of cognitive tools for teaching are all areas in need of further support and study.
The broader impacts from this project included the preparation of more highly qualified STEM teachers in high needs districts. We see classrooms where students are tending to be challenged with reasonably engaging and cognitively demanding tasks. Thus, students’ opportunity to engage in STEM learning is improved. The design of the pre-service and mentoring curriculum has impacted Umass Amherst’s pre-service Secondary Teacher Preparation Program and has spurred the development of a professional licensure pathway through course development and offerings. The lesson observation research continues to impact the nature of professional development interventions and work in high needs schools. Research has been disseminated through book chapters, conference papers and presentations, and locally through teachers and partner schools. Journal articles are presently under construction.