In 1986 the National Science Foundation awarded Portland State University a five-year grant to develop the Middle School Math Project: A Program for Preparing Middle School Mathematics Teachers. This project grew from previous steps taken by the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Portland State that had approved a series of mathematics courses specifically designed to focus on the mathematical preparation of middle school teachers.
Nearly ten years after the initial NSF funding, the Middle School Math Project (MSMP) continues to offer this series of special mathematics courses for middle school teachers as part of the regular offerings of the Department of Mathematical Sciences. The distinguishing features of this program are:
MSMP embodies a philosophy of teaching and learning that recognizes mathematics as an enjoyable human endeavor and invites people to discover the mathematician within them. Students are encouraged to construct their own understanding of mathematical concepts through:
- The mathematics course content for pre- and in-service teachers is directly related to mathematical content appropriate for middle school students.
- The program is geared to the special characteristics of an urban ;university and takes advantage of varied school resources in an urban setting.
- The program models a philosophy of teaching and learning mathematics that is consistent with current recommendations for effective instruction in middle school classrooms.
The following courses form the core of the MSMP and have been approved for three quarter hours of graduate/undergraduate credit.
- In-class problem solving activities that promote exploration and experimentation
- Discussing and listening to how others think about concepts and problems
- Small group work and cooperative learning
- Becoming aware of one's own mathematical processes and feelings about mathematics through reflective journal writing
- Replacing formal testing with a variety of modes of assessment
- Emphasizing visual reasoning as well as symbolic and deductive modes of thought
- Weekly written problem solving summaries
- Continual written dialogue between instructors and individual students
Detailed course guides for instructors have been prepared for each of the courses in the MSMP. The guides consist of weekly summaries, explorations, class activities, weekly assignments, readings, and transparency masters. These guides are intended as a blue print for other instructors who may be interest in developing similar courses. Currently copies of five of the guides can be obtained for duplication and mailing costs through the Mathematics Learning Center in Salem, OR.
- Mth 490/590 Computing in Mathematics for Middle School Teachers
- Mth 491/591 Experimental Probability and Statistics for Middle School Teachers
- Mth 492/592 Problem Solving for Middle School Teachers
- Mth 493/593 Geometry for Middle School Teachers
- Mth 494/594 Arithmetic and Algebraic Structures for Middle School Teachers
- Mth 495/595 Historical Topics for Middle School Teachers
- Mth 496/596 Concepts of Calculus for Middle School Teachers
- C&I 510 Teaching and Learning in the Middle School Mathematics Classroom
The MSMP has generated considerable interest in the Portland metro area, in other areas in Oregon, and even has attracted teachers from Alaska, Nevada, Ohio, and New Hampshire. To date about 200 inservice teachers have entered the program, and about 50 have obtained a middle school mathematics endorsement by completing the program.
For further information about the program and information on ordering copies of the course guides, contact either L. Ted Nelson (503-725-4833) or Mike Shaughnessy (503-725-4836) at the Department of Mathematical Sciences, PSU, P.O.Box 751, Portland, OR.