
TEACHING TO THE BIG IDEAS19931997
Teaching to the Big Ideas was a 4year professional development project in elementary mathematics, which ran from 1993 to 1997, with associated research efforts running through 1998. It was designed to address
During the first three years  through summer institutes, biweekly afterschool 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 199697 school year, TBI teacherleaders 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 #ESI9254393). Participants were K6 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 TBIGoldsmith, 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 K6, pp. 247254. 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, 916. 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. 492499. Also in C.T. Fosnot (Ed.) Constructivism: Foundations, perspectives, and practice, 7391. 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, 1726. 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 K6, pp. 255262. 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

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 
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.
(617) 9697100
FAX: (617) 9656325
DSchifter@edc.org
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