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March 6, 2007
A caravan leaves the University of Nevada, Reno six times each school year for an 800-mile round trip through Ely, Elko and Winnemucca. A group of educators is traveling to provide instruction support and collect research data to improve math instruction in Nevada's rural communities.
"Our goal is to make an impact that fundamentally changes the way math is taught. It's not only about improving math scores. We're helping teachers improve math instruction and helping kids to do math. That opens the door to their future success regardless of what they choose to do in life," said Teruni Lamberg, Northeastern Nevada Math Project director and assistant professor in the College of Education department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning.
The Northeastern Nevada Math Project (NNMP) is a three-year, grant-funded partnership with the Nevada Department of Education, National Science Foundation, and U.S. Department of Education that encourages math teachers to excel in instruction by incorporating research advancements into teaching techniques.
Lamberg is joined by Dave Brancamp, Nevada Department of Education math consultant, and Sharon McLean and Gini Cunningham, Northeastern Nevada Regional Professional Development coordinators.
"The goal is to make teaching easier and more efficient and to provide teachers and students with support," Lamberg said.
"I pay more attention to how students interpret the curriculum. I'm more willing to look at the process and have shifted from lecturing to active participation," said Holly Marich, a fourth grade teacher at McGill Elementary in the White Pine County School District.
The math anxiety that teachers saw from their students is also improving. "Math is a lot easier now that we can use different ways to figure multiplication, division and other math problems," said a fifth grade student.
"There is greater communication between schools and a change in the culture of teachers at the schools," Lamberg said. "Principals support the project because we are teaching students to understand math concepts, not just memorize information. This fuels excitement for math students that translates into test scores."
Three years ago, the competitive program accepted 37 of the 65 applicants. "Applicants demonstrated leadership potential, which reflects the professionalism of the school districts that have collaborated with the University," Lamberg said. "We receive tremendous support from school districts. It is a wonderful example of educators working together to make a difference in the lives of students."
The NNMP faculty will next visit the rural communities April 15-18. The first visit of 2007 concluded Feb. 23-25.