Interactive STEM Wins Grant to Expand Collaborative Work in Maine

Posted by Shanna Russ on May 3, 2017

The Interactive STEM team at EDC has been awarded a grant from the Maine Department of Education for the Mathematics and Science Partnerships (MSP) program to continue, sustain, and expand its work begun in Auburn, Maine to improve student learning of mathematics in the early grades across the state.

photo of Pam Buffington

Project lead Dr. Pam Buffington

For the past approximately three years, STEM education experts and researchers from EDC, the University of Southern Maine (USM), and the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) have collaborated with school teachers and administrators from the Auburn School Department to co-investigate how 1-1 mobile technology combined with research-based best practices improves mathematics learning and teaching in K-2 classrooms. The project’s overarching goal is to bring researchers and practitioners together to form collaborative partnerships aimed at improving STEM learning and teaching. Multiple sources of data show improvements in mathematics teaching and learning by participating teachers and students. More importantly, the potential for using mobile technology to promote increased opportunity for all students, including students who are English learners and students with special needs, to communicate mathematically and share their thinking, as well as to provide more equitable access to rich student data the technology provides to teachers, have been the collaborative’s paramount findings.

Highlighting its focus on collaboration, the EDC team worked together with partners in higher ed and in Auburn to write the proposal of this new phase expanding the work. Expanding to 22 primarily high-need elementary schools – including rural schools – and one additional grade, the team will work collaboratively to provide training for K-3 elementary teachers and special educators teaching mathematics, elementary teacher leaders, pre-service teachers at UMF and USM, and administrators focusing on the effective integration of technology in learning related to enduring mathematical practices and numeracy in early elementary grades.

Design team members, from left: Kelly McCormick, Associate Professor of Mathematics Education at USM; Dr. Meredith Swallow, Assistant Professor of Elementary Education at UMF; Shawn Towle, USM adjunct faculty member, grade 8 math teacher, and k-8 math consultant

The project, led by a design team, is concentrating on a sustained, hybrid PD program for nine cohorts of in-service teachers from districts across the state. The design team is composed of staff from all the primary MSP partner institutions: IHE partners Shannon Larson, Kelly McCormick, Meredith Swallow, and Shawn Towle; from ASD, teacher leaders Lisa Coburn, Colleen Henry, andTara Knight, and principalsMike Davis, Sue Doris, andLaura Shaw; and from EDC, Pam Buffington, Jill Neumayer DePiper, Catherine McCulloch, and Peter Tierney-Fife.

Participants at a recent training session led by design team members

Project activities will include developing leadership capacity of teacher leaders in ASD through mentorship from IHE and EDC partners and by co-facilitating PD. The project is also engaging administrators to support teachers and build sustainability, using project knowledge and resources in experiences for pre-service teachers at UMF and USM, and meeting the goals of ASD related to improving mathematics learning and teaching.

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