University of Rochester

No Break for Some Rochester City School Teachers this Winter

February 12, 2010

Teachers Brush Up on Their Math Skills over Mid-February Break

While students head out to play this winter break, it is class as usual for some local educators. Thirty elementary school teachers in the Rochester City School District (RCSD) will devote a portion of their winter break to participate in a Mathematics and Science Partnership (MSP) program, a teacher-driven professional development initiative for increasing the academic achievement of students in mathematics by enhancing the content knowledge and teaching skills of classroom teachers.

Facilitated by the Warner Center for Professional Development and Education Reform at the University of Rochester's Warner School of Education, the three day professional development workshop, titled "Developing Mathematical Ideas," will take place Feb. 16-18 at the district's Center for Professional Learning at 690 St. Paul Street.

The goal is to help teachers, who will receive 30 instructional professional development hours through the RCSD's MSP grant, gain a deep conceptual understanding of how students think about mathematics, particularly the base-ten (or decimal) number system and the beginning ideas of number systems.

"The idea is to bring teachers into discussions of the process kids go through to understand mathematical ideas and to develop questioning skills to pull out their own understanding," says Stephanie Martin, the mathematics outreach coordinator at the Warner Center who will lead this professional development effort. "Simultaneously, they will be able to bring their own classroom experiences to the discussion and share what they've learned about their students' understanding of mathematics."

By learning to value their students as young mathematicians, participating teachers will learn to draw out students' thinking in their classroom. "It's usually an eye-opener for the teachers to see how they themselves think about mathematical concepts and then compare it to how their students think about them," Martin adds.

Each session engages teachers in doing mathematics themselves, reading written cases from classrooms, participating in group discussions, and observing classroom video cases. Teachers will examine how children naturally do addition and subtraction in real life situations and learn how to use this to develop an understanding of multiplication, division, and decimals. Teachers will also identify core mathematical ideas and examine how these develop from kindergarten through grade five.

The MSP program, funded by a U.S. Department of Education National Science Foundation grant and awarded by the New York State Department of Education, is managed by the RCSD in partnership with the State University of New York, College at Brockport and the Warner Center, both providing resources for professional development in mathematics to improve the effectiveness of mathematics instruction in the RCSD.

For more than two decades, the Warner Center has continually supported and collaborated with numerous school districtsócity, suburban, and urban districtsóregionally on research and professional development opportunities to promote high-quality, systemic work in mathematics education that strengthens and improves student learning in K-12 schools. To learn more about the Warner Center, visit

About the Warner School of Education
Founded in 1958, the University of Rochester's Warner School of Education offers master's and doctoral degree programs in teaching and curriculum, school leadership, higher education, counseling, human development, and educational policy. The Warner School of Education offers a new accelerated option for its Ed.D. programs that allows eligible students to earn a doctorate in education in as few as three years part time while holding a professional job in the same field. The Warner School of Education is recognized both regionally and nationally for its tradition of preparing practitioners and researchers to become leaders and agents of change in schools, universities, and community agencies; generating and disseminating research; and actively participating in education reform.