While standards-based reform has brought increased rigor and quality into mathematics education, those reforms have not been fully available to students with physical, developmental, sensory, and learning disabilities. Part of this situation stems from teachers not being well prepared to implement standards-based mathematics education with students having different needs, capabilities, and learning styles.
To address this professional development gap, CCT collaborated with Bank Street College of Education to develop case-based materials targeted at better preparing teachers to support individual students, including those with disabilities, within a standards-based math curriculum. The project operated under the assumption that this approach would benefit all students for two reasons. Instructional strategies and approaches that have been shown to work well for students with disabilities also work very well for general education students. In addition, learning about how different students approach and solve mathematics problems helps teachers deepen their content knowledge and instructional flexibility.
The project consisted of four major activities:
- Teacher educators from Bank Street's Graduate School, in collaboration with staff members from CCT, developed five modules of professional development materials. Each module consists of at least two three-hour multimedia case studies of teaching events involving students with disabilities in mathematics classrooms as well as activities that guide users in their interaction with the case materials. We also developed a facilitator guidebook to support the integration of the teaching cases into pre-service teacher education courses and in-service professional development programs.
- The electronic case materials and curriculum activities were incorporated and pilot tested in several pre-service and in-service teacher education courses at Bank Street College, including the online Mathematics Learning Forums, and revised based on the results of the pilot tests.
- The case materials and learning activities were field tested in a variety of different pre-service and in-service teacher education programs to document their impact on teachers' knowledge, skill and classroom practices.
- The multimedia cases and curriculum activities were published and broadly disseminated through workshops and online courses for teacher educators from around the country.
The focus in this project was on general and special education teachers at the elementary level (grades PreK-6).
The project team designed the multimedia materials and learning activities based on teacher professional development best practices, building on key components of Bank Street's overall approach to professional development as well as incorporating elements of Japanese lesson study. The case materials highlight mathematics content and student learning in relation to it. Each case study focuses on one of the five NCTM content standards (number and operations, algebra, geometry, measurement, data analysis and probability) and integrates one or more of the five process standards (problem solving, reasoning and proof, communication, connections, and representation). Each case study highlights key issues that need to be addressed in broadening the preparation of teachers and that lend themselves well to inquiry into teaching and learning, such as:
- Understanding how different learners think and learn
- Organizing content based on students' needs and strengths
- Selecting teaching and learning strategies based on individual students' needs and strengths
- Choosing instructional materials for diverse learners
- Assessing diverse learners
Project Website: Math for All