Add together a bunch of math teachers, subtract their students, divide them into groups and watch their enthusiasm multiply.
“It is so exciting to have the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge research,” said Kylee Mullin, Great Bend Middle School teacher.
Mullin was one of 15 GBMS math teachers who participated in a half-day introduction to the $26 million grant project with Old Dominion University’s Center for Educational Partnerships. GBMS is one of five schools selected nationwide to be part of the five-year pilot program.
“They were very complimentary about our teacher morale,” said Ruth Heinrichs, USD 428 curriculum director. She was talking about Dr. James Nunnery, project director, and Paul Miller, project manager, who met with GBMS teachers last week to explain details about the project.
The project focuses on providing students in high-need middle schools with increased access to rigorous and engaging coursework in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“We are thrilled to have USD 428 as official partners,” Nunnery said. “I knew Great Bend schools by reputation and our visit only confirmed that we are working with well led, capable and enthusiastic teachers and administrators.”
“It was an initial meeting to become more knowledgeable about the grant, our responsibilities, the budget and the transfer of money,” Heinrichs said. “Funds will provide the salary for a math facilitator for the cycle of the grant, 12 days of training (at $2,500 a day) and technology for teachers (such as iPads).”
In the afternoon, teachers were given an overview of activities and shown what the program will look like in the classroom, Heinrichs said. She noted that being part of the pilot program will also provide numerous opportunities for teacher training through video conferencing.
“It gives us high-quality professional development that is sometimes hard to get in this area,” she said. “It’s a very upscale, effective model that we can utilize in a more cost-effective way.”
“The data behind the teaching methods we were introduced to appears very sound,” Mullin said. “It is a thrill to have the opportunity in the future to be a hub for best teaching practices in our area. The grant will also provide us with an opportunity to share and learn with other great math teachers from across the country.”
“After meeting with the teachers and district representatives of Great Bend public schools, Success for All Foundation is thrilled to continue our partnership,” Miller said. “We truly believe that the teachers will implement the PowerTeaching framework with fidelity and will not only become experts in the process, but will also provide us with the feedback necessary to ensure the success of a nationwide scale-up!
“I am really excited to get started with PowerTeaching,” said Kelsey Metro, GBMS math teacher. “I think that it will be a really effective way of teaching. The students are made more accountable for the learning instead of the teacher trying to ‘give’ the students knowledge. The students have to figure out what is going on and build their own knowledge. This program is going to help my students better learn the material and retain the information.”
“It seems that it is taking a lot of loose ends from other trainings that we have had with cooperative learning and tying it all into a strategy-packed way to present lessons,” said Beth Rein, GBMS math teacher. “It will engage students to have to take an active part in the classroom. It will teach them so much more than just the curriculum.”