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OGAP: Understanding How Students Approach Math

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18-Oct-2014 (HCS) - Tammy Dunn believes every student is a “mathematician under construction.” With that mantra, Dunn – the school system’s Chief Academic Officer for Mathematics and Science – continually seeks out training for teachers and teacher leaders to construct those mathematicians. A major focus here at the start of school: multiplicative reasoning.

“You rarely find an adult who will admit that he or she cannot read, but it is very common to hear people say, ‘I am not good at math or I have never been good at math,’” Dunn said. “We believe not only can every student learn to read but that every student can also learn to do mathematics.”

Following up on training from this past spring, Dunn brought one of the country’s best math minds to Hoover in early September: Beth Hulbert. Hulbert is a lifelong educator, a Senior Associate at the National Center for Assessment and a founder of OGAP (the Ongoing Assessment Project).

“We have outstanding math teachers in our district. Building on their success, we want to equip them with best professional development possible so that they have access to every tool imaginable to help our students be successful,” Dunn said.

Math coaches and teachers met at Hoover’s “Old Berry” campus in mid-September, brushing up on multiplicative reasoning skills, the OGAP way.

OGAP seeks to help teachers understand the stages of thinking through which students go as they develop a particular math concept, Dunn says. OGAP training uses volumes of research to present teachers with diagnostic strategies to help move forward students’ mathematical understanding. Hoover teachers/math coaches look forward to implementing OGAP to enhance their strengths.

“I think the value in this process is being able to instruct our kids where they are,” Nicole Stokes, Deer Valley Elementary, said. “This just gives us a broader view of where our kids are academically.”

“When I am working with students it’s almost like I have a little bit of background. It’s like that prior knowledge that we want to tap into with our students when we’re trying to teach them something. Well, we as teachers get the prior knowledge here,” Aquila Malpass, Shades Mountain Elementary, said.

“We are learning about students’ understanding of math concepts, but we are also learning about students’ misconceptions of math concepts and what we can do to address those misconceptions,” Jill Foshee, Gwin Elementary, said.

OGAP's Beth Hulbert (Marjorie Petit, Robert Laird are also members of the OGAP Leadership Team) was impressed with what she witnessed in Hoover, “a highly-effective approach to tackling math instruction.”

“Our project philosophically believes it’s not enough to give teachers 1st wave training. That they need ongoing support if you really want to improve,” Hulbert said. “My job is to support your teacher leaders in supporting your teachers. You have leadership with a vision. There’s been this thoughtful, purposeful plan about all your teachers who teach multiplicative reasoning.”

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