Dr. Catherine Lewis, an international speaker and author who has studied teaching methods in Japan and the United States for more than 25 years, was the keynote speaker Tuesday at the 2011 Summer Institute held at Perris High School hosted by Project DELTA, Developing Educators Learning to Teach Algebraically.
Lewis was on hand to discuss the Lesson Study model of teaching math and other subjects, which calls on teachers to collaborate with colleagues, discuss best solutions and research for students, and pay careful attention to whether students understand concepts and are not just coming up with correct answers.
“We become better teachers, but more importantly, the kids are benefiting,” said Tracy Baker, a teacher at Bell Mountain Middle School in Menifee. “With our changing economy, and with everything going on around them, our students are going to need to think differently about math. We are all going to need to think differently.”
Teachers take part in hands-on problem solving during the summer session, including calculating how many water balloons it would take to fill the auditorium they were in. It took 7,994,800. They work in groups to solve math problems. Teachers said working out the problems with their peers helped them see how their own students might struggle to understand key concepts.
Perris Elementary School Teacher Marie Cancel said, “I thought that my students understood concepts because they got the right answers, but they might not have. It’s important that students explain answers. We need to concentrate on teaching them problem solving.”
Teachers are in their second of three years they will spend in Project DELTA. They spend two weeks in the summer program, and they work closely with their peers throughout the school year. They also share information with teachers in other districts.
Project DELTA is funded by a grant from the California Math Science Partnership. It involves the elementary districts in the Perris area — Menifee, Nuview, Romoland, and Perris elementary – as well as the Perris high school district, Oak Grove Charter School and the Riverside County Office of Education Alternative and Special Education departments.
The higher education partner is California State University, San Bernardino, led by Principal Investigator Dr. Madeliene Jetter. Dr. Susan Addington also partners with the grant as professor of mathematics from CSUSB. Vicky Kukuruda and Shirley Roath, administrators and math content specialists from the county’s Office of Eductation, comprise the other two partners on the content team. Key Data Systems is another partner, supporting the evaluation of project goals.
~Courtesy of Riverside County Office of Education