A one-week Preparatory Professional Development has wrapped up and a four-week Summer Induction is in progress with teachers and students in Broward County, Florida. These summer sessions have been scheduled annually since 2018 with the Broward County School District (BCPS), and are an opportunity for teachers to learn and teach with their students, and with the Algebra Project’s Professional Development Team. The sessions focus on what to teach, curricular materials, how to teach them, and pedagogical strategies for “raising the floor of math literacy.”
The Preparatory PD offers a safe space to learn a fundamental aspect of the Algebra Project’s approach, the Five-Step Curricular Process. The project’s Five-Step Curricular process helps students understand complex math through shared experiences that they observe and describe in drawings, in models, and in ordinary “people talk”. They identify key features of the shared event first developed through their own iconic representations before switching over to the more conventional abstract representations of mathematics.
The Summer Induction, now underway, is an opportunity for students and teachers to cultivate a productive classroom learning environment, without the pressures of grading and testing that are present during the school year. These summer experiences are an important step in fostering the relationships that students and teachers then can carry into the school year, augmenting the impact of the mathematical resources in the curriculum materials and pedagogical approaches that the teachers are implementing.
The importance of fostering such relationships is reflected in another major aspect of the Algebra Project’s work which BCPS has adopted, the cohort model. By having students remain with the same class and same teacher “looping” for several years, interpersonal relationships between students and between students and their teachers are cemented which is important to the whole class engaging with the mathematical content rigorously. The students’ relationship with each other and with their teacher allows them to not only invest in their own success, but also in the success of their peers.