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Perspectives on Deepening Teachers' Mathematics Content Knowledge: The Case of the Greater Birmingham Mathematics Partnership

Abstract

"The Greater Birmingham Mathematics Partnership (GBMP) is a collaborative effort involving two institutions of higher education, University of Alabama at Birmingham and Birmingham- Southern College; one private non-profit organization, the Mathematics Education Collaborative (MEC); and nine Greater Birmingham, Alabama school districts. The project's work included professional development for in-service teachers; teacher leader development; revised coursework for pre-service teachers, including a new track for mathematics majors and accompanying new certification for middle school mathematics teaching; and community outreach. GBMP conducted seven mathematics content courses, offered as two-week summer immersion experiences to teachers in the partner districts. Additional professional development for teacher-leaders was provided during the school year. Patterns: The Foundations for Algebraic Reasoning was required as a prerequisite to all other courses. In it, mathematics teachers explored patterns in an inquiry-based environment using a variety of representations including graphs, tables, geometric models, algebraic expressions, and verbal contexts. Course participants were K-20 teachers of mathematics who learned mathematics together, which allowed them to see how to meet a range of learning needs and to see how the foundation of algebraic reasoning is laid throughout the grades. They also discussed articles chosen to help participants better understand the theoretical underpinnings of constructivist theory and the implications for classroom practice. Throughout all of the courses, participants engaged in generalization and justification as mathematical ways of learning and knowing. Over the course of the five-year project several local teacher-leaders and higher education faculty associated with the GBMP completed an internship process to become MEC instructors, and they now teach the courses. In the final year of the project, school-based professional learning communities were initiated to support teachers in implementing inquiry-based instruction and performance assessments."

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