The Grand Rapids Elementary Mathematics Laboratory (GREML) 2012 Collection documents a summer mathematics class taught by Deborah Loewenberg Ball, an experienced elementary school teacher and faculty member at the University of Michigan School of Education. GREML2012 was a one-week summer mathematics laboratory designed to develop strong and positive academic identities in students, setting them on a path to success in school. The program was also designed to contribute to the professional growth of their teachers who observed the lab class sessions. Mathematics topics included fractions, the number line, equivalence, and place value, along with important mathematical practices, such as explaining, representing, proving, and defining.
Laboratory classes are structured to make it possible for educators, policymakers, and education advocates to deeply engage in the close study of teaching practice, through examining a “live” instance of public teaching with others. The laboratory setting also allows for experimentation – to develop and test different instructional techniques and curricular approaches derived from earlier research as well as to inform ongoing research. These classes not intended as examples of “how to teach,” but rather provide a context for studying teaching and learning. The University of Michigan School of Education has been hosting elementary mathematics laboratories each summer since 2003. More information about this program can be found on the Mathematics Laboratory page on the TeachingWorks website.
The GREML2012 summer program enrolled 28 students entering fifth grade in the fall, with ethnically, racially, economically, and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Many students had been struggling in school and had, over time, developed a lack of confidence with mathematics. The summer mathematics class aimed to turn this around and to set students on a path to success in school mathematics. The mathematics laboratory offered an intensive intervention for students from Grand Rapids, Godwin and Wyoming school districts in Michigan. Students participating in the laboratory received approximately 10 hours of mathematics instruction—twice as much as a typical week of school—and were assigned up to an hour of homework each night to reinforce and extend the topics covered in the lessons.
The GREML program also provided an opportunity for teachers and other education professionals to observe and study experienced teaching, as well as to contribute to planning and shaping upcoming lessons. Those in attendance, participated each day in a pre-class briefing, observed the mathematics lessons in the morning and reconvened for a post-class discussion.
The video and lesson artifacts from the program are intended to serve as a valuable resource for teachers and other education professionals working in a variety of settings.