New Graduate Program Offers Math Specialization for K-8 Teachers

Posted: June 10, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Jennifer Mitchell

Beginning this fall, a new concentration in the MEd Mathematics Education Leadership (MEL) Program at Mason will help area elementary school teachers become more proficient in teaching mathematics to kindergarten through eighth-grade students (K-8).

The new concentration, mathematics specialist leader, offers professional development with a focus on the balance between math leadership and mathematics content. Teachers not only learn how to teach math, but learn more math concepts as well.

Patricia Moyer-Packenham, coordinator for the MEL Program and director of the Mathematics Education Center in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), says the new concentration is filling a need for teachers in elementary schools.

“We have placed a strong emphasis in the past on children’s literacy with elementary teachers teaching reading and writing, but not mathematics content. A lot of teachers go into the elementary classroom without the strong preparation in mathematics that they need to be successful.”

The course work was devised from a collaboration between MEL and the Department of Mathematical Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences to ensure that courses focus on mathematics pedagogy leadership skills and math content. Students enrolled in the concentration will take math exams in subjects such as geometry, probability, algebra, and number systems.

According to Moyer-Packenham, Virginia school systems are looking for ways to improve the math skills of elementary teachers. “There is a huge shortage of math teachers even at the university level—we also need instructors to teach the teachers.”

“This program is a great opportunity for teachers who might not be comfortable with math,” continues Moyer-Packenham. “It will allow general education teachers to strengthen their skills or learn more.”

She says that the title of the concentration—math specialist leader—is not meant to put off those who are not fully confident about their level of mathematics skills. Rather, the program will benefit all K-8 teachers who want to be better teachers of mathematics at that level.

For more information about the concentration or other Mathematics Education Center programs, contact Moyer-Packenham at 703-993-3926 or pmoyer@gmu.edu, or see the center’s web site.

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