Margaret Honey will be speaking at the Geometry Forum Institute next week. Here's some of what she has to say about what she's been doing:
The Mathematics Learning Forums Project
Project Description: The Mathematics Learning Forums Project, funded by the Annenberg/CPB Math and Science Projects, is a collaborative partnership between Bank Street's Center for Children and Technology (CCT) and Graduate School of Education, and the Learning Link National Consortium tLLNC). At the heart of a Bank Street graduate education is the advisement process. Advisement is designed as a multifaceted process which enables students to integrate the study of theory with practice in a reflective and self conscious fashion. Each student works with a faculty advisor and a small group of students in a number of different ways, one of which involves weekly conference group meetings in which students collaborate on understanding the challenging issues that face them as educators in their field placements. The process encourages students to develop personal knowledge that is connected to their educational practice, and to issues in educational research and reform.
The Mathematics Learning Forum's project will expand the Bank Street advisement model through the use of telecommunications seminars designed to engage teachers (grades K-8) in reflective and instructive conversations about content, learning, teaching, and assessment issues in mathematics. Employing a combination of computer-based communication, print, and video tape, the Bank Street's graduate school will offer 24 different on-line seminars. Elementary and middle school math teachers around the country can take these forums for graduate credit, inservice credit, or personal enrichment. Each forum will last six to eight weeks.
Each forum will be introduced and illustrated with print and video clips from existing sources. The video tapes will give teachers a vivid picture of the aspects of teaching about which they are learning. Other forum activities include intensive, guided conversation on the Learning Link telecommunications network. In these on-line conversations, faculty will guide their teacher-students as they try new activities and techniques in their classes and help one another reflect on the meaning of those experiences. Teachers will also be provided with print materials and an extensive on-line database of relevant video, print and software. The database will also contain reflective papers by teachers who have taken forurns. As the years go by, each forum will become a repository of information about the experiences and thoughts of teachers.
Topics of the 24 planned forums fall into four categories:
l) Content (e.g., "Estimation," "Statistics and Probability");
2) Teaching (e.g., "Manipulatives and Real World Devices," "Technological Tools: Calculators and Computers");
3) Learning ("Understanding Diversity: individual, Cultural and Gender Differences," "Identifying and Working with Special Needs Kids."); and
4) Assessment (e.g., "Questioning Techniques and Strategies," "Performance Assessment").
In each category, at least two forums will be developed around topics of interest to teachers in grades K-4 and at least two for teachers in grades 5-8.
The service will grow from 16 forums serving up to 256 teachers in year 2, its first full year of operation, to 24 forums serving up to 768 teachers per year in year 5. After year 3, the final year of funding, the service is planned to be self sustaining.
Other colleges and universities can adapt Bank Street materials or develop their own, comparable programs in mathematics.
Activities and Products: Each forum begins with the introduction of new ideas, described and illustrated with print and video, and then plunges quickly into activities that the teachers try in their own classes. These experiences in turn spark discussion and reflective writing.
Each forum will have its own set of text materials: original sources, references, students assignments, and, after the forum has been run once, a growing store of student essays on their experiences trying out and adapting basic forum ideas and materials to their own classes.
In addition, each forum will be anchored with a video tape. The tape will include one or more clips from existing video materials. Among the sources that are committed to providing no-cost use of their video: Marilyn Bums (innovative approaches to teaching mathematics); Bob Davis and Carolyn Maher (tapes shot in classrooms that illustrate long term development of math abilities in selected children); Herbert Ginsburg (clinical interviews demonstrating development of children's math ability); Constance Kamii (tapes illustrating effective teaching strategies, children's thought processes, and the importance of social interaction); Kathy Richardson (assessment techniques and other topics); and Square One Television video. In addition to material chosen specifically for each forum, each tape will include a segment orienting students to the forum's style of study and to the use of Learning Link.
The initial set of forums will be developed and also taught by graduate faculty at Bank Street. After year two, adjunct staff will be hired and trained to lead the forums, using the materials already developed by Bank Street. Most of these advisors will be drawn from current Bank Street programs. Training will be offered at Bank Street during the summer.
Timeline: During year one, 16 forums will be designed and their materials and databases prepared for use. Focus groups will be convened to discuss the proposed topics for the first forums and to suggest alternatives. A training video about Learning Link will also be developed. Rough cuts of all videos will be subjected to formative evaluation, using working teachers; their feedback will also be used to develop guidelines for the advisors who will teach the forums, and to gather ideas for the flnal eight forums to be developed as part of this project. Research tools for evaluating the actual forurns will also be created in the first year. Final tuition prices will also be set at this time.
In year two, Bank Street will begin offering its 16 forums, testing each one twice, and gathering student data to improve the forum design. The on-line databases will be loaded with curricular materials, research findings, information about technology-based programs, and student essays. Teacher produced video will also be solicited from this first generation of students. A national video-conference, a new brochure, and a new videotape will be produced to aid recruitment, and distributed over SERC or a comparable network. A three-day sumrner institute will be held at Bank Street to train to train 25 adjunct staff who will take over the forurns in year three.
In year three, the learning forums will be offered on a subscription basis as the program and its marketing go into full operation. In addition eight more forums will be developed and tested.
The first nationwide implementation of the Learning Forums will begin in September, 1994.
For more information contact:
Margaret Honey Associate Director Center for Children and Technology 610 West 112th Street New York, NX 10025 phone: 212/875-4568 fax: 212/875-4760 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org