What is it?

Math in Real Life is an ODE-funded collaborative professional development opportunity for teachers to develop and implement highly relevant applied math lessons for students in middle and high school. In Phase 1.0 of MiRL, math teachers in the Portland Metro area engaged in summer professional development that included site visits to businesses and research entities as well as access to expertise to experience and better understand applied math in real contexts. Then during the 2016-17 school year, teacher teams collaboratively developed applied math lessons informed by those experiences. Utilizing existing professional development learning communities, teacher teams piloted the lessons within their classrooms. Watch this video about one teacher team’s experience last year.

In Phase 2, MiRL built off that foundation moving beyond lesson development and expanding opportunities for participation. Changes include:
More focus on the implementation, adaptation, and revision of the existing applied math lessons with a focus on developing and refining the instructional strategies needed to support those lessons. Professional development will likely include topics on math discourse, math mindsets, and mathematical modeling as well as summer industry internships. A leadership development opportunity for teachers interested in supporting and engaging a team in a Lesson Study type process. This group will receive additional professional development on peer leadership, supporting math professional development, and facilitating peer learning. Expanded ways for teacher to participate including as an individual, as a member of a team, or as a leader of a team.
Opportunities for non-math teachers to participate on a team; for instance, science teachers, CTE teachers, etc. A team does need to include at least one 7-10th grade math teacher.

Why It’s Important:

Intended outcomes include: 

  • Increase student mathematics achievement aligned to Oregon standards through implementation of applied mathematics problems.
  • Decrease the mathematics achievement gap between historically underserved students and their peers through implementation of applied mathematics problems.
  • Increase student interest and enthusiasm in math by providing more opportunities to engage in interactive, student-centered problems that are based in applied mathematics.
  • Increase pedagogical preparedness of teachers to successfully implement inquiry-based practices within applied mathematics instruction.
  • Increase teacher knowledge of the application of mathematics.
  • Increase teacher enthusiasm and self-efficacy for mathematics to stimulate inclusion of more challenging open-ended applied mathematics activities within instruction.
  • Increase teacher beliefs that all their students are capable of doing mathematics.

How It Works:

EMSP recruited one district to participate in the 2018-2019 school year. Gresham-Barlow nominated a Teacher Leader and 4 Teacher participants to go through an externship followed by extensive professional development and lesson development and testing. Additional individual participants were invited to test and provide feedback on lesson plans. A second team from Gresham-Barlow will participate in summer 2019.



Gresham-Barlow School District
ODE STEM Innovation Fund
Portland Metro STEM Partnership
Portland Water Bureau
South Metro-Salem STEM Partnership