Campus: CSU Hayward -- September 30, 2002

ACCLAIM Program at CSUH Helps Bay Area School Teachers Deepen Their Knowledge of Mathematics

About 325 elementary and high school educators from school districts throughout the Bay Area and Northern California attended summer school at California State University, Hayward to deepen their understanding of mathematics.

As they start teaching in the fall, these educators will be more able to help their students understand how and why mathematics makes sense—not just how to do calculations.

The Alameda County Collaborative for Learning and Instruction in Mathematics (ACCLAIM), based at Cal State Hayward, believes this summer training will enhance the mathematics instruction in 30 Northern California school districts for years to come.

The State of California has allotted nearly $4 million in grants for the ACCLAIM program over the past three years, with Cal State Hayward receiving about $1.75 million to administer the program. The state has provided more than $2 million in stipends for program participants, who receive $100 a day for their time and to cover travel expenses. School districts sending participants are required to provide only a $300 per teacher co-payment.

ACCLAIM, a collaborative effort of the Alameda County Office of Education and the university’s Department of Math and Computer Science, is open to all teachers, from kindergarten to 12th grade, who would like to participate.

Tom Roby, ACCLAIM co-director and CSUH associate professor of mathematics, said the program offers teachers “a way to deepen their understanding of the mathematics they teach” while offering creative lesson plans for their students.

“In addition to helping teachers develop a variety of effective classroom instruction techniques, we show how technology and Internet resources can be appropriately used in teaching math,” said Roby, who earned a doctorate in mathematics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“We point out the limitations as well as the benefits of various approaches so that participating teachers gain confidence in choosing the appropriate strategy for a given situation,” Roby added.

The ACCLAIM program offers a variety of two- to three-week full-day institutes, broken out by mathematical topic and grade level, and 80 hours of follow-up activities during the school year. Offerings include number sense, geometry, and statistics for elementary teachers; Transition to Algebra for upper elementary and middle school teachers; Algebraic Thinking 1 and statistics for middle and high school teachers; and Algebraic Thinking 2, geometry, and trigonometry for high school teachers.

Roby has assembled a team of university mathematicians, K-12 classroom teachers, and education specialists to serve in the professional development institutes.

Participants spent eight hours a day for nine- to 14-day sessions of intensive teacher training during the summer and follow-up sessions during the academic year.

Institutes explore the mathematical content at a deeper level than usual. Roby said participants frequently commented that it was the first time they ever understood why something worked, not just how. They told Roby that they were eager to pass on their new insights to the students they will have this fall.

In the transition to algebra class, taught by middle school instructor and longtime CSUH lecturer Phil Gonsalves, teachers at the fourth through sixth grade levels worked with brightly colored blue and yellow algebra tiles as manipulatives.

“These manipulatives provide a hands-on way for students to come to grips with working with variables instead of just numbers,” Roby said. “With the current statewide push to have students understand algebra by the eighth grade, it is essential to have a variety of teaching strategies.

“It's also important that students eventually learn to do algebra without being dependent on the tiles, which function like training wheels on a bicycle. Otherwise, the students will never achieve full comprehension and fluency,” Roby noted.

In the high school geometry institute, Diablo Valley College instructor Karen Edwards explored both Euclidean and non-Euclidean space by making paper models to demonstrate geometric shapes and angles.

“Each institute closely follows the California Math Content Standards,” Roby said. “In addition to our emphasis on content, we spend significant time looking at teaching approaches.”
Roby pointed out that studies show that teachers throughout the United States spend too much time teaching terms and procedures instead of helping students understand the concepts behind the procedures.

The ACCLAIM program operated daily on the Cal State Hayward campus for its third straight summer in 2002 and continues with follow up sessions one Saturday a month during the school year.

More information about the ACCLAIM program is available at www.acclaim.csueastbay.edu/, by calling the ACCLAIM office at (510) 885-3591, or by e-mail to acclaim@csuhayward.edu.


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