MURFREESBORO — A group of 150 local teachers will learn the latest teaching techniques to improve their students’ performance and boost the state’s effort to comply with Common Core education standards.
The Jennings and Rebecca Jones Foundation and Middle Tennessee State University have partnered to hold a conference this week at MTSU entitled “Critical Thinking with the Common Core.”
The conference kicks off Tuesday night with a reception and keynote address at the James Union Building, followed by a full day of lectures and training Wednesday at the MTSU College of Education Building. Attendees consist of a select group of K-5 teachers in the Rutherford County and Murfreesboro City school districts.
The conference will feature nationally known experts as well as top educators from across the state who will share their expertise in the research-based techniques for helping students think critically and solve problems — the crux of common core. Teachers will then model strategies for putting the research into practice in the classroom at each grade level using common core math and language arts content.
Giving Tuesday night’s keynote address is Dr. Zalman Usiskin, professor emeritus of education at the University of Chicago and director of the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project, the largest university-based curriculum project for K-12 mathematics in the U.S. Other presenters at the conference include faculty experts from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, University of Denver and University of Louisville.
“For a small, locally produced conference, I have never seen the number of big name speakers we have on the program. It is really exciting,” said Dr. Dovie Kimmins, an MTSU professor of mathematical sciences and member of the conference steering committee.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators and experts to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare children for college and the workforce.
Tennessee students will begin testing under the new standards in spring 2015.
“We have a unique opportunity through this conference to learn how to further tap into and then foster students’ critical thinking skills while addressing the common core standards,” said Dr. Alyson Bass, an associate professor of elementary and special education at MTSU.
Conference attendees will be encouraged to take what they’ve learned back to their home schools to share within their professional learning communities and at faculty meetings.