News & Events

Everyday Mathematics Updates

September 20, 2022

We have had some exciting news and activity related to Everyday Mathematics in recent months, including the following:

  • In a report published in June 2022, Everyday Mathematics 4 received all “green” ratings from EdReports for Grades K through 5, meaning that EdReports reviewers determined that EM “meets expectations” for Focus and Coherence, Rigor and Mathematical Practices, and Usability at each of these grade levels using EdReports’ detailed rubrics and review processes. See the EdReports pdf file or the EdReports website for more information.
  • UChicago STEM Education hosted our 3rd Everyday Mathematics Virtual Learning Conference from June 20-22, 2022. Members of the UChicago STEM Education Math School Support Services team and the Everyday Mathematics author team facilitated 17 sessions for more than 170 full- and limited-access participants who ranged from brand-new to very experienced users of the program. While we missed some aspects of the face-to-face conferences we have hosted in the past, we were thrilled to be able to have attendees from all over the country, and even some international participants!
  • The Everyday Mathematics author team has been working closely with the Everyday Mathematics publisher, McGraw Hill, to gather information from educators who use the program that can inform upcoming updates and improvements. We have enjoyed learning from surveys, interviews, and focus groups focused on a wide range of topics, including how EM teachers plan for teaching mathematics and their experiences related to equity and culturally responsive teaching in mathematics.
  • Members of the Everyday Mathematics author group will be at several upcoming mathematics conferences. Come see us in the McGraw Hill booth at NCSM and NCTM in Los Angeles in late September, and look for our presentations on early childhood mathematics, fact fluency, and equity in mathematics at the California Mathematics Council North and South Conferences in November (South) and December (North) 2022!

Southside Summer STEM Camp 2022

September 15, 2022

Three students working together on a project Three students sitting on the floor working on a project

Approximately 25 rising 5th and 6th graders participated in the 2022 South Side STEM Summer Camp in July. Our team of talented educators worked with the students to help build passion and confidence for STEM through a deep dive into engaging content and activities to foster students’ growth mindsets as STEM learners. Throughout the 2-week camp, students engaged in the mathematics, engineering, cryptography, and introductory coding and quantum computing.

Thanks to generous funding from the University of Chicago Women’s Board, UChicago STEM will be able to offer the camp again in Summer 2023 for 50 rising 5th and 6th graders.

Big Shoulders Fund Mathematics Initiative Year 12

September 9, 2022

Big Shoulders Fund logo

Through generous funding from the Big Shoulders Fund, UChicago STEM Education is entering Year 12 of supporting more than 20 parochial elementary schools in Chicago. One major goal of the initiative is to establish a community of schools and teachers, who work together on improving mathematics instruction and seek joint solutions to commonly held problems involving the teaching and learning of high-quality mathematics.

We kicked off Year 12 with an in-person Beginning of the Year Conference for about 150 teachers and principals. The conference included a keynote presentation focusing on the importance of computational fluency and a wide variety of sessions for both new and experienced teachers, math leaders, and principals to support the implementation of Everyday Mathematics.

The initiative includes in-person and remote professional development for new and experienced teachers, math leaders, and principals; in-school monthly coaching cycles for teachers; leadership coaching; and cross-school collaboration coaching in cohorts of 3-4 schools.

UChicago Financial Education Initiative Pilots Family Money Night

September 9, 2022

Family money night package

When it comes to promoting good financial behavior, parents exert the most impact. A new pilot from UChicago Financial Education Initiative is gathering 225 local families on Zoom to get the conversation started.

Click here for details.

CryptoClub Launches Online Leader Training

September 8, 2022

CryptoClub logo

The CryptoClub team at UChicago STEM Education is excited to announce the launch of their online leader training. The training consists of 9 modules that prepare educators to use the CryptoClub curriculum to teach cryptography and its embedded mathematics. A certificate is awarded upon completion of each module. Many teachers are able to submit the certificates to their district for professional development credit.

The modules include over 80 short video tutorials, along with classroom videos of students and teachers engaged in CryptoClub activities and samples of student work. The videos are followed by Reflection and Discussion question(s). After viewing the video and responding to a question, the trainee can view and comment on responses of others. Thus, the training is designed to promote conversation among those taking it to mimic what would occur in a face-to-face workshop.

You can preview the modules here. The online training requires the use of the CryptoClub Student Handbook and the CryptoClub Leader Manual which can be purchased through Kendall Hunt. The online pd is available for free to people who purchase the books.

UChicago STEM Education Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Commitments

March 23, 2022

UChicago STEM Education

* We will be intentional, systematic, proactive, and transparent about prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion in our portfolio of work, including planning and decision-making around projects, partnerships, and funders.

* We will use asset- rather than deficit-based approaches in our language and actions. We will identify and challenge racist, discriminatory, and exclusionary language and practices in all aspects of our work, including our work in schools, within the University, and with other partner organizations.

* We will educate ourselves about institutionalized systems of discrimination and oppression, and identify how these systems affect our work.

* We will make concerted and systematic efforts to improve our intellectual power by increasing the diversity of our staff and partnering with others who broaden our perspective, with a special focus on building those relationships for long-term durability.

Tribute to Andy Isaacs, Recently Retired Director of UChicago STEM Education

March 18, 2022

Andy Isaacs

UChicago STEM Education staff came together in person and virtually on December 10, 2021 to celebrate the career of Andy Isaacs and thank him for his many years of service to UChicago STEM Education, Everyday Mathematics, and The University of Chicago School Mathematics Project (UCSMP). Isaacs retired from The University of Chicago at the end of December. At the December 10 retirement gathering, Isaacs was saluted by numerous guests who have collaborated with him over the years on a wide range of projects.

Isaacs served as UChicago STEM Education’s director or co-director since its founding in 2002 as the Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education, overseeing one of the country’s leading mathematics and science education research and development centers. In addition to directing the Center, Isaacs played a lead role in many of the Center’s programs involving curriculum development, teacher professional development, teacher preparation, and research.

Isaacs is best known for his leadership role with Everyday Mathematics. He was appointed as the Director of Everyday Mathematics Revisions in 2003, following completion of the program’s second edition. He succeeded his mentor, Everyday Mathematics founder Max Bell, in the role of Everyday Mathematics director. Since then, he has directed the design, development, and educational engineering for Everyday Mathematics and has been the liaison between UChicago STEM Education and the commercial publisher for Everyday Mathematics, McGraw Hill Education. Under Isaacs’s leadership, Everyday Mathematics became one of the country’s leading PK–6 mathematics programs, and, for a while, the single most widely used program in the country.

Isaacs joined the UCSMP team at The University of Chicago in 1995 as associate director of the Bridges to Classroom Mathematics project, which created professional development tools for teachers of Everyday Mathematics and other cutting-edge elementary mathematics programs. He also served as an author on the Everyday Mathematics second edition and as director of the UCSMP Everyday Mathematics Center, which supported Everyday Mathematics implementation nationally.

“It is not a coincidence that during Andy’s tenure with Everyday Mathematics, the program moved from being an important, niche curriculum to being the market leader nationally,” said Marty Gartzman, former Executive Director at CEMSE, who worked with Isaacs for 36 years. “And it is no coincidence that under Andy’s direction, Everyday Mathematics has remained the epitome of high-quality, standards-based mathematics programs for over two decades. Andy has a gift for helping teachers translate the big ideas of teaching mathematics into the classroom realities of daily practice,” he added.

In addition to his work with Everyday Mathematics development, Isaacs made important contributions to numerous other programs at UChicago STEM Education. These included developing and teaching courses since 2008 for the University's Urban Teacher Education Program. Most recently, he was heavily involved with UChicago STEM Education’s work with computer science education and financial education. In 2019, Isaacs assumed the role as UCSMP Director following the retirement of Zalman Usiskin.

Isaacs began his professional career as a fourth grade teacher in two Chicago-area school districts. In 1994, he earned a doctorate in mathematics, with significant work in computer science, from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). While at UIC, he was a major contributor to several mathematics education projects, including serving as a lead author of the Math Trailblazers K-5 mathematics curriculum of UIC’s Teaching Integrated Mathematics and Science (TIMS) Project.

For his outstanding contributions to mathematics education, in 2015 the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics awarded Issacs its prestigious Max Beberman Award. Writing in support of that nomination, former USCMP Director Zalman Usiskin wrote, “Max Beberman was known for his pioneering work and his involvement in the earliest and one of the largest mathematics curriculum projects of the new math era. Andy has helped to continue the strong tradition of innovative and influential work coming out of the state of Illinois.” Former NCTM President Diane Briars wrote, “Andy epitomizes the legacy of Max Beberman. He is an outstanding teacher, as Max was, but most importantly, he has improved the mathematics teaching of countless teachers and mathematics learning of millions of students, in Illinois and nationally, through his visionary curriculum development, first with Math Trailblazers, and for the past twenty plus years with Everyday Mathematics… He is the “Max Beberman” of our generation.”

Succeeding Isaacs as Director of UChicago STEM Education is Alison Whittington, who previously co-directed UChicago STEM Education’s School Support Services group. Sarah Burns and Debbie Leslie, both of whom are long standing Everyday Mathematics authors and grade-level leaders, are now co-Directors of Everyday Mathematics Revisions.

Virtual Everyday Mathematics Professional Learning Conference
June 27-29, 2022

March 15, 2022

Join us June 27-29 for the 2022 Virtual Everyday Mathematics Professional Learning Conference! The virtual conference will provide a platform to collaborate with fellow educators and engage in sessions facilitated by UChicago STEM Education staff and Everyday Mathematics authors. The 3-day virtual experience will include engaging sessions and keynote speakers on teaching and learning mathematics. Cost includes all sessions, materials and access to recordings of all sessions. A limited access option is available for recorded access to sessions.

This 3-day virtual professional learning conference is recommended for new and experienced teachers of the Everyday Mathematics 4 curriculum, as well as math coaches/leaders and administrators. A wide variety of sessions will be offered throughout the 3 days. You may register for the conference by clicking on the link below.

Learn more/Register

Please reach out to Denise Porter at porterd@uchicago.edu if you have questions.

CryptoClub Releases New Online Digital Game

March 14, 2022

Cipher Island

The CryptoClub team at UChicago STEM Education is excited to announce the launch of its newest online game, Cipher Island. In this game, players travel to Tajnia, a secretive island that closed itself off from all foreign interaction in 1967. Cut off from the world, Tajnians teach their children ciphers, encrypt everything (including historical plaques and government papers), and embrace treasure hunts (encrypted, of course)! When you play Cipher Island, you can explore the island, gather treasure by completing treasure hunts, and even create your own treasure hunts! Click here for a video preview. You can download the full game from the Games Section of cryptoclub.org

CryptoClub is a project currently funded by the National Science Foundation that develops materials to harness the allure of secret messages to teach cryptography and mathematics. The project is based on the belief that teaching students cryptography is a great opportunity to immerse them in mathematical thinking and problem solving, while introducing them to a topic that is important in today’s world. To find out more about CryptoClub, please visit cryptoclubproject.uchicago.edu.

Using DJ Skillls and Technology to Learn STEM Skills and Concepts

March 14, 2022

ThinkLive!

University of Chicago researchers and educators are collaborating with EdTech company, ThinkLive! Inc., to develop curricula that uses Turntabling hardware and software to bring together music, math, science, and technology. Under the leadership of Dr. Margaret Beale Spencer of the Department of Comparative Human Development and Charles Spencer, CEO of ThinkLive! Inc., a team of curriculum developers, technicians, and DJs have developed STEM curricula in combination with hardware and software. The curricula deliver standards-linked and engaging STEAM content. Turntabling technology is available both as cloud-based remote versions, in-person turntabling labs, and hybrid designs. The curriculum development team was led by Cathy Kelso and Nell Cobb. An NSF SBIR grant (#1927573) led by Charles Spencer and grants received at the University from the Spencer Foundation provided funding for curriculum writing, field testing, technology development, and evaluation efforts. Results of field testing demonstrate increases in engagement, attendance in summer school, and improved math grades the following semester. For a view of the field test click here.

Three levels of curricula (for grades 4-5, 6-8, and 9-10) are available that can be used in after-school and in-school settings, either virtually or in person. Each curriculum makes use of turntabling technology, diverse music genres, and the art of DJing as a youth culture learning context to develop concepts such as proportional reasoning and fractions. As examples, students learn to find the tempo of a song by counting beats per minute (bpm) and then use the context to solve fraction and ratio problems. As they learn turntabling skills using DJ software, students investigate the result of increasing or decreasing the speed of a record by a given percent on tempo and pitch. Encouraged to solve problems using strategies that make sense to them, students of all ability levels can access the content.

The entire project is scaffolded by the life course Phenomenological Variant of Ecological Systems Theory (known as “P-VEST”) authored by Dr. Margaret Beale Spencer. This underlying theory results in programming that provides an identity and culture-focused framing. It underlies the STEM curriculum, an overall effort that promotes resiliency, and provides conceptual opportunities to emphasize both STEM content and social justice insights. P-VEST acknowledges that all humans are vulnerable, while some youth have more supports than others. However, by providing culturally relevant and developmentally sensitive supports for neutralizing challenges to STEM identification, the theory-based programming strategy diminishes STEM learning risks. It increases resiliency as manifested in student engagement, STEM competence, and confidence. The standards-based ThinkLive! curricula can maximize positive outcomes for all youth by providing the necessary supports that decrease the STEM challenges experienced by too many students. Combined with music and turntabling programming, ThinkLive! curricula provide STEM learning and identification that is culturally, developmentally, and contextually sensitive to a wide range of students.

For more information about the program, contact Cathy Kelso at crkelso@uchicago.edu or Contact ThinkLive!.

In Memory of Katie Flores

September 3, 2021

Katie Flores

We at UChicago STEM Education are heartbroken to have lost our dear friend and colleague, Katie Flores, to cancer this summer. Katie began work at UChicago STEM Ed in 2012. Since then, she has been an invaluable contributor to so many projects, including as a senior member of the author team for Kindergarten Everyday Mathematics and a treasured coach for numerous classroom teachers across multiple school support projects. Katie was a driving force behind the development of our summer camps and our Ready, Set, STEM! early childhood program, and she worked tirelessly to grow and improve these programs over time. Katie was inspiring; she was loved, respected, and admired by everyone at UChicago STEM Education, but also by the many children, teachers, families, and partners she worked with over the years. We will miss her positive energy, her wonderful ideas, and her unwavering commitment to equity and social justice. Katie made an incredible mark on so many people in so many ways, and we are grateful to have known and worked with her. Below we share the obituary from Katie’s July 31 memorial service.

Kathryn Emily Flores
DECEMBER 27, 1980 – JULY 21, 2021

Kathryn Emily Flores passed away on July 21, 2021, after being diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2020. In more than 19 years as an educator, planner and coach, Katie uplifted the aspirations of countless school children. She was the loving wife of James Flores (12 years of marriage), and the adoring mother of sons Elliot (10) and Emmett (3). Katie brought constant joy to her family and many friends, all of whom came to admire her determination, courage, energy and her empathy for the struggles of others.

A native of the Indianapolis (IN) area, Katie was the daughter of Jim and Rita Rosensteele and the older sister of Matt Rosensteele, with whom she shared an extraordinary friendship. Katie graduated from Carmel (IN) High School, where she was an Honor student and a member of the school’s acclaimed choral and dance groups. Katie then earned a Bachelor’s degree in Hispanic Studies (summa cum laude) from Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, IL, and a Master of Arts in Teaching from National-Louis University (Chicago, IL).

After college, Katie moved to Chicago, where for eight years she taught Kindergarten in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and first demonstrated her ability to touch the lives of students, faculty and administrators. As part of her work experience, Katie traveled to Ghana for a cultural exchange program. After CPS, she moved to the University of Chicago’s STEM Education team, where she served as School Support Manager and Curriculum Developer. Most recently at UChicago, she helped develop mathematics textbooks and provided long-term coaching support for elementary math teachers across the country. True to her life’s passions, Katie played an instrumental role in the center’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, while also serving on the center’s “Fabulous Fun” Committee.

Katie was active in many community organizations. She was a leader with the McKinley Park Advisory Council, bringing neighbors together for stewardship days and other activities in the park. She helped found the McKinley Park Development Council to build a community-driven vision of what residents desired and hoped for their neighborhood. And she brought new life to a piece of the neighborhood behind the Library, working with NeighborSpace, to make possible the McKinley Community Play Garden as a nature space now enjoyed and appreciated by McKinley Park residents of all ages.

Katie is also survived by: sister-in-law AnnMarie Titsworth, nephews Jonas and Daniel Rosensteele and sister and brother-in-law, Christina and Drew Peterson, nephews Dylan and Cameron Peterson.

She will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved her.

Teach Personal Finance with Confidence

August 17, 2021

Teach Personal Finance with Confidence

This year the Jackson Charitable Foundation is supporting the University of Chicago Financial Education Initiative to provide 100 teachers and approximately 5,000 high school students with free access to finEDge, a semester-long financial education curriculum during the 2021–22 academic year. Targeting teachers new to teaching financial education, this sponsorship will provide students and teachers access to the high-quality curriculum along with extensive professional development and certification for participating educators.

Who: High school educators nationwide who are new to teaching financial education can apply now for complimentary access to finEDge during the 2021–22 academic year. Local school districts and interested parents are advised to share this information immediately with high school educators who may be interested in applying.

What: finEDge is a semester-long financial education curriculum designed by educators, researchers, and curriculum developers at the University of Chicago Financial Education Initiative in partnership with the Magnetar Capital Foundation. The underlying philosophy of the program is to teach sound financial decision-making rather than simply transmit financial information and facts. The research-based curriculum is focused on developing students’ knowledge while fostering productive attitudes and behaviors around money. Simultaneously, finEDge strengthens teachers’ content knowledge and confidence by providing professional development and ongoing support. With a serious respect for the personal situation of each student, the curriculum responsibly acknowledges and addresses the range of financial learners’ realities and economic environments, including systemic barriers and inequities.

Where: Interested educators can apply online here.

CryptoClub Launches Online Badging System

August 13, 2021

CryptoClub Caesar

The CryptoClub team at UChicago STEM Education is excited to announce the launch of an online badging system at their cryptography website cryptoclub.org. Earning digital badges can be a challenging and fun experience for both children and adults and is a comprehensive introduction to the tools, activities, and games that appear on the website. There are six badges to earn--one for each cipher featured on the site. The badging activities require participants to encrypt, decrypt, and crack secret messages on the Joke Board and Message Boards and play the website’s digital games. The website will keep track of the progress towards earning the badges and will notify participants when they have fulfilled all badging requirements. You can find more information about the badging requirements by logging into cryptoclub.org and selecting Badges from the menu.

CryptoClub is a project currently funded by the National Science Foundation that develops materials to harness the allure of secret messages to teach cryptography and mathematics. The project is based on the belief that teaching students cryptography is a great opportunity to immerse them in mathematical thinking and problem solving, while introducing them to a topic that is important in today’s world. To find out more about CryptoClub, please visit cryptoclubproject.uchicago.edu.

Virtual South Side STEM Camp Year 2 was a Success!

August 13, 2021

Thanks to the generous funding from the University of Chicago Women’s Board, UChicago STEM Education hosted the South Side STEM camp for 3-weeks in July. Due to COVID-19, the camp was once again converted to a half day virtual experience for the campers. Throughout the 3-weeks, twenty-five rising 5th and 6th grade students were engaged in algebraic reasoning, cryptography and engineering activities with University educators. Camp sessions involved a combination of small-group breakouts, hands-on experiences, problem solving and games- all designed to develop conceptual understanding and link concepts and procedures in meaningful ways. The curriculum also aimed to help campers make connections between mathematics, the real world, and other STEM content. Over the course of the 3 weeks, campers applied the Engineering Design Process to design and build recycled race cars. Through the cryptography tasks students learned how to encrypt, decrypt and crack secret messages. As a result of their participation, students developed their knowledge, skills, and confidence in these disciplines. The summer camp also served as a platform for students to build passion and confidence for STEM through a deep dive into engaging content and through activities that are explicitly designed to foster students’ growth mindsets as STEM learners.

The feedback from the virtual camp was very positive from both students and parents.

One parent shared,

“My son loved waking up early during the summer to eat breakfast and brush his teeth before logging on to zoom for his class. He had a blast and enjoyed sharing what he learned with the whole family as well as teaching his younger brothers what he learned.”

Another shared,

“she was engaged and interested in learning new things, sometimes she is worried about making a mistake, but I know this was very much stressed that mistakes are ok.”

One student shared that their favorite part of camp was

“teamwork- the students and the mentors always help each other out so I liked that a lot.”

Another student wrote

“I learned so much I never knew about cryptography but now I know, and engineering is really fun. I even built my own car.”

Zoom conference
Child in Zoom conference

Big Shoulders Fund Mathematics Initiative Year 11

August 13, 2021

Big Shoulders Fund logo

UChicago STEM Education is excited to announce our 11th year of involvement with the Big Shoulders Fund Math Initiative. (BSFMI) Due to the generous funding from Big Shoulders Fund we will continue our partnership to establish a community of parochial schools that work together on improving mathematics instruction and find joint solutions to commonly held problems involving the teaching and learning of mathematics. Last year presented a new set of challenges and we will continue to learn and grow as we apply lessons learned. This year we will continue to offer our professional development remotely and look forward to returning to the schools to coach in-person. This school year we will be coaching in 15 schools and providing professional development for over 100 teachers in grades PK-6.

Virtual Everyday Mathematics Professional Learning Conference
June 28th - 30th, 2021

May 19, 2021

Overview

The virtual Everyday Mathematics Professional Learning Conference will provide a platform to collaborate with fellow educators and engage in professional sessions facilitated by UChicago STEM Education staff and Everyday Mathematics authors. The 3-day virtual experience will include engaging sessions and keynote speakers on teaching and learning mathematics. Cost includes all sessions, materials and access to recordings of all sessions. Please note that the sessions will focus on the Everyday Mathematics 4 and 2020 versions.

JUNE 28-30, 2021

Audience

This 3-day virtual professional learning conference is recommended for teachers (New and Experienced), math coaches/leaders, and administrators utilizing the Everyday Mathematics 4 curriculum. A wide variety of sessions will be offered throughout the 3 days. Below is a list of possible topics that will be covered.

  • Getting Started with Everyday Mathematics (recommended for teachers new to EM)
  • Differentiation in Everyday Mathematics
  • Refining Assessment: Taking a Closer Look
  • Building Fact Fluency and assessment
  • Everyday Mathematics Open Response and Reengagement Deep Dive
  • Everyday Mathematics Digital Tools
  • Problem Solving in Everyday Mathematics
  • Addressing Unfinished Learning
  • Games and the importance of play
  • Taking a Deep Dive with Fractions
  • Equity in the mathematics classroom

Cost

FULL access is only $300 and allows you to participate in all the synchronous sessions, access the materials and the recordings of each session until June 30, 2022, and receive a certificate of completion at the conclusion of the series.

A list of course offerings and Zoom links will be provided one week prior to the conference.

We will also offer a LIMITED ACCESS option for $150. With this option, you receive access to the materials and the recordings of each session until December 31, 2021. This is a great option for people who are not available to participate during the live sessions.

Learn more

You can find a comprehensive list of the services we offer on our School Support Services website.

New Ready, Set, STEM! Partnership

April 30, 2021

Ready Set Stem! logo

The UChicago STEM Education early childhood team is thrilled to have launched a new partnership with the Carole Robertson Center for Learning (CRCL) to adapt, implement, and support our Ready, Set, STEM! program for more than 200 children and their teachers in 15 preschool classrooms across CRCL's three sites. The Ready, Set, STEM! program includes curricular materials and kits for classroom STEM activities; resources for family engagement, including Family STEM Events; and STEM-focused professional learning opportunities and ongoing instructional support for early childhood teachers.

We recently finished writing the first STEM Project to be used in CRCL classrooms. This first STEM project is focused on balls and aligns with the Creative Curriculum Balls Study. We introduced the Balls STEM project to CRCL teachers and program advisors at an April 29 virtual professional development session, and teachers will begin using the project in May. We will co-host the first Family STEM Event for CRCL families in early summer.

With generous funding from the Boeing Company, we will repeat this development, training, and implementation and support cycle with CRCL for two more STEM projects this year. We are excited for this new partnership and for the opportunity to continue to develop and expand the Ready, Set, STEM! program.

Re-release of Early STEM Matters Report

April 30, 2021

EC STEM logo

The Biden Administration recently proposed a major expansion of early childhood education that would make high-quality preK programs available to all. Quality early childhood education must include attention to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Just as with language and literacy, STEM education should start early in order to maximize its benefits and effectiveness. The Biden proposal for universal early childhood education provides a unique opportunity to greatly expand access to STEM education among young children. A groundbreaking 2017 report spearheaded by educators at UChicago STEM Education and the Erikson Institute offers guidance about how to do that.

Early STEM Matters: Providing High-Quality STEM Experiences for All Young Children was developed by the Early Childhood STEM Working Group, a group of leading scholars, policymakers, curriculum developers, and educators from across the United States who shared a vision and goal for universal access to high-quality, developmentally appropriate STEM education for preschool children. The group was convened through a two-year grant to UChicago STEM Education and the Erikson Institute by The Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust.

Early STEM Matters articulates an ambitious but achievable vision for the future of young children’s STEM education. It addresses the intersection of current policy discussions about early childhood education and STEM education. The report is intended to help guide and inform conversation and change at a critical point in public discourse about the need for high-quality early childhood education. It offers four guiding principles and six actionable recommendations. The guiding principles are overarching conceptual commitments about young children and STEM education. The recommendations identify specific steps involving policy, practice, and research that will promote dramatic improvement in early STEM education for all young children.

You can download a copy of Early STEM Matters through the UChicago STEM Education website at https://ecstem.uchicago.edu/.

Next Gen Science Assessments Project to Participate in the 2021 STEM for All Video Showcase: COVID, Equity Social Justice

April 30, 2021

The Next Gen Science Assessments for Grades 3 – 5, from UChicago STEM Education and UIC’s Learning Sciences Research Institute, will be featured May 11th-18th at https://stemforall2021.videohall.com/

The Next Generation Science Assessments project, a collaboration between researchers at UChicago STEM Education and UIC’s Learning Sciences Research Institute, will be featured in the 2021 STEM for All Video Showcase funded by the National Science Foundation. The event will be held online May 11th - 18th at https://stemforall2021.videohall.com/

Assessments to Support Learning in Upper Elementary Science” describes the professional learning model used by the Next Generation Science Assessments project, led by Principal Investigator Dr. Liz Lehman. The professional learning model places instructionally-supportive assessments at the forefront, and centers discourse around students using their disciplinary knowledge and practices to engage in sensemaking and reasoning. The UChicago STEM Ed team has been collaborating with researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Learning Science Research Institute and a cohort of elementary teachers from two Illinois school districts to co-develop instructionally-supportive assessment tasks and to use those tasks formatively with students. The project was funded by the National Science Foundation (grant nos. 1813737 and 1813938).

Now in its seventh year, the annual showcase will feature over 250 innovative projects aimed at improving Science, Math, Engineering and CS education, which have been funded by the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies. During the 8 day event, researchers, practitioners, policy makers and members of the public are invited to view the short videos, discuss them with the presenters online, and vote for their favorites.

The theme for this year’s event is “COVID, Equity Social Justice.” Video presentations address broadening participation, impacts of COVID on STEM teaching and learning, design implementation on STEM and CS programs, research informing STEM and CS teaching and learning, and measuring impact of innovative programs. Collectively the presentations cover a broad range of topics including science, mathematics, computer science, engineering, cyberlearning, citizen science, maker spaces, broadening participation, research experiences, mentoring, professional development, NGSS and the Common Core.

Last year’s STEM for All Video Showcase is still being accessed, and to date has had over 86,000 unique visitors from 180 countries.

The STEM for All Video Showcase is hosted by TERC, in partnership with: STEMTLnet, CADRE, CAISE, CIRCL, STELAR, CS for All Teachers, NARST, NCTM, NSTA, NSF INCLUDES, and QEM. The Showcase is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (#1922641).

Next Generation Science Assessments team to present at NARST 2021 Annual Conference

April 22, 2021

NARST

Dr. Liz Lehman, along with University of Illinois at Chicago colleague Dr. Brain Gane, will present initial findings from their NSF-funded work on formative assessment co-design with elementary science teachers during NARST’s 94th annual international conference on science education on Friday, April 9. As part of the symposium Opportunities and Challenges of Facilitating Educators’ Understanding and Use of the Next Generation Science Standards, Drs. Lehman and Gane will discuss how their professional learning efforts have enhanced educators’ understanding and use of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), as well as challenges faced and lessons learned. Early data indicate that participating in the assessment task design process had positive impacts on teachers’ self-reported attitudes about science, content knowledge, knowledge of the science and engineering practices (SEPs), and knowledge of assessment vs. instruction. Teachers also reported changes in their classroom assessment and instruction practices. Challenges included balancing work between the project team and teacher collaborators, defining and sticking to assessment boundaries during task development, determining how to assess certain SEPs, and uncertainty regarding development and research activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this video, Drs. Lehman and Gane provide an overview of the project and discuss their findings, how the project has responded to various challenges, and what’s to come!

This work is supported by grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation: DRL 1813737 and DRL 1813938.

Talking Cents Launches

January 29, 2021

Talking Cents cards

Studies show that families are the single most influential part of children learning about money, however, initiating a conversation around finances can be very difficult. As a result, we are proud to announce the launch of Talking Cents, an activity designed to break the taboo of talking about money by facilitating casual conversation between families and friends.

The card deck includes 108 discussion prompts backed by financial behavior and education research, and field-testing across the United States. The cards are recommended for ages 7 and up and comes with a Parent Guide to ensure everyone can get in on the conversation.

Talking Cents empowers players to consider both their own financial attitudes, values and beliefs, as well as those of others, and how they are shaped by different circumstances and previous financial experiences. With no right or wrong answers, the goal of the cards is to start these conversations.

Talking Cents is designed to spark discussions of all kinds—some deep, some lighthearted, but all valuable. Talking Cents is available now. For more information, visit our website.

Funding for 2021 South Side STEM Camp

January 25, 2021

UChicago STEM Education has been awarded funding from the University of Chicago Women’s Board to support student participation in the South Side STEM Camp this summer. Funds will support tuition and programming for a three-week virtual STEM camp for rising 5th and 6th grade Chicago students.

The first South Side STEM Summer Camp was launched in July 2018. UChicago STEM Education offered a three-week virtual STEM camp to 50 Chicago students in July 2020.

The South Side STEM Summer Camp serves as a platform for students to build passion and confidence for STEM through a deep dive into engaging content and through activities that are explicitly designed to foster students’ growth mindsets as STEM learners. Throughout the camp, students engage in the mathematics, engineering and cryptography activities with University educators. As a result of their participation, students develop their knowledge, skills, and confidence in these disciplines.

Thanks to this generous funding from the University of Chicago Women’s Board, twenty-five students from schools in the communities surrounding the University will be able to participate in the camp free of charge. Additional tuition-based spaces will be available.

Virtual Coaching in the Math Classroom

January 22, 2021

A majority of the work conducted by the School Support Services team at UChicago STEM Education is focused on instructional coaching, particularly in elementary mathematics. Our approach to instructional coaching focuses on developing relationships with teachers and sustained partnerships with schools and districts to provide support that engages teachers in reflective coaching cycles. Each of these coaching cycles typically consists of three phases; a pre-conference, a classroom visit to observe or co-teach a lesson, and a debrief conversation.

Due to COVID-19, in March 2020 our coaching work transitioned online. We held pre-conferences and debrief conversations with teachers via Zoom, and our coaches “visited” remote lessons by dropping into teachers’ Zoom or Google Meets class sessions. We learned a lot and we developed systems to provide high-quality support to schools and teachers of remote classrooms, as well as ways to creativity modify our coaching work to meet teachers’ needs.

In the fall of 2020, we obtained funding from the Sasser Family to conduct a pilot using IRIS Connect, a video-based tool that empowers teachers to record, reflect on, and share their lessons asynchronously. The pilot includes nine teachers from two Chicago parochial schools that are a part of the Big Shoulders Fund Mathematics Initiative. The coaching cycle begins with a pre-conference over Zoom, and then the teacher video records a portion of their lesson and shares the video with their coach through the IRIS platform. Then the coach watches the video, providing feedback and questions that encourage teachers to reflect on their practice. Teachers can review the video feedback prior to scheduling a post-conference with their coach.

Our goal is to use the IRIS pilot to build new coaching structures that can be sustained beyond the pandemic both within and outside of Chicago. We look forward to making remote coaching a powerful service we can offer to schools on a regular basis.

UChicago STEM Education Offers Online CrytpoClub

January 22, 2021

CryptoClub logo

This fall, the CryptoClub team at UChicago STEM Education offered a virtual CryptoClub for middle school students. CryptoClubs introduce cryptography, the science of sending secret messages, and the underlying mathematics to club participants. Over 20 students from 4 different states participated in the 8-week online club. Club participants learned three different ciphers and spent time encrypting, decrypting, and cracking messages with each cipher. The online sessions, which ran for 75 minutes, involved a combination of whole-group discussion and instruction; small-group discussion and collaboration, and cryptography games, modified for the online environment.

The feedback from the participants was overwhelmingly positive:

  • “I have enjoyed that I have been learning new things about cryptography.”
  • “I like that I can write in secret code.”
  • “I love encrypting and decrypting messages. Thank you!”

The UChicago STEM Education team will be offering two additional online CryptoClubs this winter and spring. One club will be a continuation of the content offered in the fall club, and one will be open to new participants.

New Early Childhood Math App for Families!

January 19, 2021

Since 2017, UChicago STEM Education's early childhood team has been partnering with MathTalk, a Boston-based organization, on content development for a variety of projects aimed at helping families engage with math together around their communities. One of those projects -- MathTalk's Measure! Everything! App -- was recently released! The Measure! Everything! App uses Augmented Reality experiences to encourage active exploration and playful learning of math concepts in children's homes, backyards, schools, and communities. The App is available for free for Apple and Android devices on the App Store or Google Play. Click on the link below to see a flyer with more information. You can learn more about MathTalk at www.mathtalkpbc.com and about the work of the UChicago STEM Education early childhood team here.

View Flyer

Chicago Public Schools finEDge leadership Cohort

October 5, 2020

CPS finEDge leadership cohort

The Chicago Public Schools finEDge Leadership Cohort is a new partnership between the UChicago Financial Education Initiative and the CPS Department of Social Sciences for high school educators across the district. This Cohort will investigate ways financial education materials can best meet the needs of Chicago students and classrooms.

The leadership cohort will use finEDge, a financial education program, to explore content and pedagogical approaches that are based on learning science, behavioral change research, and the latest information on effective design. Teachers will build financial education instruction into their classes and share their findings and best-practices in collaboration with other cohort members, CPS, and UChicago. By the end of the school year, the cohort will assess the degree to which finEDge strengthens student agency in financial literacy and financial decision-making for Chicago’s youth.

To learn more about finEDge visit https://finedge.uchicago.edu/

How ComEd is Creating a Spark for Engineering while Adapting to Virtual Programming: An Outlier Evaluation

October 5, 2020

Create a Spark Tiny Home

Outlier researchers Joanna Schiffman and Carolyn Sutter collaborated with members of the ComEd SmartGrid STEM Programs team to evaluate their Create a Spark program. ComEd SmartGrid STEM Programs is a division of ComEd that develops and carries out programming to bring together ComEd engineers, educators, and local youth, with the goal of spreading information and awareness to communities about relevant energy-related concepts and infrastructure.

Create a Spark specifically aims to expose youth from historically under-resourced communities to energy and technology concepts and boost interest in energy-related, engineering, and other STEM careers. Through weekend experiences with lectures, activities, guest speakers, and group projects, the Program targets youth attitudes, content knowledge, presentation skills, and career interests. In the spring of 2020, Outlier evaluated the Create a Spark freshman cohort program, which consisted of 46 freshman students who are all HFS Chicago Scholars.

This year, Create a Spark carried out two sessions in person before closures from the COVID-19 pandemic required the program be moved online. ComEd program managers and facilitators used ingenuity and resources to adapt the program to function virtually and still allow students to carry out the culminating final project, the Energy House Challenge. Instead of having students work in teams in person to create a functioning energy-efficient tiny home prototype, students were sent materials in the mail and worked independently, with support from videos and Google Meets sessions with the program facilitator and ComEd engineers, to create their own insulated tiny homes (see the top-rated home pictured above!). Additionally, students carried out energy audits on their own homes, and really enjoyed learning about ways their families could decrease their wasteful energy consumption and reduce their energy bills.

Despite the unplanned shift to virtual programming, our evaluation findings indicate students had positive outcomes from the Create a Spark program. More specifically, at the end of the program, students generally agreed that they felt prepared to do well in engineering courses. Students’ interest in a STEM college major and ratings that they feel prepared to have a STEM career both significantly increased. Although there was no overall change in students’ interest in engineering, over one-third of students expressed interest in pursuing a career in engineering at the end of the program. We also asked students about the benefits and challenges of virtual programming. The main benefits they shared were more flexibility and the opportunity to become more independent. The main challenges of virtual programming were difficulty staying organized and an inability to collaborate with others.

Outlier will continue to evaluate the program with this cohort of students for three more years.

Outlier Research Evaluation Awarded a Computer Science For All Grant from the National Science Foundation

October 5, 2020

Time for CS logo

Drs. Jeanne Century (Principal Investigator) and Kaitlyn Ferris (Co-principal Investigator) and their colleagues at Outlier Research Evaluation were recently awarded a Computer Science For All grant from the National Science Foundation. Outlier will collaborate with Broward County Public Schools, UChicago STEM Education curriculum developers, and the University of Florida in a research-practice partnership (RPP) focused on creating equitable opportunities in computer science (CS) for elementary school students. This project builds on the RPP’s previous collaboration, which generated six early prototype, interdisciplinary problem-based learning modules to provide elementary-school students with greater opportunities to engage in CS during the school day. ELA and math are often the emphasis of much class time during the elementary school day. Thus, these modules, which integrate ELA, science, CS, math, and social studies concepts in an interdisciplinary manner, provide students with opportunities to engage with CS without taking valuable time away from other core subjects. Engaging with CS through these Modules helps shape students’ experiences with CS, which in turn, have the potential to positively contribute to their attitudes and behaviors related to CS as they progress through school and beyond.

Despite the promise of the early prototype modules, the RPP team continues to strive to provide all elementary students with opportunities to engage in CS and realize more equitable academic and attitudinal outcomes. In this project, which is called Time4CSforAll, one early prototype module for 4th grade classrooms will be revised to explicitly address broadening participation in STEM and CS through an infusion of culturally responsive pedagogical and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) approaches within the module’s lessons. More specifically, the RPP team recognizes the importance of broadening participation in CS for groups that have been traditionally underrepresented in STEM, and this project will address the needs of learners with disabilities and Black and Hispanic students in particular. Once revised and finalized, a group of 4th grade teachers in Broward County Public Schools will test the revised Module, which tasks students with solving the problem of invasive species in the Florida Everglades, in their classrooms. Outlier will conduct research to assess how the Module is being implemented from the teachers’ perspective, teachers’ and students’ attitudes about CS, and students’ CS achievement and attitudinal outcomes.

The Time4CSforAll project has the potential to make a long-term, promising impact on the field of CS education. Nationally and globally, STEM education is more important than ever because it can prepare individuals to be engaged, participatory citizens and to fill an increasing need for motivated, knowledgeable workers in STEM jobs. Most importantly, it is essential to broaden participation in STEM, with a particular emphasis on including students historically underrepresented in STEM fields, which is the primary focus of Time4CSforAll.

For more information, please visit our website.

Big Shoulders Fund Mathematics Initiative Year 10

October 5, 2020

UChicago STEM education is entering Year 10 of the Big Shoulders Fund Math Initiative (BSFMI).

The goal throughout the 10 years has been to establish a community of parochial schools that work together on improving mathematics instruction and find joint solutions to commonly held problems involving the teacher and learning of mathematics. Due to COVID-19, this year we are working to build this community in a remote environment. We have moved our professional development and coaching models to a virtual experience in order to continue the work. We are learning and collaborating alongside our teachers on what work best in the virtual/in-person and hybrid learning environments. UChicago STEM Education is providing virtual mathematics coaching to 10 schools and providing professional development for over 100 teachers on a monthly basis to support grades PK-6.

Virtual South Side STEM Camp was a Success!

October 5, 2020

Thanks to the generous funding from the University of Chicago Women’s Board, UChicago STEM Education hosted the South Side STEM camp for 3-weeks in July. Due to COVID-19, the camp was converted to a half day virtual experience for the campers. Throughout the 3-weeks, fifty rising 5th and 6th grade students were engaged in algebraic reasoning, cryptography and engineering activities with University educators. Camp sessions involved a combination of small-group breakouts, hands-on experiences, problem solving and games- all designed to develop conceptual understanding and link concepts and procedures in meaningful ways. The curriculum also aimed to help campers make connections between mathematics, the real world, and other STEM content. Over the course of the 3 weeks, campers applied the Engineering Design Process to design and build recycled race cars. Through the cryptography tasks students learned how to encrypt, decrypt and crack secret messages. As a result of their participation, students developed their knowledge, skills, and confidence in these disciplines.

The feedback from the virtual camp was very positive from both students and parents. One parent shared, “This has made a world of difference for my child in just 3 short weeks!” Another shared, “my daughter is shy and not confident…she LOVED the STEM camp...the teaching style pushed her beyond her comfort level. She was beyond excited to participate.” Several students requested an even longer camp, “I wish we could have had another week. I loved it!!!”

UChicago STEM Ed study: Elementary Mathematics Specialists in Illinois

October 5, 2020

Elementary Mathematics Specialists in Illinois Report Cover

UChicago STEM Education conducted a state-wide study to determine the extent of interest among Illinois school districts in creating formal certification pathways for elementary teachers who want to specialize in teaching mathematics or providing mathematics leadership in their schools and school districts. The multi-faceted study, which drew responses from school districts representing all areas of the state and 40% of Illinois students, documented strong interest in establishing formal certifications for mathematics specialist teachers in the elementary grades. Currently, 20 states have established such certification credentials. UChicago STEM Education is now working with colleagues at DePaul University and the University of Illinois at Chicago to assist the Illinois State Board of Education in developing formal certification options for elementary mathematics specialists. Copies of the full study report, as well as a shorter research brief, can be downloaded at http://emsforil.uchicago.edu/. The study was funded by a grant from the CME Group Foundation.

Everyday Mathematics for Parents

October 5, 2020

Everyday Mathematics for Parents book

UChicago STEM Education and the University of Chicago Press are excited to announce a special promotion for the Everyday Mathematics for Parents book. This concise handbook, written by the Everyday Mathematics authors, is designed to help parents understand the math their children are learning. Parents can read about what content their children will learn at each grade level and how they can help their children at home, with suggestions for practical homework help and real-life math tasks and games. The book also includes definitions of the terminology children will encounter in math, an explanation of the common tools children will use to do mathematics, and an explanation of the goals of the Everyday Mathematics program. The book can be purchased online at www.press.uchicago.edu. Enter code EVERYDAY40 at checkout for 40% off the list price of the book.

Free Premium Online PD Package

July 10, 2020

VLC logo

In light of COVID-19, the Everyday Mathematics Virtual Learning Community offered its Premium Online PD Package free to teachers for a limited time. This package includes 7 modules: Classroom Resource Package (CRP), Understanding Everyday Mathematics, Algorithms, Fact Fluency, Games, and Everyday Mathematics Routines. Teachers received a certificate after completing all modules. Over 155 teachers took advantage of the free package. One school district had all their teacher’s assistants take the online PD.

UChicago STEM Education to host “Virtual” South Side Summer STEM Camp funded by the University of Chicago Women’s Board

July 10, 2020

South Side STEM Camp

UChicago STEM Education is excited to announce that we will continue to host our South Side STEM Camp virtually for rising 5th and 6th grade students this summer. The virtual camp experience will include daily online camp sessions with STEM educators and at-home activities. Campers will explore mathematics, engineering and cryptography activities over the three weeks. A kit of materials and supplies will be provided to each student. The summer camp will serve as a platform for students to build passion and confidence for STEM through a deep dive into engaging content and through activities that are explicitly designed to foster students’ growth mindsets as STEM learners. This camp is made possible through generous funding from the University of Chicago Women’s Board.

New CryptoClub Partnership with Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

July 10, 2020

CryptoClub student cover

The CryptoClub Project is pleased to announce that the CryptoClub materials are now available through Kendall Hunt Publishing Company. This exciting partnership will expose more teachers and students across the country to CryptoClub.

In a CryptoClub, middle-grade students apply mathematics to make and break secret codes. Teachers have used the curriculum in their mathematics, technology, and elective classes, and in before- and after-school clubs. Others have used it in informal settings such as libraries, Boys and Girls clubs, 4-H programs, and YMCAs. More information about CryptoClub can be found on the CryptoClub Project website.

The project has just completed a pilot of a series of online professional development modules designed to train CryptoClub leaders. We expect these modules to be available in the fall.

Top 3 Financial Education Blog Posts

July 8, 2020

Financial education blog

The UChicago Financial Education Initiative aim is to develop the tools, resources, and capacity to scale financial education across the United States? Their blog explores the comprehensive approach needed to make financial education effective. Check out the top three posts from the 2019-20 school year.

What is Financial Education?

Every day we make dozens of financial decisions. It’s not something any of us can avoid. But many of us never had formal exposure to financial matters in school. So, what should financial education address and how do you make it personal? Cover the basics in What is Financial Education?

Pinterest vs. Curriculum

Teachers spend a lot of time and talent searching for and creating instructional resources. This is time that could be better spent focusing on student outcomes. Imagine the impact on our schools if every teacher had access to high-quality curriculum that allowed them to do the important work of teaching. Learn why the use of quality curriculum and instructional materials are associated with increased student performance in Pinterest vs. curriculum.

Behavior Change: The Missing Piece of Financial Education

Teaching kids facts and figures about money is necessary, but not enough. The goal of a responsible financial education program should be to change both the mind and the behaviors. Read more in Behavior Change: The Missing Piece of Financial Education

Outlier’s Spreading Deeper Learning Practices for Equity Blog

May 15, 2020

Dandelion seed

In 2017, the Hewlett Foundation funded 10 Research-Practice Partnership teams, including ours (which includes researchers from Outlier Research Evaluation at the University of Chicago and practitioners from Broward County Public Schools) to “develop empirically driven, practical approaches” to spreading deeper learning practices in ways that had equitable and sustained impact.

This is no small challenge, and it requires more than the work of only ten teams. This blog, Dandelionseedoutlier, is intended to be a place where the 10 teams and anybody else with something to contribute to our collective work can share their approaches, ideas, lessons learned, promising outcomes, frustrations, and illuminations. Posts may include but are not limited to: strategy descriptions, personal reflections, findings, new questions, challenges for discussion, resources, and invitations for collaboration. Together, we can make the progress that none of us can do alone.

To contribute to the blog:

Contact: dandelionseedoutlier@gmail.com

VLC Team Awarded New Grant

May 15, 2020

The team behind the Everyday Mathematics Virtual Learning Community is embarking on another collaboration to better understand and support teacher learning. The new project, entitled “Teachers as Learners – Teachers as Thinkers: Improving Classroom Communication in Mathematics,” will endeavor to help teachers reflect on and change their communication practices in the elementary mathematics classroom. UChicago STEM Education staff Meg Bates and Cheryl Moran will work with new collaborators Nicole Kersting and Robert Wilson at University of Arizona, as well as with current collaborator Michelle Perry of University of Illinois, on this project. The project funding is for $2.5 million and will allow the project team to work directly and intensively with 150 teachers over several years, as well as to contribute to theory on how teachers learn.

More information on the project is available here.

Generating Awareness of Careers in Energy-Sector Trade Industries: An Outlier Evaluation

April 15, 2020

Panel discussion

Outlier Research Evaluation at UChicago STEM partnered with the Chicago Learning Exchange (CLX) to evaluate their summer apprenticeship program -- Illuminating Energy Pathways Program: Energizing Opportunities. CLX created this program in 2019 through collaborations with the Illinois Science and Energy Innovation Foundation, Career and Technical Education department within Chicago Public Schools (CPS), Mumkin Studio’s curriculum designers, ComED’s content experts, and Dawson Technical Institute. The program – which had a specific focus on Overhead Electrical Linework – utilized innovative teaching methods, including connected learning pedagogical approaches, problem-based learning, and hands-on experiences to expose CPS 11th graders to energy-related careers, and provide them with skills and knowledge they will need to obtain these in-demand jobs.

The Outlier evaluation utilized interviews and observations to assess the development and implementation of the program. We found that the program leaders focused on teaching students about the importance of clean energy, while highlighting relevant career pathways that they otherwise had no prior knowledge of. They also emphasized diversifying energy-related trades to eliminate equity gaps and to increase access to these types of careers for more individuals. To achieve these outcomes, program leaders highlighted the importance of working collaboratively across organizations because each group has unique perspectives to share and establishing opportunities for students to learn outside of the “traditional” classroom environment. Likewise, students believed it was very valuable to learn about clean energy sources and they appreciated the opportunity to think critically and creatively in this context. Students also learned a great deal from being able to connect material they were learning to real world contexts and how their skills can be translated to the workforce.

Outlier is currently partnering with CLX to evaluate the second year of this program (Summer 2020), as well as a second strand of the program, which will focus specifically on solar-power-related careers (Summer 2021).

UChicago STEM Ed Teaching Science Coursework for Urban Teacher Education Program

April 15, 2020

After a two year hiatus, UChicago STEM Education staff members are excited to again be teaching the Science Methods coursework to pre-service teachers in the UChicago Urban Teacher Education program. Under new state requirements, the science coursework has expanded to become a three quarter course sequence. During the winter quarter, students learned about and experienced, firsthand, inquiry approaches to science education. They also completed a culminating project in which they did an in-depth exploration of a science content topic of their choice. Like all University courses, the spring quarter course has moved to an online format, but we are finding innovative ways to have UTEP students continue to engage in hands-on science each week. We are crossing our fingers that we can be back in person with students for the summer quarter, when we hope to support them as they teach science to students in a summer program.

New Partnership With Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

April 15, 2020

finEDge logo Kendall Hung logo

The UChicago Financial Education Initiative is pleased to announce that finEDge is now available through the Kendall Hunt Publishing Company. This exciting, new partnership will help expand finEDge to reach more teachers and students across the country.

Read more about the partnership.

Outlier Partners with WorldChicago to Evaluate their Faculty Exchange Program From Brazil

April 15, 2020

In Fall 2019 Outlier Research Evaluation partnered with WorldChicago, an organization that provides exchange experiences and programming for international visitors to meet and network with Chicago-area citizen diplomats in fields such as public health, business, and education. One of the three projects (highlighted here) that were part of this collaboration focused on evaluating the 2018 and 2019 Faculty Development Exchange programs WorldChicago facilitated through the U.S. Department of State for academic administrators (i.e., exchange delegates) employed at Binational Centers (BNCs) across Brazil. BNCs are organizations created to build bridges between host nations and the U.S. as a means to promote information exchange and positive interactions between citizens of both countries. They are diverse in the programs they offer, but often include English instruction for a range of age groups (children through adults).

Outlier researchers, Carolyn Sutter and Kaitlyn Ferris, worked with WorldChicago and the 40 delegates who participated across the two programs to:

  1. describe the goals of the program;
  2. understand delegates’ experiences in the U.S. during the exchange;
  3. evaluate the Action Plans delegates designed during the exchange and implemented in their BNCs after returning home; and
  4. explore aspects of the program that could be improved for future delegates.

In addition, they developed an assessment tool to be used in future implementations of the program to evaluate delegates’ Action Plan projects and ensure that they are feasible and applicable to their BNCs while also integrating ideas, practices, and strategies learned from the American education system during the exchange.

Outlier researchers used a qualitative evaluation approach, including: document review of WorldChicago programming and delegates’ Action Plans, interviews with key program stakeholders (e.g., individuals from the U.S. Department of State, United States Embassy in Brasilia), interviews with 18 delegates whose Action Plan projects were rated highly, and two case study site visits to Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia to collect data focused on two exemplary Action Plan projects. During these site visits, Outlier researchers will able to observe projects in action in the classroom and talk with teachers and staff involved in implementation. Taken together, these data sources were able to provide an in-depth look at the exchange program outcomes and delegates’ experiences.

By learning about, and experiencing first-hand, innovative teaching practices and programming in American language-learning classrooms delegates shared that they were able to develop projects with lasting impacts. Their Action Plan projects focused on a variety of topics, including social-emotional learning, classroom behavioral management, and assessment techniques. Delegates noted the overall impact of their projects related to greater regulation of students’ behavior allowing teachers more opportunities for English-language instruction, adult learners’ confidence levels related to assessments of their learning progress, and adolescent students’ skills that extend beyond the classroom. Outlier researchers were able to observe some of these impacts in person during case study site visits, specifically collecting data related to a competency-based assessment plan including “can-do” statements, a program to support teachers with an effective way to manage behavior problems through the CHAMPS classroom management framework, and the integration of social-emotional learning strategies into classrooms in an effort to help students develop self-reflection and social awareness. These BNC contexts took a student-centered approach to strengthen English-language learning opportunities as well as support 21st century skill development. These new approaches had clear impacts within the classroom while also developing skills that students can utilize beyond the BNC. Overall, the Brazil-based Faculty Development Exchange Program cultivated delegates’ understanding of innovative English-language learning instructional practices and approaches to teaching American culture. The program provided a holistic opportunity for leaders to experience American education as well as an opportunity for idea exchange between delegates in an informal manner.

UChicago STEM Education 2020 South Side Summer STEM July 13 - 24, 2020

April 15, 2020

Please note that we are keeping an eye on the current COVID-19 situation. At this time, we do not anticipate needing to postpone the summer camp. We will keep you posted if for any reason these plans need to change.

UChicago STEM Education is excited to announce that we will be hosting the South Side STEM Summer Camp again this summer! Current 4th and 5th grade students in Chicago are invited to apply to participate.

The summer camp will serve as a platform for students to build passion and confidence for STEM through a deep dive into engaging content and through activities that are explicitly designed to foster students’ growth mindsets as STEM learners. The camp targets a wide range of students who are willing to engage fully in the two-week camp and open to learning new things.

Use this link to apply.

Outlier’s Use of In-Person and Virtual Site Visits to Learn More About English-language Learning Opportunities at Binational Centers in Uruguay and Chile

April 15, 2020

In Fall 2019, Outlier Research Evaluation conducted an in-depth investigation of English-language learning opportunities for students of all ages at two Binational Centers in South America. These investigations were sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and carried out on behalf of WorldChicago, a Chicago-based non-profit organization creating international exchange opportunities to unite researchers, scholars, and entrepreneurs from across the globe to exchange ideas and form networking connections. Outlier was innovative in that researchers, Carolyn Sutter and Kaitlyn Ferris, carried out site visits with delegates from the WorldChicago program at Uruguayan and Chilean Binational Centers in-person and virtually, respectively. Both virtual and in-person visits allowed them to gain insight into the English-language programming being offered in each country.

In collaboration with Alianza Cultural Uruguay-Estados Unidos, Outlier researchers investigated the Cross Cultural Exchanges through Project-based Learning Action Plan project developed by delegates at this Binational Center’s branches in Montevideo. Carolyn and Kaitlyn were able to conduct this site visit in person, and as a result, they immersed themselves in the Alianza context. They collected data that facilitated their understanding of how programming not only cultivates students’ English proficiency skills, but also positively contributes to student development through a combination of English instruction, educational advising, alumni networks, cross-cultural understanding, and information sharing about the United States.

The Cross Cultural Exchanges through Project-based Learning Action Plan project focuses on how adolescent students can use English as a mechanism to not only learn about American cultural practices, but also to act as advocates for their own culture. The project included three steps such that students would research American culture to learn more about holidays (i.e., Arbor Day, Flag Day, and Juneteenth) and traditional foods (e.g., deep-dish pizza, hamburgers), first, so that they could then compare what they learned with their knowledge of traditional Uruguayan culture in the second step. Finally, students created an artifact, such as a PowerPoint presentation, poster, or video, to share with hypothetical international travelers who were visiting Uruguay for the first time or with individuals who had no knowledge of Uruguayan culture. Conversations with adolescents participating in the Cross Cultural Exchanges through Project-based Learning Action Plan project indicated that doing this type of research on American and Uruguayan cultural practices encouraged them to think critically to better understand political, social, and economic factors influencing cultural norms and societal practices beyond information that is readily portrayed in the media.

On the other hand, Outlier researchers completed their site visit for the Communication for All: Creating a Culture of Communication in the Community through English-language Programming Action Plan project virtually due to political and social unrest across Chile during Fall 2019. Carolyn and Kaitlyn collected data using virtual platforms (e.g., Zoom, Skype), which highlights that data collection practices are evolving along with advances in technology to support research and evaluation in uncertain times.

The Communication for All Action Plan project aimed to increase communication opportunities and accessibility to goods and services for diverse populations residing in the La Serena and Curicó communities. These regions are attracting large numbers of international visitors and immigrants as well as refugees seeking asylum, many of whom cannot communicate in Spanish. Language barriers and the inability to effectively communicate have caused tension. As a result, the delegates’ Action Plan project sought to address this community-based challenge by transforming local businesses into multilingual spaces. Through the project, the delegates believed students would be able to learn English in an applied setting that serves their community. To do so, adolescent students created interactive posters with QR codes, which provide translations and audio files for commonly-used words and phrases for different locations throughout their communities, including health centers, grocery stores, and banks. Community spaces displaying the QR codes signify their openness to multilingualism and inclusion of individuals who cannot communicate in Spanish (e.g., tourists, immigrants) or have difficulty communicating verbally (e.g., members of the Deaf or Down Syndrome communities) to create a more-welcoming environment. This particular focus was selected by the delegates because they were interested in “the social aspects of language” and how to better meet the needs of diverse groups in their growing communities. They also believed in applied learning and providing their students with the opportunity to “try out” potential solutions that can impact, and improve, a “real-world” challenge their communities are currently facing. Moreover, creating these posters and integrating technology through QR codes was an innovative and creative way to help students utilize their English-language skills to learn about other languages, cultures, and ways to overcome societal challenges.

From these site visits it can be concluded that bilingualism, and English-language learning, are crucial to creating shared understanding and communication between individuals from different cultural backgrounds in the world’s current economic, social, and political climate. Innovative research designs and data collection strategies help researchers overcome challenges related to distance, time, and political and social climates to successfully generate new knowledge on this important topic.

Outlier Conducts Completely Virtual Evaluation of WorldChicago’s 2019 Professional Fellows Program

April 15, 2020

As part of a three-project collaboration with WorldChicago (an organization that facilitates exchange programs for individuals throughout the world to visit Chicago, meet Chicago-area citizen diplomats, and build skills in their respective fields), Outlier researchers Kaitlyn Ferris and Carolyn Sutter used quantitative and qualitative methods to evaluate the Tech Innovation, Education, Entrepreneurship Professional Fellows Program for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, and Montenegro. Data were all collected virtually, allowing the researchers to easily connect with program participants across Southeast Europe. The evaluation focused on participant- and community-level outcomes as well as program improvement for future iterations and findings to support future proposals for funding.

Through this iteration of the Professional Fellows Program (PFP) WorldChicago hosts emerging tech and entrepreneurship leaders for a one-month fellowship in Chicago. During the program, fellows are paired with a Chicago-based host organization where they are able to work during the week in order to network and gain new skills as well as share their skillset with the organization. Specifically, the program focuses on the value of collaboration through government- and university-supported incubators and accelerators; promotion of diversity and inclusion; bolstering the business acumen of tech entrepreneurs; and highlighting Chicago’s strength as a global center of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Outlier worked with WorldChicago to design an evaluation plan that would not only provide valuable results related to their 2019 programming, but also to develop evaluation questionnaires that they could continue to use and build on in future years. Because all of the PFP participants are from locations outside of the United States, and data collection occurred after the one-month fellowship period in Chicago, researchers interacted with participants to gather data using only virtual methods (e.g., email, WhatsApp, Zoom, Skype, and Google Forms).

The first phase in the evaluation involved interviewing a subset of 11 fellows (6 from the Spring program, 5 from the Fall program), and we began by establishing virtual connections with them via email. Some fellows were not reachable via email, so the researchers moved to using WhatsApp messenger, a platform in which users can connect using phone numbers. Multiple participants indicated this was their preferred method of communication, as opposed to email. Interviews were conducted via video calls when possible and voice calls when not possible, using Skype, Zoom, or WhatsApp depending on the participant’s preference. This flexibility in communication methods helped make it easier for the researchers to collect this qualitative data in a timely manner.

Fellows’ interview data was used as a basis to develop two online questionnaires, one to be completed directly after fellowship participation and the other to be used as a long-term follow-up to continue measuring impacts of the program over multiple months and years. Outlier developed these questionnaires in Google Forms, a survey administration app that can be used by anyone with a free Google account or Google Drive office suite for business use. Once the questionnaire was finalized, the researchers were able to send the questionnaire directly to participants, check the status of the questionnaire, and send reminders. In addition, the questionnaire could be shared directly with WorldChicago to save for future use in their Google account.

Taken together, findings from the PFP evaluation interviews and questionnaires indicated that fellows had a positive experience in the program and valued the skills they gained and networks they built with individuals in Chicago and across Southeast Europe. Fellows also expressed ideas for program improvement, that Outlier was able to share with WorldChicago. Beyond the program findings, Outlier researchers were also able to develop new practices for successfully engaging with participants virtually that can be applied to other evaluation projects.

UChicago STEM Education Supports Teachers During Pandemic

April 15, 2020

UChicago STEM Education has been working to provide support for teachers and schools who suddenly find themselves teaching remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 9, the School Support Services team and the Everyday Mathematics author team collaborated to host a webinar on Teaching Everyday Mathematics remotely. Over 500 dedicated Everyday Mathematics teachers, coaches, and administrators attended to get and share ideas about how to incorporate key elements of the program even while teaching virtually. Based on the overwhelming interest and enthusiastic response, we will be offering additional webinars and grade-level working sessions in the coming weeks.

In addition to these live webinars, UChicago STEM Education has created a new collection of resources on the Virtual Learning Community to support teachers and students engaged in remote learning. This collection includes recorded webinars, resources, and examples of how teachers can support their students during e-Learning. This is a growing gallery and new resources will be added as they become available. Let us know what resources would best support your math instruction during this time frame. We also want to share any resources you have created and have have found to be helpful. We will be curating and sharing these resources in the VLC collection. Please visit VLC.uchicago.edu to review, comment on, and share resources.

VLC logo School Support Services logo

Outlier Researcher Shares Project Results With a Bilingual Audience at an International Education Conference in Mexico

April 15, 2020

Dr. Magdalena Miranda from Universidad Marista de Querétaro invited Outlier researcher, Kaitlyn Ferris, to speak at the 6th Congreso Internacional Todos Trabajando Por La Educacion (translation: All Working for Education) conference in Queretaro, Mexico in February 2020. Kaitlyn presented about how Outlier carries out its mission, Dare to Make Education Better, by applying results from research and evaluation projects conducted in the in-school and out-of-school time spaces to create greater equity in educational opportunities and experiences for all students, teachers, and schools. She presented two talks, one in English and one in Spanish, to engage the audience and to contribute to the culture of bilingual learning endorsed by this network of scholars, researchers, and practitioners. More specifically, her presentations allowed Mexican researchers and educators to learn more about educational innovations designed to promote equity being carried out in the United States, and how they can adapt such practices and strategies for use in their diverse contexts. Kaitlyn was also able to form connections with individuals from across the globe who are dedicated to reducing educational inequalities in their home communities, and who hope to continue this work on a broader scale in the future. She looks forward to having the opportunity to participate in the 7th edition of this important conference next year, to remain engaged with the community and to learn new strategies for and perspectives on educational improvement.

Expanded Ready, Set, STEM! Website

April 15, 2020

Ready, Set, STEM! logo

In light of current shelter-in-place guidelines, we have updated and expanded our Ready, Set, STEM! project website. The site includes a new "STEM at Home" section that is available to everyone, in addition to families in our Ready, Set, STEM! partner schools. Each week, we are posting a new math activity and a new science or engineering activity that families with young children can do together at home. We have also set up a Facebook group where families can post and peruse pictures and other artifacts from the activities. Join our group by searching for UChicago Ready, Set, STEM! on Facebook, and please help spread the word about the new STEM at Home activities on the website! We appreciate Boeing's continued support for the Ready, Set, STEM! program.

Everyday Mathematics Professional Learning Conference
June 24th - 26th, 2020

February 19, 2020

We are keeping a close eye on the current COVID-19 situation and will carefully make a decision as further guidance becomes available regarding the Everyday Mathematics Professional Learning Conference currently scheduled for June 24-26, 2020 and the Coaching Academy currently scheduled for August 3-4, 2020. Please note that you will have the option to transfer your registration fee if the sessions are rescheduled, or have your registration fee fully refunded if the sessions are cancelled.

Overview

Come spend three days interacting with fellow educators and engaging in professional sessions facilitated by UChicago STEM Education staff and Everyday Mathematics authors. The 3-day experience will include engaging sessions on teaching and learning mathematics and keynote addresses from Andy Isaacs, author and director of Everyday Mathematics and Gina Kling, fact fluency expert. Cost includes all sessions, continental breakfast and lunch on all conference days.

JUNE 24-26, 2020
8:30am - 3:30pm
UChicago STEM Education
The University of Chicago
1407 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

Audience

This 3-day professional learning experience is recommended for teachers (New and Experienced), math coaches/leaders, and administrators utilizing the Everyday Mathematics curriculum. A customized learning plan will be created for you based on your interests, experience level with Everyday Mathematics and current position.

Cost

$600.00 UNTIL May 01, 2020
$675.00 AFTER May 01, 2020

Learn more

You can find a comprehensive list of the services we offer on our School Support Services website.

Becoming a Math Family App

January 14, 2020

Becoming a Math Family logo

Center staff have been collaborating with Dr. Susan Levine (University of Chicago Department of Psychology) on a research-based resource for families of young children. This work resulted in a website called Becoming a Math Family, a toolkit for families of young children to do mathematics activities together.

This website is now available as an app! Instructions for accessing it are below. The team welcomes any and all feedback on the new app.

On your mobile device, go to https://becomingamathfamilyapp.uchicago.edu. Then follow the steps below for your device.

To install it on iPhone/iPad:

  1. Open the link in Safari.
  2. Tap the Share icon at the bottom of Safari.
  3. Tap the Add to Home Screen icon.
  4. Tap the Add button in the upper-right corner.
  5. Go to your home screen and tap the newly added icon.

To install it on Android:

  1. Open the link in Google Chrome.

-Chrome will likely open a popup and ask you if you want to add the app to the Home Screen.

-If not, tap the three vertical dots at the top right corner and then select Add to Home Screen.

UChicago STEM Education Approved Vendor for ISBE- IL-EMPOWER Professional Learning Partners

October 28, 2019

IL-EMPOWER logo

UChicago STEM Education is pleased to announce that we are an approved vendor for ISBE- IL-EMPOWER Professional Learning Partners.

The School Support Services Team at UChicago STEM Education is excited about the potential opportunity to partner with schools in Illinois.

For more information about working with our School Support Services team contact Denise Porter at porterd@uchicago.edu.

You can find a comprehensive list of the services we offer on our School Support Services website.

UChicago STEM Education Partners With Activate Learning on New K-5 Science Curriculum

October 16, 2019

Chicago, IL, and Greenwich, CT, October 16, 2019 — UChicago STEM Education at The University of Chicago and Activate Learning today announced an exciting partnership to publish Activate Learning PRIME™, a K-5 investigation-centered science curriculum. Activate Learning PRIME is the new elementary component of Activate Learning K-8 Science™ and is now available for the 2019-2020 school year in print and digital versions. The exclusive licensing and distribution agreement was facilitated by the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

UChicago STEM Education has developed and supported several high-quality research-based curricula, including both Everyday Mathematics™ and Science Companion™. Like all of UChicago STEM Ed’s curricular programs, PRIME is the product of a rigorous iterative development process by an author team comprised of both content and classroom specialists and is designed to be educative for elementary school teachers, as well as for students. With Activate Learning PRIME™, children learn science by making sense of engaging hands-on explorations. The program develops discourse and critical thinking skills alongside content knowledge and science and engineering practices.

“We are excited by our new partnership with Activate Learning as the exclusive distributor of Activate Learning PRIME,” says Debbie Leslie, Director of Curriculum Development and Director of Education Outreach at UChicago STEM Education. “We know that Activate Learning is perfectly equipped to leverage its resources and expertise to bring our rich, rigorous, and engaging science curriculum to many more teachers and students across the country.”

“Activate Learning PRIME is an important addition to our family of investigation-centered programs.” said Eric Johnson, CEO of Activate Learning. “The new curriculum matches Activate Learning’s pedagogical approach of phenomena-based, three-dimensional learning. Activate Learning now offers a 100% NGSS aligned K-8 Science program.”

For more information, visit the Activate Learning PRIME page.

About UChicago STEM Education

UChicago STEM Education is a research and development center that resides within the Physical Sciences Division (PSD) of the University of Chicago. Formerly the Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education, UChicago STEM Ed continues the University of Chicago’s long-standing commitment to improving precollege education and aims to support high quality mathematics and science instruction and learning for all students. Through the sharing of knowledge and the creation of useful products and programs, UChicago STEM Education seeks to make a positive difference for STEM Education throughout the nation. Learn more at stemeducation.uchicago.edu.

About Activate Learning

Activate Learning, based in Greenwich, Connecticut, is a global leader in publishing in K-8 curriculum, providing standards based resources in both print and digital formats for both Science and Math. The company’s innovative STEM programs support both students and teachers in achieving learning goals for the classroom and beyond. Every day, we support millions of students and teachers with our investigation-centered and phenomenon-driven approach to digital learning. Learn more at activatelearning.com

Media contacts

Jake Parrillo: jakeparrillo@gmail.com, 708-275-8257
Natalie Lund: jlundn@uchicago.edu, 773-702-5312

Zalman Usiskin, UCSMP director 1987-2019, Retires as Director of UCSMP

June 25, 2019

Associated with UCSMP since its first conceptions in 1982 and inception in 1983, Emeritus Professor of Education Zalman Usiskin has retired at the end of the 2018-2019 school year. “I have just become a grandfather for the first time and my new granddaughter does not live in the Chicago area and I wish to spend significant time with her. Also, this school year marks the end of my 50th year at the university – I began as an Assistant Professor of Education in the Graduate School of Education in 1969-70 – and after 11 years as an emeritus professor it seemed a fitting time to step away."

Usiskin headed the development of three editions of the UCSMP texts for middle and high school, including the current editions published by UChicagoSolutions, workshops for teachers, and all but the first UCSMP newsletter. He oversaw six of the seven international conferences organized by UCSMP, the last three in conjunction with the Center for the Study of Mathematics Curriculum. To many he was the voice of UCSMP to the broader mathematics education community. Usiskin gives up his office at the university but will continue to be involved in mathematics education and will remain in touch with UCSMP.

Marty Gartzman awarded 2019 Max Beberman Mathematics Educator Award

June 17, 2019

Marty Gartzman

Marty Gartzman was selected to receive the 2019 ICTM Max Beberman Mathematics Educator Award. [link to: https://www.ictm.org/max-beberman-mathematics-educator] The list of Beberman Award winners includes the most esteemed mathematics educators in Illinois over the past 45 years, among them UChicago STEM Education's Zalman Usiskin (1981), and Andy Isaacs (2016).

The Beberman Award honors educators in Illinois who have made significant contributions to mathematics education through research, curriculum design, or teacher education. The award was established 1971 in honor of Max Beberman, a long-time mathematics teacher at the University of Illinois’ Laboratory High School and founder, in 1951, of the University of Illinois Committee on School Mathematics (UICSM). Under his leadership UICSM went on to develop courses for middle and high school mathematics based on principles that have since become standard in reform math curricula.

Marty recently retired as Executive Director of UChicago STEM Education at the University of Chicago. At UC STEM Ed, Gartzman participated in a range of projects involving professional development for teachers and administrators, and curriculum development. He also served on the author team for development of the Everyday Mathematics.

Ready, Set, STEM!

February 5, 2019

Ready Set Stem!

After a very successful Ready, Set, STEM! summer camp program for rising Kindergarten students at Chicago’s Talcott, De Diego, and McAuliffe schools, we have enthusiastically embarked on the school-year portion of the project. This fall, Kindergarten and PreK classrooms at our three partner schools implemented our first school-year STEM project, titled “Our School Backyard,” and each school hosted a very successful Family STEM Event in November where children led family members in a range of interactive STEM activities. We can’t wait to begin our winter “Balls and Ramps” and our spring “Light and Shadow” projects! Check out our project website: www.ucreadysetstem.com.

pic-ReadySetStem

That's a Wrap!

February 5, 2019

Robot Turtles Project

CANON Lab's Robot Turtles Study at Lab School has just concluded. Our team created extra resources for the Robot Turtles game, including game boards at different levels of difficulty, an online companion, cards with corresponding Scratch blocks, and cards for loops. Students utilized different resources in different classrooms, then completed culminating activities like paper assessments, online robot turtles quiz mode, and Scratch programming. Stay tuned for the results on student learning. Click to get the extra boards for your classroom! Read more… .

Science Companion

February 5, 2019

Science Companion

Our science curriculum development team recently completed the development of the Grade 3 “Changing Environments” topic and the Grade 4 “Structures in Living Things” topic for Science Companion, the elementary school science curriculum that was donated to UChicago STEM Education by Max and Jean Bell in December 2017. With the completion of these two topics, which are now available to Science Companion teachers and students on the Science Companion Prime platform, Science Companion is now fully-aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards for Kindergarten through Fifth Grade!

Scratch

February 5, 2019

Scratch Encore Project

CANON Lab’s Scratch Encore project has released polished materials for its culturally-relevant beginning and intermediate Scratch programming curricula, Scratch Act 1 and Scratch Encore. Learn more…

VLC Team to Present at AERA

February 5, 2019

Virtual Learning Community (VLC) logo

The Everyday Mathematics Virtual Learning Community (VLC) team recently had two papers accepted to present at the 2019 American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference in Toronto. These papers are products from an ongoing, four-year NSF-funded project (Award #1621253) to understand teacher learning from online video-based STEM education communities.
The first paper is entitled “An exploratory study of the relationship between teachers’ implicit theories and reflection.” For this paper, the VLC team had teachers answer questions about whether they viewed teaching ability and math intelligence as innate or changeable abilities. The teachers also reflected on a short lesson video clip. The team examined teachers’ beliefs about math intelligence and teaching ability, interactions between the two beliefs, and the relationship between these beliefs and the quality of reflection on the video clip.
The second paper is entitled “Foundations of community in an online, asynchronous professional development website.” For this paper, the VLC team interviewed dozens of current users of the VLC. The team then explored themes in users’ perceptions of whether the website is truly an online “community” or not. The researchers used these themes to challenge current conceptions of community in research on learning and educational technology development.
The authors of these papers included Meg Bates and Cheryl Moran of UChicago STEM Education; Michelle Perry, Genevieve Henricks, Shereen Beilstein, and Tori Jay of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Joseph Cimpian of New York University. Citations for the two papers are below:

Bates, M., Perry, M., Cimpian, J., Moran, C., Jay, T., Beilstein, S., Henricks, G. (2019, April). An exploratory study of the relationship between teachers’ implicit theories and reflection. Paper to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Toronto.

Henricks, G., Jay, V., Beilstein, S., Moran, C., Bates, M., Perry, M. (2019, April). Foundations of community in an online, asynchronous professional development website. Poster to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Toronto.

Elementary Mathematics Specialist Project

February 5, 2019

Since 2015, UChicago STEM Education has been part of a three-University group (along with DePaul University and the University of Illinois at Chicago) that has used generous funding from the Chicago Community Trust and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group Foundation to develop and pilot a series of courses to provide elementary school teachers with deep knowledge, confidence, and tools for teaching mathematics to K–5 students. The course sequence is designed to prepare participants to teach in "specialized" settings where schools have established structures for departmentalized mathematics instruction, as well as to provide teacher leadership to support the improvement of mathematics instruction in their schools. The teachers in our Elementary Mathematics Specialist pilot cohort will take their final geometry course in the winter quarter and will also complete their leadership course, which includes a school-based leadership practicum project. We are seeking funding to offer the courses to a new cohort of teachers beginning in fall 2019.

EPiQC Zines Released

February 5, 2019

Our EPiQC team releases quantum computing zines, covering basic quantum computing concepts like superposition and entanglement. Designed for kids and adults alike, these comic-book-style zines can be folded and cut into little pamphlets. Check them out!

MathScapes

February 5, 2019

MathScapeses

The early childhood team at UChicago STEM Education has been working with The Young People’s Project on a project titled: MathScapes: Activating Public Spaces for Early Math Learning. Currently, the project is focused on planning for the development of MathScapes installations in the Boston area, as well as the complementary “MathTalk” app. These MathScapes installations include infusing mathematics into the built environment, such as at bus stops and playgrounds, as well as in local establishments, such as restaurants, grocery stores, and hospital or doctor’s office waiting areas. Input from UChicago STEM Ed staff focuses on the mathematical content of the MathScapes installations and the MathTalk app, including developing age-appropriate ideas for mathematizing the environment, articulating questions and conversation starters for families, and making connections with mathematical topics explored in early childhood classrooms. The project is hoping to expand its work in the Chicago area soon.