2007-2008 Teaching Circles


Children’s Mathematical Thinking ~ Facilitator: Matt Wyneken, mwyneken@umflint.edu, Education

In this teaching circle we will study the first of three books in a series by Catherine Twomey Fosnot and Maarten Dolk entitled: “Young Mathematicians at Work: Constructing Number Sense, Addition, and Subtraction.” The following paragraph is from the back cover of this book:

“In our efforts to reform mathematics education, we’ve learned a tremendous amount about young students’ strategies and the ways they construct knowledge, without fully understanding how to support such development over time.  The Dutch do.  So, funded by the NSF and Exxon, Mathematics in the City was begun, a collaborative in-service project that pooled the best thinking from both countries.  In Young Mathematicians at Work, Catherine Fosnot and Maarten Dolk reveal what they learned after several years of intensive study in numerous urban classrooms.”

While the primary objective of this circle is to support the development of Elementary Education Mathematics (EDM) at UM-Flint, everyone is invited to participate.  Sessions will be held on alternate Fridays, 10:30 – noon. 

For more information about “Young Mathematicians at Work” please see http://books.heinemann.com/products/E00353.aspx


First Year Experience ~ Facilitator: Heather Seipke, hseipke@umflint.edu, Communication and Visual Art

This teaching circle will discuss the difficulties and rewards of interdisciplinary teaching. The specific context for discussion will be our personal experiences as instructors for the pilot First Year Experience course.

Higher Education - Across the Discipline, Country, and Culture ~ Facilitators: Jacob Peng,
jcpeng@umflint.edu, SOM and Jie Song, jiesong@umflint.edu, Chemistry & Biochemistry

Higher education roots heavily in the culture and disciplines, and is a great asset to a society. As a group of faculty members with a background from different cultures outside of the United States, we face students who come from completely different backgrounds than us. At the same time, we have to deal with challenges caused by conflicts between different cultures and disciplines. How to deal with such differences is of utmost importance for us to improve our teaching skills and to serve our students and the university community.

As a group of Chinese-speaking faculty members originally from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, we share similar backgrounds and face similar challenges, both in and out of classrooms. As such, this teaching circle will focus on the following example issues: challenges in American classrooms; handling classroom conflicts; handling diversified student body; how to use our diversified backgrounds in our teaching; how to promote multicultural awareness.


Learning with Our Students: Research on Teaching ~ Facilitators: Kenneth Litwin, kjlitwin@umflint.edu, Sociology and Mary Jo Finney, mjfinney@umflint.edu, Education

This teaching circle will brainstorm novel approaches to enhance and assess student learning from diverse faculty perspectives in terms of content area and level of experience in researching teaching.  Both quantitative and qualitative methods will be examined as participants discuss the potential for designing and conducting collaborative research studies for publication.


Our Common Challenge: Educating Teachers for the Future ~ Facilitator: Teddy Robertson, teddyrob@umflint.edu, History

This teaching circle will explore the ways that we approach and understand the work of educating future teachers.  Participants come from the School of Education and Human Services and the College of Arts and Sciences, but our goal is the same: educating the best prepared graduates possible for teaching. What are the different perspectives we bring to training teachers? How do we balance the requirements of the state with the standards of our fields? How can we improve teacher education at UM-Flint?  How might we become better resources for our graduates teaching in our region?  These questions might provide starting points.  Above all, we want to know each other better and we can pursue any other teaching topic agreed upon by all of us.  The Teaching Circle provides a space for this.


Reggio, UM-Flint Style: Balancing Philosophy and Best Practice ~ Facilitator: Beverly Schumer, bschumer@umflint.edu, Early Childhood Education

During the 2006-2007 academic year, the Early Childhood departmental faculty joined with the campus staff of the Early Childhood Developmental Center to form a Teaching Circle focused on early childhood leadership in mentoring center student staff and early childhood practicum students.  Throughout those discussions, we often talked about issues related to helping students understand the Reggio Emilia curriculum at ECDC and how classroom teachers documented and assessed childrens’ learning.  The group suggested we continue the teaching circle during the 2007-2008 academic year to build a collective understanding about the Reggio Emilia philosophy and curriculum as it is developing here on campus.  As early childhood experts around the country struggle with imposed state or national standards about what should be included in an early childhood curriculum and how children experience that curriculum, we wanted to explore how our program was demonstrating “best practice” within the Reggio framework.  Ultimately, we hope this discussion will lead to early childhood practicum students who begin their fieldwork with a well-developed understanding of the curriculum at ECDC, how children learn in this environment, how to assess their growth, and what constitutes evidence of that learning.


Taking Learning to the Streets ~ Facilitator: Susan Gano-Phillips, sganop@umflint.edu, Psychology

This teaching circle will examine how to increase student learning by finding relevance between course materials and students’ lives using a variety of civic engagement pedagogies, ranging from academic service learning, to problem-based learning, to collaborative community learning, and beyond. In this group, we can explore issues ranging from the practical (the logistics of how to incorporate civic engagement into your classes, using co-curricular activities to support students’ learning goals) to scholarly (research on the impact of civic engagement pedagogies on student learning).


TCP Capstone Development Project ~ Facilitator: Kirk Weller, wellerk@umflint.edu, Mathematics

With the addition of a tenure-track mathematics education specialist in 2006-2007, the mathematics department is committed to the process of revising its TCP program. Part of the revision involves the creation of a capstone course for TCP majors.  A TCP capstone course would help prospective teachers to see the connections between the collegiate curriculum (the mathematics they learn in college) with the K-12 curriculum (the mathematics they will teach), to develop facility in lesson plan design, to discuss the implications and application of research to instructional practice, and to experience a variety of pedagogical approaches.

The purpose of the TCP Capstone Development Project Teaching Circle will be for faculty participants to identify, read, and discuss various position papers, research articles, and recommendations that deal with capstone course development and implementation. Departmental TCP majors will also be invited to participate, with their participation likely creating an opportunity for discussion of the TCP program.

Creation of such a teaching circle is timely, in part because the facilitator will team-teach a capstone course during the Winter 2008 semester at Michigan State. The project is being funded through a National Science Foundation CCLI grant.

The TCP Capstone Development Project Teaching Circle would meet every other week. Meeting times would be coordinated with the proposed SEHS teaching circle on Children’s Mathematical Thinking so that mathematics faculty from both units could participate in both groups.

Possible Resources:

·         The Mathematical Education of Teachers (publication of the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences of the American Mathematical Association)

·         Undergraduate Programs & Courses in the Mathematical Sciences: CUPM Curriculum Guide 2004 (a report by the Committee on the Undergraduate Program in Mathematics of the Mathematical Association of America)

·         Research Issues in  Undergraduate Mathematics Learning: Preliminary Analyses and Reports (published by the Mathematical Association of America’s Notes Series)


Models of Management in Academia ~ Facilitators: Donna Fry, donnafry@umflint.edu and Laura LoVasco, llovasco@umflint.edu, Physical Therapy

For the past year the Physical Therapy Department (PTD) has been working on more clearly defining the collegial model we employ to manage our department.  In those discussions, we determined that the collegial model needs to be adapted to address changes in the university structure and in physical therapy accreditation criteria (CAPTE) that have occurred over the past ten years.  Changes in SHPS, e.g. adding the position of dean to the school, and changes in CAPTE with an increased emphasis on evaluative criteria consistent with an academic model of education rather than a professional model of education have forced us to re-assess our management model in the PTD.

The existing collegial model directly impacts students by influencing the curriculum design (helping students develop into professional colleagues over the course of their three years of study in the DPT program), policies and procedures that directly affect students (ranging from the Professional Conduct Policy and Procedure to policies and procedures affecting student use of departmental resources), and interactions with students on a daily basis.  Thus, while the topic is how the department is managed, the model we adopt directly impacts our curriculum, policies and procedures, and interactions with students.

We recently determined that we need to study some outside sources explaining various management models.  Consistent with our existing collegial model we plan to include both staff and faculty in the discussions.  We plan to schedule monthly meetings for discussion of models and we hope to formulate a new model for our department management by the end April, 2008.  Funding from the TCLT Marian` Wright Teaching Circle fund will be used to: 1) purchase reading materials for group members, and to 2) to provide lunch at a departmental retreat addressing this topic.  Initial readings will focus on: 1) Dysfunctional Teams by Lencione, and 2) Our Iceberg is Melting by Kotter.