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Illinois College, teachers collaborate to strengthen student math skills


Nine local teachers are participating in a summer training program designed to strengthen their students’ math skills. The Math Learning Collaborative Network is sponsored by Illinois College in coordination with the Associated Colleges of Illinois, the Illinois Math and Science Academy, North Central College and McKendree University.

The goal of the Network is to advance the teaching of six-12 grade math to inspire and motivate students (especially those who are minorities or whose families have low incomes) to persist in their explorations and studies of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Illinois College Professor of Mathematics Todd Oberg said, “Illinois College has a well-established relationship with District 117, and this project will continue and strengthen that relationship. We are also working with the Beardstown School District, and we hope this will lead to further collaboration with that district.”

Participating teachers from Jacksonville School District 117 are Jacksonville High School teachers Kathleen Beard, Cindy Arnold, David DeMuro and Tracey Roberts, and Jonathan Turner Junior High School teachers Sandra Sweatman, Dawn Murphy, Jennifer Pool and Kristen Turner. Denise Hamby who teaches middle school in Beardstown Community Unit School District 15 also will participate. Other teachers involved in the project are from Belleville School District 118 and East Aurora School District 131.
Jacksonville and Beardstown teachers will take coursework at Illinois College, North Central College and Starhill Forest Arboretum near Petersburg. Oberg and Patricia Kiihne, professor of mathematics at Illinois College, will lead the local training. Guy Sternberg, Edie Sternberg and Alana McKean of Starhill Forest Arboretum will assist in the coursework provided at the arboretum field station.

Participants will strengthen their knowledge of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, receive direct instruction in mathematical content, training and practice in problem-based learning and inquiry driven pedagogy, and receive assistance and support in developing student performance assessments, data collection and analysis for action research. They will receive a stipend for participating in the program which concludes in September.

The project is funded by a grant from the Illinois State Board of Education’s Illinois Mathematics and Science Partnership program. Oberg said if the grant is renewed, a similar program will be offered for Jacksonville and Beardstown math teachers next summer.


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