EDUCATION 499:                 Special Topics in Education: Teaching Mathematics in Context at the Middle School

                                                    Summer 2003

INSTRUCTORS:                     Claudia Carter, MA; Bobby Jarrell, MS; Nancy MacNeill, Ph.D.; Jack Carter, MA

  • Office: Hooper Science Building
  • Phone: 329-7360 email: ccarter or bjarrell, or jcarter or
  • Campus Address: P. O. Box W-1627. Columbus, 39701
  • Office Hours: Posted and by appointment
  • TEXT:

    Spelling, Ph.D., Abraham & Monroe Stuart. ( ) Mathematics Made Simple 5th ed

    Breeden, Terry and Kathryn Dillard. ( ) The Middle School Mathematician

    (Many other resources will be used throughout the course.)


    Three semester hours undergraduate or graduate credit. This course will be used to address major topics and issues of interest and need in the field of education. Extended studies will be conducted in professional development areas affecting the role of school in society.


    Throughout the state of Mississippi, a need exists to develop strategies for teaching mathematics that will result in a greater student understanding of mathematical concepts and higher scores in mathematics on standardized tests. In addition, this need calls for action research, conducted by teachers in their classrooms, to determine which strategies are most effective for their students. Finally, teachers need to communicate the results of this research to other teachers in the state and the nation.

    Middle School Mathematics in Context (MSMIC) is a four-week summer program with follow-up components during the school year that addresses these needs in several ways:

    By having participants spend two weeks reviewing and re-learning mathematics’ concepts through problem-solving activities, the use of computer software, the practice of writing about mathematics, and the integration of mathematics with other subject areas;

    By teaching participants how to use action research to determine whether the strategies they are using in their classrooms are effective in increasing student performance;

    By having participants share their understanding through power point presentations and a website.

    Participants’ work will be evaluated through their written curriculum units, journals, videos, and power point presentations. The effectiveness of the project will be determined by the results of the action research studies. Will the achievement of participants’ students increase?

    Middle School Mathematics in Context (MSMIC) will build on the strengths of The Math Connection, the four-week project that was funded with money from the Eisenhower Foundation. Added to these strategies will be the action research component, enabling participants to document the effectiveness of their teaching.



    1. To demonstrate an understanding of key mathematical concepts developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) [e.g., problem-solving, connections, patterns and relationships, geometry, and measurement.

    Participants, in small groups, will create a power point presentation about one of the above concepts. This presentation will be shared with the entire group and can be used for in-service presentations at their schools or at a state conference.

    2. To create and implement a mathematics curriculum unit that integrates science, writing, and the arts.

    By the end of the four week summer session, each participant will complete a five-lesson unit that is based on a scientific problem, includes students’ writing about mathematics, and links mathematical concepts with one of the arts (e.g., musical notation, fractal geometry). During the following Fall semester, each participant will videotape him/herself teaching one lesson of the unit.

    3. To document their students’ meaningful improvement on grade-level test of mathematics skills and content.

    As part of their unit, participants will create a pre/post assessment that can be used to document change in student understanding of mathematics content and ability to use mathematical tools.

    4. To design and implement an action-based research project.

    After attending sessions on action-based research during the summer, participants will write a proposal  for an action-based research project related to their unit.

    5. To create mathematics curriculum units that incorporate standards in the Mississippi Mathematics Framework.

    All curriculum units will include references to applicable Mississippi Mathematics Framework standards.

    6. To create an interactive website where they share curriculum units and exchange ideas.

    As part of the four week summer session, participants will create a website. As part of the follow-up component of this project, participants will be required to use the website on a regular basis (at least once a week during the Fall semester).

    7. To demonstrate an ability to use computers and other technology to enhance student learning.

    Participants’ curriculum units will include the use of technology. During the four-week summer  project, participants will be required to demonstrate an ability to load, use, and critique at least four mathematics software programs.


    Participants will use technology throughout the summer course. They will become familiar with web searches, available data sites, state and national standards, and lesson resources pertinent to the mathematics they are teaching. They will utilize mathematical software, graphing calculators and web page software. They will also evaluate web sites and educational software.


    As part of this course, participants will develop strategies to meet the needs of students with diverse backgrounds, abilities and learning styles.


    An Integrated Mathematics Curriculum will have several components:

    Participants will take part in a four-week program of instruction in teaching mathematics that during the month of June, 2003.

    During the first two weeks of the summer program, participants will become students, learning more about mathematics concepts. Methods of instruction will include using concrete objects to teach abstract concepts, interdisciplinary learning, writing about mathematics, using mathematics to solve real world problems, and using technology to teach mathematical concepts.

    During the third and fourth weeks, participants will work in collaborative groups to create curriculum units and to create a power point presentation on one of the concepts they studied during the first two weeks. They will also study how to conduct action research and will write an action research proposal.

    During the last day of the fourth week, participants will share their units and power point presentations with their peers and invited guests.

    During the four-week summer session, participants will be required to maintain a notebook of what they have learned. In addition, they will be asked to complete a "exit poll" biweekly in which they critique what they liked best and least about the activities.

    There will be three follow-up components of the program:

    Participants will videotape themselves teaching a lesson from their curriculum. This videotape will be sent to instructors along with a written reflection that follows the format used for National Board certification;

    Participants will attend a Saturday sharing and debriefing session in November and March;

    Participants and instructors will create and interact on an Integrated Mathematics Curriculum website and through course developed on line with WebCT that will continue after the completion of the program. Participants will place their units on the website so that other teachers can download and use them. The website will also include a listserv on which participants can share ideas, problems, and suggestions during the year. Participants’ participation in this listserv will be monitored for quantity and quality of comments.


    Project Evaluation:





    Power Point Presentation

    Does the presentation reflect a deep understanding of mathematical concepts?


    Five Lesson Unit and Videotape

    Do the lesson plans integrate mathematics with other subject areas?

    Does the video match the lesson plans?


    Pre/post Assessment

    Is there a meaningful increase in students’ understanding of mathematics?


    Research Proposal

    Is the research proposed feasible?


    Curriculum Units

    Do the lessons include reference to the related Mississippi Framework standard(s)?



    Is the website used on a regular basis by participants?



    Has each participant used and critiqued four computer software programs?


    Teaching strategies and integrating mathematics with other disciplines

    Have participants completed each assignment given throughout the course which demonstrates mathematical content encompassing new strategies and approaches?
    Evaluation of the Project by Participants

    a. brief "exit polls"

    b. participant notebooks

    c. written evaluation at the end of the summer and during the following spring.

    d. Pre/post content test and attitude survey

    e. Dissemination

    Did the participants demonstrate a greater understanding of mathematics content and strategies at the end of the program?

    Did the participants perceive that they had increased their ability to teach mathematics content?

    All participants will be encouraged to submit proposals to present at state conferences and to present their power point presentation with the faculty in their school. Project faculty will share the results of the project at state and national conferences.


    GRADING: A 90% B 80% C 70% D 60%