The Secondary Mathematics Laboratory (SML) was a summer mathematics class taught for rising ninth graders by Robert Moses, a civil rights activist and experienced secondary mathematics school teacher who founded and directed the Algebra Project. The SML was a two-week mathematics laboratory designed to develop students' mathematical knowledge and their commitment to an earned insurgency for the right to education and an economic future. The program was also designed to contribute to the professional growth of teachers and others who observed the lab class sessions. Documentation provides a unique look into the pedagogy of Robert Moses and curriculum developed by the Algebra Project and the Young People's Project.
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 are 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 hosted secondary mathematics laboratories, modeled after the Elementary Mathematics Laboratory program, in the summers of 2010, 2011, and 2012. More information about the Elementary Mathematics Laboratory program can be found on the TeachingWorks website.
The Algebra Project is a national nonprofit organization founded in 1982 to use mathematics as an organizing tool to ensure a high-quality public-school education for every child in America. The Algebra Project’s unique approach to school reform intentionally develops sustainable, student-centered models by building coalitions of stakeholders within local communities. Founded by civil rights leader and mathematics teacher, Robert Moses, this organization grew out of the civil rights work in the 1960s that culminated in the national response to protect a fundamental right: the right to vote. In the same spirit, the Algebra Project seeks a national response to establish the fundamental right of every child to a high-quality public-school education in order to succeed in a technology-based knowledge society and to exercise full citizenship.
The 2011 SML enrolled rising ninth graders to Ypsilanti High School who would be starting as an Algebra Project cohort in the fall. Over the two weeks of the SML, students worked on building connections with their classmates, practicing presentation skills, and working on mathematics content, including construction of three dimensional objects and relationships to factoring functions with three variables.
The Algebra Project, The Teaching & Learning Exploratory, and The National Science Foundation (2010-2013)