About 70 math educators from across the region convened at UMass Amherst late June for the one-day institute organized by the Western Massachusetts Math Partnership (WMMP) with the hopes of solving not only math problems, but some classroom challenges as well. Over the past seven years, several hundred math educators from the region have participated in WMMP activities, including one- and multi-day institutes.
Mathematics and Statistics professor George Avrunin helped organize the event, which aims to elevate math curricula that will propel students into higher performance levels and give elementary, intermediate and high school teachers a place to exchange ideas and enhance their teaching repertoire. Avrunin 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.”
"Without a firm understanding of math, many doors remain closed to young people—especially those from underserved populations," says Avrunin. He hopes that his work with WMMP and K-12 teachers will have an impact on children throughout Western Massachusetts.
Establishing an ongoing community for mathematics education to thrive and progress is a primary component of the WMMP, which started with funding from the National Science Foundation's Math and Science Partnerships program and continues annually with funding from the Five Colleges Consortium and regional school districts. Avrunin was the original grant's primary investigator.
Many attendees say that the WMMP is the only place where they get to exchange ideas about math education across different grade levels, and report that work with the WMMP has helped them improve math learning in their classrooms. Building on the successful one-day institute, organizers are already outlining ideas for the coming year's WMMP activities.