MCKEESPORT, Pa. — Penn State Greater Allegheny is hosting a weeklong series of Pennsylvania Mathematics Initiative (PMI) workshops this week. The Pennsylvania Mathematics Initiative is designed to help elementary school teachers deepen their content knowledge to facilitate their incorporation of the newly implemented Common Core State Standards.
Beth Lindsey, associate professor of physics, and Kuei-Nuan Lin, assistant professor of mathematics, are hosting the workshops, with the theme of “Math as a Second Language.”
Lin and Lindsey became involved in the PMI last summer. They were invited to participate in the institute being offered at University Park in order to observe and prepare to run the workshop here at Greater Allegheny. In addition to Greater Allegheny and University Park, workshops were also offered at the Brandywine campus earlier this summer.
Fran Arbaugh, associate professor of mathematics education at University Park, joined the group this week to lead discussions of math pedagogy. Andrew Baxter, lecturer in mathematics at University Park and the mastermind behind the PMI, was at the workshop on Monday and Tuesday to help get things started.
The workshops are held for five days from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and focus on kindergarten through fifth grade threads of number, operation and algebraic thinking, and include discussions on research-supported classroom practice for mathematics. Teachers and teacher leaders from throughout the region are attending the workshops, including six teachers each from the Mt. Lebanon School District and Pittsburgh Public Schools, four teachers from the Woodland Hills School District, three from the Greater Latrobe School District, and one from the Rockwood Area School District.
"By developing an understanding of how mathematical ideas connect across grade levels, they can improve their own teaching and may serve as a resource or teacher-leader for other teachers in their district."
-- Beth Lindsey, associate professor of physics
According to Lindsey, the goal of the PMI is for its participants to deepen their understanding of the mathematics they teach. “By developing an understanding of how mathematical ideas connect across grade levels, they can improve their own teaching and may serve as a resource or teacher-leader for other teachers in their district,” she said. “I’m excited to be working with elementary math teachers on deepening their understanding of mathematics. The workshop is called “Mathematics as a Second Language” because we want to help teachers develop a fluency with mathematics, enabling them to teach the same ideas in many different ways. We hope that by helping the teachers to develop these skills, they will become more successful at instilling a deep understanding for and love of math in their own students.”
According to the PMI website, “The workshops strive to enhance mathematics content knowledge, which leads participants to begin to view themselves as mathematicians, to view mathematics as part of their lives, and to see the world around them in a mathematical light. This leads to impacts in the teachers’ classrooms as they feel more comfortable with mathematics, the more they are able to effectively communicate their knowledge and convey their enthusiasm to their own students and other teachers.”