University of Rochester

Warner School Recognized with Two State Grants focus on teacher preparation, student performance attracts funding for five years

January 17, 2000

Professors and a doctoral student at the Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development will develop two new programs---one in mathematics, the other in language arts---that will use collaborations between higher education and K-12 educators to improve classroom practice and teacher preparation.

Teachers in the Rochester City School District and in three suburban districts will benefit from New York State Department of Education's Eisenhower professional development grants awarded to the Warner School. The grants, reauthorized each year, are expected to total nearly $700,000 over five years.

Professor Raffaella Borasi and Warner School doctoral student Judith Fonzi have received first-year funding of $93,000 to work intensively with teachers in four school districts: Rochester, Greece, Penfield, and Brighton.

Borasi and Fonzi approach mathematics education using the inquiry method, where a student's curiosity and problem-solving abilities help them to gain a fuller understanding of mathematics. In recent years, they have demonstrated these techniques to teachers at summer institutes and in follow-up sessions throughout the year.

The goal of the mathematics project is to promote systemic reform in the four school districts in the Rochester area as well improve the preparation of student teachers at the Warner School. Ultimately, a regional network will be created to support the state's learning standards for math, science, and technology.

The second grant aims to create "a foundation of literacy" for pre-kindergarten through grade 2 children at School 33 in northeast Rochester. The grant, with first-year funding of $45,000, will advance efforts by the teachers in School 33's Early Childhood Unit to develop more meaningful language arts curricula, which will prepare students for the new state language arts tests.

Joanne Larson, assistant professor of literacy and elementary education at the Warner School, focuses her research on literacy as a social practice and examines the ways in which classroom language and literacy practices mediate access to participation in literacy events. She will coordinate all school-based activities with the unit's 35 teachers and their program administrator, Denise Rainey. Monthly seminars, summer institutes, and mentoring of student teachers will be geared toward the teachers' understanding of the teaching and learning of literacy in elementary grades.

To further expand their work in the classroom, teachers will attend classes at the University as well as study the development of inclusive classrooms.

Dwight D. Eisenhower Higher Education Professional Development Program grants encourage collaborations. Within the mathematics and literacy initiatives, classroom teachers will work with professors who teach graduate students, and those graduate students will gain experience as part of their professional development. College faculty in the departments of English and mathematics also participate in the programs. The grants cover the period through 2004.