A Systems Approach to Professional Development in Mathematics

The systems approach to teaching and learning informs all of CRDG’s work, but it is perhaps best exemplified in the professional development work conducted by the mathematics faculty. Within their projects, the research and professional development are so intertwined, with one project leading into the next, it is hard to tease out beginnings and endings. Curriculum research projects conducted over the past several years have provided contexts for numerous short-term professional development sessions, which have led to requests for new extended or expanded professional development.

The long-term professional development at Stevenson Middle School is an example of this approach. The Stevenson project uses the lesson study method to get teachers thinking about how students learn and how to structure their “research lessons” in ways that allow teachers to reflect on teaching and learning and the connection between them. What began as a district-wide professional development program that the Stevenson mathematics teachers attended expanded first into a whole-school program at Stevenson, and then expanded again in 2010 to include teachers and principals at two of its feeder elementary schools. Having the whole school as well as teachers from the feeder schools involved means that teachers can support each other in their learning, and students can become familiar and comfortable with the approach from year to year. The program has allowed Stevenson Middle School to slowly reorganize their school to eliminate grouping and teach the same rich curriculum to all students.

Another long-term project the mathematics faculty has been engaged in is a whole-school professional development effort at Blanche Pope Elementary School. This year, with support from the Harold L. Castle Foundation, the school purchased classroom sets of calculators for every class in grades one through six. The latest efforts in this long-term whole-school professional development offered teachers work on both the lesson study method and on using the new TI calculators, while providing summer enrichment for students. Both non-graphing and graphing calculators were introduced during the session where CRDG staff worked with the teachers, who then taught the lessons using the calculators to students entering grade 6.

The FANC project (page 20) and the KARES project (page 16) provide further examples of this approach to systematic professional development. Kalākaua Middle School obtained the TI-Navigator equipment while working with CRDG on the FANC project, and the whole mathematics staff is now involved in further research and professional development on the fundamentals of formative assessment using the TI-Navigator system. Likewise, the KARES project grew out of a district-wide professional development session and is now a whole-school approach that uses research done in the Measure Up program, with the goal of preparing all students at Kapālama Elementary School to be algebra ready when they leave the elementary school.

Professional development projects in mathematics took place in approximately twenty-five schools statewide in 2010. Many projects worked with small groups of teachers. But it is the whole school approach that is emerging as the most effective and preferred model.

Community Partners

CRDG mathematics professional development projects worked with faculty from these schools in 2010.

  • Mānoa Elementary School
  • Noelani Elementary Schools
  • Kapālama Elementary School
  • Blanche Pope Elementary School
  • Stevenson Middle School
  • Dole Middle School
  • Kalākaua Middle School
  • Washington Middle School
  • Mililani Middle School
  • Moanalua Middle School
  • Wahiawā Middle School
  • Wai‘anae Intermediate School
  • Nānākuli Intermediate School
  • Lokelani Intermediate School
  • Kawānanakoa Middle School
  • Kailua Intermediate School
  • Kahuku Intermediate School
  • Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School
  • Kapolei Middle School
  • Waipahu Intermediate School
  • Moanalua High School
  • Mililani High School
  • Waipahu High School
  • Farrington High School
  • Castle High School
  • Pearl City High School
  • Roosevelt High School
  • Kailua High School
  • Leilehua High School
  • University Laboratory School
  • Connections Public Charter School
  • Kula Kaiāpuni ‘o Ānuenue
  • Ke Ana La‘ahana Public Charter School
  • ‘Iolani School