DMI is a project within the Center for the Development of Teaching, Education Development Center, Inc.

EDC Logo

TEACHING TO THE BIG IDEAS

1993-1997


Teaching to the Big Ideas was a 4-year professional development project in elementary mathematics, which ran from 1993 to 1997, with associated research efforts running through 1998. It was designed to address

  • the development of elementary teachers' mathematical understanding and how it affects instruction,
  • the interaction of teacher development and curriculum reforms, and
  • central mathematical ideas that emerge in classroom contexts as teachers open up their teaching to students' ideas.

TBI Staff
TBI Publications

During the first three years - through summer institutes, biweekly after-school meetings, and biweekly classroom visits - participants explored mathematics content and reflected on the nature of mathematics, how it is learned, and implications of these new insights for their own instruction. As teachers transformed instruction, the group identified big ideas that emerged and examined how ideas shift, change, and grow across grade levels.

In order to investigate the mathematical issues that emerge when teaching is organized around students' ideas, participating teachers regularly wrote classroom episodes that captured the mathematical thinking of one or more students. Initially, those short narratives were intended for project consumption only. After a year, project staff realized the episodes could be used as cases to be used as the basis of discussion among educators outside the project. As we explored such uses of the TBI episodes, we came to the idea of producing a professional development curriculum, which we called Developing Mathematical Ideas (DMI).

From the beginning of the project, the TBI teachers had made a commitment to do some kind of professional development work in their schools during the fourth year. Once they realized DMI was available to work from, most teachers decided to offer a DMI seminar in their schools. During the 1996-97 school year, TBI teacher-leaders led 12 DMI seminars for colleagues and 1 for parents. (See the linked page, Teacher Leadership Development.)

Teaching to the Big Ideas was a collaboration among EDC, SummerMath for Teachers at Mount Holyoke College, and TERC, funded by the National Science Foundation (Grant #ESI-9254393). Participants were K-6 teachers representing 15 schools in urban, suburban, and rural communities in Massachusetts. Of the 36 teachers who began the project, 30 participated for the full 4 years. Midway through the project, another 6 joined.

A list of TBI project staff and a list of publications from the TBI project are also available on this site.

Publications Produced by TBI

Bastable, V. & Schifter, D. (in press). Classroom stories: Examples of elementary students engaged in early algebra. In J. Kaput (Ed.). Employing Children's Natural Powers to Build Algebraic Reasoning in the Content of Elementary Mathematics.

Goldsmith, L., and Schifter, D. (1997). Understanding teachers in transition: Characteristics of a model for the development of mathematics teaching. In E. Fennema and B.S. Nelson (Eds.) Mathematics Teachers in Transition. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Morse, A. & Wagner, P. (in press). Learning from parents. In D. Peressini (Ed.) Parents and Educational Reform: Power, Participation and Content.

Morse, A. & Wagner, P. (in press) Learning to listen: Lessons from a mathematics seminar for parents. Teaching Children Mathematics.

Russell, S.J. (in preparation). A case of classroom teachers becoming teacher educators: The challenge of teaching peers.

Russell, S.J. (1997) The role of curriculum in teacher development. In S. Friel & G. Bright (Eds.) Reflecting on Our Work: NSF Teacher Enhancement in Mathematics K-6, pp. 247-254. Washington, D.C.: University Press of America.

Russell, S.J., Schifter, D., Bastable, V., Yaffee, L., Lester, J., & Cohen, S. (December, 1995). Learning mathematics while teaching. In B. Nelson, (Ed.) Inquiry and the Development of Teaching: Issues in the Transformation of Mathematics Teaching, 9-16. Newton, MA: Center for the Development of Teaching Paper Series, Education Development Center.

Schifter, D. (in press). Learning mathematics for teaching: From the teachers' seminar to the classroom. Journal for Mathematics Teacher Education. Also appears as (1997). Learning mathematics for teaching: Lessons in/from the domain of fractions. Center for the Development of Teaching Paper Series, Newton, MA: Education Development Center.

Schifter, D. (March, 1997). Operation sense as a foundation for algebra. Presented at the meeting of the American Education Research Association, Chicago.

Schifter, D. (1996). A constructivist perspective on teaching and learning mathematics. Phi Delta Kappan, 77(7), pp. 492-499. Also in C.T. Fosnot (Ed.) Constructivism: Foundations, perspectives, and practice, 73-91. New York: Teachers College Press.

Schifter, D. (December, 1995). Teachers' changing conceptions of the nature of mathematics: Enactment in the classroom. In B. Nelson, (Ed.) Inquiry and the Development of Teaching: Issues in the Transformation of Mathematics Teaching, 17-26. Newton, MA: Center for the Development of Teaching Paper Series, Education Development Center.

Schifter, D., Bastable, V., & Russell, S.J. (1997). Attention to mathematical thinking: Teaching to the Big Ideas. In S. Friel & G. Bright (Eds.) Reflecting on Our Work: NSF Teacher Enhancement in Mathematics K-6, pp. 255-262. Washington, D.C.: University Press of America.

Schifter, D., Russell, S.J., & Bastable, V. (in press). Teaching to the Big Ideas. In M. Solomon (Ed.). The Diagnostic Teacher: Revitalizing Professional Development. New York: Teachers College Press.

Schifter, D., and O'Brien, D. (in press). Interpreting the Standards: Translating principles into practice. Teaching Children Mathematics.

Teaching to the Big Ideas (1997). Developing mathematical ideas, Module 1: Building a system of tens. Newton, MA: Education Development Center, Inc.

Teaching to the Big Ideas (1997). Developing mathematical ideas, Module 2: Making meaning for operations. Newton, MA: Education Development Center, Inc.


Teaching to the Big Ideas
Staff and Participants

TBI Staff

Name

Affiliation

Virginia Bastable Mt. Holyoke College, South Hadley
Linda Davenport Education Development Center, Newton
Sophia Cohen Education Development Center, Newton
Lisa Yaffee Consultant
Jill Lester Mt. Holyoke College, South Hadley
Susan Jo Russell TERC, Cambridge
Deborah Schifter Education Development Center, Newton

TBI Participants

Name

School Affiliation

Audrey Barzey Early Learning Center - West, Boston
Allan Arnaboldi Fort River School, Amherst
Lisa Bailly Mosier Elemenatary School, South Hadley
Julie Burke David A. Ellis School, Boston
Yvonne Carpio James W. Hennigan, Boston
Rose Christiansen Lincoln Elementary, Brookline
Nancy Dostal Bridge Street School, Northampton
Marcia Estelle Westfield Middle School, Westfield
Becky Eston Charles Sumner Smith School, Lincoln
Trish Farrington Fort River School, Amherst
Victoria Fink Abner Gibbs School, Westfield
Gail Gilmore Tobin School, Boston
Nancy Horowitz German Gerena Community School, Springfield
Debbie Jacque Pelham Elementary School, Pelham
Mary Ann Kitchener German Gerena Community School, Springfield
Rick Last Fort River School, Amherst
Elizabeth Miller Tobin School, Boston
Rena Moore Pelham Elementary School, Pelham
Amy Morse Education Development Center, Newton
Deborah O'Brien Mosier Elementary School, South Hadley
Martha Ochs Abner Gibbs School, Westfield
Anne Marie O'Reilly William E. Norris School, Southampton
Hilory Paster Lincoln School, Brookline
Jessica Redman (on leave)
Priscilla Rhodes Charles Sumner Smith School, Lincoln
Margie Riddle Bridge Street School, Northampton
Janice Rook Tobin School, Boston
Sherry Sajdak Chestnut Hill Community School, Belchertown
Karen Schweitzer Helen E. James School, Hampshire Region
Elisabeth Seyferth Horace Mann School, Newton
Susan Smith Helen E. James School, Hampshire Region
Diane Stafford David A. Ellis School, Boston
Nora Toney Mattahunt Elementary School, Boston
Polly Wagner Atrium School, Watertown
Carol Walker Horace Mann School, Newton
Stephen Walkowicz Chestnut Hill Community School, Belchertown

All of these sites are in the state of Massachusetts.


For more information, please contact:
Deborah Schifter
Education Development Center, Inc.
55 Chapel Street
Newton, MA 02158-1060

(617) 969-7100
FAX: (617) 965-6325
DSchifter@edc.org


 

Education Development Center, Inc. Site hosted by Education Development Center, Inc.© Copyright 2005. All Rights Reserved.