COE Professors Strutchens, Martin, Win Additional Funding for PLC Partnership

December 12, 2014


College of Education professors Gary Martin and Marilyn Strutchens have been awarded nearly $600,000 to establish professional learning communities in mathematics. In addition to this grant, Strutchens was also recently elected to the board of directors of the National Council of Teachers of mathematics.
College of Education professors Gary Martin and Marilyn Strutchens have been awarded nearly $600,000 to establish professional learning communities in mathematics. In addition to this grant, Strutchens was also recently elected to the board of directors of the National Council of Teachers of mathematics.

Professors Marilyn Strutchens and W. Gary Martin, both from the College of Education’s Department of Curriculum, and Teaching, recently received $185,429 for year 3 funding on their Professional Learning Communities Partnership, funded through the Alabama State Department of Education. This award brings their project total to approximately $600,000.

Transforming East Alabama Mathematics (TEAM-Math) is partnering with the Alabama Mathematics Science and Technology Initiative at Auburn University (AMSTI-AU) and six targeted school feeder patterns from six districts, which have been involved with TEAM-Math, AMSTI-AU, or both initiatives: Alexander City Schools, Elmore County’s Millbrook Region Schools, Tallapoosa County’s Dadeville Region Schools, Bullock County Schools, Barbour County Schools, and Tallassee City Schools.

“The purpose of the project is to establish professional learning communities in mathematics (PMLCs) in order to provide collaborative and sustained professional development for teachers in targeted K-12 schools in East Alabama,” Strutchens said. “The immediate focus of the professional development is the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards, especially the Standards of Mathematical Practice.”

Accordingly, the TEAM-Math and AMSTI Professional Mathematics Learning Communities Project has established the following goals:

  • To assemble a triad leadership team of mathematicians, mathematics educators, and AMSTI specialists to provide professional development for facilitating PLCs, monitor school and across-district PLC development, and help the school systems move toward sustaining the PLCs focused on continuous improvement and evaluation of instruction and learning;
  • To provide professional development for administrators to help them become knowledgeable of issues related to mathematics instruction and versed in the dimensions related to successful PLCs;
  • To provide grade level leaders (GLLs) with professional development related to the ACCRS-M, facilitating PLCs, and student data analysis;
  • To provide teachers with professional development related to the ACCRS-M, participating in PLCs, and pedagogical analysis; and
  • To improve student outcomes through the work of the PLCs.  The ultimate goal is to prepare students who have the mathematics background to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) related careers. Evaluation of the development and implementation of the PLCs will be ongoing. We would like to eventually replicate the process with other districts.

Strutchens will serve as the Primary Investigator of the grant, while Martin will serve as the co-PI.

“In addition to the above, we also want to change the image of the profession of teaching,” Strutchens said. “If you teach students well, they will have more options. Our motto for TEAM-Math is ‘it’s not just what you teach, it’s how you teach it.’ Teachers must get to know their students, know their mathematics well, and have an arsenal of strategies to help students understand the mathematics. We want to move students away from just rote memorization to helping students understand why they are doing what they are doing. Students must learn how to solve problems and be creative.”

Project Faculty and Staff include:

  • Marilyn Strutchens (PI), Mathematics Educator, Auburn University
  • Elizabeth Hickman, (Co-PI), AMSTI Director, Auburn, University
  • W. Gary Martin,(Co- PI), Mathematics Educator, Auburn, University
  • Ulrich Albrecht (Co-PI), Mathematician, Auburn, University
  • Megan Burton, Mathematics Educator, Auburn University
  • Steven Stuckwisch, Retired Mathematician, Auburn University
  • Huajan Huang, Mathematician, Auburn University
  • Narendra Govil, Mathematician, Auburn University
  • Daniel Henry, Project Evaluator, Auburn University
  • Pamela Norris, Specialist and AMSTI-AU Co-Director
  • Kristy Mann, Specialist, AMSTI-AU
  • Terri Rubio, Specialist, AMSTI-AU
  • Denise Dark, Specialist, AMSTI-AU

Story and photo by George Littleton