Mathematics Learning Trajectories are currently viewed as promising tools for educational improvement. A learning trajectory is a description of the ways in which children refine their informal understandings of a particular idea into robust concepts over time through the influence of instruction. Early evidence suggests that learning trajectories serve as conceptual frameworks for instruction and support new curriculum and standards development, such as the design of the Common Core State Standards for mathematics. However, it is important to also know whether these learning trajectories can become usable tools for teachers’ instructional practices. Thus, the LTBI project seeks to understand the ways in which teachers come to learn about and use learning trajectories in their classroom.
The project engages participating teachers with NCSU and UNCG researchers to examine learning trajectories and their potential use in the classroom. Using results from recent research on how to make professional development effective for teachers, the project works with K-5 teachers in partner elementary schools for 60 hours of professional development spread over a summer institute and monthly meetings over the course of the school year. While teachers learn about learning trajectories, researchers learn about how the trajectories supports teachers’ instruction.