Math Classroom Strategies Steal the Show

Blog post David Raney, SREB Chief Editor

Joy Hofmeister, Oklahoma State Superintendent of Schools, visited Moore High School in December to look at its technology program. And she did, but she also got a pleasant surprise when principal Mike Coyle showed her to an Algebra 2 classroom.

Mathematics department chair Nancy Nix reported that the superintendent was “blown away by the level of student engagement and mathematical discourse.”

Courtney McClain, whose classroom Superintendent Hofmeister praised, says she and other teachers were excited when SREB math trainer Gail Snider worked with them to implement Mathematics Design Collaborative strategies. “I wanted to learn more,” McClain says, “and participate fully.” Clearly others felt the same: three of Moore’s 16 math teachers used MDC tools and strategies last year, and now more than half the department participates.

The MDC program earns all three words in its name, helping math teachers design lessons using proven strategies and encouraging teachers to collaborate to make sure any new approach works in the classroom, not just on paper. Teachers and students, as always, are the real test.

What does this kind of training change for teachers? It’s not the workload, McClain says, but the results. “I’m using better questioning techniques and giving more control of class discussions to my students. As I plan lessons I’m thinking more about ways to put them in a productive struggle — to help them dig deeper into the concepts.”

In the past three years SREB has trained nearly 7,000 teachers in 11 states in MDC and LDC (Literacy Design Collaborative) strategies, and it’s bringing results. Gail Snider taught middle grade and high school math for 15 years before becoming a trainer, so she has a good idea of what counts as success in a classroom. Snider calls the training “the most rewarding and challenging work I’ve been involved in during my 28 years in math education. I can honestly say that everyone I’ve ever worked with agrees that with proper support and consistent expectations from the district, MDC can make a difference for students.”

“I can honestly say that everyone I’ve ever worked with agrees that with proper support and consistent expectations from the district, MDC can make a difference for students.”

Read more about MDC and LDC strategies and the difference they can make.