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Implementation and Sustainability: Implementation Studies

John Ford and John Ross, Math Consultants, Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, Ontario

Why They Chose to Implement PRIME

“We started with PRIME because it was part of a ministry-funded initiative. We continued training teachers because the research project attached to the Ministry of Ontario project revealed that PRIME Number and Operations made a significant difference to students who were struggling with mathematics. Anecdotal evidence also suggested that teachers valued the training they received and found it a useful tool to differentiate instruction.”

Their Implementation Model        

“We began in 2005 by training Grade 7 and 8 teachers as well as special education teachers. To date we have now trained multiple teachers for each school as well as the special education teachers in every elementary school.”
  • 150 intermediate teachers have taken Number and Operations
  • 110 primary teachers
  • 35 secondary teachers

Sustainability Plans
“It is expected that the core group of teachers trained to date will support untrained teachers in the system in the continuing use of PRIME.”

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Dan Peter, Math Consultant, Dufferin-Peel School Board, Mississauga, Ontario

Why they Chose to Implement PRIME

“Our other goal for using PRIME was that we wanted data that could be used in schools like the data we have for language arts. To date there is nothing in math before PRIME that would be dynamic and allow you to see the clustering of students on a data wall. We don’t collect the data centrally because PRIME is diagnostic and formative. It is meant to be a data collection tool for schools.”

Their Implementation Model

“We trained 21 facilitators within the board – and then they, in turn, trained our special education teachers for K-8. Over 300 teachers in the district have been trained. Word has got out and now some classroom teachers want to take PRIME in the summer. Besides providing the PRIME course to all 300 SERT (Special Education Resource) teachers, we have trained all teachers in one school as a lighthouse school, including the TAs and administrators. We offered 3 days of teacher training in N&O. We are following up with that school as to how they are using it in the classroom.”

Sustainability Plans
“Our intent, if we can get the funding, is to provide PRIME 3-day courses to all general K-8 teachers.  The idea is that the classroom teachers could then team up with a SERT to plan and work together to use PRIME for all students instead of just special education students.

We also have a 3 year plan – this is first year of 3 years – to begin with standardized data derived from PRIME and eventually gather some cross-strand data / investigations. Our goal is to provide our intensive support schools with many sources of data: PRIME data plus provincial testing data as well as the teachers’ own reporting. This allows school staff to begin data discussions around math.

Next year, we will have 4 half days with administrators. We want to say – ok, you now have real data to deal with in math – how do you use this data to develop Professional Learning Community discussions around math?

PRIME provides deeper and richer data on a kid - it is not just a snapshot, but more of a holistic view of their understanding in a strand. Once teachers get used to looking at data and seeing its usefulness for planning they want more, which means sustainability.”

Final Words
“The real issue is the cultural shift. The shift or change of every teacher moving from knowing a lot about reading and writing towards a better understanding of math. But at least half of the elementary panel doesn’t even understand what math is so the road is going to be longer than in literacy.

We not only have to teach them the techniques for teaching math with manipulatives and problems solving, but at same time, we have to teach them the mathematics content. Typically they need to learn the math at the conceptual level not just the procedural.

I’m trained in both First Steps in Mathematics and PRIME. I find the implementation timeline is shorter for PRIME – the way it is set up and using the huge developmental maps as a focus – it is more scaffolded for teachers. I think it begins closer to where our teachers are at so you get more bang for your buck right now.”
 

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Gerry Varty, Math Consultant, Wolf Creek School District, Alberta

Measuring PRIME’s Impact
“At this point, we have not yet directly measured the effectiveness of PRIME nor our implementation model... we will be starting to measure it in year 2 (next year). I will be training up to 30 other teachers in PRIME Number & Operations in late August, as well as working with next year's new teacher cohort, so we should start having more than 1 person in each school using it effectively. THEN I'll start measuring. At this point what we have for measurement is limited to teacher comments during the training and in follow-up conversations, and those have been very positive.”

Why They Chose to Implement PRIME
“For Wolf Creek, we adopted PRIME because it serves three purposes:  It addresses all three legs of the developmental triangle involved in teaching math well:

  • understanding various pedagogies – manipulatives, teaching approaches, assessment;
  • understanding the math itself – the deeper intricacies of math is something most people just don’t get – and the result of this lack of content knowledge is that our students come out as just as weak – so they don’t have an appreciation of mathematics and of the connections; of how things tie together;
  • learning more about how kids learn – and PRIME speaks eloquently to how children develop over time.”

Their Implementation Model
“We’ve trained lead teachers in each of the schools in N&O as well as all of our first-year teachers in the jurisdiction – elementary people (K-6) first year was 2006 and it is ongoing.We intend to maintain this PRIME training for lead teachers and new teachers as a model in the future – as part of their induction into teaching they get PRIME right up front. Our lead teachers are usually from division 1 (grades K-3) and division 2 (grades 4-6) – we find the strong ones and work with them a lot PD-wise. Our goal is to have at least one really strong teacher in math in each school. They then become a resource teacher to others in their school – they can do coaching and mentoring. They help the rookies who are trained in PRIME – new teachers have a support -- they can go to the lead teacher for collaboration, questions, etc. All of this creates sustainability.”

Sustainability Plans
“Our further implementation plans include a 3 year induction model: we provide PRIME teacher training in a teacher’s first year and they also have a mentor beginning in first year where they receive a whack of training and upgrading. This continues into years 2 and 3. In the second and third years we follow up with how they are using PRIME, asking them what is working, what isn’t. And then we determine what we can do support the new teacher and lead teacher in their school.”

Final Words
“There is a whole bunch on pedagogy and developmental stage theory in PRIME that applies to other subject areas, not just math.  Teachers are starting to see how kids are thinking at certain phases and realize that many subjects, not just math, are expecting them to do stuff that isn’t developmentally appropriate.PRIME helps us to adjust pedagogy and more effectively use differentiated instruction in order to help more kids learn at higher levels.”

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Bruce MacDonald, Consultant, District 16, Miramichi, New Brunswick

Measuring PRIME’s Impact

“The differentiating instruction ideas -- open and choice task components of the PRIME courses -- have been very helpful. We didn’t have to reinvent lesson plans for every kid in the class. The open and choice tasks show you how to modify and adjust existing tasks and thereby teach to everyone in the room.  Students can do the work at whatever level they are at. That has been a surprise for teachers.Another eye opener through PRIME was that while our teachers were comfortable with the idea of having manipulatives in the classroom, the idea of having a variety of manipulatives available at all times so kids have a choice to use the manipulative that works for them was new. The manipulatives activities in the course helped teachers see what other possibilities there were for fraction activities – not just pattern blocks.”

Why They Chose to Implement PRIME

 “We find that our teachers are struggling in content knowledge and background but also struggling in curriculum and differentiation. They are not certain how to work with where kids are at and take them from that place forward.We felt a bit of an urgency to find something that would help teachers and would be teacher friendly and be easy to follow.”

Their Implementation Model

“Two years ago, we began with PRIME Number & Operations with the goal being to implement and in-service every K-5 teacher in district 16 as well as representatives from middle schools. We just completed training of every teacher (K-5) in district in February 2007.In terms of timing, we set up courses with two to three schools at a time – ran them through three days of training. We conducted the training as full withdrawal during the day, not as after school sessions. We did the days about 2 weeks apart so they had time to reflect and gather student work.Our district has about 14 elementary schools – every teacher was trained – but also trained one key teacher in six middle schools”

Sustainability Plans
“We have 1.5 math mentors in the district (one full time and one half time) – they are out with classroom teachers who use PRIME.  They ask questions such as: Did you look at this? How are you using PRIME? And they reference PRIME as they are out there.The PRIME resource has become a key component in the development of individual student plans it helps teachers write an appropriate IEP. We find that the PRIME components, particularly the Diagnostic Tools and the Background and Strategies books are easy to use.”

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Catharine Gilmour, Math Coordinator, Delta School District, British Columbia

Measuring PRIME’s Impact:

“Many of the teachers are doing a diagnostic in the beginning of the year and the end of the year and graphing it. All teachers report an improvement. Because people are attending PRIME mainly by word-of-mouth, it must have been useful to those who are suggesting that other teachers take PRIME.  Teachers don't encourage other teachers to take a course that they themselves did not find useful.”

Administrator Training in PRIME
“Delta principals have not yet been trained. But I'm sure a few of our principals would be interested.  The one thing that concerns some principals is that some of their grade 5 or 6 teachers give their class a diagnostic and find way too many in Phase Two for example.  The students are not ready for the material in their textbook.  They are beginning to understand that students need to be taught where they are, not what's in the text.”

Their Implementation Model
“Beginning in summer 2005, 12 people plus the consultant were trained as facilitators in PRIME Number & Operations. In the first year, we trained about 30 teachers who volunteered to take the course. Since then, over 170 teachers have opted to take the Number & Operations course, as well as some Education Assistants and 10 administrators.”

Why They Chose to Implement PRIME
“We heard about it when it was originally developed. We saw the need in my district – my teachers do not necessarily understand the math they teach. Since implementing PRIME, learning about the development of learning in children has become a fascination. Once they start making the connections across the different concepts and phases, it is very eye-opening – we are getting a lot of ‘ah hah’ moments! There was a lot of new interest in learning about math and admitting that the teachers didn’t understand the math they were teaching.”

Further implementation plans
“We will just continue to offer Number & Operations courses for as long as there is interest – we now have PD days that are all common in our district – so I use those common days for PRIME courses.”

Sustainability plans
“We have this initiative in our district where we can write proposals for a grant and get money to focus on something – usually for contract costs. A lot of the schools are focusing on developing activities using the PRIME resource as a base – as an example, using the unit planning chart that is part of the 3-day teacher course – and so teachers do a half day or more with other teachers and develop their own teaching lessons. A mini PLC.”

Final words:
“I’ve been waiting for something like PRIME for a long time – it is kind of like falling in love – you just know it's what you are looking for! And it is working for so many people. Our district has put support or strategies/structures in place as part of our accountability contract with the Ministry. We write a contract every year and include one or two goals that the entire district is going to work on – this year our district is working on improving student achievement (particularly the weaker students) in mathematics. So we are using PRIME as the structure to support teachers in their understanding of mathematics and to help them improve student achievement.”