Joined by guest speaker Bill Ayers, the Collaborative welcomed teachers in the eight schools in the Innovations project to present, collaborate, and celebrate their achievements of the last three years of the initiative. The event held on June 16th, 2014 included workshops and poster presentations created by participating teachers, all aimed at highlighting the gradual but real-world shifts in practice that have been occurring.
Using foundational math concepts that have been discussed in previous years, workshops and teacher-created presentations focused on shifting from mere activities to encouraging and influencing deeper math thinking in the pre-k to third grade classrooms they are in. Workshops conducted included titles such as “What’s the Buzz? Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions in Your Classroom” and “Getting the Most Out of the Landscape of Learning.”
Speaking at the event was Dr. William Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago (retired). Among the thoughts he conveyed was encouraging teachers to use the “wisdom in the room”. This sentiment speaks to both teachers collaborating with each other, as well as teachers respecting children’s thinking in the classroom.
With two years of data on the intervention, the Collaborative has found that schools have substantially raised students’ math achievement.
“We have begun to see the effects of our work on children’s learning,” said Jennifer McCray, director of the Collaborative. “Both in terms of math achievement specifically and as reflected on the ISAT, children in Innovations schools are making clear and significant strides.”
All teachers in grades pre-k through third in these schools participate in ongoing learning labs at Erikson, receive individual coaching around mathematics instruction, and join in monthly math-focused meetings with other teachers in their grade level. The project also includes periodic Leadership Academy meetings, in which principals and assistant principals come to Erikson to learn about what their teachers are studying. Over 120 teachers at these schools are participating in this ongoing program.