Update on Our Foundational Math Implementation Grantee Projects

As we embark on the next decade of the 100Kin10 network continuing our focus to address the STEM teacher shortage while also centering belonging in STEM for Black, Latinx, and Native American students and teachers, we are excited to highlight ways we are currently supporting partners in the network to implement work that advances belonging in their local contexts. Below, we tell the story of how the connectedness between our belonging research, the unCommission, and implementation grants play a role in making this happen. Then, we share specific updates related to the work of our implementation grantees, highlighting how their work is currently exploring the concept of belonging. 

In 2021, we began to experiment with opportunities that would deepen our work to address shared challenges in STEM education.We did this by launching Communities of Conversation, or, simply, Communities, which were a less structured version of our more well-known Project Team program. This program brought partners in the network together to collaboratively explore challenges related to all three catalysts. We were impressed by the energy related to exploring equity, and noticed an opportunity to further support the implementation of these learnings and outputs in partners’ day to day roles. This is how the idea of implementation grants came about; to date we have provided five implementation grants to Communities and Project Team members that are implementing work related to the foundational math catalyst. 

At the same time as we began to expand our catalyst work through these implementation grants, we were also grappling with the direction of our next moonshot goal. In the Fall of 2021, 100Kin10 launched the unCommission, a massive, diverse, and participatory opportunity for young people who have been most excluded from STEM to share their experiences navigating their STEM learning journeys. Belonging rose as a central theme from this initiative and has since served as a north star for our work. The energy around equity and the focus on belonging led us to grapple with the question: what factors impact a student’s sense of belonging, particularly for Black, Latinx, and Native American young people? 

To answer this, we reviewed numerous resources, spoke with nearly 60 people (about half of whom were partners) from various sectors who brought unique perspectives on the topic of belonging and analyzed our catalyst project team work. This led us to identify four major contributors to fostering a student’s sense of belonging: 
-Institutional Structures: state, district, and school policies, laws, and regulations that impact a student and teacher’s experience in the classroom
-Instructional Practices: norms, pedagogical tactics, and social dynamics in classrooms
-Teacher Belonging: the perspective that teachers can best foster belonging for their students when they experience belonging themselves
-Mindset: defined as belonging being a muscle, skillset, or belief system that enables feeling comfort in oneself and navigating changing external factors and settings

Though the implementation grant work began before we knew the important role belonging would play in our work moving forward, we are excited to have found inherent synergy between partners focused on work related to foundational math and our new focus on fostering belonging in STEM classrooms, particularly for Black, Latinx and Native American students and teachers. All of our grantees, whose projects are summarized below, address challenges that sit at the intersection of belonging and foundational math. Below you will find a summary highlighting each grantee’s progress, grouped by the factors that contribute to student belonging that their project most directly addresses.

 Implementation Grantee Summaries 

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. As a team, they put together a series of virtual workshops offered through STEM Teachers NYC for 50 K-5 math teachers that focused on supporting students in building a positive mathematical identity, selecting rich tasks, and protocols to help teachers orchestrate meaningful mathematical discussions.  

Through this grant, Maggie is building on this Community’s work and leading a series of similar workshops this fall for teachers and leaders in order to broaden the network of educators working to plan and implement high-quality foundational math lessons and fostering strong math identities and community amongst their students. She is also expanding the three webinars to a five-week professional learning community (PLC) for teachers in October and November with a focus on student-driven math classrooms, and plans to lead a session at the Expeditionary Learning National Conference in December.

One strategy Maggie uses in all of the workshops to foster belonging in teachers and help them foster belonging in their students is to help teachers reflect on their own math stories and math identities. She encourages teachers to explore their own stories, but also the stories and experiences of their students, and to reflect on whose experiences have typically been privileged in a mathematics classroom and why.

Transforming Foundational Math Pedagogy: New York
Jen Gleason, Emma Ershow and Carolyn DiProspero from Teaching Matters, also built off the work of the Transforming Foundational Math Pedagogy project team also highlighted above. This project is utilizing the content of these webinars to lead a five-day on-site coaching cycle with P.S. 126, a public K-5 elementary school in the Bronx, New York. Their focus is to help teachers to plan units and lessons that explicitly foster a sense of belonging and joy in elementary mathematics.

One key strategy this team is implementing in their teacher coaching to advance belonging is “empathy interviews.” They begin their time with teachers by giving teachers the time and space to reflect on their own sense of identity - including their math identity - and then encouraging them to conduct empathy interviews with their students to help them to understand their students’ experiences, feelings about mathematics, identity as a mathematician, and how that relates to their sense of belonging in math.  

The end result of this project will be a professional learning planning protocol to support teacher leaders in planning a unit or lesson with a team of teachers, a sample unit plan, a video of teachers engaging in the planning process, and a blog on the Teaching Matters website.

Making Elementary Math Instruction more Accessible through Robotics and Coding
Grantee Kellie Taylor is a 2nd and 3rd grade gifted and talented educator at Hawthorne Elementary School in Boise Idaho. She is seeking to identify ways to make elementary math instruction more accessible through the use of robotics and coding. The idea for this project grew out of her work with the 100Kin10 Project Team Debugging Mathematics Instruction.

Through her grant, she has purchased materials and curriculum through the University of California Davis C-STEM Center and Barobo Partnership, that allow her to teach math through coding robots! She is excited about the opportunity to innovate and try out this research-based curriculum with students. Kellie sees giving students access to this hands-on and relevant curriculum as a way to engage more students and foster a sense of belonging in STEM as well as to open doors for them in the future with crucial technological skills.

Kellie sees this grant as an opportunity to innovate and experiment with practices to better center belonging in her work and hopes that her learnings might be a bridge to more educators integrating technology in their math classrooms. When the project is finished, she hopes to both provide feedback on the curriculum to the creators, as well as to present her findings at a conference with members of her original team in order to share and scale her learnings.

Integrating Math and Science in Joyful Learning Experiences
Teresa Barnett, Executive Director of Community Resources for Science, is using this project to build on the findings of the100Kin10 report Reigniting Joyful, Rigorous, and Equitable Foundational Math Learning, and integrating the tools and resources from the Developing & Supporting STEM Mindsets in Elementary Educators Project Team website to create and facilitate professional development for elementary school teachers. This summer her team engaged a cohort of 25 TK (Transitional Kindergarten) - 5th grade elementary educators from across three school districts serving under-represented, historically marginalized communities, in four immersive professional development sessions grounded in the strategies and tools curated by the former Project Team. In line with100Kin10’s new moonshot goal around belonging and supporting the retention of Black, Latinx, and Native American teachers, 70% of the teachers they worked with identify as a person of color.

Kicking off their first session outdoors at botanical garden in the Berkeley hills, these professional learning experiences specifically focus on helping teachers work in grade-level teams to develop teaching resources for their grade that integrate math and science and foster student engagement, interest, joy, and connections to their daily lives - all of which cultivate a sense of belonging in STEM. They particularly focus on engaging students via community connections in science.

One particular strategy they use to foster belonging is called “Science Superstars” in which they specifically focus on learning about and highlighting the stories being told about scientists of color. They have created a “Joyful Math and Science Book List” entitled “You Belong” where teachers can share books that highlight scientists of color. These stories are also featured in the model mini-lessons each team developed. Teachers are also connecting teachers with scientists of color that can help teachers plan lessons and speak in their classrooms to help students see themselves represented in science.

Blown away by the interest and enthusiasm of the teachers they worked with, they have added a second cohort of teachers to participate in the PD this fall, as they had more interested teachers than they could accommodate this summer. Teachers from the summer will pilot the new model lessons and tools they co-created. The ultimate goal is to build capacity for these teachers to in turn become leaders and coaches within their school districts, leading further rounds of PD focused on 'joyful math and science integration' that fosters student interest and belonging.

Increasing Knowledge and Comfort in Teaching with Math and Science Integration
Similar to the work of Teresa’s team, the goal of this team, led by Elena Lopez of the California Science Center, is also to increase teachers’ expertise, knowledge, and comfort in teaching integrated math and science by developing and delivering a six-hour professional development for teachers to implement in their K-5 classrooms. The training involves integrating the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Science and Engineering Practices and the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice, while engaging in the phenomenon of a lost baby whale!

Their plan is to engage teachers with hands-on science and engineering challenges that provide equitable learning opportunities for all students. At the end of the training, teachers will receive a set of tools and resources to implement effective teaching strategies that can accompany any district adopted math and science curriculum. 

The California Science Center works closely with schools and teachers in LA County, serving predominantly Title 1 Schools and Black and Latinx students. Their hope is to support teachers and foster their sense of belonging in the teaching profession as well as in mathematics and science, in hopes that they will in turn foster this sense of belonging in their students.

Looking Ahead 

This work from our partners serves as a powerful bridge between our last decade of work and our decade to come. We look forward to continuing to follow this work and build upon it as we embark on our next moonshot, centered explicitly on belonging.  

We also have ten grantees who are implementing work related to Equity in High School STEM; if you’re interested in learning more about the work of those grantees, click here. We will be connecting with all our grantees again later in the year, so please be on the lookout for those updates.