Weeklong workshop at TTU provides professional development for K-4 math teachers

A group of Upper Cumberland math teachers recently discovered that a week-long workshop at Tennessee Tech University will add up to positive results for their students in kindergarten through fourth grade.

That’s because the workshop provided age-appropriate activities and materials that teachers of those grade levels can apply in their own classrooms.

“For students to have mathematical power, they need a conceptual understanding of how the mathematics operations work, in addition to having the mechanical knowledge,” said Holly Anthony, an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction at TTU, who organized the workshop and — along with math department instructors Wendy Smith and Sheryl Webb — presented it.

The workshop was geared toward teachers of younger students and special education teachers because “it’s so important for children to gain that conceptual understanding at an early age,” Anthony said.

“Our focus was to begin by looking at children’s mathematics — what they already know and how they make sense of math — and to provide teachers with strategies to further develop students’ mathematical understanding,” she said. “This workshop really helped teachers think about mathematics from the children’s perspective. Students reason about math in powerful ways, and helping teachers to understand those ways is very important.”

It was funded by a $72,650 federal grant administered through the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s Improving Teacher Quality program, which operates under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The project was administered through the Oakley STEM Center at TTU.

That money was used to provide a daily stipend, meals and snacks and $800 of teaching materials for each of the 42 teachers from across the Upper Cumberland who participated in the workshop.

Teachers from a total of 12 Upper Cumberland counties were represented at the workshop.

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