MONDAY NIGHT MATHS
|Project Title||Monday Night Maths|
|Project Team||Dr Julie Clark, Mr Will Morony (SiMERR SA), Ms Kym Linke, Mr Mark Ward (Department of Education and Children’s Services SA)|
|Period||December 2006 – June 2008|
|Organisational Base||SiMERR SA|
This project delivered and evaluated the effectiveness of using synchronous video technology that is currently available in schools in country South Australia in an extended teacher professional development program in mathematics. Professional development was delivered at regular sessions interspersed with a period for trialling new ideas, followed by the sharing of experiences.
The Monday night mathematics project has been conducted once a month, starting in December 2006. Teachers from SA rural schools are engaging in mathematics PD using distance technology. The sessions are typically held from 4:00 – 5:30 pm. About 15 different rural schools have been involved to date and more are expected to join as the year progresses. In 2007 sessions were given separately to primary and secondary teachers and topics included using Ti-15 calculators, learning objects, using software with graphics calculators and statistics for Year 12. In 2008 all sessions have been inclusive for R-12 teachers. Topics have included mental mathematics and a report of the recent summer school.
PD has been conducted primarily by DECS mathematics state coordinators. Some sessions have had guest presenters with particular expertise in niche areas. Recently a participating rural teacher presented the PD session from her school. The researcher has observed most sessions live, conducted live interviews and written surveys.
Approximately 40 R-12 teachers from 15 SA rural schools have participated to date.
Initially, reliability of internet connections and knowledge of technology were obstacles. The presenters and participants persisted with the issues and 18 months down the track the technology problems have lessened. No doubt knowledge of the systems and technical updates have played an important role in this. The presentation team grappled with the impact of the distance mode on presentation methods and experimented with various techniques. Protocols such as turning off microphones when not speaking, have assisted in the success of the sessions.
The presenters have learned to engage remote participants by eliciting responses from each school in turn over the whole session. Checking that participants are still on line and requesting queries from participants when visuals or audio is unclear have proved to be essential. Preparation of the sessions is key to success. Sessions have worked best when written materials have been distributed ahead of time. This ensures that all participants are able to follow the presentation, even when visual quality is poor.
A wide variety of topics have been presented in the PD sessions. Participants have reported that hand-on sessions are particularly engaging. This is partly because of the timing of the sessions- they are presented at the end of a school day when teachers have already put in a full days work. Nevertheless a growing group of teachers are registering interest in the sessions.
The project has been successful, in that it has provided mathematics PD for some forty teachers in fifteen schools around rural South Australia. The connections established between teachers in these schools have resulted in the sharing of expertise between teachers in similar regions. Teachers have gained new content and pedagogical knowledge in mathematics. In addition, they have learned to use a new medium, video conferencing.
The teachers are excited for the opportunities presented and eager for the PD to continue. There is already evidence of change in pedagogy following the PD. Each session, teachers provide verbal feedback about their trial of something learned during one of the earlier PD sessions. In addition there is a least one instance of teachers from one rural school becoming connected with another school via the PD sessions and subsequently visiting the schools for additional support. It is planned to continue the project beyond the life of SiMERR and more rural teachers will be encouraged to become presenters. This project offers promise for future PD in rural and remote areas.
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