Final Update on Our 2022 Foundational Math Implementation Grantee Projects

As many of you know, for the past ten years the Beyond100K (formerly 100Kin10) network has been committed to working to end the STEM teacher shortage by mobilizing work in three catalyst areas: Teacher Work Environment, Foundational Math, and Equity in High School STEM. In 2022, in order to support partners to deepen and extend their collaborative work to address shared challenges related to the catalysts, we awarded five Implementation Grants that were focused on Foundational Math. Last summer, we conducted interviews with the grantees and provided updates on their work to date here.

At the same time as we were beginning to award implementation grants, we were in the process of undertaking a massive participatory process to understand the experiences of young people who have been most excluded from STEM in order to craft the next moonshot goal. Belonging emerged as a central theme from our research, and while the focus of Beyond100K remains on addressing the STEM teacher shortage and the catalysts, centering belonging in STEM for Black, Latinx, and Native American students and teachers is of utmost importance.

As we kick off this new year, we are thrilled to share updates on these powerful grantee projects. It is exciting to note that though the implementation grant work began before we knew the important role belonging would play in our work moving forward, we have found inherent synergy between partners focused on work related to Foundational Math and our new focus on fostering belonging in STEM classrooms. All of our grantees, whose projects are summarized below, address challenges that sit at the intersection of belonging and Foundational Math. We are inspired by their work and are excited to share updates on how these projects have grown and flourished since our last update.

The following projects highlight the power in utilizing Instructional Practices, Teacher Belonging, and Mindset, three of the four factors that foster student belonging.

Transforming Foundational Math Pedagogy: Denver 

Maggie Waldner, Lead Interventionist at the Downtown Denver Expeditionary School, received a grant to build on the work of the 100Kin10 Community that she led last year, Transforming Foundational Math Pedagogy. There have been two major aspects to Maggie’s work: first responding to a need at her school around assessing student progress in mathematics in a meaningful and reliable way, and second, presenting her work at the National Expeditionary Learning (EL) Conference. She worked with her school colleagues and a partner at EL Education to create a set of K-5 math benchmark assessments, along with scoring guides, family communication forms, and data team protocols using the Illustrative Mathematics curriculum as the base for the assessments. Her school has been piloting the assessments this year, with the hope of making adjustments throughout the year and then sharing the assessments with other schools across the EL Education network in the years to come. 

The second major piece of the project was presenting at the EL National Conference in Chicago. Maggie presented both a learning lab session for teachers and leaders across the EL network, as well as co-led a session aimed at supporting schools who are looking to make major changes to the math culture, content, and pedagogy at their school. The learning-lab built off the work her 100Kin10 Community did and centered around mindset-shift in math, as well as practicing a planning protocol to support student-led discourse in elementary classrooms. At the conference Maggie was able to share insights and resources with over 100 educators and leaders from across the country!

This month, Maggie is excited for her colleagues to do their second round of assessment and see the growth that students have made, in addition to getting feedback on the process from teachers participating in the pilot. She notes that this project has allowed her to deepen her work and expand the partnership with her colleagues at EL Education, as EL is just launching their math initiative after 30 years of focusing on ELA and phonics. Maggie is thrilled to be a part of this work and to see what it will mean for the thousands of teachers and students across the country who are a part of the Beyond100K network.

Transforming Foundational Math Pedagogy: New York

Teaching Matters Inc. partnered with PS 126, a public elementary school in the Bronx, New York, to support teachers to create their own protocol for planning student-centered units that center identity development and belonging in foundational math. The teachers first read Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework by Dr. Gholdy Muhammad. They then participated in five coaching sessions that built off of Dr. Muhammad’s five pursuits of culturally and historically responsive teaching - identity, skills, intellectualism, criticality, and joy - to ground the creation of their planning protocol.

One key learning from this project was around user-centered design and how to support teachers in creating their own process to design lessons and units that center students. The coaches did not impose a protocol on the teachers; instead for the first time, they guided and supported them in creating their own! The hope is that by doing this, the teachers felt greater ownership and investment, and that the protocol endures and has a lasting impact on teachers’ planning going forward. 

Already in 2023, the Teaching Matters team has posted a blog on the Teaching Matters website that includes a link to the unit planning protocol and sample unit developed by the team, along with two videos that capture teachers using the protocol and reflecting on the process. They hope that learnings can be leveraged by other coaches working with teachers or teachers themselves who may like to build off of this work to create a similar protocol themselves. They are excited to bring their learnings to more schools in the future, share with the Beyond100K network and beyond, and are eager to partner with others who may have thoughts or resources to share with them as well! 

Making Elementary Math Instruction more Accessible through Robotics and Coding

Dr. Kellie Taylor started this project to build off the work she did with the 100Kin10 Project Team Debugging Mathematics Instruction. Building partnerships with the learning coach and Title 1 Interventionist at her school, Kellie has worked to teach mathematics to her 2nd and 3rd grade students through coding and robotics. Through this work, she has seen students persevere in solving difficult problems, build their confidence in math and coding, understand math concepts versus relying on memorization, and begin to see themselves in STEM careers.

Seeing the joy and engagement her students were having with the program, she sought and received an additional $7,000 grant from her district in Idaho to purchase more robots and expand the program to sixth grade students via an after-school program. While the program is serving as an intervention for students who are struggling with mathematics, Kellie says that being selected for the program has been a confidence booster for the students who feel proud of the work they are doing. Not only are they building their computational thinking skills, but they feel smart in math! 

With the support of her principal, Kellie hopes to expand the number of teachers using this approach to teaching mathematics. She is eager to share her learnings with other elementary school teachers, and will be presenting with a fellow teacher at three upcoming conferences in the spring of 2023. 

Integrating Math and Science in Joyful Learning Experiences

The team at Community Resources for Science built on the findings of the100Kin10 report Reigniting Joyful, Rigorous, and Equitable Foundational Math Learning and the tools and resources from the Developing & Supporting STEM Mindsets in Elementary Educators Project Team website to create and facilitate a professional learning community for elementary school teachers during Summer 2022. Grounded in three pillars - integrating math and science, fostering belonging, and joyfulness - the CRS team engaged 24 TK (Transitional Kindergarten) - 5th grade elementary educators from across three school districts serving under-represented, historically marginalized communities, in immersive professional collaboration over the summer months, including four in-person and virtual collaborative grade-level working sessions.

Teresa Barnett, CRS Executive Director, noted that this professional learning experience was a direct response to teachers asking for more resources about how to intentionally integrate math, science, and language arts in a way that honors students’ various and diverse backgrounds - and also centers joy! Each grade-level team developed model lessons, and the CRS team assembled and distributed materials kits for each one, particularly drawing upon children’s storybooks that feature young people of color doing math and science. Each teacher from the summer session invited one or more grade level peer teachers to join in piloting the lessons during Fall 2022, with more than 45 teachers leading more than 1,000 TK-5th grade students in the new learning experiences.

During the PD, teachers were connected with a scientist to provide expertise, content support, and to visit classes as a scientist role model during the Fall pilot period. In a time when many are concerned about teacher burnout, Teresa noted that the interest for this kind of professional development experience was so great that they added a second cohort of teachers. One 4th grade teacher participant reflected, “I have seen how these lessons have sparked a love and curiosity in science for my students. I can't wait to help my students grow in their understanding of science and help them to continue to see it in our everyday lives, and that they too can be (and are!) scientists.”

The team has also received a $100,000 from Impact100 East Bay to scale up this experience and offer it to even more teachers. They hope to involve the current cohort of teachers in serving as teacher leaders and coaches in upcoming sessions and is thrilled about the work to come!

Increasing Knowledge and Comfort in Teaching with Math and Science Integration

This team, led by Elena Lopez of the California Science Center, sought to shine a light on integrated math and science by developing and leading a brand new six-hour in-person training for teachers. In total, 16 K-5 teachers came together at the Science Center on a Saturday in October to engage in a hands-on exploration of a phenomena about a lost baby whale! The teachers worked together to explore this phenomena using math and science concepts via stations. Afterwards, they split up into grade-level teams and worked with their peers from across LA County to brainstorm and create lessons for their students based on their experiences engaging in hands-on learning.

Elena was elated that many of the teachers were ones they had never worked with before; part of the impetus for seeking this grant was to expand their reach by offering no-cost training to teachers who serve predominantly Black and Latinx students in Title 1 Schools. She is grateful for the work of Beyond100K and network partners around Foundational Math that helped make the case for this opportunity, and is excited to continue this work.

Looking Ahead 

We hope you are inspired as we are by the incredible work of each of these grantees. We also have five grantees who implemented projects related to the Equity in High School STEM catalyst focus area; click here to learn more about the exciting work these grantees took on. We look forward to more of this type of collaborative work in the days to come as we embark on our next decade of work explicitly centering belonging in STEM. Stay tuned!