Texas Education Agency Awards Partnership Grant
Dr. Craig McCarron of the Curriculum and Instruction Department is the Project Director of a new grant, which was funded by the Texas Education Agency. This grant, entitled "Secondary Mathematics Teacher Support Program," is a prime example of what Colleges of Education should be about. Simply because ISDs must be fiscal agents for grants of this nature, that does not mean that faculty from the College of Education should not spearhead proposals for the schools.
For this proposal, the College of Education formed partnerships with O’Donnell ISD, Lubbock-Cooper ISD, Slaton ISD, and Seagraves ISD and with the Department of Mathematics at Texas Tech. The school systems have the teachers who need to be supported, but it is the faculty like Dr. McCarron who have the expertise to provide that support.
This $250K grant provided the funds for a two-week summer institute for secondary mathematics teachers from the ISDs mentioned above and will continue with a follow up program during the 2011-2012 school year.
The theme of the summer institute was "When are we ever going to use this?" The mathematicians introduced advanced topics like graph theory, linear programming, and nonEuclidean geometry, while industry experts explained how these concepts are applied. Guest speakers included a TxDot engineer (planning a project using CPM), a JB Hunt logistics engineer (how to optimize trucking assignments), Lubbock's storm water engineer (how water runoff is computed), Atmos Energy engineers (planning for natural gas delivery), and a meteorologist.
The focus was on the "knowledge structures" of successful mathematics teachers. The teaching professional has to "think on his/her feet" much more than nearly every other profession. The teacher has to adapt to students and their questions; a nicely prepared lesson is not enough. Effective teachers have a deep understanding of the content and a variety of ways to represent the concepts.
The goal of the grant is to equip mathematics teachers with greater content knowledge and connect that knowledge in multiple ways to their daily teaching and their daily lives.