IMPACT Live!

  • 1.  IMPACT in Action #1 - Collaboration/Discussions in the Classroom

    Posted 07-01-2021 06:01:00

    Peer-to-peer dialogue plays an important role in teacher preparation courses.  What are some ways we can adapt our instruction and/or resources we can use to generate meaningful mathematical dialogue among students? 



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    Abigail Bailey
    Elgin CC
    Elgin IL
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  • 2.  RE: IMPACT in Action #1 - Collaboration/Discussions in the Classroom

    Posted 07-01-2021 17:43:00
    Abigail
    I had done some work with peer-to-peer interactions at my first community college as an adjunct, but as is the case with Math Talk and other innovations in pedagogy in MFET classes, the students' first instinct was to hold back and hesitate to share with partners.  I stayed with it and have to say that the first semester was a tough one.  One young man said, "is this a math class or a class in psychology"?  I was not happy with the comment but explained that by sharing and/or reporting out as a team, they would be getting good experience for future careers where teams were often formed for projects.

    Fifteen weeks later, that same student stopped in my office and said how positive the experiences were in that class. He said it was the ONLY class he had taken at the college where he knew the names of others, and he had developed some friendships.  He also said he was more likely to attend my class each week because he felt somehow his partners were dependent on him to show up. Indeed, when someone missed class, the class gave them a small talking-to about the absence.  This had little to do with mathematics, but more to do with the idea of responsibility and trust I think. 

    Just a few thoughts
    Ruth

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    Ruth Collins
    Professor of mathematics education
    Walden Univ (retired from a two year school)
    Minneapolis MN
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  • 3.  RE: IMPACT in Action #1 - Collaboration/Discussions in the Classroom

    Posted 07-02-2021 10:43:00
    Hi Ruth, 

    Yes!  I've had similar experiences in Math for Elementary Teachers.  And I agree that I have to keep at it with the groups until it becomes "normal" to work together.  It is quite the challenge for students to talk about math at the onset.  I believe students are very nervous to look bad, because they are going to make mistakes. But many of these future teachers get much better at it, and they come to feel cared for and more confident.    

    There is something quite rewarding about students making break-throughs as they struggle through a problem together and come to understand it in a much deeper way than if I had lectured the idea at them.  But I'm wondering how to get better at this.  Preparing for lecture is so different than preparing for collaboration.  How did you go about your planning to set the stage for that kind of classroom?

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    Abigail Bailey
    Elgin CC
    Elgin IL
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  • 4.  RE: IMPACT in Action #1 - Collaboration/Discussions in the Classroom

    Posted 07-06-2021 14:05:00
    Abigail
    I am remembering the teachers I had in school who made mistakes or misspeaks and did not take ownership of them.  One teacher in high school actually said (when questioned),  "I put that up there to see if anyone in the class would catch the error".   No one believed him but this idea of owning an error is such a good model for students.  When I make an error in class, and someone catches it, I made a mark and kept score on the board.  This is also a good method for demonstrating in LIFE that we need to be accountable for what we write, compute, or say.  

    A little off the beaten path here perhaps, but I reread your posting and this needed to be said.

    Ruth

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    Ruth Collins
    Professor of mathematics education
    Walden Univ (retired from a two year school)
    Minneapolis MN
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  • 5.  RE: IMPACT in Action #1 - Collaboration/Discussions in the Classroom

    Posted 07-07-2021 13:26:00
    Edited by Abigail Bailey 07-07-2021 13:27:04
    I'm with you on that, Ruth.

    I'm glad you brought it up.  I, too, acknowledge my mathematical errors during class.  Acknowleding errors and fixing them is good mathematical practice.  More than that, it is scientifically sound.    

    For whatever reason, the same students who struggle with collaboration sometimes also struggle with my mistakes.  Some (not all) students express that, "I'm not really teaching," before assimilating to classroom norms that include more student voices.  This catches me off-gaurd from time to time, since it takes a bit more effort more for me to create a rich series of tasks and questions to scaffold a fruitful constuction of concepts or properties.  By about week 5 - the change in norms is totally worth it!  Mistakes and all...



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    Abby Bailey, PhD
    Associate Professor of Math
    Elgin Community College
    Elgin, Illinois
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  • 6.  RE: IMPACT in Action #1 - Collaboration/Discussions in the Classroom

    Posted 07-02-2021 14:33:00
    Thanks for posing this question, Abigail. 

    Research on mathematics learning has certainly established that peer-to-peer interaction as students work on activities that support sense-making and mathematical reasoning leads to learning gains. And, as Ruth mentioned, the social aspect of these classrooms is so important at two-year colleges, where students may not have many opportunities to get to know other students if all their classes are lecture-based (I hope they are not).

    A colleague of mine -- Karen Gaines, whom we probably all know here on IMPACT Live! -- reminded me of a great, short, book on facilitating classroom discourse. The book starts with a discussion of the mathematical task students are working on, what to monitor as students work on the task, facilitating a whole class discussion and ends with strategies for wrapping up the discussion. Five Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussion.

    Ann

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    Ann Sitomer
    Senior Researcher
    STEM Research Center
    Oregon State University
    Corvallis OR
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  • 7.  RE: IMPACT in Action #1 - Collaboration/Discussions in the Classroom

    Posted 07-05-2021 17:26:00
    Hi Ann, 

    Thanks for referencing back to Karen Gaines' posts.  I especially like some of her posts in the All Access Public Library tagged with Teacher Prep (like this one).  : )  I'll have to dig in the Impact Live! posts a little more to find the one you are specifically referencing to see how it differs from what I've read.  (I'm not seeing it when I follow your link.)         

    NCTM's Principles to Actions speaks to the "benefits of collaborative structures and coaching" to be free from "professional isolation." Every time I attend the annual conference I get a new (or improved) idea on a new task and it's delivery.  I remember a couple years ago Teresa Stricklin made a presentation using laminated packets with conversions between different number systems (which she shared on the Teacher Prep's external webpage on Activities from the Classroom).  It gave them enough to make conjectures, but did not tell them the structure of other counting systems.  This well-planned activity is definitely outside of what we see in textbooks!  Most texts are created for one reader and lend themselves to a classroom where a teacher tells students what they are learning instead of constructing their knowledge through conjectures and adaptations.  

    I was thinking along the lines of improving my mathematical tasks themselves and their delivery.  And at the same time, pacing myself on trying new things so that I can differentiate what works from what falls a little flat in the MFET classes.  I think that group work in the MFET class looks, works, and feels differently than group work in my calculus classes. Especially because many times I like to use manipulatives in my MFET classes.  --Although I like the idea of manipulative use in my other courses too. 

    Good thoughts, 
    Abby


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    Abigail Bailey
    Elgin CC
    Elgin IL
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  • 8.  RE: IMPACT in Action #1 - Collaboration/Discussions in the Classroom

    Posted 07-03-2021 09:33:00
    I actually begin my course with a discussion about math anxiety, confidence, reliance on the calculator, and myths about math abilities.  This allows them to see that they are not alone in their feelings and begin to see how their students would perceive their current attitudes.  Throughout the course, we talk about common student misconceptions about various topics and sometimes their link to Piaget's Stages of Development.  When I have time, I will have them read a peer's written word problem explanations and provide verbal feedback that they can then use to improve their assignments before handing them in.  For mental math, I will often have them pair up to think about ways to doing the calculations in their heads.  I also made blogs a requirement in my course where the students have to create a blog and write about anything math or math education related and then must respond to at least 4 other students' posts.  This allows for dialogue without taking up class time.  Basically, my philosophy is that teaching is all about communication, so these students need to be ready and feel comfortable sharing their ideas with others.

    Carla

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    Carla DelTreste-Jutt
    Dutchess CC
    Poughkeepsie NY
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  • 9.  RE: IMPACT in Action #1 - Collaboration/Discussions in the Classroom

    Posted 07-05-2021 18:01:00
    Edited by Abigail Bailey 07-05-2021 18:01:43
    Carla, I love these ideas! 

    I have never tried having students start this way, but certainly feelings are so important in MFET.  Theoretically, I can see a real pay-off by addressing their feelings straight away before expecting them to understand the feeling of productive struggle.  This blog idea is also new to me and very interesting.  It's like a modern day student reflection.  Maybe these ideas can help create the safe space they need to unlock their potential for collaborative work.  I have my MFET students make a portfolio, and I could see the blog leading to a different outcomes in my students' mathematical reflections (included in their portfolio) since their peers are responding to them.    

    I'm going to try this.

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    Abby Bailey, PhD
    Associate Professor of Math
    Elgin Community College
    Elgin, Illinois
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