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Teacher Professional Development for the Standards for Mathematical Practice

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This video will present key ideas about supporting teachers’ understanding of the Standards for Mathematical Practice (SMP). The video focuses on the design of a professional development model that utilizes exploration of mathematics tasks, analysis of student thinking, and task planning. Information is also included about common challenges in understanding and implementing the SMP, based on our experience working with teachers and leaders. This program was field-tested nationally and participating teachers showed improved knowledge and understanding of the SMP.

## Gerald Kulm

Hi. Thanks for the nice overview of the project and its outcomes. How did you decide on the four components of the PD model? Please give an example or two of how the model addresses the myths that you outlined. What are other barriers you see in implementing Common Core?

## Victor Mateas

PresenterThank you for the comment! Regarding the PD model, it builds on EDC’s extensive experience developing PD curricula, including the Fostering Algebraic Thinking Toolkit, the Fostering Geometric Thinking Toolkit, Developing Mathematical Ideas, and Lesson Study in Practice: A Mathematics Staff Development course. In this PD, we have teachers doing mathematics tasks together and reflecting on their mathematical thinking so that they can begin to recognize their own use of the mathematical practices. Student dialogues are intended to provide exemplar cases of the mathematical practices and help highlight other features of the practices as well as how the practices can be connected to content in various domains. The primary purpose of these first two components of the PD model is to help build teacher understanding of what the mathematical practices are and how they might manifest themselves depending on the content. The third and fourth components of the PD model are meant primarily to support teachers in implementing the practices in their own classroom. For both the planning and student work analysis activities we provide structured protocols that guide teachers and connect to their experiences doing tasks and reflecting on artifacts of mathematical thinking (i.e., parts 1 and 2 of the PD model).

Our PD was developed to address some of the myths we have seen about what the SMP mean and how to implement them in the classroom. For example, regarding misunderstandings of MP 6, some of the student dialogues, and its associated teacher reflection questions and mathematical overview, draw out new understandings of that mathematical practice. For myths about planning, the planning protocol asks teachers to decide which subset of SMP they want students to be using and how they will demonstrate those practices. This counters the idea that all 8 SMP need to be present and helps focus teacher planning on specific goals around the mathematical practices (we have them reflect on goals for mathematical content too).

Regarding barriers in implementing the Common Core, we have seen other myths and confusions get in the way of implementing the mathematical practices such as: some practices seem to always occur so what do they really mean, some practices only seem relevant to particular content domains, the idea that mathematical practice can be taught separate from content, etc. In fact that is a question I would like to open up to others watching this video: what challenges do you see in understanding/implementing the SMP?

## Roger Tobin

We’re wrestling with some similar challenges with regard to practices of science. I wonder if you’ve given much thought to how to assess practices and how to separate the assessment of the practice from the assessment of the content.

## Victor Mateas

PresenterThank you for the comment! That’s great that you are doing similar work with the practices in science! Regarding assessment, our project was not setup to tackle that issue. The only assessment work we have done was in developing our pre/post survey that measured teachers understanding of the SMP. For that instrument we gave teachers a series of statements about what a student is doing and for each statement they had to identify the SMP that best describes that action. There was also an option for “Does not represent any of the SMP”. We tried to have some statements capture finer aspects of the SMP and have some distractor statements that would be selected if the teacher had a misunderstanding. If you’re interested in assessment you might want to check out this video from some of our EDC colleagues: http://stemforall2016.videohall.com/presentatio.... That project is looking at assessing habits of mind (practices) and might give you some ideas.

## Veronica Blackham

Very nice video and interesting project. I also checked out your website and will save it as a useful tool to use in my future work as a teacher and with my future work with teachers. I noticed you said you identified challenges with the SMP based on your experience and working with teachers. I agree that I have seen some of the same challenges you mentioned in the video, but am wondering if you could tell me more about your process to identify the challenges. Thank you.

## Victor Mateas

PresenterThank you for the positive feedback and question! The myths described in the video were identified from multiple data sources. These included: discussions with a teacher advisory group that helped us develop the Illustrations on our site, interviews with facilitators and teachers during our field test, surveys completed by facilitators and teachers as part of the field test, and observations of PD sessions using our materials (particularly earlier sessions where misunderstandings were being exposed and confronted). In fact a paper we’ve written is in press with the NCTM journal, Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, that debunks five myths around the SMP and provides some suggestions for how to align instruction to the SMP. Hope this helps!

## Michelle Perry

Thanks for sharing your project. Can you share the biggest success and a challenge encountered in the project?

## Victor Mateas

PresenterThank you for the question! Perhaps the biggest success has been the overwhelmingly positive response (and field test results) to our work. We have worked with teachers, and school, district, and state leaders from across 26 states and in all instances we have heard about the overwhelming need for resources to help support understanding/implementation of the mathematical practices, as well as positive feedback to our materials. We have also field tested the PD curriculum across two school years and had significant growth on measures, such as teacher understanding of the SMP, when compared to a comparison group of similar teachers. In terms of challenges, one issue that came up when recruiting districts for the field test was PD time constraints. It was difficult for districts to provide the full 20 hours needed to complete the course so we had to think creatively about how the course could be modified into other formats (e.g., a shorter course, blended learning) to accommodate the realities of schools/districts.

## Rebecca Lowenhaupt

This is a great project and potentially helpful in thinking about implementing science practices, as well as math. I’m curious if you’ve thought about the kinds of experiences supervisors might need to be able to support teachers’ implementation of the practices. That’s something we’ve been working on in our project (Instructional Leadership for Science Practices), and which might be relevant to your work. Do you think supervisors need similar PD experiences or are there other types of PD that make more sense for them?

## Victor Mateas

PresenterThat’s a great question! Just to clarify, I believe you are asking about administrators that aren’t content-focused (e.g. headmasters, assistant principals) and not content-focused supervisors (e.g., math coaches, math department heads). Our PD curriculum was designed to be used with teachers primarily. We did not have any administrators participate in the PD during our field tests however I do believe administrators need exposure to the SMP and to understand the work teachers are doing to develop mathematical practices in students. Administrators could have benefited from participating in portions of our PD however I’m not sure if they would really need a full 20 hour experience, the same way teachers do. Ideally, I think administrators could participate in a few sessions alongside teachers in unpacking what the practices mean, as well as experiencing some of the planning and student work analysis activities, followed by a few PD sessions in which administrators discuss issues around how to observe classrooms and provide feedback to teachers focused on the mathematical practices. Hope this helps!

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