Announcement of Ed.D. Proposal Defense of Timothy Hart-Ruiz: “Using Math Conferences and Anecdotal Notes and to Deepen Student Thinking and Support Math PD for Elementary Teachers”
Elementary teachers (ETs) often have a limited math pedagogical content knowledge (MPCK) due to their academic backgrounds, training during preparation programs, and their comfort level with the content. This is not often improved as ETs work in the field. Shulman (1986) calls PCK “subject matter knowledge for teaching;” it is knowing not only the content, but how best to teach it, common student misconceptions, and strategies to support students in learning. Due to this knowledge gap, many ETs rely on procedures for teaching mathematics and do not focus as fully on teaching for the deep conceptual understanding that is required by the New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS). Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) is an instructional and professional development (PD) framework that takes an assets-based approach to teaching mathematics. Teachers with a CGI mindset recognize the knowledge that students bring to the math classroom and extend learning from it to deepen students’ understandings. CGI-oriented PD that focuses on student work (SW) as means for building teacher knowledge has been found to deepen teachers’ understandings of their students, improve MPCK, and lead to changes in instructional practices. ETs who have engaged in collaborative CGIoriented PD analyzing SW often also seek access to student thinking (ST) while problem-solving to support PD. Teachers have been able to capture ST while having discussions with students and recording those discussions on video, yet video is not a practical means to capture ST in most classroom contexts. Conferring with students and collecting anecdotal notes while meeting with them may serve as an effective means for bringing ST back to the PD setting, so teachers can analyze both SW and have greater insights into ST. Conferring is a practice used in many elementary classrooms during literacy instruction but has not been explored as a means to encourage and document ST in math. This study will examine teachers who have math conferences with students to deepen student understanding and collect notes about ST while meeting with them; and then, in what ways teachers can use those notes and SW to support PD. It aims to answer the following questions:
1. In what ways do teachers adapt literacy conferences to enhance their work with students during math instruction and to capture student thinking for PD purposes?
2. In what ways do math conferences support the development of student thinking about math?
3. In what ways can a teacher use math conferences to encourage students to explain their mathematical thinking?
4. In what ways does math conference documentation of student thinking support PD and teacher learning?
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