TIAN in Action: Teachers' Stories

The Teachers Investigating Adult Numeracy (TIAN) Project is a professional development program piloted and field-tested with Adult Basic Education teachers in six states across the country.

Donna Curry, Editor
Mary Jane Schmitt, Editor
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
Center for Literacy Studies at the University of Tennessee and TERC
Publication Year
Resource Type
Number of Pages

The Teachers Investigating Adult Numeracy (TIAN) Project is a professional development program piloted and field-tested with Adult Basic Education teachers in six states across the country. TIAN builds on previous efforts in the fields of mathematics education, adult education, career and workforce education, and teacher education. In order to set a new direction for high
quality, effective in-service opportunities for adult education mathematics and numeracy teachers, the TIAN team grounded their work in promising practices and evidence from across educational levels from sources such as the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (NCTM, 2000), the National Research Council’s
Adding It Up: Helping Children Learn Mathematics (2001), the Adult Numeracy Network Teaching and Learning Principles (ANN, 2005), and the Equipped for the Future (EFF) research and development of the adult content standard Use Math to Solve Problems and Communicate (NIFL, 2000).

The TIAN professional development intervention explicitly, with its materials, Institutes, and supporting activities, encourages teachers to experiment with classroom lessons that promote: Communication, Connections, Integration of math content strands at all levels, and A multi-dimensional definition of mathematical proficiency.

These four practices, or “big ideas”, are the focus of this document. First, we expand upon each idea and describe its significance to adult education math instruction. Then, we share examples of how these practices play out in actual classroom situations. Teachers from each of the six states (Arizona, 4 TIAN in Action: Teachers’ Stories Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Rhode Island) involved in the TIAN Project demonstrate the interplay of these four “big ideas” from their own perspectives.

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What the experts say

The powerful descriptions of classroom-based math instruction written by teachers for teachers could easily be used to inspire and inform other educators about what standards-based, high-quality, and highly engaging numeracy instruction for adults can look like. The resource could be read by (1) individual teachers who want to know what effective teachers are doing, (2) groups of teachers or administrators as part of a study circle on effective math instruction, or (3) as a reading for an adult education methods course. The samples of adult student work that are included are particularly interesting and informative. Further, they promote the expectation that teachers should be seeking to understand their learner' mathematical ideas, understandings, and reasoning.

Practitioners are always searching for new strategies to try in their classrooms. This document provides many applications plus testimonials of how these strategies changed a particular teacher's practice. Best of all, it is grounded in current research on the importance of developing conceptual understanding for students and helps practitioners in the field see this research in action.

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