Visit to Central High Looks to the Past, Points Toward the Future

Visit to Central High Looks to the Past,
Points Toward the Future

LITTLE ROCK, AR—Whenever Cred Dobson visits Little Rock, he is immediately transported back in time to September, 1957, when nine black students enrolled at the formerly all-white Central High School.

Cred Dobson - Little Rock teacher training
Left: Cred Dobson explains the GOALS INDEX feature on the Team Leader Homepage. Right: Educators make ‘Factor Wheels’ during their 24® Game activity.

“It was a key event in the American Civil Rights Movement, and a key event in my life and the lives of many of my fellow students at the historically black Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC,” says Dobson, a former teacher in the School District of Philadelphia and current First In Math Ambassador. “We enrolled in Claflin as freshmen in 1961, and during the next four years our lives were changed forever by the bold action of young members of our generation.”

Fifty-nine years later, Dobson feels a great surge of pride in the fact that he can contribute to the educational progress of all of the students in Little Rock in a different way—through the First in Math® online program.

On November 5, 2015, Dobson and First In Math Coordinator Nancy Kane provided six hours of training to approximately 30 teachers and math coaches. Little Rock is in the third year of a district wide First in Math® implementation, and the additional professional development was requested by Dr. Vanessa Cleaver, Director of K-12 Mathematics for the Little Rock School District, to help educators maintain focus and stay up-to-date on best practices. Dr. Cleaver, along with Marcelline Carr from the math curriculum office, seek to facilitate math success throughout the entire district.

“Our morning focus was on First In Math,” says Dobson. “Reviewing content, analyzing data and assessments and sharing strategies were covered. Later, everyone broke up into groups to help create a customized implementation plan for the district.”

The afternoon session’s focus was 24® game cards. “With the assistance of the math coaches we were able to set up the room with five different stations—one station was independent work on the computer and the other stations were hands-on activities using different versions of the 24® game,” explains Dobson. At times the noise level in the room was quite high, with talking, laughing and cheering, but there was also a deeper purpose to the fun.

Different 24® game editions, such as Factors and Variables, were used as ‘differentiation’ activities that allowed participants to interact as students would. “Having the same feelings as the students—from not being sure what the answer is to feeling good about getting the correct answer—can help remind teachers about the range of emotions a student can feel when faced with new math challenges. This can help teachers better understand how to construct teaching strategies that allow students learn in different ways,” says Kane.

On Friday, Kane and Dobson also had the opportunity to speak with educators from around the state at the Little Rock Curriculum Conference at the State House Convention Center.  “Our goal is to bring FIM to more districts in Arkansas,” says Dobson, who remained nostalgic on the trip back to Pennsylvania.

“My mind goes back to several years ago when, after our first visit, Nancy and I purchased and framed posters of the Little Rock Nine in front of Central High. I am proud and honored to say that I was able to have mine is signed by Minnijean Brown-Trickey, a member of that remarkable group.”

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