MANCHESTER, Tenn. — For 10 days in June, elementary and middle school teachers from several southern Middle Tennessee counties covered a hand-painted brain with sticky notes showing mistakes they had made during each day.
The teachers also adorned the Coffee County Middle School hallways with individual and team worksheets from the various activities.
The group of 150 teachers, primarily from Bedford, Cannon, Coffee, Grundy and Rutherford counties, recently completed the fourth year of Summer Institute Project Impact, an MTSU-led and Tennessee Department of Education grant-funded workshop.
Teachers attending the institute, which is led by MTSU faculty and graduate students, have seen a marked improvement in their students’ understanding of math.
“We’ve been working hard on mathematics problems and understanding students’ solutions to mathematics problems,” said Dr. Angela Barlow, director of MTSU’s Math and Science Education Ph.D. program.
“We read vignettes,” Barlow added. “We watch videos, and we talk about the mathematics in those as well as the instructional practices because our goal is to improve student achievement. And we know to do that we need student-centered instruction, and that is at the heart of Project Impact.”
Sunshine Robbins, who teaches second-graders at Auburn Elementary School in Auburntown, Tennessee, in Cannon County, said she “likes to come and collaborate with other teachers and get new ideas … critical things I can use in the classroom.”
“I can keep up to date with things that are going on in the math world,” Robbins added.
Murfreesboro resident Keisha Banks, who teaches eighth-grade math at Bedford County’s Community Middle School in Unionville, Tennessee, said attending the workshop “really makes you think … and re-think everything you’ve been taught but in a different way.”
“What I have found beneficial is the multiple teaching strategies, different ways we can respond to students and different resources,” Banks added.
Many of the teachers purchased T-shirts with a “Schoolhouse Rock” typeface stating “Impact 4 Life” as a theme for the fourth Project Impact. The group’s motto atop the brain in the school’s hallway read: “Mistakes are expected, respected and inspected.”
Barlow said the teachers will convene on a Saturday in August as the school year resumes and MTSU faculty will visit them in their schools in the coming months.
“We will go in and do a demonstration lesson,” Barlow said of the school visits. “Someone from MTSU will teach the lesson while the teachers watch.”
The fifth Summer Institute Project Impact will be held next June. Barlow suggests any K-8 teachers interested in attending should email her at Angela.Barlow@mtsu.edu or talk to teachers who are a part of the group.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)