Since 2011 over 240 teachers, math coordinators, coaches, and specialists, from more than 10 school districts, have taken the three Poincaré courses – see what they have to say!
What is the Poincaré Institute?
The Poincaré Institute for Mathematics Education began as a National Science Foundation Math and Science Partnership between Tufts University Departments of Mathematics, Education, and Physics, TERC, and partner school districts in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. The institute seeks to transform and improve the teaching and learning of mathematics in middle school and the connections between the elementary, middle, and high school mathematics curricula.
Rather than re-teach the mathematics teachers already know, or offer pre-packaged lessons, the Institute provide a broad, unified framework to re-envision the mathematics they already teach. Built upon the expertise of mathematicians, researchers in mathematics education, and physicists It brings together, the focus of the Institute is on algebra and the mathematics of functions and on teaching, learning, and understanding student reasoning.
Mathematics and pedagogical approach
The three online courses focus on deep mathematical content and on teaching responsive to students’ reasoning about mathematics. Teachers work in online and face-to-face collaborative groups and are throughout supported by a team of mathematics and education faculty at Tufts University.
The interactive courses in the program:
- Use functions and their representations to offer a unified approach to topics from arithmetic operations to fractions, ratio, proportion, geometry, algebra, and the introduction to the ideas of calculus.
- Integrate mathematical knowledge and pedagogical know-how.
- Help teachers identify the needs of their students and design engaging activities with substantive mathematical content.
Relationship to textbooks and curricula
The Poincaré Institute courses support teaching and learning in mathematics, regardless of the curriculum and textbooks schools choose to use. The courses complement the content and practices recommended by the Common Core standards and by teacher certification requirements.
Key components of the project
- Three graduate-level online courses for mathematics teachers of fifth through twelfth grades.
- Self-sustaining school-based discussion forums on mathematics, student reasoning, and approaches to teaching and learning.
- Research on the impact of the Institute on teacher development and student learning.
Focus on middle school mathematics
Partners in this proposal recognize the critical importance of middle school, a period when many students lose interest in mathematics. The problem is acute not only in urban centers, but also a concern in rural areas and in areas of immigrant concentration. The project rests on the premise that, to improve students’ learning, one needs to broaden and deepen teachers’ understanding of mathematics, of how children think and learn, and of teaching and learning.
- More than 2200 students each year, plus 180 in-service teachers already benefitted from the project’s work.
- The Institute strengthens and expands collaborative partnerships with schools both by preparing teachers and researchers in Mathematics and in Education, and supporting school districts’ efforts to improve their mathematics curricula.
- The Institute offers an interdisciplinary, research-based model for introducing a deeper, integrated approach to mathematics in districts where minority and under-privileged students typically underperform.