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Students, teachers learn new math skills with the help of NMSU’s MC2 Math Lab

About 80 students, along with 115 K-12 teachers, are deepening their math learning side by side during a unique summer camp this week on the New Mexico State University campus.

Students participate in a math lesson during this week’s MC2 Math Lab at O’Donnell Hall at New Mexico State University. (Courtesy photo)

Two students work with math teachers on a lesson during this week’s MC2 Math Lab at O’Donnell Hall at New Mexico State University. (Courtesy photo)

This year’s Mathematically Connected Communities, or MC2, Math Lab is taking place inside NMSU’s O’Donnell Hall, where the College of Education is located. During this week’s Math Lab, which culminates today, students in the second, third and fifth grades and those taking Algebra I are rigorously working on math projects, from calculating areas of counties to understanding exponential functions to learning about the dangers of Ebola, said Sara Morales, the senior program manager and researcher for the MC2 Professional Development Program.

Morales said the students are learning from highly effective teacher leaders who are part of MC2. Meanwhile, teachers are watching live video of the lessons being given to students. Teachers then reflect upon exemplary math practice and discuss the impact on students’ learning. In the afternoon, teachers participate in their own professional development based on the same core math concepts as the ones students are learning.

“Professional learning through collaboration using student classrooms is a unique, powerful opportunity teachers rarely experience,” Morales said.

This is the second year MC2 offers its Math Lab. The MC2 program includes mathematicians from NMSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, the program’s teacher leaders, and educators and school leaders from Hatch Valley Public Schools, Belen Consolidated School District, Alamogordo Public Schools, the Gadsden Independent School District and Las Cruces Public Schools. Two guests from the University of Victoria in Canada and a guest from the New Mexico Public Education Department’s Math and Science Bureau are also participating in the Math Lab camp.

“Effective teaching engages students’ individual prior knowledge and thinking,” said Ted Stanford, an NMSU associate professor of math. “All students are different, so an effective teacher has to always be studying the different ways that students solve problems, and the different ways that they communicate their ideas with each other. Our Math Lab format is ideal for this kind of studying.”

Morales said the New Mexico Public Education Department is also providing support experiences for teachers to enhance learning for students in their classrooms. Sixteen one-week Math Labs will be offered throughout the state during 2015-2016.

For more information about MC2 Math Lab, contact Morales at smorales@nmsu.edu, or Wanda Bulger-Tamez at wguzman@nmsu.edu.