Big Shoulders Fund-UIC Mathematics Initiative

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“As part of the Math Initiative and its collaboration with University of Illinois at Chicago, we receive the support of a math coach for the middle school teacher. The program allows us to work in a network of schools that have the same goal: improving math programs and test scores. The teacher receives professional development and collaboration and incorporates ideas she acquires into daily lessons. I am impressed to see the changes in her teaching style. She is more child-centered. The children own their lessons. The level of their math discussions has expanded.”

—Principal Candice Usauskas, St. Mary Star of the Sea in Shoulder to Shoulder, Spring 2017

What is the Big Shoulders Fund (BSF)–UIC Mathematics Initiative?

The BSF–UIC Mathematics Initiative (BSF-UIC MI) is a partnership which began during the 2014–2015 school year between the Big Shoulders Fund and the University of Illinois at Chicago. BSF-UIC MI aims to bring comprehensive mathematics improvement in grades 6–9 to 28 elementary schools and high schools. Support for the BSF-UIC Mathematics Initiative is provided by the I. A. O’Shaughnessy Foundation, the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust and the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation.

What are the goals of the Initiative?

  • Support a network of schools who are working to improve mathematics teaching and learning
  • Provide opportunities for professional learning, collaboration, and networking across schools to build leadership and teacher capacity
  • Deepen participants’ understanding of the CCSS-M, and expand their capacity to implement the CCSS-M in their schools and classrooms
  • Improve student outcomes and success in mathematics

What are the big ideas of the Initiative?

  • Focus on student thinking and learning, with rich tasks and formative assessment
  • Build teacher capacity, attending to content knowledge, resources, and practice
  • Enable effective instruction through structures, policies, and supervision
  • Promote collaboration to support reflection, growth, and sustainability
  • Develop school infrastructure, including principal support, to sustain first-rate math programs

What are some elements of initial progress?

Progress evident during the second year of the project:

  • Administrators and teachers benefited from the high-quality professional development, and found their experiences worthwhile;
  • Opportunities for collaboration supported capacity–building for both audiences, during professional development, in the peer collaboration work and during the on-site coaching;
  • The coaching was one of the most valued aspects of the project, as it provided opportunities for teachers to reflect on their practice and was differentiated to meet each participant’s needs;
  • Classrooms were beginning to reflect changes in teacher practice and student engagement, particularly with greater opportunities for student dialogue and engagement in problem solving.

Current participants in the BSF-UIC MI may access project resources here.

Please contact your UIC coach for the password.