06/24/05 — Wayne elementary teachers sharpen math-class skills

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Wayne elementary teachers sharpen math-class skills

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on June 24, 2005 1:45 PM

Teachers in Wayne County Public Schools are discovering new ways to improve math instruction in elementary grades.

More than a dozen educators recently attended a class in algebraic reasoning for students in kindergarten through fifth grades, held at Goldsboro Middle School. The program was offered in conjunction with a grant from the N.C. Partnership for Improving Math and Science. It is designed to show teachers multiple ways to solve problems and how to better guide students in learning.

Michael Bosse, an associate professor in the Department of Math and Science at East Carolina University, led the class. He said in theory the class might sound advanced for younger children, but will prove beneficial throughout their school years.

"When students take ownership of their learning, it's more powerful," said Ann Price, a second grade teacher at Tommy's Road Elementary School. "This really produces life-long learners."

She said the goal for most teachers is to provide an "aha experience" for students so that they feel empowered to learn more.

The experiential learning opportunity sometimes means teachers must change their mindset toward students ability to discover concepts. For Holly Lewis, a third-grade teacher at Carver Heights Elementary School, the training provided a means to accomplish that.

"It's given me a way to have my kids discover solutions to problems more on their own," she said.

School officials say one of the strengths of the training is that it provides a direct link between the expertise of university faculty and school districts. Funding for the grant has enabled Wayne County Public Schools to identify two lead math teachers per elementary school and 10 secondary teachers for the county.

Joyce Cunningham, director of math and science in the school system, said the teachers also serve as on-site instruction leaders at their respective schools.

"These teachers are committed to a five-year plan of professional development that will enhance their teaching methods. Many are using the course work to fulfill the requirements of a Master's degree."

Because leadership instruction is an integral part of the program, the training equips teachers to effectively share knowledge with their counterparts.

"I am proud of the leadership shown by the lead math teachers," Mrs. Cunningham said. "They are responsible for delivering professional development to their peers on early dismissal days.

"It is exciting to work with the lead math teachers as they work to improve the mathematics program for our students. They are modeling the idea that teachers are life-long learners."