The Middle School Mathematics Program at Portland State University

submitted by Michael Shaughnessy

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 following courses form the core of the MSMP and have been approved for three quarter hours of graduate/undergraduate credit. 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.

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.