$1M grant to benefit K-12 teaching of math, science

$1M grant to benefit K-12 teaching of math, science

Megan Jorgensen, a UNL graduate, discusses a math problem with a student at Park Middle School in this file photo from 2014. UNL will use a $1 million Nebraska Department of Education grant to improve K-12 math and science instruction statewide.
Craig Chandler | University Communications
Megan Jorgensen, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate, discusses a math problem with a student at Park Middle School in this file photo from 2014. The university will use a $1 million Nebraska Department of Education grant to improve K-12 math and science instruction statewide.

A $1 million grant from the Nebraska Department of Education will help University of Nebraska-Lincoln faculty coordinate a professional development project aimed at improving K-12 math and science instruction throughout the Cornhusker State.

With a focus on elevating academic achievement in Nebraska’s high-need schools, the project will establish professional development sessions at sites that include Crete, Fremont, Grand Island, Norfolk, North Platte and Scottsbluff. Approximately 40 elementary and secondary teachers from participating schools will lead the sessions.

Known as Nebraska Partnership TEAMS, the project represents a collaboration between high-need schools and university faculty from the Center for Science, Mathematics and Computer Education; the Department of Mathematics; the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; and the Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education.

“The university is highly committed to the state of Nebraska’s goals to improve the collaborative environment of mathematics and science teaching,” said Wendy Smith, associate director of the Center for Science, Mathematics and Computer Education. “We believe teacher learning is best facilitated by partnerships among K-12 master teachers, scientists, mathematicians, and science and math educators. STEM disciplines are highly interrelated. Math and science teacher education and professional development should include integrated STEM experiences.”

Three sets of sessions – dedicated to elementary-integrated STEM, secondary mathematics, and secondary Earth and space science, respectively – will address content that aligns with Nebraska State Standards. Along with bolstering content knowledge in these areas, the sessions will focus on raising teacher confidence and encouraging the adoption of research-backed instructional practices.

The project will also build a network that gives leading educators of math and science the opportunity to deliver ongoing professional development on a regional basis, Smith said. In addition to Smith, participating university faculty will include Leilani Arthurs, Ruth Heaton, Michelle Homp, Yvonne Lai, Elizabeth Lewis, Lorraine Males, Mindi Searls, Amanda Thomas and Julie Thomas.

For more information on this and other projects coordinated at the Center for Science, Mathematics and Computer Education, visit http://scimath.unl.edu.