California State University, Dominguez Hills has received the first award of a three-year $749,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program to offer professional development and support to algebra teachers in middle and high schools in predominately economically disadvantaged areas of Carson and Los Angeles that serve a large minority population.
Overseen by the Department of Mathematics and its Center for Mathematics and Science Education, Project IMPACT will work year-round for three years with a cohort of 30 algebra teachers in schools within the south region of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD South) to build on their existing math knowledge, enhance their understanding of the California Common Core State Standards in math, and explore and share methods to effectively teach those standards. In focusing on professional development, the project aims to help these teachers make algebra – considered the gateway to more advanced math and science – more accessible to the mostly minority students they serve, thereby better preparing them for college requirements, and ideally getting them interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.
“[T]he IMPACT project represents a comprehensive effort to bring our institution together with… LAUSD to develop a unified, systematic approach to opening the algebra door for students to enter future careers in STEM,” wrote Mitch Maki, vice provost at CSU Dominguez Hills, in a letter of support as part of the grant application.
Project IMPACT will begin in the fall with recruitment of teachers. Initial meeting will be organized in the spring with an official kickoff in summer 2013 with the first of three CSUDH Math Project summer institutes, where the cohort will receive intensive instruction in math and math pedagogy. Then throughout the school years they will continue to meet monthly as a group to share best practices and continue exploring key concepts and teaching standards, and master-teachers will make frequent site visits for one-on-one support. Additionally – and a key component of the project – cohort teachers will receive iPads that will allow them to document their implementation of what they’ve learned, as well as network with each other online.
A core group of algebra teachers who will be part of Project IMPACT took part in the CSUDH Math Project institute this past summer, where they learned to use iPads for instruction and collaboration. Related Article: Where X = iPad: Summer Math Institute for Algebra Teachers Integrates Tablet Technology
“I’m very excited about the iPad, not just for math apps – we’re certainly going to use those – but there are some other features that are going to help in the collaboration of this group of teachers over the years – capturing student work, maybe seeing kids exhibiting mathematical thinking and problem solving,” said John Wilkins, Project IMPACT director and acting dean of the College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences. “We’re hoping with the iPad that we can generate more data collection in terms of what is going on in the classroom and start to share and talk about what works.”
Schools involved in Project IMPACT will include Carson middle schools Curtiss, Carnegie, and White; Fleming Middle School in Lomita, Southeast Middle School in South Gate; Peary Middle School in Gardena; Dana Middle School in San Pedro; Bret Harte Preparatory School in Los Angeles; Maywood Academy High School, and South Gate High School.
For more information on Project IMPACT, call Sheila Wood at 310-243-2203.