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Algebra Readiness for Every Student: Online Professional Development—Grades 6–8.

2014 Online Interactive Institute 6-8 Headline Banner 
January 23  —April 17, 2014

Registration is closed for the Spring 2014 semester.  

This 12 week course will provide a participatory professional learning experience that will enable middle school mathematics teachers to understand the essential tools of early algebra. Workshops, readings, online keynote addresses, as well as a vibrant and active online community will help teachers deepen their own knowledge of the mathematics that supports formal algebra. The content is based on the book, Developing Essential Understanding of Expressions, Equations & Functions for Teaching Mathematics in Grades 6–8.

The Spring 2014 online course began the week of January 23, 2014, and ends by April 17, 2014. Live online sessions will be on Thursdays at 7:00 p.m. ET. All online sessions last approximately 75 minutes.

Learn more about NCTM's Interactive Institute  


Who Should Attend   

Course Syllabus  

Keynote Presentations 

Optional College Credit  


This 12-week course will be offered for a professional development certificate, which your school may accept for re-certification, or you may request optional university credit (for an additional fee paid to the University of San Diego). It will include four online keynote addresses, featuring noted experts who will share their ideas and the results of years of research on how students develop algebraic thinking and use algebra as a tool for learning.

The content of the course is based on the book, Developing Essential Understandings of Expressions, Equations & Functions for Teaching Mathematics in Grades 6–8, and will be organized around the five big ideas in the book:

  1. Expressions as Building Blocks
  2. Variables as Useful Tools
  3. Equality and Equivalence
  4. Representing and Analyzing Functions
  5. Solving Equations

Four online work sessions will include article or chapter studies, student work clinics, and online workshops:

  • Book Study: Read the Essential Understandings book, along with supplementary NCTM chapters and articles, and then participate in an NCTM-facilitated discussion.
  • Student Work Analysis Clinic: Examine student work within the community of practice of the online class. The focus will be on assessing student understanding from a wide range of student responses, not just from errors and misconceptions. Participants can share the structure of the Student Work Analysis Clinic at their own school site for future professional development.
  • Online workshops: Designed and taught by content experts, these workshops will expand on the big ideas in the Essential Understandings text and directly address the Mathematical Practices.

Each NCTM Online Interactive Course starts with an Orientation to Online Learning session. This one-hour session invites participants into the online environment of Moodle, the course organization software, and Adobe Connect, the meeting-space technology for the course. Participants will learn how to connect, listen, speak, write, share, demonstrate, and generally build an online community. The Orientation to Online Learning session will also prepare them to work through problems on a virtual whiteboard, share aloud in an electronic break-out room, respond to a speaker, upload a file to share, and make a post in a discussion forum. This orientation is designed to welcome participants at all levels of comfort with technology.


 Who Should Attend    
  • Teachers Grades 6-8
  • Preservice teachers
  • Math specialists and coaches
  • Math supervisors
  • Lead teachers
  • Curriculum coordinators


Course Syllabus   

Course requirements will include participation in regularly scheduled online class sessions, weekly postings to an online forum, outside reading in the text and selected articles, adapting and teaching a task to your own class of students, and then sharing your experiences with members of the course community. Download the course syllabus (PDF) for more information.


Keynote Presentations 

University of Washington

Analyzing Student Work to Improve Instruction
Student work can serve as a valuable resource in collaborative professional learning. Professional learning groups have developed routines for analyzing student work. Explore how analyzing student work can improve both your teaching and your students’ learning.

Technical Education Research Centers (TERC)

Learning Progressions of Algebraic Practices: Developing the Ideas of Equality and Variable
Examine the learning progressions of children as they develop an understanding of the algebraic ideas of variable and equality. Explore the development of the key concepts of variable and equality through the lens of the reasoning of very young children (grades K–1) as they solve typical middle-grades function tasks. See how these ideas are also revealed within the study of functions and algebraic thinking in general. Help students move from viewing algebra as a set of isolated concepts to seeing it as a set of practices that include generalizing and representing, as well as justifying and reasoning with their own generalizations.

Western Washington University

Developing Students’ Understanding of Functions through Geometric Growing Patterns
Geometric growing patterns have characteristics that make them ideal for bridging pattern exploration with students’ understanding of functions. Students can use the construction of the growing pattern—using blocks, tiles, chips, and the like—to develop an understanding of functional relationships, constants and change, and variables. Explore characteristics of geometric growing pattern tasks, as well as instruction with these tasks, that offer all students access to this foundation of algebra.

University of Missouri

Right Answers, Wrong Thinking: Supporting All Students in Algebraic Thinking
When students have opportunities to build conceptual understanding, they retain skills with less need for re-teaching later. Learn to infuse mathematical lessons with questions and tasks that offer entry points for all learners, as well as encourage language-rich classroom environments. Challenging but accessible tasks also promote the use of multiple representations and help all students build the conceptual understanding they need.


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