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Robert Cunningham Selected for Fulbright Specialist Project

Robert Cunningham Selected for Fulbright Specialist Project

Dr. Robert Cunningham has been selected for a Fulbright Specialist Project by the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES) of the Institute of International Education (IIE). He will be spending 22 days in January 2016at Anguilla Community College in the eastern Caribbean working on the project. Congratulations, Bob!

Project Description
This Mathematics Ed project will take place over 15 days consisting of 12 3-hour workshops given over 12 days at Anguilla Community College. 3 days will be devoted to local school visitations by the specialist. The 12 workshops will be split up with 8 designed for primary school teachers and 4 designed for secondary teachers. The framework for these workshops will be the Principles and Standards for School Mathematics and the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. These research based documents are designed to indicate how high quality mathematics should be taught and contain the suggested mathematics curricula for grades K-12 in the USA. The 8 workshops designed for primary school teachers will focus on developing a deeper understanding of three topics: rational numbers, ratio and proportion, and similarity. Manipulatives will be used to provide concrete representations of fractions. After thoroughly developing the concepts associated with fractions, operations with rational numbers will be reviewed. Ratio and proportion will be explored during cooperative learning activities. Real world application will be the focus of these cooperative activities as teachers work in small groups to problem solve. Lastly, GeoGebra a dynamic software package will be used to explore similarity which relies heavily on knowledge of ratio and proportion. This open educational resource is ideal for drawing and transforming figures. The transformations of figures will include: translations, reflections, dilations, and rotations. GeoGebra will allow participants to connect the three workshop topics in ways that promote understanding and reasoning. The 4 workshops designed for secondary teachers will focus on using GeoGebra to teach topics from algebra and Geometry including similarity. Also, similarity is an important topic in Geometry and GeoGebra contains an extensive toolbox that is perfect for examining properties associated with similarity. All of the workshops in the project will emphasize connections between topics to promote understanding and reasoning so necessary for teaching and learning mathematics. Three days of the project will be for school visitations to both primary and secondary schools, which will provide opportunities to interact with the administrators, teachers and students. The visitations will allow for networking, curriculum evaluation, and strategic planning for future collaborations.

Project Purpose
Anguilla is a self-governing British overseas territory in the eastern Caribbean. It is one of the most northerly of the Leeward islands in the Lesser Antilles and is 35 square miles in size. The people of Anguilla are self-reliant and throughout their history have overcome many challenges. Education is highly valued by a great portion of the population, yet opportunities for a tertiary education in the past have been limited. While most of the Caribbean islands had tertiary level institutions, Anguilla did not. In 2009, however, Anguilla Community College (ACC) was established as Anguilla’s first national tertiary educational institution. In the future ACC looks to expand its Associate Degree offerings and add Baccalaureate Programs. These  academic enhancements will be matched by the building of a new campus in the Long Path section of the island. ACC is embarking on both academic and structural expansion projects that will allow it to better serve the people of Anguilla and contribute to stronger social and economic development. Many of their students fail to recognize the importance of education and of mathematics in particular.

Some of these students lack the support needed to succeed academically. Despite these challenges and others, the teachers are motivated and more than willing to learn and implement high quality mathematics instruction needed to improve student achievement.
However, there have been few opportunities for professional development in mathematics education. ACC has a growing and committed faculty consisting of mainly adjunct instructors and is limited in its capacity to conduct workshops focused on mathematics education. The planned workshops in this project will present participants with activities they can bring to their own classrooms and the knowledge needed to enhance student learning. In addition, the workshops will allow participants to develop familiarity with the many ways GeoGebra can be used to both engage students and promote real understanding of mathematics.

The objectives of this project are to improve both the mathematics content knowledge and pedagogic expertise of its primary and secondary teachers as well as college students and faculty, to promote collaboration among school and college faculty, and to raise the level of student mathematics achievement in schools. Ultimately, this project will conform to ACC’s mission to address the need for an educated and informed citizenry who will become life-long learners.