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STEM Conferences


Presentations by MSP affiliated staff in Year 2006




How Teachers In a Large Suburban School District Incorporate the Assessment Cycle into Instruction
Gary Hedges and Gregg Gochnour and Chris Canham
VIP K-16

National Science Teachers' Association (NSTA)
April 6, 2006
Learn how teachers in a large suburban school district incorporate the assessment cycle into instruction. Presenters will provide examples of pre-assessment strategies, formative assessment measures, and summative state assessments in biology.

In Maryland, students will be required to pass a state-level end-of-course assessment in Biology in order to graduate. Teachers must be sure that students are prepared to be successful on this assessment. Pre-assessments and formative assessments are integral parts of classroom instruction in Montgomery County Public Schools. Teachers use the C-I-A (Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment) Cycle to determine students' prior knowledge and move students toward success as defined by local, state, and national standards. Participants in this session will examine examples of pre-assessments and formative assessments and discuss their relationship to summative district and state assessments. Presenters will describe methods they use to analyze student work and refine instruction to meet the need of students.



Changing Mathematics Departments: Developing Professional Learning Communities
David Pagni
and Diane DeMille
TASEL-M Project
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)
April 26-29, 2006
Learn how a National Science Foundation mathematics and science project is developing professional learning communities in middle and high school mathematics departments. Specific lessons learned on the process of developing "common agreements" will be shared by the teachers, coaches, and faculty partners of the TASEL-M Project.


The Practice of Leading and Managing: The Distribution of Responsibility for Leadership and Management in the Schoolhouse
James Spillane
and E. Camburn
Developing Distributed Leadership Project

American Educational Research Association (AERA)
April 7-11, 2006
In this paper, we take a distributed perspective to examine how the work of leading and managing the schoolhouse is distributed across people. Beginning with the leader-plus aspect of a distributed perspective, the paper examines which school actors take on leadership and management work. Comparing and contrasting different types of leadership/management activities, we argue that individuals who take responsibility for the work depends on the activity-type. By examining how leadership is distributed, we show that co-performance of leading and managing activities are not unusual in schools.


Taking a Distributed Perspective in Studying School Leadership and Management: Epistemological and Methodological Trade-offs
James Spillane, et al.
Developing Distributed Leadership Project

American Educational Research Association (AERA)
April 7-11, 2006
Taking a distributed perspective has the potential to offer fresh insights into how school leadership and management contributes to the school improvement process. In this paper the authors examine various methodological approaches to studying school leadership and management from a distributed perspective, comparing and contrasting what is learned about school leadership and management from each approach. Exploring these different approaches we identify two dimensions along which to consider the epistemological challenges they raise about measuring how school leadership is distributed across school staff - data source (top down and bottom up) and data focus (the organization as designed or the organization as lived). We also explore whether these approaches capture variation between schools and between activity-types in the distribution of responsibility for leadership work. The primary goal of this paper is to consider different ways of studying how the work of managing and leading schools is distributed among people in schools and the methodological and epistemological tradeoffs involved in this work.


Geologic Time and The Bible: A Proposed Teaching Method for Public Universities
Tim Savisky
SWPA MSP Project

2006 National Faculty Leadership Conference
June 22-25, 2006
An area of great tension among Christians is between the commonly accepted scientific age of the earth of billions of years with a Biblical view of 6,000 years. In my Environmental Geology class, a freshman-level course for non-science majors, I approach this question in a way that fosters a deeper understanding of both the underlying evidence and belief systems. This approach encourages tolerance as well as displaying a large area of common ground.

As a first topic we explore the origin of the earth. A discussion on origins is initiated by a brief video sequence from the PBS series on evolution showing Ken Ham, an ardent young earth teacher. Working in small groups with a supplied text of Genesis, students are charged to find where the young earth view originates. Most students are surprised to find out by their own inspection that no such statement or even implication of a young earth is shown in Genesis in any conclusive way.

I continue in the next classes with standard geological evidence showing an old earth, including the Big Bang and radioactive decay evidence. Students are then required to find particular lines of evidence of a young earth from Creation Science websites as homework, and then are directed to standard geology sites that dispute these views. A small group discussion at the end of the unit has students considering both the objective evidence as well as their own belief system to come to a personal decision. My final talk focuses on the middle ground, where people can believe an old earth and still believe in the Bible as God's word. I show that a literal interpretation of Genesis may or may not lead to a young earth view depending on the interpretation of a few key verses. If a young earth view is chosen, the students see that it does go against a wealth of physical evidence, and that it is a matter of personal belief system rather than science that determines this. Students who agree with an old earth view are helped to see that it is compatible with Christian views, as well as compatible with atheistic views. The entire discussion is sought to be carried out in a spirit of mutual tolerance and understanding of different worldviews.


Developing students' motivation in mathematics: Effective strategies for use with teachers and their students
Stuart Karabenick
MSP-MAP Project
Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators Conference (AMTE)
1/28/2006
The session, "Developing students' motivation in mathematics: Effective strategies for use with teachers and their students," stems from our collaboration with TASEL-M. The session will focus on facilitating mathematics teachers' knowledge and implementation of instructional strategies for developing and supporting diverse students' motivation to enhance interest, persistence, and achievement in mathematics. We will report on a successful workshop undertaken with middle and high school mathematics teachers that combined collaborative tasks and classroom data to effect changes in teachers' practice and students' motivation.


Tensile Strength: Change and Sustainability in STEM Higher Education
Nancy Shapiro, Donald Langenberg, Patricia Maloney, James Hamos, Spencer Benson
CASHE MSP Project
Association of American Colleges and Universities Conference (AAC&U)
1/27/2006
What is required to foster change within institutions of higher education? Participants in this interactive session will engage in a guided dialogue focused on institutional change across different types of institutions, define the types of evidence that demonstrate the presence of change, and tackle the question of what is required to ensure that teaching and pedagogical scholarship becomes part of an institution's faculty culture.


Elementary Teachers' Understanding of Standards-Based Light Concepts Before and After Instruction
Ron Atwood
John Christopher
Rebecca McNall
NARST
4/06/05
A descriptive study conducted to investigate how the pre-instruction and post-instruction conceptual understanding of inservice elementary teachers compare on: 1) light travels in a straight line until it strikes an object; 2) light is reflected in a predictable manner by a plane mirror; and, 3) refraction changes the straight line path of light in predictable ways. Because interviews were impossible, ten multiple choice tasks with alternative conceptions embedded in distracter options were utilized to assess the conceptual understanding of 72 teachers from rural school districts in three Mid-Atlantic States. Results are discussed by task in the paper. Pretest performance ranged from 8.3% to 75.0% correct responses on the ten tasks and 49.3% to 90.1% on posttest. The strong improvement across all tasks is attributed to the utilization of evidence-based instructional materials (McDermott, 1996) that promote intentional learning. While the results suggest most teachers made substantial progress in constructing a logically consistent and scientific model of the targeted light phenomena, further improvement is desirable and should be possible by using the data for formative purposes.


Evaluating the Quality of Professional Development: Implications for Districts and States
Rolf Blank
AERA
4/11/05
4:05 - 5:35pm
Although school districts play a crucial role in providing professional development, few have information on the nature, content, and amount of professional development that their teachers experience, let alone its quality and relationship to instruction. Symposium presentations will (1) report the evolution of surveys of professional development, (2) suggest how weaknesses of survey methods can be strengthened, (3) document teacher- and program-variation in the quality of professional development, and (4) demonstrate how teacher participation in professional development is related to classroom practice, specifically the alignment of instruction with state standards in middle school mathematics and science. The discussants will provide state and district perspectives on the findings presented, with a focus on how such data could be used to evaluate local education initiatives and inform policy makers about teachers' learning experiences.


Extending a Framework for Covariational Reasoning
Marilyn Carlson
AERA
4/11/05
12:00 - 1:00pm
By examining student reasoning about the changing nature of two quantities in a dynamic situation, five distinct reasoning patterns have been observed and classified in the Covariation Framework (Carlson, Jacobs, Coe, Larsen, & Hsu, 2002). The motivation for this work emerged from earlier findings that high performing second semester calculus students often have an impoverished view of rate of change; one in which students are unable to articulate the meaning of inflection points and concavity on a graph. More recent extensions of this work have involved the development of curricular interventions in the form of supplemental modules for Calculus I that include in-class activities which are scaffolded to promote the reasoning patterns of the Covariation Framework and the confrontation of obstacles that have previously been reported. The activities of the modules are situated in context and include prompts to promote meaning making and evoke transfer from the situated context (intended to be metaphorical for the student) to purely mathematical contexts. In this session I will share research artifacts, including videos and student work that illuminate and contrast reasoning in these situated and mathematical contexts. I will also provide an example of how the mental processes of the Covariation Framework have been observed to be foundational for understanding the notion of accumulation.



Research and Evaluation in a Math/Science Partnership: Part 1 - Scaling Up
Matthew Clifford and Susan Millar
AERA
4/11/05
12:00 - 1:30pm
The symposium provides a detailed account of the overall research and evaluation strategy, including preliminary findings from several concurrent lines of work, for a comprehensive math/science partnership. The purposes of the symposium are to describe the unique approach being taken to blending research and evaluation activity into each of several parallel but complementary lines of investigation. The symposium will identify and discuss the responses to each of several tensions in the work. How can the research and evaluation best serve the need to simultaneously create a) formative evaluation information of value to the partnership, b) local knowledge of value to the individual district and university partners, and c) generalizable knowledge of use to the field.


The SCALE Case Studies to Date: Causal Mechanisms and Partnership Leverage
William H. Clune
AERA
4/11/05
12:00 - 1:30pm
This paper discusses the design of the case studies of the effects of the SCALE partnership on district policy and organization. (See Appendix A. for an overview of SCALE). Part I discusses the SCALE theory of action -- how the partnership goes about producing change -- which then becomes the focus of evaluation. Part II discusses research methods. But first what are the case studies? The case studies are intended to study the effects of SCALE on district policy and organization, especially instructional guidance. (See Appendix A. for description of the SCALE research and evaluation). This is an area "downstream" from the focus of the Building a Partnership (BP) team, which examines partnership dynamics and the formation of partnership initiatives. And it is "upstream" from the focus of targeted studies and indicators, which examine outcomes of SCALE interventions on instruction and student achievement. Like BP, the case studies use mainly qualitative methods in tracking organizational change and dynamics, but like targeted studies and indicators, they are mainly concerned with effects inside the partner school districts.


Challenges to Sustaining Teacher Collaboration in Large Scale Reform Efforts
Joni Falk
AERA
4/13/05
1:15 - 1:55pm
This study examines, from the unique perspective of 40 leaders of NSF's large scale Local Systemic Change (LSC) projects, critical lessons to achieving and sustaining reform. Through both quantitative and qualitative data, project leaders share their reflections at the end of their five year reform effort to reform math and/or science in grades K-12 and reflect on the legacies that their projects will leave behind. Their narratives, which will be expanded in the full paper, describe different forms of teacher collaboration, the obstacles they encountered to achieving it, and why they see teacher collaboration as pivotal to sustaining their reform efforts. Their perspectives are invaluable for policy makers, funders of large scale reform projects, project leaders who are just beginning reform initiatives and professional developers.


Infusing Web-Based Digital Resources Into the Middle School Science Classroom: Strategies and Challenges
Joni Falk
AERA
4/13/05
2:15 - 3:45pm
This study examines strategies and obstacles encountered in infusing digital resources in the middle school math and science classroom. It draws on data from Principals, technology coordinators and math and science teachers in two large urban middle schools in MA. Both these schools have recently invested heavily in technology hardware and high speed Internet connectivity and as such they provide an opportunity to look beyond well documented obstacles such as outdated computers and poor Internet access. The logistical, preparatory, pedagogical and curricular challenges encountered by teachers within the study have important implications for professional development efforts aimed at improving science education through the integration of Web-based resources.


A Virtual Conference: From Design to Enactment
Joni Falk
AERA
4/12/05
6:15 - 7:45pm
Virtual Conferences offer new ways to share common interests and develop community knowledge among participants at a distance. This paper draws on learning accrued through the creation of three virtual conferences for a community of leaders in NSF-funded projects to improve mathematics and or science district-wide. It provides insight on structures and innovative functionalities that promote in-depth, reflective, online discourse. In particular it describes an innovative "virtual poster hall" developed for this project. Last, it provides an analysis of the benefits and drawbacks of virtual conferences compared to traditional ones.


Transforming East Alabama Mathematics (TEAM-Math)
W. Gary Martin
AERA
4/14/05
12:25 - 1:55pm

The East Alabama Partnership for the Improvement of Mathematics Education (also known as "Transforming East Alabama Mathematics" or TEAM-Math) was formed to improve mathematics education in 12 school districts in East Alabama with the support of Auburn University, Tuskegee University and other partners. This partnership is guided by the belief that the low mathematics achievement in its region can be solved through a multidimensional, coordinated effort focusing not only on the schools, but also on the universities' teacher preparation programs as well as community and parental factors. The partnership is committed to ensuring that all students in the region receive an equitable mathematics education by participating in a rigorous curriculum that is taught by highly qualified teachers who use a variety of instructional practices designed to promote student learning and understanding. The project seeks to achieve its aims by using methods shown to improve mathematics education elsewhere and adapting them to the circumstances of East Alabama.


Addressing Performance and Equity of a Design-Based, Systems Approach for Teaching Science in Eighth Grade
Matthew Mehalik, Yaron Doppelt and Christian Shunn
AERA
4/14/05
1:15 - 1:55pm
The authors report some preliminary performance findings and equity issues for a science learning immersion module that uses an authentic systems engineering design approach. Students design and build electrical alarm systems to learn electricity concepts. The module was implemented as a pilot in 31 eighth grade science classes, involving 9 science teachers and 496 students in the spring of 2004 in an urban, public school district. The results are contrasted with the performance of a paired control group of 4 eighth grade science teachers and 323 students in the same district. The control group used a scripted inquiry approach embedded in a FOSS electricity learning module.


Impact of Four NSF-Funded Curricula on Students' Learning: Evidence from Ten School Districts
F. Joseph Merlino
AERA
4/15/05
10:35 - 12:05pm


Thinking About Mathematics Instruction: A Preliminary Investigation of Mathematics Leadership Content Knowledge
Barbara Nelson
AERA
4/14/05
2:15 - 3:45pm
This paper describes the first phase of a five year research study, Thinking About Mathematics Instruction (TMI). Over time, the study will investigate the relationship between Mathematics Leadership Content Knowledge of elementary and middle school principals and their observation and supervision practices The paper reports preliminary data analysis about the nature and level of mathematics LCK that is typical for elementary and middle school principals who are affiliated with MSP initiatives. We discuss the characteristics of this sample in detail with particular attention to two dimensions of mathematics LCK,: mathematics content knowledge and beliefs about the nature of teaching and learning. We hope that these analyses will result in several typologies of LCK which may have diagnostic value for professional development for Administrative Leaders.


A University/School District Research Collaboration
Eric Osthoff and
Steve Cantrell
AERA
4/11/05
12:00 - 1:30pm
For three consecutive evenings in January 2004, researchers Eric Osthoff and Steven Cantrell met with secondary mathematics teachers and coaches to discuss the impact of several key elements of the District Mathematics Plan. The 22 participants were a diverse, though nonrepresentative, collection of Algebra I teachers and secondary mathematics coaches. The primary aim of the meetings was to better understand the impact of several key elements of the district mathematics plan, including textbooks, the instructional guide, the periodic mathematics assessments, and mathematics coaches. A second aim was to test ideas for improving the quality of assistance currently provided by the district mathematics instructional support staff. ...The following report describes the sessions and provides a much more faithful rendition of teacher responses to our prompts.


SCALE Quality Indicator System
Norman Webb
AERA
4/11/05
12:00 - 1:30pm
The SCALE Quality Indicator System is a work in progress. The purpose of this paper is to describe in some detail the design of the indicator system and to provide samples of some statistics that will likely evolve into indicators. The paper concludes with the acknowledgement of major challenges that exist.