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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU boosts teachers' confidence in mathematics

Elementary school teachers, math coaches and administrators from across southern New Mexico engaged in mathematics learning during the Developing Algebraic Reasoning workshop held July 26-28 at New Mexico State University.

The academy was made possible by a grant called the Title II Funding for NMSU Higher Education Department, which supports improving teacher quality, leadership and partnerships between NMSU and area school districts. About 90 educators from four school districts in New Mexico attended the three-day event. The academy's facilitators were Jan Szymaszek, Marta Garcia and Gary Shevell.

During the academy, teachers focused on how students reason algebraically, engaging in numerous mathematics activities, including analyzing videos, developing mathematical conjectures and generalizations, exploring mathematical properties and studying the relationships between mathematical operations. Participants also examined the role of teachers in making algebraic ideas clear to elementary students.

Cathy Kinzer, a mathematics educator in curriculum and instruction in the College of Education, said the academy helped participants begin to develop the mathematical knowledge needed for effective teaching of a subject that often challenges many elementary teachers.

"Many primary teachers feel inadequate in teaching mathematics as a sense-making process. They lack confidence because of their own mathematics experiences in school," she said.