* Improving student conversations

The January 2019 issue of Mathematics Teacher has a fascinating article on the use of action research in a middle school math class, with applications to all levels of math instruction. A brave teacher/researcher collaboration analyzed student interactions and explored ways to improve engagement.

portrait of young female student at school classroom

What do I love about this article? It illustrates some important principles for all teachers, but especially special educators:

  • Teacher and researcher collaboration. If you don’t have an available researcher, do it yourself! Videotape yourself! Work with a colleague.
  • Use a seating chart to quickly visualize and compare student interactions.
  • Prepare higher level questions ahead of time and place them in your lesson plans. Without your “cheat sheet,” you’ll likely default to more rote level questioning once the lesson starts rolling.
  • Allow time after student responses to encourage student follow-up instead of teacher-student-teacher-student patterns.
  • Select authentic and meaningful tasks when possible.
  • Provide access to technology.

A subscription to Mathematics Teacher is a great investment!

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