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Project AIM: Helping Teachers Promote Mathematics Discourse for All Learners

What is Project AIM?

Project AIM, a partnership between the NC State College of Education and Horizon Research, Inc., is a year-long professional development program that helps elementary school teachers learn to promote mathematics discourse for all learners using techniques adapted from literacy instruction to mathematics.

Through three main modes of engagement delivered through a hybrid model, teachers who participate in Project AIM:

  • Advance their own mathematical understandings of the content and pedagogy needed to improve the quality of mathematics discourse in their classrooms
  • Learn how to adapt literacy techniques to promote discourse in their mathematics instruction
  • Analyze classroom practice and student mathematical thinking
  • Learn how to scaffold and support all learners’ engagement with mathematics discourse
  • Embed discourse techniques into their mathematics lesson planning
  • Reflect individually and collaboratively on their instructional experiences and the nature of student mathematical discussions

Project AIM Brings Professional Development Nationwide

A student and a teacher doing a math problem at a chalkboard

The highly impactful Project AIM is now available to be offered at your district. 

With a fully online preparation program for facilitators, Project AIM can prepare mathematics leaders in the district to facilitate the professional development and offer all materials for the facilitator to easily implement the program with high levels of integrity.

The facilitator preparation program can be completed in approximately 15 hours in a self-guided, self-paced manner.  The professional development is organized into 12 sessions that add up to 30 hours over the school year.  Six three-hour sessions are considered the initial work and should happen in the summer (for example, over three full days or spread over two weeks) or very early in the school year.  Six additional two-hour sessions are designed to follow up monthly during the school year as teachers implement and discuss ideas from the program.

The book cover for Activating Math Talk

Activating Math Talk: 11 Purposeful Techniques for Your Elementary Students

Published by Corwin Press, Activating Math Talk is designed to work in conjunction with Project AIM’s professional development course and be used by any teacher who wants to learn techniques that they can immediately use in the classroom.

The book includes classroom examples of tasks and techniques as well as vignettes written in partnership with actual teachers who implemented these practices in their classrooms. In addition, there are sections dedicated to examining teacher practice and recognizing signs of successful technique implementation and problems that could arise.

The Impact of Project AIM

For several implementations of Project AIM, at the end of professional development, participating teachers demonstrated a better understanding of mathematics discourse, were better prepared to implement high-quality discourse and reported attending to the various dimensions of discourse in their practice. Participants also significantly outperformed teachers who did not participate in the professional development.

The design of the program gives teachers an opportunity to establish the purpose of discourse and examine, experience and implement specific strategies before discussing the theoretical aspects of the practice, which is atypical for many programs. This professional development model provides teachers with structure and purpose, as well as techniques to try in a controlled implementation setting in their classrooms before connecting those experiences to the more complex theory.