Archive for August, 2012

August 30, 2012

Investigations Workshops Goes Digital with New Online PD Course

In a few short months, we’ll change our clocks as the big reminder that 2012 is winding down. But in this era of Kahn Academy, iTunes U, and getting your Ph.D online, digital delivery is just winding up. This year, the Investigations Workshops team celebrated its 16th anniversary—and in keeping with the times, will soon be welcoming the 1st iteration of the Workshops program delivered online, in course format, over 6 weeks starting October 24th!

Myriam Steinback, Project Director of the Workshops, has a unique perspective on the history of this PD program. In 1997, she and her team launched the first large-scale offering of the original 5-day workshop, designed to assist schools and districts implementing the content and pedagogy of the then-new 1st edition of the Investigations in Number, Data, and Space curriculum. Since then, the program has expanded to multi-grade, multi-audience, and content-specific week-long workshops and leadership institutes that have helped more than 30,000 teachers and leaders in districts across the country. And now—after launching the first Common Core-aligned Institute and webinars last year—the launch of the first online course will offer 75 educators the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the math and math learning for K-5 students…over the web.

“The beauty of going online is that we get to offer more teachers the opportunity to take advantage of our Workshops coursework—reaching teachers in rural schools who might not typically get to attend a face-to-face workshop; teachers who missed out on a face-to-face in their school, but still want to learn with us; or those teaching in schools globally, ” says Steinback. “I am also excited that the course allows us to work with more teachers during the school year, when the program’s connection to classroom practice is more immediate,” adds Steinback. Typically, the week-long, face-to-face sessions occur during the summer months.

Contrary to the notion of cold, passive ‘web delivery’, the Implementing Investigations online course will be highly interactive —participants will be guided through the math content, practices, and Common Core alignments by experienced math educators who will be both facilitators and online mentors throughout the duration of the course. Additionally, participants will have access to multimedia clips featuring curriculum authors describing their insights into Investigations’ guiding principles, practices, alignments, and techniques for implementing early algebra content and pedagogy. Coursework will include an array of assignments like solving math problems, looking at student work, and contributing to discussions. Although participants from the same schools or districts might elect to work through assignments together, they will also be required to collaborate across their section group.

Says Steinback, “one of our top goals was to create a professional learning community that goes far beyond the course.” She continues, “Our online experience promotes the same type of engaged discussions and sharing that happens in the face-to-face workshops, but with the added advantage of more time for careful reflection.”

The course targets teachers who are new or nearly new to Investigations. Registration is open now at: Be sure to sign up soon as spots are going quickly! Each section can accommodate 25 participants, and the course runs from October 24th, 2012 through December 12th, 2012.

And last but not least—check out the other great Workshop offerings here.

August 6, 2012

‘Inside School Research’ with Using Data

Using Data*’s latest evaluation project with CNA* was featured in a July 12th blog on teacher data use for EdWeek’s Inside School Research. Reporter Sarah Sparks introduced data use programming as a “blossoming” area for federal School Improvement Fund and state improvement fund allocations—and dually, an area with little research backing the effectiveness of data-use training. But as a counterexample—Sparks cited Using Data’s current quantitative evaluation project with CNA, which is analyzing the PD program’s  impact on teaching practice, student achievement, and potentially—educational policy.

The Using Data professional development team has excellent qualitative evidence (in the form of numerous case studies) that the program improves facets of the secondary experience—ranging from teachers’ data literacy skills to student engagement to creating cohesive school communities. But now, as a subcontractor on CNA’s evaluation—they will have a record of Using Data’s quantitative impact in 30 southern U.S. schools.

Over the course of 4 years, CNA is conducting rigorous statistical analyses of student achievement and teacher practice across treatment and control groups in these 30 schools—situated in a large, diverse, urban district with high poverty and varied success on standards-based tests for mathematics. CNA researchers are examining the beginning and end scores of elementary students on the mathematics portion of the state assessment and testing participating teachers’ data literacy skills and attitudes. Also, the researchers will determine the extent to which teachers trained in the Using Data process were able to address students’ learning problems identified in their data and improve students’ understanding of mathematics concepts.

*About Using Data
Using Data is a professional development program for educators and administrators. Through a series of workshops, Using Data guides participants in working collaboratively and analytically with data in order to identify root causes, implementing research-based solutions, taking action, and monitoring the changes made in their schools and communities. Using Data’s programming has been used for over a decade in a diverse range of schools and districts: large and small urban, rural, and suburban settings, with demographics including English Language learners, special education students, and diverse student and high poverty populations. For more information, please visit:
 *About CNA Corporation
The CNA Corporation is  a Washington, D.C. area operations research and analysis organization. For over 70 years, CNA has conducted research to inform the work of public policy and government decision-makers, and its work—which in its early decades focused solely on defense-related matters—has grown to include investigation and analysis of a broad range of public-interest issues including education, health care and public health, homeland security, and air traffic management. For more information, please visit: