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To learn more about TIAN, or the Adult Numeracy Center's other professional development, curriculum development, or consulting services, contact: 

adultnumeracy@terc.edu
(617) 873-9600

or visit our website: 

adultnumeracy.terc.edu

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project Background

TIAN began as a four-year project funded by the National Science Foundation. The project was a collaboration between the Center for Literacy Studies at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and the Adult Numeracy Center at TERC, a non-profit educational organization in Cambridge, MA.

In 2005, the Center for Literacy Studies received a $1.16 million grant from the National Science Foundation's Teacher Professional Continuum program (NSF_ESI-0455610). This project, conducted in collaboration with TERC, developed, piloted, and field-tested a model for standards-based mathematics in-service professional development for adult basic education teachers. The model uses teacher inquiry and reflective learning to engage teachers in learning how to implement purposeful and effective standards-based mathematics instructional approaches to algebra and data analysis. Massachusetts and Ohio pilot-tested the model in 2005–2006, and it was field-tested in four additional states in 2006–2008.

The components of the model include three intensive two-day institutes, using materials developed at TERC under a previous NSF grant (EMPower), local between-institute meetings, a website, and close coordination with the state's ABE office and staff development resource center. For example, in Massachusetts, TIAN was developed with a team from the MA Department of Education and SABES, the state literacy resource center. In Ohio, the Ohio Department of Education and OLRC were the collaborators.

Project Research and Collaboration

Focus on Teacher and Student Mathematical Understandings

Improvement in teachers' practices requires a greater understanding of mathematics content. Some have made the case for pedagogical content knowledge; that is, it is important that what the mathematics teachers learn is intimately connected to the mathematics they are teaching to their students (Ball & Bass, 2000; 1999). Two processes for teacher change that have been shown to be effective in mathematics education play a central role in the professional development model (Ball, 2000; Ball, 2003). The first is the opportunity for teachers to do mathematics themselves where the emphasis is on learning with understanding. Thus, institutes and teacher meetings were structured in ways that asked teachers to be learners. The second is the opportunity to conduct close examination and discussion of student work. Regular teacher meetings and postings to a discussion board are vehicles for this examination and discussion.

The mathematical content of TIAN centers on two strands of mathematical proficiency: algebra and data. In the area of algebraic thinking, the focus is a modeling approach, where the situation is central and whereby students develop fluency with a variety of representational tools (diagrams, tables, graphs, equations, and English statements). This focus represents a stark contrast to the tradition of approaching algebra as mere symbol manipulation. Meanwhile, the emphasis on data analysis is on collecting, organizing, displaying, and interpreting data. While a comprehensive instructional program in adult basic education mathematics must also include the development of number and operation sense and geometry and measurement, we have chosen algebra and data analysis as the content strands to begin with for several reasons. Algebra, the gatekeeper subject is, as Robert Moses believes, essential for full citizenship; understanding the presentation of basic statistics in the media is also essential. Moreover, algebra and data analysis have received added emphases in the 2000 edition of the GED exam and in the most recent sets of adult-focused standards. Yet both are areas we have found current teachers to be the least comfortable with, and, if taught at all, are taught only to the students at the highest levels. Just as elementary and middle school curricula have paid more attention to algebra and data in anticipation of more formal courses, we encourage  teachers to introduce these strands at the more beginning levels of ABE mathematics in a developmentally appropriate way.