A personalized professional support system

A unique platform for learning how to enrich teacher instruction to foster students’ understanding of mathematical strategies.

Cathy Fosnot is well known in mathematics. Having previously collaborated on the groundbreaking series Young Mathematicians at Work, authored the Contexts for Learning Mathematics curriculum, and contributed to the instructional theory and foundation of DreamBox Learning, she and her colleague Maarten Dolk were referred to Clarity for designing and building a solution that provides an on-demand, self-directed, multi-pathway system for professional learning about the teaching and learning of mathematics.

Challenge

The pedagogy of mathematics instruction has evolved significantly in the last 15-20 years. And while the Common Core State Standards recognize this reality, many preservice teacher education programs and most elementary curriculua haven't accommodated this change (Contexts for Learning Mathematics and Bridges in Mathematics are notable exceptions). Realizing this, Cathy and Maarten sought out a partner to help design and build a new kind of online professional learning experience that helps educators generate insight with authentic classroom examples, build confidence in their own teaching, and ease anxiety around embracing pedagogical best practices. 

Solution

After refreshing our internal research library about the state of art in professional learning practices, we worked collaboratively with Cathy and Maarten to design a solution that lets educators choose their focus depending on their own needs and interests. For example, educators using New Perspectives Online may focus on analysis of actual students’ work, view authentic examples of teachers conferring with students at work and facilitating math congresses, and learn from the authors as they share their perspectives and insight on effective pedagogy. The solution also offers opportunities for self-reflection, peer feedback, and working in cohorts and virtual communities of practice.

Outcome

After conceptualizing the solution, we created wireframes, a working prototype, and a three-minute introductory video screencast for demonstration at the national NCTM conference.  After the enthusiastic reception at NCTM, development began and is on schedule to launch in the Fall of 2015.