Rice Toyota and HISD Put Math Project in InnerCity

first_imgShare CONTACT: Lia Unrau PHONE: (713)831-4793E-MAIL: [email protected] RICE, TOYOTA AND HISD PUT MATH PROJECT ININNER-CITYThe 3,000 students at Sam Houston HighSchool received new pencils last week–pencils emblazoned with a reminder of anew way of learning math.Mechanical pencils stamped with “Rice University + ToyotaFoundation = HISD Success” are symbolic of Rice University’s Urban Program, anew three-year, intensive math program working to create change for mathteachers and students.The Urban Program is an initiative of the Rice UniversitySchool Mathematics Project, or RUSMP, which runs a variety of programs designedto support teachers in the K-12 grades. This new initiative builds on programsin other area schools which have been successful in increasing students’involvement in the learning process.A ceremony Feb. 3 at Sam Houston High School commemorated a newpartnership between Rice University, Toyota USA Foundation and the HoustonIndependent School District (HISD), marking the expansion of the successfulpilot math program into HISD north district schools. The expanded math program, called the Urban Program, is madepossible by a $400,000 gift from the Toyota USA Foundation to RUSMP, and majorcommitments from HISD. The Toyota gift allows the creation of a year-round RUSMPon-site urban program, which will foster positive changes for all math studentsand their teachers in the four targeted schools. Over a three-year period, the school-based program will target55 math teachers at Burbank Middle School, Fonville Middle School, Patrick HenryMiddle School and Sam Houston High School, helping 6,600 students each year inHISD’s north district.“Toyota USA Foundation, as well as HISD schools and otherHouston-area schools, have become valued allies in our university’s 21st centuryplans to leverage Rice’s intellectual resources for the benefit of thecommunity,” said Rice University President Malcolm Gillis, who noted that Ricenow has 40 outreach programs focused on K-12 public education.RUSMP Director Raymond Wells said, “In the past, RUSMP hasworked with individual teachers and teams of teachers, but now for the firsttime, all teachers and all students are involved at the schools. This is a majorstepping stone. RUSMP support teachers will be a major link between Rice and theschool system, and the Toyota gift is an important part in allowing this tohappen.” “We’re pleased to be a partner with Rice University in thisinnovative math education outreach program for junior high and high schoolstudents,” said Bill Pauli, national manager, Toyota USA Foundation. “The RiceUniversity School Mathematics Project is an outstanding example of the math andscience initiatives the Foundation supports. We’re confident that this programwill stimulate and encourage students both inside and outside theclassroom.”Sam Houston High School Principal Roberto Gonzales said thatone of the largest benefits of the project is that each of the schools will havean on-site support teacher to help reinforce new effective teaching practices. “The idea of having all teachers trained is an excellent opportunity for ourstudents to enhance their mathematical abilities, which have traditionally beenlow,” he said. “I think that because of this project, we’ll be able to competevery well with other districts and other states in our mathematicsarea.”The Urban Program, which works to increase student interest andachievement in math, includes teacher training with a focus on effectiveteaching strategies, as well as ongoing teacher support and collaborativeplanning. The program emphasizes teaching math in engaging ways that increaseand maintain the interest of all students. This is done through hands-on, visualdemonstrations of math concepts, student-centered projects and games, computers,calculators and alternative assessment techniques.The participating teachers will attend the annual RUSMPfour-week teacher enhancement summer program to improve their math knowledge.The Urban Program will also create a teacher support program in the targetedschools, and build a school infrastructure involving teachers, administrators,parents, counselors and RUSMP staff to assist long-term math reform on thecampuses.The ultimate goal is to improve student achievement in math byfostering students’ confidence, helping develop a positive attitude towardlearning and using math, and increasing students’ knowledge of math.The program directors plan to set up this year-round model forother schools to adopt to foster change in their own schools.“Initially, in the north district we are targeting the threemiddle schools and the high school that they feed into, and then we will usethis model to show how the program can transform all schools in the feederpattern,” said Anne Papakonstantinou, executive director of RUSMP. “Our plan isfor the Urban Program to provide a model for other HISD schools and districts tofollow, with the aim of impacting other school feeder patterns outside thedistrict.” ###Editors: For more information about the Rice University SchoolMathematics Project see: http://rusmp.rice.edu. 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