The Math Forum
15 August 1996

Grant Proposal

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VI. What We Will Do

B. Facilitating User Construction, Organization, Evaluation, and Use of Web Materials

For online resources to be more plentiful and more useful in the classroom, we need to learn how to involve increasing numbers of teachers, mathematicians, and others in shaping them. Archiving the activity of lively, focused communities has been a first step toward achieving this goal. In addition, many of our projects have been chosen because they offer opportunities to experiment with more directed efforts at resource creation. In order to explore how we might collaborate with commercial producers, we will arrange for teachers to interact online with the three curriculum projects and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards training program (see section C, below). Beyond the commercial realm, we have selected a representative set of contexts in which teachers and students are already engaged in creating or evaluating resources. These include internal curriculum review, summer professional development programs, school networking and reform efforts, and isolated individual pioneering efforts. Our challenge is to discover how best to support such efforts so that their work may be made available on the Internet.

In general we follow a team-based approach, linking teachers with mathematicians, Web page editors, and software programmers. The advent of interactive pages incorporating CGI and Java programming has greatly enhanced educational possibilities, but these new ways of presenting material19 have also increased the demand for support from teachers who can imagine exciting applications but have neither the time nor the programming skills to produce them. In addition to the Forum staff, some of the organizations with which the Forum is working have programmers able to address such needs, and sharing and disseminating these developments more widely will be an important element of the project.

Forum Teacher Associates. Through our advanced summer institutes and other outreach efforts we continue to cultivate a group of leading mathematics teachers who are interested in producing Internet materials and projects.(20) Our summer programs serve multiple functions. First, they are a mechanism by which, in a concentrated period of time, a number of materials production efforts are begun which we then support at a distance during the year. Second, after experimenting with an online component of our 1996 Advanced Summer Institute,(21) we see tremendous opportunities for the recording of onsite institute activity to serve as an ongoing training resource for ourselves and others.(22) In year one we will experiment with the development of online teams producing projects and creating materials to fill existing gaps in what is available on the Internet. This process will build toward a summer program where the materials development process of our onsite participants will be translated through the use of future interactive and page construction technologies into mechanisms that will facilitate the production of resources by other users who may not have the same training or technical background and support. In year two we will apply and disseminate successful models to other projects. We will also experiment with merit recognition programs to encourage other teachers on the Internet to contribute. In year three we will evaluate the results of these efforts and locate commercial and non-profit institutions to sustain them.

Finally, our Forum Teacher Associates will also help with the dissemination and scaling up of our training by themselves conducting workshops. In the first year we will add a training of trainers element to our advanced summer program, and we will support trainers in following years in raising funds and conducting their own summer programs.

Systemic initiatives and reform. Two of the teacher groups with which we will be working, BBN's National School Network and the Union City schools , were selected because of their focus on integrating Internet resources into the local curriculum and knowledge infrastructure and on contributing locally produced materials. These contexts will form a major focal point of our experiments in providing curricular coherence and ranking to the increasing array of online resources. In addition, because both projects are involved in systemic initiatives, these collaborations will incorporate dissemination and scaling components. BBN in particular will work with the Forum in years two and three through a subcontract to help train trainers, disseminate viable models to other school districts, and develop a business plan for sustaining the work. (See the attached letter of support from BBN for more detail.)

The Union City School District in New Jersey has been working with EDC's Center for Children and Technology, and the Union City social studies and language arts curricula are already Web-infused. The Math Forum will conduct workshops at Union City during late winter and early spring of 1997 to introduce potential lead high school teachers to the uses of the Internet for math education and the possibilities for constructing resources to meet the needs of their classrooms. The Union City School District serves a primarily low-income, Spanish-speaking population and is receiving significant funding for computers and telecommunication. We will also offer a summer workshop in conjunction with EDC, to begin the development of Union City's Web math curricula and bring lead teachers to the point where they can create resources of their own and participate in Internet exchanges. After the summer of '97 we will create online support environments to work with the lead teachers during the school year in order to help them carry out their plans for classroom integration and student and district Internet exchanges, and to keep them abreast of new developments. We will also support lead teachers in conducting local workshops to introduce other teachers to our joint work and the benefits of Internet use. In 1998 we will focus on elementary teachers in the district. In 1999, as the trained teachers and personnel in the district assume more responsibility for conducting workshops and developing materials, our involvement will be reduced to assisting with special projects and dissemination efforts.

Our work with NSN will be similar to that with Union City. Three schools within the National School Network Testbed have been identified to participate fully in the development and testing of the Forum. These schools have already established the technological prerequisites and math reform priorities necessary to place them in a state of readiness for this next stage. In the first year we will help them define their schools' requirements for content, organization, tools, mechanisms, and user interface in the context of their existing standards, mathematics curriculum, learning resources, assessments, and teacher development. We will accomplish this by conducting workshops for lead teachers and setting up appropriate online followup support. As the collaboration evolves in years two and three, the materials and programs produced by the selected testbed schools will be part of the distributed resources offered by the Forum and NSN to their wider communities. The NSN will work with the Math Forum to research the process by which teachers and schools institutionalize their use of Math Forum resources in the curriculum and together we will build the local information infrastructure necessary to support this effort.

Professional development. The other focal group of teachers with which we will work is represented by the three professional development organizations running summer programs in Princeton, NJ: the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Computer Science (DIMACS),(7) the IAS/Park City Mathematics Institute (PCMI),(8) and the Woodrow Wilson National Leadership Program for Teachers (WWNLPT).(9) These programs offer high quality mathematics to the high school math teacher, and our collaboration will provide an excellent opportunity to bring their materials and projects online while creating a virtual community to sustain the momentum and collegiality of the summer work during the school year. We have subcontracted with these organizations to hire a local programmer, develop Web pages, and support teacher participation throughout the year. The Math Forum will engage project liaison staff to work with these and other partners to facilitate collaboration and integrate the Forum's Internet education and site design experience into their programs. In years two and three we will focus our attention on training lead teachers as trainers and supporting their efforts to conduct their own programs. (See the attached letter of support for more details on these collaborations.)

LITMUS 2000 Project: Georgia Partnerships for Local Systemic Reform of Mathematical Education with Technology , will build a cadre of about 225 Leader Teachers during the summers of 1997 and 1998. The project will then use these Leader Teachers to mentor some 2000 Partner Teachers, with the goal of planning for systemic improvement in the school mathematics curriculum. The Forum will use this collaboration to learn about scaling up professional development services and will support the project in creating a Web site for followup on its summer workshops. The LITMUS project also wishes to offer inservice activities around the same curriculum development projects with which we plan to work (see curriculum projects in section C below). We will provide a subcontract for partial funding of a technology and online support person (1/2 for year one, 1/3 for year two, 1/4 for year three, where LITMUS 2000 funds the remaining portions of the full-time salary). This staff member will first come to Swarthmore for training and then see to the substantial demands for providing Internet support to this group. We will also send one of our workshop leaders to Georgia for four days each summer to work with the support person and others to develop trainers who can help teachers learn about using the Internet for mentoring and curriculum reform. (For further details see the accompanying subcontract.)

We have also been approached by the Exxon Education Foundation to explore support of their IMPACT program.

Online Internet Institute (OII). OII is a nationwide effort to create an online environment where teachers who wish to learn how to use the Internet can follow paths and resources laid down by others through the use of mentoring and team-based approaches. We are a partner in this enterprise, supplying Internet math expertise. Through a mentoring project liaison we will actively facilitate the integration of our respective training models, resource databases, community building strategies, and mentoring programs.

College and university contributions. Good exemplars of Web pages that exploit hypermedia for pedagogy are sometimes more easily produced at the college level. Klotz has made available some examples having to do with vectors(23) and several variable calculus.(24) In order to investigate college sources for materials we propose a Swarthmore Web Units project, to produce exemplary pages at the college level but with special attention to pages that could also be used at the high school level (as is the case with our vectors pages). We will employ two students part-time during the academic year and full-time during summers. Professors Todd Drumm and Michael Catalano-Johnson of the Swarthmore College Department of Mathematics will direct this effort. In years two and three of the project we will also begin to disseminate this model to other university and college math departments.

Student involvement. Many students are gravitating to Web technology and are well-suited to developing it. We propose setting up a group of Forum Student Webmasters to manage discussion groups for questions dealing with math Web sites and pages, maintain lists of sites and pages that students find particularly interesting, and generally help teachers and other students. Steve Means, a Forum Teacher Associate at Sammamish High School in Bellevue, Washington,(25) will head this project for us. He has been working with a lively group of students that has received support from Microsoft and others for Internet projects. There are also interested students at a number of other schools such as Union City, and we have been approached by volunteers via the Internet. We hope to form a core group and demonstrate its efficacy during year one of the grant, refine and develop the idea as needed in year two, and in year three to turn it over to NCTM or some other more specifically student-oriented math project. We expect students who will become involved to learn a lot of mathematics, and plan to connect this project to the ThinkQuest contest, which actively encourages such efforts.

Developing our Resource Center. Part of our effort to facilitate user generation and evaluation of materials is aimed at improving the quality of site presentation of resources. In addition to continuing the work of annotating and cataloguing Internet resources, the Forum Web site needs to improve its underlying database structure so that pages can be easily assembled 'on the fly' according to the needs of the users or the managers of the site, and elements can be readily added and modified without having to search out the many pages that will be affected. One element currently being integrated into this effort is the ability to assign values to resources and to incorporate associated user annotations so that the better materials can be easily selected for a given purpose. Furthermore, as we cultivate partners who can take responsibility for particular topics, as Jim King is about to do with Dynamic Geometry, we expect to distribute the tasks of developing areas of the resource center.

The Eisenhower National Clearinghouse maintains a Web site(26) that goes much further than most in meeting teacher needs for Web materials. For example, their Online Documents section(27) includes curriculum support materials, state curriculum frameworks, and journal articles. The ENC also has a wonderfully constructed searchable catalog of curriculum resources that is indexed by the NCTM Standards as well as grade level and topic.(28) As noted in section A, we will work with ENC by means of an Eisenhower Intern who will help us jointly explore issues of interoperability, ease of use, and the generation of pedagogically sound paths through Web materials.

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The Math Forum is a research and educational enterprise of the Drexel University School of Education.The Math Forum is a research and educational enterprise of the Drexel University School of Education.
15 August 1996