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Grant Will Help U.P. Math Teachers

The following press release was issued by Northern Michigan University:

Northern Michigan University has been awarded a nearly $300,000 MiSTEM Advisory Council grant that will incorporate the Add+Vantage Math Recovery program for Upper Peninsula elementary schools and provide related training for teachers.

There are three MiSTEM Network regions in the Upper Peninsula. Chris Standerford directs the central region that covers Marquette, Alger, Delta, Menominee, Schoolcraft, Dickinson and Iron counties. He also directs NMU’s Seaborg Center, which will contribute expertise to the grant-funded effort.

“Even though we led the writing of the proposal, this grant was a collaborative effort and is intended to impact the entire U.P.,” Standerford said. “What it means for school districts is that they will have an opportunity to send teachers to training in very close proximity to their schools at one of six facilitation sites. The workshop is offered in two parts, each spanning four days. It’s designed for elementary teachers, but also good for those in K-12 special education. We’re excited to focus on the elementary level because that’s viewed as a gateway. If we can help build confidence early, students will be less intimidated by mathematics later and will have greater access to STEM fields.”

Renee Jewett, STEM education consultant at NMU, explains the benefits of Add+Vantage Math Recovery (AVMR):

“The program provides the tools needed to recognize students’ current understanding of numbers and focuses on data-driven instruction. AVMR provides the expertise teachers need in order to customize any commercial math curriculum for the individual needs of their students. Teachers are expected to differentiate their instruction to meet the diverse needs of all students, but many often do not receive the training to confidently do so in mathematics. AVMR addresses this need so teachers will feel empowered to analyze and modify tasks for whole or small group instruction.”

The MiSTEM Advisory Council was created by the State Legislature in 2015 to recommend high-quality programs for funding and create a vision for a statewide STEM strategy. It identified four pillars necessary to establish a well-equipped foundation for a statewide STEM educational network: create a STEM culture; empower STEM teachers; integrate business and education; and ensure high-quality STEM experiences. Standerford said that a heightened emphasis on STEM education benefits both students and Michigan as a whole.

“As this network evolves, there are talented, hard-working people from around the state coming together to reach a cohesive vision for STEM in Michigan,” he said in a previous release on his appointment. “Not everyone will want to pursue a STEM career, but everyone should have the opportunity to explore these areas, recognizing their individual talents and how these connect to the arts, career and technical fields, the social sciences and other areas in the K-12 system. Connecting business needs with STEM education initiatives will give Michigan the capacity to be a leader in the nation.”

Aside from the grant for Add+Vantage Math Recovery, Standerford said U.P. teachers have an opportunity to engage with an additional $1.3 million in MiSTEM Advisory Council funding for other U.P. and statewide STEM-related projects.

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