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Annual Report Overviews


MIPS Annual Overview

submitter: Redefining, Reforming, and Enriching Mathematics Instruction through Problem Solving, K-* (MIPS Project)
published: 11/19/1999
posted to site: 11/19/1999
MIPS Annual Report Highlights
1998 - 1999

Serving 5 LEAs...

Elizabeth City/Pasquotank County (fiscal agent)
Hyde County
Gates County
Camden County
Washington County


Dr. Mack McCary, Dr. Susan Friel
Director: Mr. Lynn A. Smith

Contact Us via email...

Dr. Mack McCary:
Dr. Susan Friel:
Mr. Lynn A. Smith:

Elizabeth City/Pasquotank Schools
Dr. Mack McCary/Mr. Lynn Smith
P.O. Box 2247
Elizabeth City, NC 27909
Phone: 252-335-2981
Fax: 252-335-0974

On April 15, 1997, the NSF funded the MIPS grant to Elizabeth City-Pasquotank County Schools under their Local Systemic Initiative. Elizabeth City-Pasquotank County Schools serves as the fiscal agent for the five (5) school system consortia, Camden, Elizabeth City-Pasquotank, Gates, Hyde and Washington Counties. The grant was approved for 54 months at a funding level of $1,144,200. The initial award was for $950,717 for the period of April 15, 1997 through March 31, 1999. As of this report, the grant has been in operation for thirty (30) months.

In all, MIPS will serve 550 K-8 teachers of mathematics in the 5 districts over the full term of MIPS, including special education teachers and replacement teachers who are employed during the course of the project. There are five tiers of content/curriculum activity involved in MIPS: Teach-Stat, K-8; CMP (Connected Math Project), 6-8; Children's Mathematics Development K-5, evaluation, and regional adoption of an elementary math curriculum consistent with NCTM and state standards. All of the curricular elements we are pursuing or exploring are established national curriculums that were developed with NSF support and guidance. They align with National Standards and have student centered, problem/inquiry based learning as their bases. Teach-Stat is a critical core that supports inquiry based instructional change and curriculum integration. The Connected Mathematics Project is our middle school curriculum and it continues the process of relevant learning that is student centered and problem solving/inquiry based. The Mathematics Development is focused on working with a core of teacher leaders from each district around the issues of how children develop, form and use their mathematics understandings and knowledge to solve problems. This knowledge and information that we collected from these three tiers enabled us to adopt the Trailblazers curriculum as the regional math curricula for each of the five districts.

What We Have Accomplished
As of this report, MIPS has been operational for 30 months. During this period, we have experienced the death of project director, Bob Cullen, and transitions from a temporary to a permanent project director. Even with this adversity, we feel that we have been successful in our accomplishments this year.

Since our last report, we have involved 326 individual teachers and administrators from 5 school systems; Camden, Elizabeth City-Pasquotank, Gates, Hyde and Washington. The majority of participants were from Elizabeth City-Pasquotank, and Washington counties. In the summer of 1999 we partnered with Kendall Hunt to present two four-day Trailblazer workshops. We also presented three Connected Mathematics workshops (5 - day Academy, 3-day Leadership workshop, and a 3-day Advanced Academy).

MIPS Professional Development

"MIPS has indeed changed our teaching style and how we look at student learning. We are more open to and actually encourage different solutions to problems. We focus on problem solving rather than algorithms. We encourage students to learn from other student's methods for solving problems. We have tried to bring real and meaningful problems into the classroom to motivate students. In general, MIPS have changed our focus and direction for teaching math."
Ann McCary, Preschool Handicapped Teacher and Beth Foreman 4th Grade Teacher
Grandy Primary School, Camden County

In our various offerings, we have striven to model instruction that parallels what we would like to see in our classrooms -- see external evaluation report. We have actively engaged all participants in relevant hands - on activities and problem solving. We provided each workshop participant with teacher editions and other materials to enhance their classroom instruction. We have made wide use of videos to model "best practices" for problem solving/inquiry based instruction. It is clear to us that quality curricula material is only one part of the equation for comprehensive systemic change and instructional improvement. The other critical piece is the instruction itself. We know that embracing the concepts and practices of inquiry based learning is not easy for teachers, particularly in a high stakes testing environment such as we have here in North Carolina. We have emphasized this change throughout our professional development offerings and follow-up activities. Our Instructional Specialists and teacher leaders are concentrating on inquiry based instruction through modeling and coaching.

We are very actively implementing Teach-Stat and Connected Mathematics in all five of our participating districts. During the 1998-1999 academic year we provided 22 hours of Teach-Stat follow-up for teachers involved in our summer '98 workshops. Thirteen hours were hands-on workshops in the school systems. The remaining nine hours was initiated by the teachers themselves. They scheduled the meetings across grade levels, across districts, etc. to plan. Schedules and minutes of these meetings were submitted to the Teach-Stat Instructional Specialist, Gail Lane. Sue Benson, Special Education teacher at J.C. Sawyer stated, "This follow-up was beneficial to teachers at my school because it gave us time to work together . we learned a lot from each other." During the fall and spring of 1998, seven CMP follow-up sessions were conducted by lead teachers. These workshops offered hands-on experience to participants on modules that were not discussed in the summer workshops.

The intention was to offer additional sessions in Children's Mathematical Development this Summer, 1999 but the adoption of the new curriculum for use Fall, 1999, made it necessary to focus on workshops devoted to use of Trailblazers. It is our intention that we will make this workshop available Summer, 2000 as follow-up to Trailblazers for those teachers who would like to take it.

Summer 1999 professional development


"I am a teacher that likes to be in control. MIPS and Trailblazers have redirected my teaching style. I am learning to present the lesson and let the children take over. In the beginning, my children struggled and some were very apprehensive about sharing. As time progresses, more students are feeling at ease about sharing and working in groups. I think [Math Trailblazers] is a very rewarding program that challenges the students and the teacher to work together to problem solve."
Doris Bryant, Teacher Leader, 5th Grade Teacher, Washington County Union School

Working with Kendall-Hunt (publishers), MIPS was provided with 6 Trailblazers teachers (one at each grade level K-5) who ran two sets of 4-day workshops introducing the curriculum to all teachers in the five counties. One set of workshops was held in Elizabeth City for all Elizabeth City, Gates, and Camden teachers. The other was held in Washington County for all Hyde and Washington County teachers. The goal of the workshops was for teachers to work together, by grade level, to learn how to use the Trailblazers program. The Kendall-Hunt workshop leaders were excellent and certainly provided a better introduction to Trailblazers than we might have because of their first-hand experience in using the curriculum. As part of the structure for implementation, we set up a large group of teacher leaders who worked from May to July `99 to align Trailblazers with the NC Standard Course of Study, to draft preliminary pacing guides, and to recommend a subset of units (approximately half the units in any grade level) that all teachers will complete this year. We decided to have teachers "phase-in" the curriculum over a two-year period. The teacher leaders will implement the entire curriculum this year.

The teacher leader structure is quite important as it will help us build capacity. We began with approximately 30 teachers from all districts but quickly saw that we needed a much larger number so that, in each school, we had a leader at each grade level. Currently the numbers are 38 K-2 Teacher Leaders and 35 Gr. 3-5 Teacher Leaders.

The teacher leaders met both prior to and after the Trailblazers workshop to draft pacing guides for each grade level, to clarify alignment with the Standard Course of Study, and to decide on which units all teachers would be asked to use. Some of these leaders were also asked to work with new teachers by offering short, half-day sessions in August. All teacher leaders are expected to provide support to the principal and teachers in their schools by helping with pacing and use of the curriculum.

Connected Mathematics Project:

"The MIPS Project promotes inquiry problem-based learning and teaching styles of instruction and student learning-achievement. The topics supported by MIPS, Teach-Stat and CMP promote instruction by hands-on experimentation with directional questioning versus giving the student the facts to memorize. This method of instruction promotes higher level thinking and reasoning as well as application of mathematical concepts of the middle curriculum. "
Patti Hamler, Principal, River Road M.S.

The Connected Mathematics Project professional development was conducted by seven Gr. 6-8 lead teachers. These teacher leaders represented three districts and five schools involved in the project. MIPS provided professional development in three phases: CMP Teacher Leader Workshop (3 days), CMP Academy (5 days for new teachers), and CMP Advanced Academy (3 days). We had sixteen new teachers and eight advanced teachers participate. CMP Teacher Leaders have planned on-going follow-up professional development sessions throughout the year for new teachers. The book, Sharing Your Good Ideas, was used by the CMP Teacher Leaders to help guide them in planning workshops.

Project Participation:

Activity #Meetings Participants Hours
Trailblazers Workshops 2-4 day 295 56
CMP Teacher Leaders 1 - 3 day 7 21
CMP Academy 1 - 5 day 16 35
CMP Advanced Academy 1 - 3 day 8 21
Teacher Asst. Workshops 2 28 6
Teacher Leader Meetings 7 104 34
Regional Adoption Team Meetings 8 52 28
Superintendent Meetings 3 10 6
Principal Meetings 8 35 14

Administrative Reflections:
Administration of the MIPS grant had two main focuses this year. One was the elementary materials adoption, which required a joint effort among all five school districts to adopt one common reform-based text. The other was the heightened degree of implementation of the middle school Connected Math Project. Implementing the new curriculum was challenging - a conflict arose between the need for changes in math instruction necessary for the new adoption and teachers' fears regarding testing. These difficulties were heightened by the emphasis of high stakes testing and school status as determined by results of end-of-grade tests.

Positively, this conflict convinced project staff and district leadership more than ever that there has to be strong leadership at the district and school level in order to persevere in the face of testing pressure and traditional methods of instruction. It is still very difficult to persuade teachers worried about whether they can achieve accountability results that they can use inquiry-based approaches to reach those objectives. Without the strong leadership of district principals, superintendents and contacts, it is doubtful whether we would have had a regional adoption of a reform-based math curriculum. Therefore, District Contacts, Principals, Instructional Specialists and Teacher Leaders have met on a regular basis to discuss concerns such as 1) teachers who did not see the need to change mathematics instruction, or saw the only goal as to get good test scores on state accountability measures and 2) building capacity in mathematics instruction and systemic change in this region when teacher turnover is upwards of 10%. In the last training session for principals, we distributed the book Building Leadership Capacity in Schools which will become a book study club at our next scheduled meeting. We also have established expectations that information will be handed off from teacher-leaders to principals to district contacts. This cross communication will keep everyone informed and will build capacity within the school and region.

Outreach Activities:

"Our school organized a Family Math Night during the 1998-99 school year. We were fortunate enough to have the support of Gail Lane and Marva Bond, MIPS Instructional Specialists. This activity was one of the most valuable events that occurred during the year. All of the feedback that we received from parents and students was positive. Parents indicated that the Family Math Night activities gave them a better perspective on the math learning that their children were presently engaged."
Virginia Houston, Instructional Specialist, P.W. Moore Elementary

Since our last report, we have attempted to spread the MIPS experience throughout the state. Our instructional specialists have presented at various state math conferences including:

NCCTM, NCCTM/SSMA, Southeast Education Alliance Curriculum and Instruction Network, Phi Delta Kappa Delta Kappa Gamma, and The Elizabeth City Business Expo.

The MIPS Instructional Specialists have also organized and participated in school PTA meetings and Family Math Nights.