SEMO using $21,000 federal grant to help math teachers

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

In an effort to improve math teaching methods at struggling schools in the region, Southeast Missouri State University will use a $421,000 federal grant to provide training and material to teachers.

Eight school districts, most of them in the Bootheel, will participate in the program at the Southeast Regional Professional Development Center, which provides training for teachers. About 40 math teachers instructing fourth through eighth grade will participate in a five-day workshop at Southeast in June.

Linda Null, math coordinator for the center, will help lead the workshop. She said it will focus on using technology and different teaching techniques to reach more students.

"We want to help teachers teach in a way that the students are engaged," Null said.

The program targets higher-need schools as determined by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Eight schools — six public, one private and one charter — will participate in the program. She said private schools were invited to participate because of a requirement in the grant, but public schools in the Bootheel struggle the most.

"I think it has to do with a variety of factors, one of them being poverty," she said. Mobility, the moving of students in and out of districts, also creates a learning gap for students in the region, Null said.

Most of the funding will buy calculators, books on teaching methods, interactive white boards and other resources that will be used during training.

"It's more than just giving them the resources," she said. "It's giving them the professional development to use them better."

Undergraduate Southeast students will attend, although participation is not required, said Mary Ann DeLine, a professor of middle and secondary education.

"To have the opportunity to interact with other teachers and to boost their teaching strategies is a huge benefit," she said. The majority of Southeast education alumni teach in the area, she said. DeLine will help with technology components of the program.

The program will receive $150,000 in the first year of the grant. The teachers, who participate in the program, will continue with similar training for two more years.


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