The Center for Mathematics Achievement assists teachers, coaches, specialists, teacher leaders, and administrators in honing and deepening mathematics content knowledge through on- and off-campus workshops, professional development, and consultation at school and district sites.
A major area of our work focuses on helping educators develop a mathematical growth mindset, preparing them to engage their students in mathematical discourse, and enhancing their understanding of the Standards for Mathematical Practice, or habits of mind, of a mathematician. Hilary Kreisberg directs the center. Read her QED blog.
We are proud to be approved as a Targeted Assistance Provider by the State of Massachusetts in two categories:
School-Based Category 1: Leadership, Shared Responsibility, and Professional Collaboration
School Based Category 2: High-Quality Core Instruction
Watch a WGBH video to see how the Center for Mathematics Achievement coaches excellent teachers to become teacher leaders.
Our professional development offerings have been shown to lead to an increase in student achievement and an improvement in student and teacher perception of mathematics. Our faculty and staff are leaders in formative assessment strategies and protocols, and are actively involved in the Association of Teachers of Mathematics in Massachusetts, Massachusetts Mathematics Association of Teacher Educators, the Association of Teachers of Mathematics in New England, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics, and the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators.
Is your district looking for relevant, content-based professional development in mathematics? The Center for Mathematics Achievement at Lesley University offers professional development for elementary and middle school math educators, including teachers of Special Education and English Learners. We have the flexibility to offer our services at your school or place of business to fit your schedule!
Our Professional Development topics include, but are not limited to:
- Aligning Curriculum with Content Standards
- Unpacking the Standards for Mathematical Practice
- Incorporating Formative Assessment Strategies in Daily Practice
- Integrating Accommodations and Modifications to Reach All Learners
- Supporting Productive Struggle
- Incorporating Mathematical Discourse in the Classroom
- Exploring Number Talks and Other Activators
- Differentiating Math Instruction to Meet All Needs
- Intervention and Support
- Analyzing Student Work to Inform Instruction
Prefer to offer longer term, sustainable professional development for your staff? We can lead your professional learning communities, staff meetings, common planning sessions, and more.
Can't come to Cambridge? Let us bring professional development to your school or district. We will personalize math professional development specifically for your school or district. We are also a Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education-approved vendor for the provision of education improvement services supporting the Conditions for School Effectiveness aligned with Massachusetts Race to the Top efforts. Please contact the Center for more information.
What We Offer
Workshops on our Cambridge Campus
Mathematics workshops are offered several times a year, giving you the opportunity to boost your skills and increase your competence and confidence.
The Center is recognized for its coaching and instruction focused on bolstering individual and collective teacher practice, building capacity among teacher leaders and coaches, addressing opportunity and achievement gaps for subgroups of students, and improving teaching and learning through developing observational protocols, investigation designs, content and pedagogy focused professional development, and student work analysis cycles.
We can help you create a mathematically rich school environment by providing teachers with ongoing chances to be learners and to reflect on their instruction. We work alongside teachers as co-teachers, encouraging meaningful adjustment to practice. We also mentor district coaches and provide job-embedded professional development.
Research indicates that effective professional development requires consistency, coherence, and collaboration. The Center incorporates 4 strands of high-impact teaching practices into its coaching model to ensure sustainability:
- Content Planning: Having a deep understanding of both the conceptual and abstract, while also being able to connect mathematical ideas to cross-curricular subjects is a critical component of being an exemplary mathematics teacher. One goal of content planning is ensuring that schools and districts have a solid progression of understanding in a specific domain. This enables common language and appropriate development of algorithmic understanding. Content planning focuses on three aspects: improving understanding of the mathematics, developing investigations and tasks that embrace a learner-centered approach, and constructing learning maps and trajectories of learning that ensure vertical and horizontal alignment.
- Formative Assessment: Teaching mathematics well also means utilizing formative assessment strategies to enhance and improve future instruction. Engaging in meaningful and collaborative discussions focused on how and when to assess student learning allows for vibrant and often needed conversations regarding specific proficiencies and competencies expected across grade levels. Checking for understanding, adjusting teaching practices to meet the needs of each and every learner, and using data effectively to inform instruction are a few of the focus areas under formative assessment.
- Instruction: Effective mathematics teachers engage students in hands-on, exploratory mathematics investigations that encourage discourse and cooperative learning. Coaching instruction means guiding and modeling effective pedagogical strategies and routines to complement district resources. It is also critical to facilitate understanding of how to: ask effective questions, shift mathematics instruction from teacher-centered to student-centered, and differentiate without “dumbing down” or going “beyond” a standard, but actually differentiating the instructional routine to support the depth of the mathematics.
- Classroom Management: Developing a community of learners and a classroom culture that allows for risk taking and comfortability enables mathematics teachers to reach all types of learners. Teachers who explicitly teach expected behaviors and emphasize that mistakes are learning opportunities often have students who perform better academically. Frequently, math coaches are asked to work with teachers on content, but end up spending most of their time teaching strategies for classroom management. The Center proudly incorporates behavioral learning strategies within all coaching sessions in order to help teachers avoid wasted instructional time.
The Center wishes to provide teachers with both an interactive and intra-active coaching experience where transformations occur based on where each and every teacher falls on a coaching continuum. This means teachers receive coaching differentiated to their unique needs, ultimately decreasing external scaffolding and increasing internal self-efficacy and attitude towards teaching mathematics effectively.
Additionally, the Center believes the TRU Framework (Teaching for Robust Understanding), developed through the Mathematics Assessment Project, provides a successful outline of all powerful mathematics classrooms. The five dimensions are denoted as content; cognitive demand; equitable access to content; agency, authority, and identify; and formative assessment. Through intertwining the 5 dimensions with the four strands of high-impact teaching practices, the Center contends its model is truly effective.
Courses for Credit or PDPs
We collaborate with districts to offer courses at various sites in Massachusetts, open and available to anyone who would like to register (preference given to teachers within the host district). Please contact the Center for current offerings.
Through external evaluation provided by Lighthouse Evaluation, our program has received Proof of Concept. On average, teachers who take our courses show 88% growth in their knowledge of the content and their students’ state testing results indicate that students of teachers who take our courses significantly out-perform their peers in both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies of teacher effects. According the external evaluations, there is solid evidence for the claim that the program’s course content, when learned by teachers, is related to increased student performance.
Parent and Community Workshops
In addition to providing teachers with updated, extensive content-rich experiences, parents and community members need to be aware of the shifts in mathematics instruction in classrooms today so they can more effectively support their children and community. We offer workshops geared toward community members who are interested in learning more about math instruction today. We provide hands-on, interactive experiences so parents and community members can experience for themselves how students learn math today. We understand mathematics can seem scary! We take away the fears and stigmas during these workshops so parents can see math with a new outlook.
Our School and District Collaborations
We work with schools and districts to provide tailored courses and professional development workshops for all educators. These can be curriculum-specific, such as Connected Mathematics Project or Everyday Mathematics, content-specific, such as rational numbers or proportional thinking, or pedagogy-specific, such as formative assessment strategies in mathematics. The Center has partnered with numerous districts on Title IIA and Title IIB grants funded through the state to provide graduate credit math content courses to teachers.
Examples of District Partnerships:
A Rational Approach to Proficiency
Holyoke, Easthampton, and West Springfield. This project, developed with a Massachusetts Math and Science Partnership grant, provides content courses focused on fraction as number, fraction as ratio, and ratio and proportional reasoning. Teachers develop a deep understanding of rational numbers and strategies that will help their students better understand the importance of identifying the whole when discussing fractions as number. An emphasis is placed on the use of accurate models when working on computations such as why the computational algorithms for adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing fractions work and how they might be represented using arrays, pattern blocks, Cuisenaire rods, and the Cartesian coordinate plane. The partnership works with WGBH in videotaping classrooms that model excellence in teaching and learning.
STEM Standards Through Inquiry and Problem Solving
Brockton and Weymouth. The goals of this project were to raise the level of proficiency in math content knowledge and effective teaching strategies for teachers in these school systems, and that students in these districts experience interactive mathematics that are aligned to state standards, learn to become reflective learners, and can assess their own progress along the learning progression set for them and their grade level.
The project combines the education of mathematics content courses aligned to the Massachusetts Frameworks with the development of District Determined Measures (DDMs) that track student growth in real-time while also providing responses to the growth with appropriate challenges and interventions.
Modeling Math Through the Mathematical Practices
Springfield and Easthampton. Through a Massachusetts Math and Science Partnership grant, Lesley University provided professional development to teachers in four middle schools to develop and pilot District Determined Measures (DDMs) in 2014-2015. The grant also provided mathematics content courses and in-classroom coaching for participating teachers. Lesley will teach nine mathematics content courses developed specifically to align with the new Mass State Frameworks, delving deeply into the mathematics teachers are expected to teach, will emphasize the eight key mathematical practices being modeled to help teachers understand what they actually mean, and how they might seamlessly integrate them into their practice.
Massachusetts Mathematics and Science Partnership Grants
Through the Massachusetts Mathematics and Science Partnerships grants (MMSP), Lesley University works closely with many Massachusetts school districts, identified by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as high-needs, in order to improve teacher content knowledge and instruction and ultimately improve student academic achievement in mathematics.
The goals of these partnerships are to:
- develop meaningful instructional and conceptual synergy between mathematics content and state frameworks;
- establish a consistent inquiry-based, problem-solving approach in mathematics built on strong pedagogical content knowledge;
- develop a critical mass of teacher-leaders and teacher implementers to sustain an inquiry-based mode of instruction; and
- improve academic achievement in mathematics of students in high-needs districts
Through external evaluation, our program has received Proof of Concept. On average, teachers who take our courses show 88% growth in their knowledge of the content and their students’ state testing results indicate that students of teachers who take our courses significantly out-perform their peers in both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies of teacher effects. According the external evaluations, there is solid evidence for the claim that the program’s course content, when learned by teachers, is related to increased student performance.
Global Math Project
The Center for Mathematics Achievement at Lesley University supports The Global Math Project, an initiative aiming to bring together students, teachers, and families to share an uplifting mathematical experience. Math can be a subject of anxiety and fear for many. The goal of this project is to remind everyone that math is fun, powerful, and uplifting. Through this project, experience Exploding Dots, a routine developed by mathematician Dr. James Tanton, which will revolutionize the way you see numbers! By engaging in Exploding Dots, you will develop a deeper understanding of our base-ten number system and discover the “why” behind our traditional algorithms.
Learn more at www.explodingdots.org.