Math Generation – Part 27
Year Two Overview
Math Generation is a partnership between the Elk Grove Unified School District and the S.D. Bechtel Foundation, designed to support the implementation of Common Core State Standards in Mathematics for grades Kindergarten through 8th Grade. Working with the Sacramento County Office of Education and California State University Sacramento, the program is training and supporting 220 professional learning community leaders and 1,400 teachers in the Elk Grove Unified School District.
Math Generation is a professional development model that encourages the development of teacher content, strategies, and practices that support professional learning communities. The professional development for teachers consists of high-quality trainings provided by the Math Generation team. The trainings have included topics such as The Teaching Cycle, Computational Strategies, as well as other instructional strategies and classroom structures that engage students in mathematical discussions.
In year 2, the teaching cycle was introduced to all PLC leaders. The teaching cycle is a way of teaching so that teachers can get the students to figure out mathematical rules and problems. The four steps of the teaching cycle include: Guess, Figure it out the long way, Figure out the shortcut, and determine if the shortcut always works. The emphasis in math instruction shifts from telling the students how to do the math, to students understanding the math through productive struggle.
The professional development provided this past year has also included training on the California Mathematics Framework, which provides recommendations for changes in the way that mathematics is taught. The framework recommends a balanced approach to conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, and application with an increase in “questioning”, “writing”, “discussion” and “cooperative work”. It promotes a changed role for the teacher, saying that the new approach “requires teachers to do more coaching and facilitating and less telling.” This guidance helps enable the shift from teaching practices that emphasize just procedural understanding to practices that develop and balance conceptual and procedural understanding as well as the application of mathematical skills.
In year 2, we continued to hone our skills in the strategies known as the Core 4: Choose Three Ways, Think-Pair-Share, Starts, and Number Talks. Teachers continue to receive support to cultivate, apply, and refine these instructional strategies through Math Generation trainings and during their site level Professional Learning Community meetings. These instructional strategies best support student learning and the application of Common Core Math content.
The site-based Professional Learning Communities revolves around three big ideas: ensuring that the students are learning, a culture of collaboration, and a focus on improving student achievement. Trained PLC Leaders facilitate site-based collaborative meetings where teachers systematically engage in critical inquiry on the relationship between practice and student learning in an effort to better meet the needs of individual students as well as inform and improve upon individual and collective practice.
All of the middle schools and some of our elementary schools participated in collaborative planning days. These included investigating student work and understandings, lesson design, classroom observations, followed by a debriefing. PLC leaders then followed up the learning gained on these days to continue their work in their PLC meetings.
The Math Generation professional development model is based on the research and educational theory of generative change. The program is creating communities of site-based professional practice, where the building of knowledge becomes a function of the community and results in continuous school improvement.
Produced by the Elk Grove Unified School District & the Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium.