"Next" Magazine Vol. 3 Fall 2016 - Page 18

S T EM I MPAC T Sixth-grade students at Jessie Clark Middle School who worked with the REAL curriculum. Ready, set, action! College faculty are returning to the K-5 classroom with a camera crew in tow. In this study, faculty team up with elementary teachers to help develop the way they respond to students’ comments and questions during lessons (known as “professional noticing” skills). The videos will benefit generations of teachers to come. “When caught in the hustle and bustle of class, teachers don’t always stop and think about what students are saying in response to their teaching,” Dr. Jonathan Thomas interacts said Dr. Molly with students during videotaping Fisher, principal for professional noticing research investigator of the study. “In fact, they may have only a few seconds to decide how to respond to a student’s question or comment.” That moment is critical. The way a child understands mathematics is likely different from an adult’s perception. Great teachers have acquired the skill to interpret the way the child is taking in the lesson, and then respond based on that child’s 18 | understanding. Doing this in the heat of the moment, with 20 sets of eyes on a teacher, can be challenging. When done well, it can be the key to a student catching on, versus losing interest and falling behind. During the videotaped teaching sessions, university faculty team with elementary teachers to help dig deeper as students respond to lessons. The videos have been turned into online learning modules used by pre-service elementary teachers and will soon serve as online professional development for current teachers.  The experiences are also rich in data for researchers to interpret. Because of positive results and a collaborative approach with partners at Morehead State University, Northern Kentucky University, Western Kentucky University, Eastern Kentucky University and the Kentucky Center for Mathematics, the National Science Foundation has continued its initial $200,000 investment in the project with an additional $500,000 to continue the study. The level of collaboration on this project even extends to undergraduate college students. Hands-on investigations are typically reserved for graduate programs. However, the UK STEM Department serves as a host site for the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for