New Brunswick Public Schools (NBPS) and the Center of Mathematics, Science, and Computer Education (CMSCE) at Rutgers University are working on a collaborative venture that enables high school teachers to radically rethink, redesign, and revitalize their teaching methods and how they organize the school day. In August 2017, we co-facilitated a 4-day summer workshop and have been supporting teachers with monthly Professional Learning Community meetings (PLCs). Teachers are rethinking their curriculum, redesigning their instructional practices, and revitalizing student motivation. Incoming NBPS freshmen are encountering an unusually powerful learning experience through this iSTEAM Academy. Rutgers researchers are evaluating the program’s effectiveness to engage students, promote design-based thinking, and empower teachers. Findings will be widely disseminated.
Rethink, Redesign, Revitalize: A pilot program to radically change the educational experience for New Brunswick ninth-graders
Math Science Partnership Grant (MSP)
The Rutgers – New Brunswick (Rutgers-NB) and a consortium of partnering schools developed a partnership that a) enabled and empowered the best science teachers in respective districts to fully implement NGSS by revising their existing curricular materials and classroom practices; and b) provided empirical evidence of the effectiveness of such collaboration. To accomplish these goals, CMSCE a) hosted a two-week summer institute in August 2016 at the Rutgers-NB campus (with one day at partnering Liberty Science Center) for the professional development (PD) of teacher-leader ambassadors focused specifically on curriculum and instruction aligned to NGSS and the educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products Rubric for Science and Mathematics (EQuIP) rubric; and b) continued the program with four PD days in partnering schools during academic year of 2016/17. The partnership led to revisions of the pre-service science teacher preparation programs in the Rutgers. The consortium of schools included 9 high schools and 9 middle schools in 10 Local Education Agencies (LEAs), and middle charter schools. An assessment of the partnering schools’ needs indicated that the design of curricula and modification of instruction aligned to NGSS was a top partner need. The PD focused on teacher practices, core ideas, and related pedagogical content knowledge related to NGSS/EQuIP. The four follow up days focused on school/classroom implementation, and the ambassadors’ capacity and support to conduct teacher professional development with their teacher colleagues.
We started Year 2 of the MSP grant in summer of 2017. The goal for the year was to prepare teacher ambassadors to engage in turnkey of NGSS PD to other teachers in their district. To serve this intent, we met with ambassadors in July 2017 to understand the NGSS PD needs of their districts and get them acquainted with NGSS PD best practices. Having gathered this information, the ambassadors were given a month’s time to work (in groups) on preparing a sample NGSS PD session. In a follow up PD in August, each ambassador shared their sample with other ambassadors and received feedback and suggestions for the same. Ambassadors have now started the process of NGSS turnkey in their districts. We aim to attend as many such sessions as possible.
Quotes from MSP teachers:
- "I have a much better understanding of NGSS and how to implement it in my classroom "
- "Exploring NGSS in informal environments: Exceeded expectations!"
- "Engaging in example activities helped to demonstrate how NGSS looks like in the classroom"
- "The activities were a great way for me to visualize what I need to do. Also there were instances when we were able to go through an activity, then choose an topic & design an activity that followed the guidelines."
New Brunswick Community-University Research Partnership (Math)
With support from a grant from Rutgers University, the New Brunswick Public Schools and CMSCE collaborated on a project to enhance the capacity of teachers in grades 6-8 to engage students more deeply and more successfully in learning and using mathematics. Using facilitated Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), participating teachers from NBPS will reconsider mathematical content and mathematical pedagogy in light of current progress in cognitive science and learning theory. Research and evaluation components will measure increased teacher knowledge and examine how teachers modify classroom practice throughout the project.
New Jersey Partnership for Excellence in Middle School Mathematics (NJ PEMSM)
The New Jersey Partnership for Excellence in Middle School Mathematics (NJ PEMSM), a National Science Foundation-funded project, has partnered with 13 school districts to work with mid-career middle grades math teachers to enhance their knowledge of the mathematics they teach daily. Partner districts include: Berkeley Heights, Carteret, Edison, Elizabeth, Franklin, Linden, Long Branch, Matawan-Aberdeen, North Brunswick, Old Bridge, Orange, Plainfield, Sayreville, Toms River, and Union Township. Among its goals, NJPEMSM focuses on preparing a cadre of mid-career middle school mathematics teachers who:
- understand the mathematics of middle school more deeply.
- engage their students more effectively in studying and learning mathematics.
- take on leadership activities such as facilitator of in-house content-based professional development for their colleagues.