NCSS awarded $216K Math and Sci­ence Part­ner­ship grant

The Covington News - - LOCAL - KAYLA ROBINS krobins@cov­

Teach­ers in New­ton County may have the op­por­tu­nity to gain ex­tra pro­fes­sional learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences with a grant given to the school dis­trict.

New­ton County School Sys­tem (NCSS) was awarded a $216,010 Math­e­mat­ics and Sci­ence Part­ner­ship (MSP) grant from the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion (GA­DOE). Although this is the third re­newal of the grant, this two-year award is larger than the pre­vi­ous years. New­ton County pre­vi­ously re­ceived a two-year MSP grant for $174,772 in 2012-2013 and for $163,585 in 2013-2014.

“The New­ton County MSP project in­cluded two com­po­nents, with each con­sist­ing of 160 hours of pro­fes­sional learn­ing over the two-year pe­riod,” said Kathy Gar­ber, NCSS grants co­or­di­na­tor. “Classes were held pe­ri­od­i­cally dur­ing the 201213 and 2013-14 school years, as well as dur­ing week­long sum­mer work­shops held in June 2013 and 2014.”

In the first two in­stall­ments, th­ese cour­ses in­cluded a K-5 math en­dorse­ment pro­gram con­sist­ing of three cour­ses that in­cluded math con­tent and ped­a­gogy: num­bers and op­er­a­tions, ge­om­e­try and mea­sure­ment and al­ge­bra, pat­terns and data anal­y­sis, ac­cord­ing to an NCSS press re­lease. The cour­ses were taught by a math con­sul­tant from Grif­fin RESA and a math in­struc­tor from Gor­don Col­lege.

“Upon com­ple­tion of the three cour­ses, 28 New­ton County teach­ers had the K-5 math en­dorse­ment added to their Ge­or­gia Teach­ing Cer­tifi­cates. The cour­ses em­pha­sizes the ap­pli­ca­tion of the Con­crete-Representational-Ab­stract (CRA) ap­proach to teach­ing math­e­mat­ics, so teach­ers en­gaged in many hands-on ac­tiv­i­ties to help them help stu­dents to truly un­der­stand math­e­mat­i­cal con­cepts,” the re­lease said. “In ad­di­tion, teach­ers had the op­por­tu­nity to at­tend the Ge­or­gia Math Con­fer­ence spon­sored by the Ge­or­gia Coun­cil of Teach­ers of Math­e­mat­ics at Rock Ea­gle last Oc­to­ber, and many of them will be at­tend­ing that con­fer­ence again this fall with MSP fund­ing.”

Pre­vi­ous cour­ses also in­cluded a mid­dle school sci­ence pro­fes­sional learn­ing pro­gram in Earth, life and phys­i­cal sci­ence taught by pro­fes­sors from Ge­or­gia Tech and Ge­or­gia Tech’s Cen­ter for Ed­u­ca­tion In­te­grat­ing Sci­ence, Math­e­mat­ics and Com­put­ing.

“Teach­ers en­gaged in nu­mer­ous lab in­ves­ti­ga­tions in all three ar­eas of sci­ence taught in mid­dle schools, with em­pha­sis on show­ing stu­dents how to ‘do’ sci­ence as sci­en­tists do and not just read about sci­ence. They also par­tic­i­pated in a num­ber of field trips and at­tended the Ge­or­gia Sci­ence Teach­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (GSTA) Con­fer­ence in Macon last year and will have the op­por­tu­nity to at­tend the GSTA Con­fer­ence again in 2015. Twenty-five New­ton County mid­dle school teach­ers com­pleted the en­tire two years of the pro­gram,” the re­lease said.

The New­ton County MSP project’s suc­cess has been rec­og­nized as hav­ing one of the high­est attendance and re­ten­tion rates in the state, ac­cord­ing to the re­lease, with teach­ers re­main­ing in the pro­gram for the en­tire two years. As a re­sult, Gar­ber, who serves as the MSP project di­rec­tor, was in­vited to do a poster pre­sen­ta­tion called “MSP: Max­i­miz­ing Suc­cess for the Part­ner­ship” at the MSP Na­tional Con­ven­tion in Wash­ing­ton D.C. Sept. 29-Oct. 1.

Gar­ber said the suc­cess of the pre­vi­ous MSP project was con­sid­ered in the new grant be­ing awarded for two years be­gin­ning in Oc­to­ber 2014 and last­ing through Septem­ber 2016.

“It is an­tic­i­pated that the dis­trict will re­ceive an ad­di­tional $200,000-plus next school year, pend­ing con­tin­u­a­tion of fed­eral fund­ing for the pro­gram,” Gar­ber said.

The new MSP project in­cludes the K-5 math en­dorse­ment pro­gram, where the three re­quired cour­ses will be taught by a math con­sul­tant from Grif­fin RESA and a math in­struc­tor from Ge­or­gia Perime­ter Col­lege. Thirty teach­ers will be en­rolled in the classes, and there is al­ready a wait­ing list for the pro­gram.

There will also be a 7-12 sci­ence pro­fes­sional learn­ing se­ries con­sist­ing of two co­horts of teach­ers. The MSP bud- get al­lows a to­tal of 50 teach­ers to be in­cluded, and 47 of those slots had al­ready been filled as of Sept. 4. One co­hort will in­clude sev­enth grade life sci­ence, high school bi­ol­ogy and en­vi­ron­men­tal sci­ence teach­ers, while the sec­ond co­hort will con­sist of eighth grade and high school phys­i­cal sci­ence teach­ers and chem­istry or physics teach­ers.

All classes will be taught in part­ner­ship with Ge­or­gia Tech fac­ulty in bi­ol­ogy and physics, doc­toral stu­dents in bi­ol­ogy, chem­istry and physics and the Ge­or­gia Tech Cen­ter for Ed­u­ca­tion In­te­grat­ing Sci­ence, Math­e­mat­ics and Com­put­ing. Course­work will be ap­pro­pri­ate for high school and mid­dle school teach­ers in­ter­ested in more ad­vanced con­tent in life sci­ence and phys­i­cal sci­ence.

“Both the math­e­mat­ics and sci­ence pro­grams will of­fer teach­ers op­por­tu­ni­ties to work and learn in ver­ti­cal teams, al­low­ing them to par­tic­i­pate in on­go­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion with teach­ers from other schools and other grade lev­els to share ideas and learn about lo­cal re­sources, as well as to be­come more con­nected with what stu­dents are learn­ing be­fore they get to them and what is ex­pected of them in the later grades,” Gar­ber said. “Ver­ti­cal team­ing pro­vides a dif­fer­ent way for ed­u­ca­tors to learn math and sci­ence con­tent, process and teach­ing strate­gies from each other to work to­ward common goals.”

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