Strengthening Middle School Mathematical Argumentation through Teacher Coaching: Bridging from Professional Development to Classroom Practice

This project is a professional learning experience for middle school teachers to support them in developing five mathematical practices in their teaching focused on mathematical argumentation - creating mathematical arguments, using appropriate tools strategically, looking for and make use of structure, attending to precision, and looking for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

Full Description: 

The Bridging Professional Development project is a professional learning experience for middle school teachers to support them in developing five mathematical practices in their teaching focused on mathematical argumentation. These practices are: create mathematical arguments, use appropriate tools strategically, look for and make use of structure, attend to precision, and look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning. Mathematics argumentation is an important component of complex problem solving and supporting students in understanding the why, not just the how, of mathematics. The professional development intervention consists of summer workshop focused on approximations of teaching practice, and coaching during the school year. The coaching component includes face-to-face coaching and a video-based tool that allows teachers and coaches to engage with records of classroom interactions. The project expands the successful Bridging professional development work by adding four additional mathematical practices that relate to argumentation, adding the coaching component, collecting data on students' equitable participation in classroom discussions, and piloting an impact study to determine whether the professional development that includes coaching leads to improved mathematics teaching and learning, and the mechanisms by which that hypothesized improvement occurs.

The Bridging series of professional development projects are built on a theoretical framework that begins with providing teachers with opportunities to engage in meaningful mathematics teaching practices, identify teaching moves that would support students in learning those practices, and to try out those moves with other teachers in approximations of teaching practice. The outcomes of such activity are increased teacher knowledge that can be mobilized in the planning and enactment of lessons, and improved pedagogical moves in the classroom. This in turn is likely to lead to increased student engagement and mathematics achievement. In this award, Bridging adds cycles of coaching to support teachers in translating lessons learned from approximations of practice to the work in their classrooms with students, and to provide ongoing school-year support for implementation. The research components of the project focus on understanding the practice of the coaches, including the design and deployment of coaching training and coaching sessions, as it relates to teachers' abilities to foster stronger student engagement in mathematical practices. The project will recruit 25 teachers at middle schools with experienced mathematics coaches to participate, with teachers directed to select a single focus class for data collection. Case studies will be pursued with six teachers and three coaches that represent diverse backgrounds, experiences, and levels of prior knowledge. Video records of coaching training and sessions will be collected and analyzed, along with lessons plans and teacher-enacted lessons, to determine the influence of the coaching on practice. The study will also investigate the ways in which teacher engagement in the professional developments leads to changes in teacher practice and student outcomes. Video records of practice, written lesson plans, student work, and interviews will be collected and analyzed to determine the impact on teaching practice. Teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching will also be assessed at key points in the project to assess teacher learning, and student standardized assessment scores and performance assessment outcomes will be collected to assess student learning.

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