Foundational Math Brain Trust: Equipping Elementary Teachers to Enable Authentic and Joyful Math Learning

100Kin10 is dedicated to solving the Grand Challenges underlying the STEM teacher shortage. In particular, we are mobilizing our network to tackle the “catalysts”, the issues that, if improved, would generate a positive domino-like effect and most improvement across the system.

We began by focusing on three catalysts related to work environment for teachers in schools. We are now building on this progress by activating the network to tackle a second catalyst issue focused on improving foundational math proficiency.

Research shows that a strong grasp of math concepts at an early age is a major predictor of success later in school and in life. Math is foundational not only to increasing access to STEM for all students, but also to increasing the number of people able to contribute to the STEM workforce, especially those traditionally underrepresented. Moreover, we know from extensive data that teacher anxiety and discomfort with math is one of the leading causes of low levels of math learning in the early grades and of increased student apprehension of math, especially for girls, making it a critical place for intervention in striving for equity and growing the number of women working in STEM fields.

We also know from research that students learn best when they are responsible for their own learning and construct their own understanding of concepts. Doing so builds on students’, especially young students’, natural curiosity while also recentering learning around joy - a core part of education that has been forgotten in many schools. It also helps students build the softer skills associated with social emotional learning that are critical for success, such as teamwork, growth mindset, and perseverance.

Recognizing this, 100Kin10 is mobilizing our network to tackle issues of foundational math proficiency. Specifically, we are asking, "How might we equip elementary (PreK-5th grade) teachers to enable authentic and joyful math learning for all students?"

Guided by a Brain Trust of 100Kin10 partners and Teacher Forum members, we will begin by “getting smart” on foundational math. This effort will focus on the high-leverage catalyst at the center of this issue - teacher prep faculty who have expertise specifically in elementary STEM education - and enable the network to begin from a deep understanding of what is and isn’t working to improve foundational math proficiency and target their efforts accordingly.

Members of the Foundational Math Brain Trust:

- Barbara Adcock, Powhatan County Public Schools (100Kin10 Teacher Forum)

- Rachael Aming-Attai, University of Indianapolis

- Lindsay Anderson, ASSET STEM Education

- Melissa Axelsson, New Jersey Center for Teaching and Learning (NJCTL)

- Joan Bissell, California State University

- Kimberly Brenneman, Heising-Simons Foundation

- Cynthia Brunswick, Academy of Urban School Leadership

- Peg Cagle, Reseda High School / LAUSD (100Kin10 Teacher Forum)

- Monica Cardella, INSPIRE @ Purdue

- Zulmara Cline, California State University

- Diana Cornejo-Sanchez, High Tech High Teacher Center

- Linda Curtis-Bey, American Museum of Natural History

- Kassie Davis, CME Group Foundation

- Brianna Donaldson, Math Teachers’ Circle Network

- Michael Driskill, Math for America

- Jack Fahle, Hillsborough County Public Schools

- Janice Fuld, WNET New York Public Media

- Ellie Goldberg, STEM Center, UT Austin

- Wendy Hoffer, PEBC

- Katherine Hovde, Center for High Impact Philanthropy

- Jeff Kennedy, The Institute for School Partnership, Washington University

- Lou Matthews, Urban Teachers

- Jennifer McCray, Erikson Institute

- Peggy McNamara, Bank Street College of Education

- Karen Miksch, National Math + Science Initiative

- Babette Moeller, Center for Children and Technology

- Christina Overman, Bear Tavern Elementary School (100Kin10 Teacher Forum)

- Kathy Perkins, PhET Interactive Simulations

- Yael Ross, Teach For America

- Daisy Sharrock, High Tech High Graduate School of Education

- Sharon Sherman, Rider University

- Ryan Shuping, Guilford County Schools

- Toni Stith, Carnegie Science Center

- Rebecca Theobald, Colorado Geographic Alliance Moving GIS Into the Classroom

- Frederick Uy, California State University

- Twana Young MIND Research Institute