About Primarily Math

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is bringing the Primarily Math program to Kearney for the first time in the summer of 2016. Classes begin May 31. Primarily Math is for outstanding Nebraska elementary teachers (grades K-3) who want to further study mathematics and the teaching of mathematics and conquer math anxiety. Teachers earn a K-3 Mathematics Specialist Certificate from UNL upon completion of the 18-hour graduate program.

  1. Open to degree-seeking and non-degree-seeking students.
  2. Binders with all course documents are provided, and books are also provided on loan during the duration of the courses.
  3. Consists of 18 credit hours of coursework. There are six core courses, which bring you halfway to a master’s degree. Taking three electives through the Nebraska Math and Science Summer Institutes and three required online courses completes a master’s degree from UNL's Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education.
  4. Each course is graduate-level, and designed to be relevant to current issues you are facing in the classroom.
  5. In 2016, courses are being offered in Kearney for Greater Nebraska, La Vista for ESU 3 teachers only, and Omaha for OPS teachers only. Kearney is the farthest west we have taken the full program since its inception, and is for “rural” locations as preferred by the funders, an Improving Teacher Quality (ITQ) grant from the U.S. Department of Education awarded through the Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education and an award from Women Investing in Nebraska (WIN).

Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity that will help you, and your students, gain a greater understanding of mathematics.

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Funding and Support for a Greater Nebraska Cohort

"Primarily Math: Greater Nebraska" will provide funding support for one cohort of up to 30 teachers (20 from high-need districts or schools and 10 from other Nebraska districts or schools).

Funds from this proposal and other grants will fully cover all tuition and fees for the first course in the Primarily Math program (Math 800P, May 31-June 3), and lower the cost of the remaining five courses from as much as $1,100 in tuition and fees per course to an average of $343 per course for the 20 teachers from high-need schools and to approximately $530 per course for the 10 teachers from other Nebraska schools. For the remaining balance teachers should discuss possibilities for additional tuition support with school or district administrators.

Applications from teachers from all schools and districts in ESUs 10, 11 and 15 are welcome. Teachers from the grant's partner districts will receive first priority for participation in the program with the remainder of the 20 high-need positions offered to teachers from other schools and districts. The 10 other positions that are not for high-need schools are available to all Nebraska primary teachers (except for ESU 3, where teachers should apply to the ESU 3-only cohort of Primarily Math instead).

Representatives from the partner districts and ESUs are:

  • Arapahoe Public Schools: Elizabeth Klein, First Grade Teacher
  • Dundy County Public Schools: Jim Kent, Superintendent
  • ESU 10: Dianah Steinbrink
  • ESU 11: Kate Hatch
  • ESU 15: Kelly Erickson
  • Southern Valley Public Schools: Lacie Wright, Third Grade Teacher
  • Wauneta Palisade Public Schools: Roger Reikofski, Elementary Principal
How much will the program cost?

Conquer Math Anxiety with Primarily Math

"Primarily Math has given me new instructional strategies and a deeper understanding of content knowledge. This program has given me the opportunity to experience why it is important to give students a strong foundation and multiple strategies to work with and solve math problems. Math was once a subject that I disliked in school and is now a subject I love to teach, thanks to Primarily Math.” Amber Woitaszewski, Grand Island

“I have found that many of the strategies that I have learned through the Primarily Math program have really helped to make teaching easier. There are so many different strategies out there, and it is very hard to know which one is truly the ‘best’ one. But when it came to Primarily Math, the teachers told us their ideas to use on the first day of instruction, giving us a ton of ‘a ha’ moments. From the first class, I gained so many strategies that help me to see the faces of students understanding the content. That is exciting, and is exactly what I wanted out of a graduate level program.” Dana Henry, St. Paul

“I realized math wasn’t all about finding a correct answer and memorizing facts and formulas. I changed the way I taught math and saw an incredible change in my students’ level of understanding and their enthusiasm for math grew. I was excited about math, and therefore, my students were also excited about math. It was evident each day when students would ask to skip recess to continue learning math.” Danielle Inserra, Papillion-La Vista

Application Open for Nebraska Teachers

Read through the application requirements for the K-3 Math Specialist Certificate. The application is a two-part process. The first step is to apply to UNL Graduate Studies. On that application, under Admission Classification, choose "Non-Degree, Graduate Certificate Objective" and select "Graduate Certificate in K-3 Mathematics Specialist" from the drop-down menu. Current teachers do not have to pay the application fee; choose “I don’t have to pay the fee” and put in code: K3GCER. Second, once that application is processed, you will be sent a link to the GAMES system. Within GAMES, you will upload your application materials for Primarily Math, such as the essay and letters of recommendation. Applications to Primarily Math are due in GAMES in April 2016.

K-3 Math Specialist Certificate Program

The Primarily Math graduate program consists of a total of six courses: two weeklong courses at Sunrise Middle School in Kearney in summer 2016 focused on mathematics content; two courses during the subsequent academic year (one per semester) focused on mathematics pedagogy, each consisting of two in-person meetings and additional activities connected to teachers’ classrooms facilitated online; and two weeklong courses in Kearney in summer 2017, one focused on mathematics content, the other on pedagogy. During all of the courses, master teachers from ESUs 10, 11 and 15 will serve as assistant instructors, mentors and teacher liaisons.

Each Primarily Math summer institute uses the concentrated immersion approach developed by the Math in the Middle program. During summers, paired classes meet 8-5 daily (Monday-Friday) for two weeks with nightly homework. At the end of a course, teachers complete an End-of-Course assignment designed to support the long-term retention of material studied in the course. Thus, teachers are able to earn 6 graduate credits each summer while being in class for only two weeks. While this approach is intense, support for participants is substantial. This approach has proved to be quite popular with teachers because it protects most of the summer for other activities.

During academic year courses, each semester participants take a 3-credit graduate course, using a "blended distance education" format. Teachers will attend some in-person course meetings on two or three Saturdays, and will complete other assignments via UNL's Blackboard website.

Course Number Title
1 Math 800P Number and Operation Part I (Tuesday, May 31-Friday, June 3, 2016)
2 Math 801P Number and Operation Part II (Monday, June 6-Friday, June 10, 2016)
3 TEAC 808A Teaching Math K-3: Planning Lessons for Diverse Learners (Fall 2016)
4 TEAC 808J Helping Young Children Become Mathematical Thinkers (Spring 2017)
5 Math 802P Geometry and Algebraic Thinking (Summer 2017)
6 TEAC 907 Communities of Practice and Mathematics (Summer 2017)

Primarily Math wins grant award from Women Investing in Nebraska

Primarily Math, a program of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln with objectives to transform K–3 mathematics education in Nebraska, received a $53,700 grant award from Women Investing in Nebraska on Oct. 1, 2015. The program is an initiative of the Center for Science, Mathematics and Computer Education, the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education. The university will use the funding to offer the Primarily Math program, which started with the National Science Foundation grant NebraskaMATH in 2009, to even more high-need school districts across the state. It helps teachers with their own knowledge of mathematics and improves the teaching of mathematics in primary school grades.

“Receiving this award is an honor because it provides us with the opportunity to continue to work with a group of outstanding individuals: the teachers charged with educating Nebraska’s children,” said Michelle Homp, research assistant professor with the UNL Center for Science, Mathematics and Computer Education. “We believe that no endeavor is more worthy, and we’re very grateful to Women Investing in Nebraska.”

“Women Investing in Nebraska’s investment in Primarily Math means more elementary school students will receive great mathematics education in their classrooms,” said Lisa Smith, chair of the Women Investing in Nebraska executive committee. “It’s incredible to know how important this will be for Nebraska’s teachers and their students.”