Professor Starts Math Circles for Middle School Teachers

June 11, 2013

Remember your middle school math classes? Whether you excelled in them or not, you probably thought your teacher lived and breathed the subject. But Dr. Mark Brown, associate professor of mathematics at MidAmerica Nazarene University, says even math teachers sometimes need to be reinvigorated about the subject they teach. That’s why he’s starting Heartland Math Teachers’ Circle and kicking off the project with a five-day workshop for middle school math teachers and mathematicians, June 24-28.

Area math teachers from as far away as Topeka will join Brown and other mathematicians in solving math problems and developing effective mathematical practices for the classroom. Tied to the standards for mathematical practice of the Kansas College and Career Ready Standards (similar to the Common Core State Standards), the conference will cover skills students need today.

Brown, who has a PhD in curriculum and instruction in mathematics from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, says one goal is to renew the teachers’ appreciation for math.

“People think math is learning a set of procedures to solve math problems,” Brown says. “But I see it as a way of thinking. I see them coming away from this workshop having learned to be more effective in teaching problem solving in the classroom.”

The workshop will be hands-on.  Participants will solve challenging math problems that are accessible for learners at the middle school level but can be taken to a high level. Brown says these kinds of problems are of great interest to mathematicians.

mathCircle2013-11Professor Mark Brown, PhD, demonstrates a classroom activity that can be expressed mathematically for teachers at MNU's Math Circle.

“I hope the teachers will come away from the workshop having rediscovered the thrill of math,” he adds. “Why should the kids have all the fun?”

After the conference Brown will continue the math circle with three meetings each semester so participants can continue to collaborate on curriculum, instruction and classroom issues as well as enjoying solving math problems together.

For information about Heartland Math Teachers’ Circle and the conference visit www.mnu.edu/mtc. For information on a university degree in mathematics or any of 40 majors, adult degree completion or graduate programs, visit www.mnu.edu.