The proposed project will build on the success of the M3 project (funded by the U.S. Department of Education) to produce and disseminate K-2 curriculum materials for promoting students' high-level mathematical thinking and competence on the basis of research finding and national standards. Two replacement units of about 4-5 lessons each, one unit on geometry and one on measurement, will be developed, field tested, and revised by a collaborative, cross-disciplinary team (including teachers) and published by Kendal-Hunt. Curricular materials, available in both English and Spanish, will focus on promising discourses of hands-on inquiry of rich problem-situations, presented in real-world and/or scientific contexts, and while utilizing technology. These units will be accompanied with professional development guides and materials for use by trainers of elementary mathematics teachers to promote mathematics content and pedagogical knowledge that teachers need to implement the units with fidelity. Annual professional development models will consist of a one-week summer institute followed by three one-day workshops during the academic year and through a weekly visit to the classroom of field-test teachers. Field-testing will be conducted in 14 classrooms in three different states (CT, KY, and TX), including research, by an external evaluator, about the impact of the materials on student outcomes and on teacher perspectives and practices. Dissemination will include publication of student materials in print and on the web, as well as newsletters and family nights/meals to actively engage parents in their children's math learning.
Project M2 is a 5-year National Science Foundation research study focused on developing, field-testing, and publishing advanced geometry and measurement units for students in Kindergarten, Grade 1, and Grade 2. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) position statement on Early Childhood Mathematics affirms that "a high-quality, challenging, and accessible mathematics education provides early childhood learners with a vital foundation for future understanding of mathematics." It is essential to enhance learning in the early grades if we intend to achieve more ambitious goals at the upper grades where U.S. students are considerably behind. This lag is clearly evidenced repeatedly over time on assessments such as those used in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. Measurement and geometry are areas of particular concern. U.S. student performance has been consistently low in these areas and at times has been the lowest among all participating countries. In response to this need, Project M2 was developed. The main goal of the project is to help primary students learn more complex geometry and measurement concepts in depth and to prepare them for greater achievement at higher levels. This emphasis is reflected in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for Mathematics that list geometry and/or measurement as critical areas at each of the primary grade levels. In addition, the Project M2 curriculum focuses on students thinking and acting in ways similar to practicing mathematicians as advocated by the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice. Project M2 places a strong emphasis on mathematical communication both in classroom discussions and in studentsâ€™ written responses to open-ended questions to help develop a deep understanding of high-level mathematical concepts. Project M2 is built upon the success of Project M3: Mentoring Mathematical Minds, a U.S. Department of Education grade 3-5 advanced curriculum study conducted by the researchers. Studies investigating the Project M3 curriculum found statistically significant gains on open-response, criterion-referenced and standardized mathematics tests for students studying this curriculum. There are a total of 6 units, one each of geometry and measurement at each of grades K, 1 and 2. A unit consists of a Teacherâ€™s Guide, a Student Mathematicianâ€™s Journal, a Teacher Resource Package and a Materials Kit. A team of national experts in mathematics education, gifted education, and early childhood education wrote these units. The curriculum is challenging and is differentiated to accommodate a range of studentsâ€™ abilities, interests, and prior experiences. Each unit was first pilot tested, revised and then field tested in 12 classrooms in urban and suburban schools across the country. In effect, the curriculum is raising the bar for what students are capable of understanding at these grade levels. Students at each grade using the curriculum had statistically significant gains from pre to post testing on each individual unit assessment, an Open-Response Assessment to measure geometry and measurement concepts, and the mathematics section of the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS). Using hierarchical linear modeling, the Project M2 students also significantly outperformed the comparison group of similar students on the Open-Response Assessment with large effect sizes. In addition on the mathematics section of the ITBS, Project M2 students performed as well as the comparison group in grades 1 and 2 and significantly outperformed the Kindergarten comparison group. Results have been published in the Spring 2013 editions of the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education and Gifted Child Quarterly and can also be found in more detail on the project website, www.projectm2.uconn.edu. The website also features descriptions of the content in each unit, video clips of classroom lessons and other mathematics resources and information for teachers, parents and students. Dissemination efforts include presentations by the authors and the Project M2 team at over 70 conferences and professional development workshops as well as several published articles, including three in the NCTM Journal Teaching Children Mathematics. The Project M2 units have won the National Association for Gifted Childrenâ€™s Distinguished Curriculum Award in 2010, 2011, and 2012 are commercially available through Kendall Hunt Publishing Company (www.kendallhunt.com). As of August 2013, the curriculum units have been in use in 41 states and 4 foreign countries.