Typical Day

A Typical Day in the PROMYS for Teachers Program

The information below applies mainly to the typical in-person program at Boston University. For information about the online program for summer 2021, please visit here.

(Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm)

A typical day in the summer program begins with a morning lecture attended by all PROMYS high school and teacher participants, first-year and returning students alike. Teachers then work collaboratively and in an exploratory manner on a daily program set, in a classroom dedicated to PfT. The problem sets are not designed to test what a teacher knows from past mathematics courses. Instead, the problem sets encourage participants to design their own numerical experiments and to employ their own powers of analysis to discover mathematical patterns, formulate and test conjectures, and justify their ideas by devising mathematical proofs. Like the classroom activities that PfT encourages, the problem sets are low threshold high ceiling, so there is enlightenment, discovery, and challenge for teachers from a wide range of mathematical backgrounds. 

Counselors (graduate students in mathematics, research mathematicians, and PROMYS alumni) serve as resources for the teachers in their work. Participants' written work on problem sets is reviewed by the counselor staff each evening and returned the next morning with written comments. Weekly problem sessions run by PROMYS staff help teachers pull together threads of ideas from the problem sets and focus on the big ideas.

Returning participants take an advanced seminar and engage in research projects. Twice weekly, teachers meet with their small research group (usually two teachers and a counselor) in the exploration labs. In the fifth week, each research group submits written reports of their work and gives an oral presentation summarizing their results to the rest of the program.

Returning participants add an important dimension to PROMYS by sharing their valuable program experience and by serving as peer role models for first-time participants. Participation for a second summer helps teachers cement their experience of mathematical exploration and extend their content knowledge into other mathematical fields relevant to the secondary school curriculum. Moreover, through their discussions with beginning participants, the returning teachers share strategies they have learned for engaging students in the process of mathematical exploration. This is an important part of the community-building that is so crucial for the long-term success of these efforts.

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