Problem-solving, at a regional level
UMass hosts math educators, fostering classroom collaboration, diversity
About 70 math educators from across the region convened at UMass Amherst late June for the one-day Western Massachusetts Math Partnership (WMMP) with the hopes of solving not only math problems, but some classroom challenges as well. The annual seminar has been attended by several hundred regional math educators over the past six years.
Mathematics and Statistics professor George Avrunin helps organize the seminar, which is funded by the National Science Foundation's Math and Science Partnerships program and aims to elevate math curricula that will propel students into higher performance levels as well as foster diversity among math educators.
Avrunin says he hopes educators who attended this year's seminar now see math as an “active, sense-making endeavor” and better “grasp how mathematical topics fit together.”
Establishing an ongoing community for mathematics education to thrive and progress is a primary component of the WMMP. Some attendees said the program is the only place they get to exchange ideas about math education at different grade levels.
Avrunin has heard from many math teachers that this is one of the "few places to exchange professional knowledge and teaching practices with other educators in the field," especially when challenges arise, such as changes in the “state frameworks and introduction of the standards of mathematical practice in the Common Core”.
Building on the successful seminar, Avrunin is already outlining ideas for the next one. "Anything we can do to improve the mathematical preparation" of the region's students is effort well spent. And he benefits doubly if those students end up in his class.