This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will study the innovative combination of today?s social/interactive media, online communities of practice (CoPs), and media-based case studies to engage middle school mathematics teachers in online professional experiences that develop their capacity to use rubrics to assess their students? critical thinking and problem solving (CT&PS) skills. Reports indicate that 15-year-olds in the U.S. scored 24th out of the 28 OECD nations on the 2006 PISA mathematics tests, and 29th on the 2003 problem solving assessments, clearly indicates there is a strong need for U. S. middle school mathematics teachers to approach CT&PS in mathematics in new ways. The research objective is to leverage this online venue into an interactive, professional community of practice and learning system where middle school teachers learn to translate the CT&PS in the Grades 6-7 statistics and probability section of the Common Core Mathematics Standards into rubrics to guide their everyday lesson design and assessment of student work. The anticipated technical results are: increased expertise among middle school mathematics teachers as to how to integrate and assess critical thinking and problem solving using performance assessments based on rubrics aligned to the Common Core. In addition, teachers will acquire experience and expertise in effectively participating in CoPs for professional learning.
The broad impact/commercial potential of this project lies in its capacity to scale up ? to reach thousands of teachers through a new venue for professional learning ? AND its innovative, yet practical approach to a topic of significance to U.S. economic competitiveness ? critical thinking and problem solving (CT&PS) in mathematics. (To be expanded to other grade levels, and content areas in subsequent phases.) AP21 provides three critical elements for high impact professional learning: 1) Research-based professional development on rubrics and CT&PS in mathematics, 2) Practical, collegial, interactive learning based on case studies in real classrooms, and 3) An open online environment where teachers collaboratively build their own rubrics, design/critique their own lessons, and collaboratively assess their own students? work. Thousands of schools are interested in CT&PS, but few are sure how to implement and assess these skills. What they do know is that a one-day workshop won?t be sufficient. Potential AP21 customers include: individual teachers, cohorts of teachers, whole schools/districts moving toward systemic change, and colleges of education. The project would contribute to the knowledge base in leveraging online, social networking environments for large scale professional learning that results in shifts in classroom practices.
(1) Project Outcomes: Metiri Group developed a Professional Development Portal for Middle School Mathematics Teachers. It addressed critical thinking by grade 6 and 7 students in the context of the Common Core Standards of Probability and Statistics. The portal leverages social media, online learning, and media-based case studies of two Grade 6 and 7 units. The units were designed as authentic, problem-based learning units by teachers in Chicago Public Schools and Richland Bean-Blossom School District (IN). The portal provides complete case studies of the implementation of the units, including lesson design, rubrics, videos, student blogs, teacher blogs, examples of student work, and the assessment of the student work by experts who applied the rubrics. It provides opportunities for teams to develop inter rater reliability. The IB supplement enabled Metiri to develop rubrics for all elements of critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity. (2) Intellectual Merit. This portal leverages todayâ€™s social/interactive media, online communities of practice (CoPs), and media-based case studies to engage middle school mathematics teachers in online professional experiences that develop their capacity to use rubrics to assess their studentsâ€™ critical thinking skills in the context of the Mathematics Common Core State Standards. Given that the majority of states are transitioning to the MCCSS, and internationally 15-year-olds in the U.S. are not competitive with peers from other OECD nations on problem solving, this project represents an important element in the professional learning required of all middle school mathematics teachers. The portal enables them to "look under the hood" to see how middle school teachers like them are making the transition to MCCSS and addressing critical thining with students. (3) Broader Potential. The broad impact of Metiriâ€™s portal lies in its capacity to scale up – to reach thousands of teachers through a new venue for professional learning – AND its innovative, yet practical approach to a topic of significance to U.S. economic competitiveness – critical thinking in mathematics. There is a potential to expand beyond these two cases (Carnival Games, and Tech Addiction units) using the format of this portal to address critical thinking in the context of all middle school Common Core Standards for Mathematics. The portal can be accessed at: http://learning.metiri.com.