SCSD Math Teachers Featured in National Book, Videos

     Published on 4/16/19   Tagged under:    District News    Huntington K-8 School    HW Smith K-8 School    Salem Hyde Elementary School   

This is a photo of a math teacher standing next to math expert Peg Smith, with both women holding a book called "The 5 Practices."Three SCSD math teachers have been featured in a new book written by a nationally-recognized mathematician and educator.
Salem Hyde teacher Michelle Saroney, HW Smith teacher Jennifer Mossotti and Huntington teacher Michelle Musumeci were all selected to be included in Peg Smith’s book “The 5 Practices in Practice.”
Ms. Smith, who recently received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, approached SCSD Supervisor of Math Melanie Cifonelli. Peg has been working with our teachers for several years and wanted to feature our teachers who she saw were implementing the classroom techniques to help students develop a deeper understanding of math.
“It was a great honor (and also a little nerve-wracking) to be asked to be recorded for the book Peg was writing,” Ms. Musumeci said. “I had gotten a chance to plan a lesson with Peg and SCSD Supervisor of Math Melanie Cifonelli during the 2016-17 school year using Peg’s book ‘The 5 Practices.’ I really like the book because it gives me a framework for lesson planning. It helps me anticipate what students might come up with during the lesson, and using the monitoring tool allows me to select and decide the sequence for students sharing their work during the discussion phase.”
Through her time with Ms. Saroney, Ms. Mossotti and Ms. Musumeci, Ms. Smith observed the teachers at work, spoke with them about the challenges they have faced and how they have overcome them, and filmed videos of both the teachers and their students at work.
“The technique that was featured that I am most proud of is the flexibility you need to have during any given lesson,” Ms. Saroney explained. “My taped lesson did not go as I planned, and I needed to adjust my lesson based on what the students were struggling with. Those are real struggles that teachers face, so I think teachers reading this book are going to feel more connected and at ease knowing that here is a teacher featured in a book that is having the same struggle that they face on a daily basis. I hope this book gives our students and District confidence in the process and opens doors for other teachers to try something outside their comfort zone. Hopefully, people reading this book will start to have a different, more positive perspective on math and realize that there are students all over the country that can problem solve through a difficult math problem – we just need to provide each and every student the opportunity!”
These videos, interviews and student work have all been included in both the book and in national professional development courses.
“I was, and still am, humbled to have been invited to take place in this experience,” Ms. Mossotti said. “I'm hoping that other teachers in urban environments can see the value in not only selecting a high level task, but also implementing it at a high level. Despite the time it takes to select and plan a task, as well as the effort put into the actual delivery of the task, the flip side is larger gains in student understanding and a strengthened classroom culture. Having our own Syracuse teachers and students featured in Peg Smith's new book will give the opportunity for future math teachers in the Syracuse City Schools to see that this work can be done with OUR students.”
The book featuring these teachers’ work was celebrated at a National Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference in San Diego in April, and Ms. Mossotti presented with Peg Smith!
“It’s amazing that we have our own students on video talking about great math (their mathematical thinking),” Ms. Cifonelli said. “Our teachers work so hard and really believe in our students and their potential. The work we’re doing in Syracuse will now be seen nationally, and that’s very exciting! To have our own students featured in a book like this shows that they are great thinkers and they can be mathematicians!”
Congratulations to our math teachers on their hard work implementing strategies to help their students achieve higher-level thinking skills in math!