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Mathematics Design Collaborative provides teachers with Formative Assessment Lessons to engage students in a productive struggle that builds fluency with their procedural skills, and deepens mathematical reasoning and understanding.
MDC provides teachers with Formative Assessment Lessons (FALs) to engage students in a productive struggle that builds fluency with their procedural skills, and deepens mathematical reasoning and understanding. Developed in partnership between the Shell Center for Mathematical Education at the University of Nottingham, England, and the University of California at Berkeley, FALs align with content covered under the Pennsylvania Core Standards for Mathematics. They challenge students to put concepts into practice. The primary focus of the lessons is the use of the 8 Standards for Mathematical Practice, which is emphasized in our state’s content standards and assessment anchors.
Michael Stephens, a math teacher in New York State, explains, “Traditionally, many teachers have followed a model called, “I do, we do, you do.” The FALs follow a reverse model, where students, by themselves, are challenged to work on problems first. This allows for varied entry points and multiple solution paths. Then, their progress and questions are made public and discussed. Finally, after the students have shown and explained their solutions, the teacher offers further explanation and a summary. This process,” he notes, “is very powerful. It gets the curriculum monkey off my back and gives me the courage and confidence to take the time for students to explore deeper mathematical concepts.”
Research has shown that formative assessment lessons are a powerful way to improve student learning and performance. This approach allows students to demonstrate their prior understandings and abilities in employing the mathematical practices, and involves students resolving their own difficulties and misconceptions through structured discussion. The result is more secure long-term learning, reducing the need for re-teaching that otherwise takes so much classroom time.
Formative assessment involves a change in “classroom culture” that supports best practices in instruction with teachers and students moving into different roles from those common in most classrooms:
In January 2014, BCIU in partnership with CAIU was awarded a contract under the Race to the Top Grant to research MDC, develop a training plan, run a pilot group, and ultimately implement the Mathematics Design Collaborative (MDC) across Pennsylvania during the 2014-15 school year.
This past spring a pilot group of 29 teachers/7 schools representing a variety of demographics from the BCIU-CAIU service areas completed the MDC training and implemented lessons in their classrooms. Teacher reflection summaries regarding their experience and student achievement data showed promising results. Many successes were evident but challenges also existed. Moving forward, these challenges will be addressed in future training and district preparation. Starting in September, MDC will be rolled out across the state through the 29 intermediate units supported by the MDC Task Managers at BCIU and CAIU.
contact: Dan Richards – 610-987-8370 – firstname.lastname@example.org