College of Science and Engineering

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Math team launches "SCSU: Supporting Teachers in Increasing Student Achievement in Mathematics"

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

As Minnesota’s K-12 teachers prepare to implement new state-mandated standards in mathematics, St. Cloud State University’s Department of Mathematics has geared up to help.

A series of three full-day workshops titled “SCSU: Supporting Teachers in Increasing Student Achievement in Mathematics” is being held in Sauk Centre, Cambridge and Rush City. Possibly 200 or more teachers from 14 school districts in those areas may be participating.

“The teachers will engage in actual lessons that can be used in the classrooms,” said Sonja Goerdt, a Department of Mathematics assistant professor. The workshop project was conceived last year after Goerdt was granted reassigned time to assess the needs of area school districts regarding the challenges of implementing the new standards and to determine how SCSU could help.

Scheduled for Mondays and Fridays, September through February, the workshops are conducted by two to three Department of Mathematics faculty members. Although six different sessions are offered -- three for middle school and three for high school -- all focus on strategies for teaching concepts listed in the algebra strand of the standards for grades 5-12. (To view Minnesota’s new K-12 math standards, go online to http://education.state.mn.us/mdeprod/groups/Standards/documents/Publication/031308.pdf

A former high school math teacher herself, Goerdt said administrators and teachers from area school districts as well as a team of five Department of Mathematics faculty members contributed to the development of the project, a process that is ongoing.

Goerdt said she and the team, Janis Cimperman, Sue Haller, Sandra Johnson and Cathy Wick (a retired faculty member), will continue to meet throughout the school year “to reflect on the evaluations from each session and to finalize the content of the upcoming sessions.”

The project is partially funded by the College of Science and Engineering and by a $1,200 fee charged to each participating school district. The districts’ fees entitle each to an algebra “kit” valued at $800. Demonstrated during the workshops, the kit consists of a classroom set of learning tools including algebra tiles and fraction circles.

“It will need to be shared by the teachers in the district, but will allow the teachers to implement the algebra lessons from the workshops,” Goerdt said.

For more information on the project, e-mail slgoerdt@stcloudstate.edu

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