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The Seeing Math Telecommunications Project at the Concord Consortium

The Seeing Math Telecommunications Project is developing a specific effective model for the use of online video case studies as a professional development tool for elementary and middle school math teachers. The model is based on the case method, a powerful learning model. By examining critical moments in a case, participants enter vividly into the events and can carry the lessons learned into their professional lives.

The Seeing Math Telecommunications Project has added the force of audio, video, and interactive computer tools to the already powerful case study method. These case studies use both real-life video narratives and guided inquiry to craft a unique learning experience. By going into real teachers' classrooms and presenting the problems they face and the solutions that grow from imperfect situations, Seeing Math provides a rich source of insight that all teachers can use to develop their own practice. Each Seeing Math case study focuses on specific math content that is widely recognized as difficult to teach.

The Seeing Math Telecommunications project video case studies are produced in partnership with Teachscape Inc., a private company that also disseminates the cases as part of their teacher professional development offerings. The teachers featured in the case studies make exemplary use of NTCM 2000 standards-based curriculum materials. Five video case studies are currently available through Teachscape. Four new video case studies will be included in the portfolio of cases by the fall.

An independent evaluator, Edcentric, is currently conducting formative studies with teacher professional developers, math coordinators, and educators to determine the perceived course quality, usability (implementation), and replicability of Seeing Math to its targeted audience base. As the video case studies and online courses become available in pilot form, the formative evaluation is addressing how effectively the materials serve participants and if these materials are high quality and useful for participants. The evaluation will also attempt to determine if any student achievement gains in math can be attributed to teacher participation in Seeing Math video case study-based professional development.

Seeing Math with TeacherLine - the sister project at PBS - will undertake a joint effort to increase the number of certified secondary math teachers in the remaining years of the project.

PBS TeacherLine

PBS TeacherLine provides high-quality professional development for K-12 teachers with the goal of both improving teacher quality and increasing student achievement. PBS TeacherLine's online professional development programs focus on reading, mathematics, science, curriculum and instruction, and the integration of technology to enhance student learning.

Through PBS TeacherLine, educators have access to more than 68 online, facilitated courses in reading, mathematics, science, curriculum and instruction, and technology integration. TeacherLine's courses are developed with input from K-12 education leaders and research experts in target areas where a high percentage of teachers lack content knowledge or teaching skills. The multimedia courses reflect current research on effective professional development that includes:

  • providing sustained, intensive professional development;
  • aligning content to local, state, and national standards;
  • offering anytime, any place access;
  • translating research into practice;
  • modeling appropriate uses of technology; and
  • supporting teachers as learners in a community of learners.

TeacherLine is currently implemented through partnerships with 32 PBS member stations and will become available nationally in the fall of 2003. Each of TeacherLine's partner stations collaborates with a local education agency (LEA). This unique partnership allows TeacherLine's course content to be customized to meet state and local standards. In addition, TeacherLine supports local station outreach services, including workshops for teachers that introduce online learning and TeacherLine's free educational resources.

Along with innovative online courses, PBS TeacherLine's web site provides free online professional development resources such as a self-paced mathematics academy, community discussion boards, online chats with experts, and links to educational web sites.

Maryland Public Television

Most students learn to read in the primary grades, but some do not. They enter the upper elementary and middle grades without the reading skills they need to master the subject matter that is covered in the higher grades. Increasingly, Maryland middle schools have found the need to focus on reading, and for most, improving reading is a top priority. Thus, teachers in all content areas are being called upon to provide instruction that will build reading skills while simultaneously covering the subject matter of the curriculum.

Maryland Public Television proposes to build a set of rich Web-based resources in core content areas such as social studies, language arts, and science. These resources will contain embedded reading supports, offer explicit instruction in reading strategies, and engage students in learning activities that build reading skills. Working with our partners, we will build on the current model for Web-based electronic field trips (EFT) exemplified by the recently developed Pathways to Freedom, which focuses on the Underground Railroad and its operation in Maryland. MPT will add elements specifically designed to improve students' reading skills. These enhanced EFTs are called Developmental Electronic Field Trips and are referred to as the DEFT Reader Project.

Initially, MPT will develop a model for embedding supports, explicit instruction, and learning activities in EFTs and will modify the existing resource, Pathways to Freedom. Once the model is tested and refined, MPT will adapt another EFT, now nearing completion, that focuses on the life, times, and literature of Edgar Allen Poe. This adaptation of existing resources will allow the project to start up quickly. Four additional EFTs will be developed in Year 2 and 3. All EFTs will be made available through Thinkport, MPT's new Web supersite for educators and families. As the digital broadcasting efforts progress, MPT intends to use datacasting technology to make all of the resources on Thinkport available to schools without the need for the high-cost T-1 connections that many Maryland schools are currently using.

Each EFT will include student assessment tools and other resources for teachers, such as lesson plans that explicitly show how the EFTs and associated classroom activities can be used to build phonemic awareness, phonics skills, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. MPT will also develop three online courses to help teachers learn more about using content area resources to improve students' reading. These courses may include segments from the professional development videos focused on reading and literature that MPT has developed over the past several years. MPT will also make these video resources available to Maryland educators through its K-12 Educational Video Service.

For the DEFT Reader Project, MPT is partnering with experts from the Center for Reading Excellence at Johns Hopkins University, the Maryland State Department of Education, and schools in two Maryland districts. The evaluation of the DEFT Reader Project will be conducted by ORC Macro International. Evaluation will include both a process study that will provide the background for replication and an outcome study to measure the effects of the new instructional resources on students' reading performance. The student outcome study will take place in the two partner schools.

Hacienda La Puente

The partners in the project have come together to develop, produce, and distribute standards based and assessment driven digital instructional programming for teachers, students, and caregivers that is both broadcast and streamed across the Internet. This collaboration brings together the powerful production and distribution capabilities of the Los Angeles County Office of Education; the content experts and students of the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District, along with its high-speed broadband network for additional distribution; and the Teacher Education Department and content resources of California Polytechnic University-Pomona. Through ETN's broadcast and upload capabilities, this programming has the potential to reach not only the school districts in Los Angeles County, but also school districts and universities throughout California and the nation.

The goal of the D.I.G.I.T.A.L. project is to produce a standards based, assessment driven series of digital modules designed to help raise student achievement in the areas of middle school (grades 6-8) algebra and pre-algebra. The centerpiece of each module will include a video vignette aimed at providing direct instruction to students in a specifically identified math concept. Each module will also include instructional objectives, hands-on activities, online support materials, pre- and post- assessments, and teacher guides. In order to ensure that teachers will utilize this material, professional development videos will also be produced and will be available. These professional development videos will provide specific strategies to help the teacher with each identified math skill, along with more general videos covering topics such as using assessment to drive instruction, working with middle school students in a differentiated classroom, models of classroom management in the area of math instruction, and effective strategies for using instructional programming in the classroom.

Twin Cities Public Television

Twin Cities Public Television will develop, produce, and distribute digital instructional programming to assist teachers in implementing research-based mathematics instruction in fractions for students in grades 4 through 6. All content will be fully aligned with the relevant national and state performance and graduation standards in mathematics, and focused on proven, research-based curricula and strategies. Many urban and rural Minnesota students are performing poorly by standard measures of success, particularly in math, and many of these schools have a significant achievement gap between students of color, English language learners, and students in poverty, and their middle-class, English-speaking peers. A key reason students aren't achieving to expectations is that many of the state's teachers lack the skills and knowledge they need to meet the instructional challenges of diverse school populations, to assess student math skills, and to provide effective math instruction.

This project will focus on teaching fractions and is designed to: 1) increase the school readiness skills of students, preparing them for grade-level instruction in math; 2) increase students' level of math skills; 3) improve teachers' content and pedagogical knowledge and skills in math; 4) improve teachers' capability to assess students' strengths and weaknesses in math and to provide effective grade-level math instruction; and 5) increase the capacity of schools and school districts to provide effective math education by creating a cadre of well-trained teachers. This project will also determine whether professional development workshops delivered digitally are as effective as face-to-face workshops in improving teacher performance in the classroom and, ultimately, improving student achievement.

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Last Modified: 06/19/2012