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Over the past decade there has been increased focus on the mathematical preparation of teachers at all levels as one of the main tools in improving mathematics education in this country. The mathematical knowledge of teachers arguably involves not only solid procedural and conceptual mastery of key mathematical processes and phenomena, but also understanding how mathematics content fits into and extends the school curriculum. In their coursework and professional development, teachers need to experience the process of learning and doing mathematics: experimenting, conjecturing, justifying, generalizing. and struggling. Teachers also need to experience consistently the beauty and power of mathematics.
Middle school mathematics teachers occupy a unique place in the mathematical development of students. These teachers need to be proficient in all elementary mathematics topics, together with some secondary mathematics topics. They demand a special kind of preparation that differs from both that of their elementary and secondary colleagues. The Mathematics Education of Teachers (MET) document published by the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences set forth criteria for the preparation of mathematics middle school teachers which made it critical that special programs and courses for this group emerge. All middle school teachers need to know the mathematics content for elementary teachers. In addition, in the strand of number sense and operation, middle school teachers need to be fluent with the number line model for the real numbers, proportional reasoning, and elementary number theory.
Although there is some common pedagogical ground for all teachers of mathematics, there is a fundamental difference in the topics and depth of content knowledge required for students preparing to teach elementary, middle, or high school mathematics. The middle school teacher preparation program at Western Oregon University (WOU) seeks to develop foundational content for middle school teachers while exploring best practices such as active learning, appropriate use of technology, and hands-on exploration. WOU offers many courses specifically for middle school teachers that are designed to develop mathematical maturity and content knowledge while connecting the subject matter to the middle school curriculum and standards. This article describes the structure of WOU's middle school mathematics program and the courses designed specifically for middle school mathematics teachers. We point out the difference in the mathematical preparation and requirements for middle school mathematics teachers compared to elementary teachers and high school mathematics teachers and explain the licensure requirements for middle school mathematics teachers in Oregon.
Background and Philosophy of the Program
Western Oregon University's math curriculum for K–8 teacher preparation was among ten programs singled out as meeting critical coursework needs by the National Council on Teacher Quality . The teacher preparation program as a whole was named the 2010 recipient of the Christa McAuliffe Award for Excellence in Teacher Education by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).
Middle school mathematics teachers occupy a unique place in the mathematical development of students. These teachers need to be proficient in all elementary mathematics topics, together with some secondary mathematics topics. They demand a special kind of preparation that differs from both that of their elementary and secondary colleagues. The Mathematics Education of Teachers (MET) document published by the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences set forth criteria for the preparation of mathematics middle school teachers which made it critical that special programs and courses for this group emerge. This collection of articles is in response to the MET document and the result of several gatherings of mathematics educators and mathematicians training middle school teachers. We have chosen the articles that appear in this volume for several purposes: to disseminate various middle school programs structures, to detail methods of teaching specific middle school teachers content courses, and to share materials and resources. While each article describes the unique program or course of its respective institution, each also includes a common core of information to provide some consistency to the volume. In particular, all articles describing middle school programs contain information about the host institution, a history of the program, degree and testing requirements for the program and for state licensure, learning goals and objectives for the program and courses, and any available assessment data. When applicable information is included about particular courses, for example, some articles provide sample activities or syllabi and some have a description of courses in the appendix. Most articles have links to websites containing further information about the program, courses, state requirements, or resources that can be downloaded and used directly.