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Resources for Preparing Middle School Mathematics Teachers

Resources for Preparing Middle School Mathematics Teachers

Cheryl Beaver
Laurie Burton
Maria Fung
Klay Kruczek
Series: MAA Notes
Volume: 80
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Pages: 219
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  • Book Info
    Resources for Preparing Middle School Mathematics Teachers
    Book Description:

    Middle school mathematics teachers occupy a unique place in the mathematical development of students. These teachers need to be proficient in all elementary mathematics topics, together with some secondary mathematics topics. They demand a special kind of preparation that differs from both that of their elementary and secondary colleagues. The Mathematics Education of Teachers (MET) document published by the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences set forth criteria for the preparation of mathematics middle school teachers which made it critical that special programs and courses for this group emerge. This collection of articles is in response to the MET document and the result of several gatherings of mathematics educators and mathematicians training middle school teachers. We have chosen the articles that appear in this volume for several purposes: to disseminate various middle school programs structures, to detail methods of teaching specific middle school teachers content courses, and to share materials and resources. While each article describes the unique program or course of its respective institution, each also includes a common core of information to provide some consistency to the volume. In particular, all articles describing middle school programs contain information about the host institution, a history of the program, degree and testing requirements for the program and for state licensure, learning goals and objectives for the program and courses, and any available assessment data. When applicable information is included about particular courses, for example, some articles provide sample activities or syllabi and some have a description of courses in the appendix. Most articles have links to websites containing further information about the program, courses, state requirements, or resources that can be downloaded and used directly.

    eISBN: 978-1-61444-315-5
    Subjects: Mathematics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  4. I Programs for Middle School Teachers

    • A. Pre-service Training Programs

      • 1 Preparing Middle Grades Mathematics Teachers at Georgia College & State University
        (pp. 3-14)
        Angel R. Abney, Nancy B. Mizelle and Janet Shiver

        The Georgia College & State University (GCSU) middle grades mathematics faculty believe that teaching mathematics is a complex task and it is not sufficient for effective teaching for teachers only to know their content. Instead, we believe that teachers need a specialized knowledge of mathematics that includes a profound understanding of the content they teach and knowledge of how students learn mathematics [25]. In addition, we believe they need to be aware of the mathematical content in the previous grades and the grades to follow and how they are interwoven. We refer to this specialized content knowledge as pedagogical content knowledge...

      • 2 The Mathematics for Middle School Teachers Program at Western Oregon University
        (pp. 15-22)
        Cheryl Beaver, Rachel Harrington and Klay Kruczek

        Although there is some common pedagogical ground for all teachers of mathematics, there is a fundamental difference in the topics and depth of content knowledge required for students preparing to teach elementary, middle, or high school mathematics. The middle school teacher preparation program at Western Oregon University (WOU) seeks to develop foundational content for middle school teachers while exploring best practices such as active learning, appropriate use of technology, and hands-on exploration. WOU offers many courses specifically for middle school teachers that are designed to develop mathematical maturity and content knowledge while connecting the subject matter to the middle school...

      • 3 Connecting Middle School Mathematics with College Mathematics: A Core of Mathematics Courses for Middle Grade Mathematics Teachers
        (pp. 23-28)
        Ira J. Papick

        A common response when questioning in-service mathematics teachers about their mathematical preparation for teaching is that their college mathematics courses did not adequately prepare them to teach school mathematics because the college courses often failed to connect the mathematics they were learning with the school mathematics that they would be teaching. Though the courses were rich in mathematical ideas, their connections to important concepts in school mathematics were not always explicitly detailed. Several factors contributed to this deficiency, but the most prominent one was the lack of high quality textbooks that identify and explain the critical connections. Without such materials,...

      • 4 The Middle School Program at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
        (pp. 29-36)
        Jennifer Szydlik, John Beam, Eric Kuennen and Carol Seaman

        “The key to distinguishing the knowledge base of teaching lies at the intersection of content and pedagogy, in the capacity of a teacher to transform the content knowledge he or she possesses into forms that are pedagogically powerful and yet adaptive to the variations in ability and background presented by the students.” —Lee S. Shulman, 1986 [ 20]

        As mathematicians and educators, we are faced with the challenge of preparing future generations of middle grades teachers of mathematics. This is a daunting task indeed, given that many prospective and practicing teachers reveal a paucity of mathematics content knowledge [1, 11]...

    • B. In-service Training Programs

      • 5 The Master of Arts in Middle School Mathematics Program at Salem (MA) State University
        (pp. 39-46)
        Julie A. Belock

        Many educational observers believe that elementary, middle grades, and secondary mathematics teachers need a better understanding of mathematics content. The NCTM, Liping Ma, and many others have used the terms “deep” or “profound” understanding of school mathematics to describe an ideal attribute for a teacher of mathematics [1, 4]. The philosophy behind the Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) Middle School Mathematics program at Salem State University is based on the idea that middle school mathematics teachers will be more effective in the classroom if they have a deep understanding of mathematics. I will describe the program and the local...

      • 6 The Math in the Middle Institute: Strengthening Middle Level Teachers’ Mathematical and Pedagogical Capacities
        (pp. 47-58)
        Ruth M. Heaton, W. James Lewis and Wendy M. Smith

        Improving teacher quality is a national need in mathematics education and one many universities and K–12 schools across the country are working in partnership to try to address. This article describes a graduate professional development program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) for certified teachers that leads to a master’s degree that is aimed at improving mathematics teaching and learning in the middle grades. An overview of the institutional context for middle level mathematics teacher education in which this professional development program is situated is presented (i.e., state requirements for teachers, university policies, district partnerships). We describe theMath...

      • 7 A Professional Development Program for Middle School Math Teachers in Maryland
        (pp. 59-68)
        M. Elizabeth Mayfield and Christy Danko Graybeal

        Hood College is a small (1400 undergraduates, 1000 part-time graduate students), private liberal arts college in Western Maryland. To respond to the needs of the community, we designed a master’s degree in mathematics education for current teachers of mathematics, with a special track for middle school teachers. The program is interdisciplinary. It was designed by a team of faculty from the Departments of Education and Mathematics at Hood, along with consultants from the local public school system. Our goal is to help middle school math teachers who hold a certificate in elementary education become highly qualified teachers (HQTs) under Maryland’s...

  5. II Courses for Middle School Teachers

    • A. Discrete Mathematics

      • 8 Discrete Mathematics: A Course in Problem Solving for 21st Century Middle School Teachers
        (pp. 71-84)
        Tanya Cofer, Valerie A. DeBellis, Cathy Liebars, Joseph G. Rosenstein, Bonnie Saunders and Margaret Wirth

        This article describes how discrete mathematics topics have been incorporated into courses for middle school teachers at five universities using materials supported by the NSF-funded project, Discrete Mathematics for Prospective K–8 Teachers (DUE-0443317). It discusses our discrete mathematics materials and the philosophy behind their development and describes instances of implementation from each of five field-testing classrooms. Authors include the PI, co-PI, and four project participants.¹

        In the past twenty years, Rosenstein (mathematician) and DeBellis (mathematics educator) have collaborated with mathematicians, mathematics educators, and expert classroom teachers to design and develop discrete mathematics programs and materials for K–12 teachers....

      • 9 Guided Discovery in a Discrete Mathematics Course for Middle School Teachers
        (pp. 85-96)
        Mary Flahive and Reva Kasman

        We describe a discrete mathematics course for in-service middle school teachers taught exclusively using guided discovery. The article describes the structure and facilitation of the course itself and the set of notes used as a textbook. We discuss the benefits of using guided discovery with middle school teachers and student reaction to the experience.

        The Master in Teaching Middle School Mathematics (MSM) program at Salem State University is designed for middle school teachers who already have an initial license to teach grades 5–8 math in Massachusetts (or equivalent certification) and who wish to be eligible for professional licensure with...

    • B. Geometry

      • 10 Geometry for Middle Grades Teachers at Northern Kentucky University
        (pp. 99-116)
        Bethany Noblitt

        At Northern Kentucky University (NKU), the course Geometry for Middle Grades Teachers is required of all pre-service middle grades mathematics teachers and of pre-service elementary school teachers who have an emphasis in mathematics. This student-driven, inquiry-based and activity-oriented course has been successful in its goal to have students be able to solve problems in geometry, reason mathematically, and to present clear and concise explanations of their work. The problem-solving philosophy and implementation of the course have contributed to its success.

        This course was taught for several semesters using the text,Geometry for Teachers, by C. Patrick Collier [1]. Topics covered...

    • C. Number Theory and Abstract Algebra

      • 11 A Number and Algebra Course for Middle School Math Teachers
        (pp. 119-132)
        Michael Mays and David Miller

        Extended learning courses in Number and Algebra for in-service Middle School Math Teachers have been taught at West Virginia University since 2002. The format of the courses has remained constant: a two credit hour mathematics course and a one credit hour corequisite Curriculum and Instruction course, part I of both Math and C&I taught in the fall semester and part II in the spring semester. Splitting the three hour content into a mathematics portion and a C&I portion is done to make clear the applicability of the mathematics. The courses were conceived as part of an initiative for in-service middle...

    • D. Precalculus and Calculus

      • 12 Vertically Connecting Precalculus and Calculus with Middle School Mathematics
        (pp. 135-142)
        Theresa Jorgensen

        Middle grades mathematics teachers have a unique role in the education of schoolchildren, helping students make the connections between the foundational concepts of elementary mathematics and the more sophisticated skills and understanding required in secondary mathematics. The University of Texas at Arlington has designed and implemented two capstone mathematical content courses for the pre-service middle school teachers to establish the connections. The courses are titled Precalculus for Mid-level Mathematics Teachers and Calculus for Mid-level Mathematics Teachers. Each course is designed to meet the content, pedagogy, and instructional goals of The Mathematical Education of Teachers [2] recommendations for middle grades teachers,...

      • 13 Visual College Algebra for Teachers
        (pp. 143-154)
        Laurie J. Burton and Klay T. Kruczek

        At Western Oregon University, we offer aCollege Algebra for Teacherscourse using theVisual Algebra for College Students¹ [3] materials that we wrote and class tested.Visual Algebrais designed to help middle school teachers gain a deep understanding of basic algebraic skills. Studentsvisuallyshow algebra using a concrete model (algebra pieces),verballydescribe the meaning of each algebra piece move,symbolicallyconnect the ideas to standard algebraic algorithms and procedures, andgraphicallyconnect the ideas of the visual models and symbolic work. Overall, students think deeply about topics, do not rely on rote memorization or rote rules,...

    • E. Probability and Statistics

      • 14 Probability and Statistics for Prospective Middle Grades Teachers
        (pp. 157-166)
        Jennifer Szydlik, John Beam, Eric Kuennen and Carol Seaman

        The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh (UWO) is a comprehensive state university with approximately 11,000 undergraduate and 1000 graduate students. Elementary education is one of the largest majors at UWO, serving almost 1000 students. All elementary education majors at UWO (with the exception of special education majors) are required to complete three 3-credit mathematics content courses:Number Systems,Geometry and Measurement, andData Exploration and Analysis. We prepare middle school teachers from this population by providing a middle school mathematics minor. Currently (fall 2010), 86 students are enrolled in the minor, more than one third of the Mathematics Department’s total major...

    • F. Combination Courses

      • 15 Vermont Middle Level Mathematics Initiative: Courses and Materials for Mathematics Educators
        (pp. 169-180)
        George Ashline and Marny Frantz

        In this paper, we highlight successful courses and classroom materials developed in recent years for in-service fifth through ninth grade mathematics educators by the Vermont Mathematics Partnership (VMP). The VMP’s Middle Level Mathematics Initiative (MLMI) is a professional development program designed to enhance mathematics instruction to help all middle level students succeed in mathematics.

        The VMP is a targeted math and science partnership funded by the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Education [20]. Building on the successful Vermont Mathematics Initiative [19], a content-focused graduate program for elementary mathematics teacher leaders, the VMP has worked directly with partner...

      • 16 Challenging Yet Accessible Mathematics Courses for Middle Level Teachers
        (pp. 181-202)
        Ruth M. Heaton, W. James Lewis, Michelle R. Homp, Steven R. Dunbar and Wendy M. Smith

        This article describes three challenging yet accessible mathematics courses designed for middle school teachers and offered by the Department of Mathematics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). Their descriptions are based on the courses as we have taught them as part of theMath in the Middle (M²) Institute Partnership, a National Science Foundation Math Science Partnership (MSP) program that works with practicing teachers. As a grant funded MSP, we take seriously the responsibility to share information about our program and the courses we have created. Readers are directed to our website [1] for information about our program and specifically...