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Perspectives on Deepening Teachers' Mathematics Content Knowledge: The Case of the Oregon Mathematics Leadership Institute


"The Oregon Mathematics Leadership Institute (OMLI) project served 180 Oregon teachers, and 90 administrators, across the K-12 grades from ten partner districts. OMLI offered a residential, three-week summer institute. Over the course of three consecutive summers, teachers were immersed in a total of six mathematics content classes--Algebra, Data & Chance, Discrete Mathematics, Geometry, Measurement & Change, and Number & Operations--along with an annual collegial leadership course. Each content class was designed and taught by a team of expert faculty from universities, community colleges, and K-12 districts. Each team chose a few "big ideas" on which to focus the course. For example, the Algebra team focused on algebraic structure and properties of the concept of a group, while the Data & Chance team centered their activities on the exploration of ideas of central tendency and variation using statistics and data analysis software packages. The content in all of the courses was addressed through deep investigation of the mathematics of tasks that had been selected and adapted from resources for K-12 mathematics classrooms. In addition to mathematics content, the courses were designed with specific attention to socio-mathematical norms, issues of status differences among learners, and the selection and implementation of group-worthy tasks for group work. The faculty attended sessions grounded in the work of Elizabeth Cohen on strategies for working with heterogeneous groups of learners (Cohen, 1994; Cohen et al, 1999) which was central to the OMLI design and implementation. Institute faculty modeled these strategies in the Institute classrooms and made their moves as transparent as possible, so that the teachers would be able to grapple with these strategies during the Institute and plan for implementation in their own classrooms. The Data & Chance course also modeled uses of technology in instruction using Tinkerplots. Generalization and justification were emphasized as mathematical ways of learning and knowing, and institute faculty conducted classroom discussions that intentionally modeled pushing for generalization and justification."

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