Twenty-five dedicated Galveston middle and high school mathematics teachers made daily trips to Houston for a two-week summer mathematics institute designed for them by the Rice University School Mathematics Project as part of the ongoing collaboration between RUSMP and the Galveston Independent School District.

Throughout the institute facilitated by RUSMP Master Teachers Jan Casey and Kymberly Riggins teachers explored important mathematics concepts including proportionality integers patterns and functions.

Manipulatives as well as computer and calculator technology were used to help teachers develop a deep understanding of the mathematics they will be teaching in the upcoming school year.

As teachers investigated the mathematics they discussed methods for classroom management and instruction to help ensure their students will attain mathematical success.

With middle and high school teachers working together the institute fostered opportunities for conversations to create a seamless transition for students as they progress from grade to grade in the middle and high school years.

The culminating activity of the institute was a day on the Rice University campus. It began with a mathematical tour of the Rice campus led by Dr. Anne Papakonstantinou RUSMP director and Richard Parr RUSMP associate director for curricular and instructional programs.

Teachers braved the extreme heat to explore the mathematics everywhere on the campus — the Sallyport and Lovett Hall the statue of William Marsh Rice as well as Herzstein Duncan and Anderson halls Brochstein Pavilion and the 45-degree 90-degree and 180-degree sculpture in the engineering quadrangle.

At the conclusion of the tour teachers participated in an interactive learning presentation on mathematical knots and tangles led by Rice University Associate Professor of Mathematics Shelly Harvey.

Professor Harvey showed how simple arithmetic can be used to better understand the complex nature of knot theory.

Teachers shared their thoughts about the positive impact that the institute had on them.

One teacher said ”This program provided a fantastic forum for discussion of teaching strategies motivational techniques and mathematical concepts from the freshest teacher to the wisest sage.”

Another teacher commented that ”the program has given me the confidence to try new teaching approaches and a better understanding of how to present mathematics to my students.”

During the school year teachers will receive further support from RUSMP through ongoing professional development coaching and mentoring. Working closely with Galveston ISD coach Jackie Williams RUSMP is customizing follow-up support to meet the needs of each teacher.

”Galveston’s teachers experienced the joy and excitement of exploring mathematics which will translate into more engaging lessons for their students” Dr. Papakonstantinou said.

Richard Parr is the associate director of curricular and instructional programs for the Rice University School Mathematics Project.

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