"ALANM has caused me to step back and take a look at my approach to teaching and begin to understand how some students may think. I'm asking more questions and getting students more involved in discussions, letting them explain to me rather than me explaining to them."
-- Shannon W., ABE/HSE math teacher, Kentucky
Adult Numeracy Projects
Curriculum development and field testing
ALANM is developing curricula for adult numeracy students. These materials will eventually include math courses at four student levels (adult basic education, low-intermediate, high-intermediate, and high school equivalency).
ALANM curricula are lengthy sets of lesson plans that include detailed teacher notes and all needed student pages/problems. The lessons are aligned with College and Career-Ready Standards, and are geared towards helping students perform well on a range of assessments including state "level-gain" assessments, high school equivalency exams, and community college placement exams.
Lessons are field tested and revised, contributing to their research base. Field testing has taken place in a variety of program settings in Chicago, New York City, and Kentucky.
Teachers working in programs/states collaborating with ALANM have permission to use the detailed curricula free of charge after Steve has provided intensive professional development to guide their proper use.
Intensive professional development activities are one of the most critical aspects of ALANM work. Teachers in professional development sessions learn the rationale for the lessons, see and discuss activities as they are modeled, and deepen their own math content knowledge. After taking the lesson plans back to their classrooms, follow up sessions, observations, and contact give teachers the support they need to turn the lesson plans into successful teaching.
Recent meetings and talks
Steve led workshops on measurement and ratio representation/reasoning for the 2018 Conference on Adult Basic Education (COABE) in Phoenix, AZ.
Photo: Rudy Rhoades, Kentucky Educational Television
Adult numeracy teachers from across Kentucky organize themselves according to the slopes shown on their "Linear Function Cards" as a part of a fall ALANM professional development training.
Adult Mathematics Projects
Research leading to curriculum and program development
In 2016 and 2017, Steve conducted research and wrote two white papers for the central Office of Academic Affairs (OAA) at The City University of New York (CUNY). The first paper analyzed student performance in gateway algebra courses at CUNY colleges and theorized about the pedagogical and other reasons why students have difficulty in these important courses. The paper recommended different types of innovations, and the OAA supported Steve to enact one of these innovations by writing, field testing, and revising a "Gateway Algebra Boost" mini-course for students who completed developmental math requirements in the CUNY Start program, and who were headed into a STEM course of study.
The second white paper explored the potential benefits of a pre-statistics pathway for freshmen in non-STEM majors who enter with deep developmental math needs. Steve was again supported by the OAA to enact an innovation in this area by writing, field testing, and revising a "Stats Boost" mini-course for students who completed developmental math requirements in the CUNY Start program, and who were headed into a non-STEM course of study.
ALANM has been collaborating with faculty at the NYC College of Technology and Borough of Manhattan Community College (both colleges of CUNY) over two years in a federally-funded project to improve pedagogy in gateway algebra courses required for STEM majors.
Photo: Kevin Rajaram, New York City College of Technology
Faculty members compare ALANM "fluency cards" showing rigid transformations of quadratic functions. The faculty members simulated an activity where each student is given a card, and they have to sort themselves according to different features of their functions (y-intercept, number of x-intercept(s), equation for line of symmetry, etc.).
Recent meetings and talks
In January, Steve was hosted for an afternoon discussion by a group of faculty and administrators from the Baruch College/CUNY School of Public Affairs to discuss ways that they can help more students be successful in Master's Degrees in Public Administration and International Affairs even when their math background signals that they are underprepared for required graduate-level statistics and economics courses.
Also in January, Steve led a workshop in NYC for Math for America Fellows focusing on the challenges and opportunities for underprepared math students once they arrive at CUNY community colleges. His talk outlined the characteristics of reform and traditional options for these students at CUNY, and considered what we can be doing for underprepared high school students to improve their success in college.