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Technology tools for mathematics teacher learning: How might they support the development of capacity for specific teaching assignments?

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This chapter addresses the role of technological tools in mathematics teacher learning within a perspective that conceives of this learning as practice-based and work-specific. The notion of practice-based and work-specific mathematics teacher education is envisioned as a just-in-time endeavor emphasizing important continuities between prospective and practicing teacher education. It does so by proposing a conceptualization of mathematics teacher learning along the professional lifespan as recognized with badges enabling holders to exercise their professional expertise in particular work assignments. In turn, the procurement of these badges follows participation in a set of technologically-mediated experiences that approximate the work of teaching using representations of practice. And a set of diverse badges is envisioned as available for practitioners to procure the skills needed for the work they desire to do. Building on scholarship that documents the use of technologies in mathematics teacher education, the chapter sketches how a combination of those technologies may serve the achievement of teacher learning outcomes. The chapter proposes a blend of Engeström’s (1999) model of an activity system with Herbst and Chazan’s (2012) model of an instructional exchange to identify more precisely objects of activity and the technological tools teacher-learners can use in pursuing such work-specific learning. These considerations help the authors illustrate the roles that various technologies, including technologies for media play and annotation, social interaction and communication, storyboarding, animation, gaming, and simulation, and technologies for mathematical work and inscription, could play in different teacher learning activities. Building on the authors’ earlier and present work studying geometry teaching and supporting teacher learning in geometry, examples provided demonstrate how technology could support such teacher learning activities toward a badge for teaching secondary geometry.

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This article presents our plans and initial work to explore how mathematics teacher education programs can prepare teachers for diverse middle grades classrooms. It describes the start-up of a five-year National Science Foundation project to design, develop, and test technology-enriched teacher preparation strategies to address equity in algebra learning. The participants in this pilot group demonstrated a need to develop their mathematical problem-solving skills, but they also exhibited strong beliefs about their own potential to be successful in the mathematics classroom. Preliminary results appear to indicate that Second Life (software) simulations can provide rich settings for teacher development on specific mathematics teaching skills and challenge them to apply their ideas about diversity.
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Mathematical argumentation in classrooms has been linked with students’ increased understandings of and achievement in mathematics. A key component of mathematical argumentation is the teacher’s use of questioning strategies. In particular, effective questioning asks students to explain and justify their work and probes student understanding. However, literature has consistently shown that instead of asking questions that probe student understanding, teachers generally ask leading or recall-oriented questions. Though reform efforts in the US and elsewhere have called for teachers to adopt more effective questioning strategies, the trend in teacher questioning suggested in the literature continues. One possible explanation for this trend is that teachers’ interpretation of facilitating mathematical argumentation is not aligned with what reformers in mathematics education envision. Examining teacher-created representations of practice, the present study explores this possible difference in interpretation and presents preliminary evidence suggesting that the teachers’ conceptions of facilitating mathematical argumentation may indeed be substantially different from what reformers intend.
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Drawing from data on over 1000 prospective teachers in a large urban district including pre and post-student teaching survey data, this study investigates whether lengthening student teaching improves teachers’ perceptions of instructional preparedness, efficacy, and career plans. The findings suggest that the duration of student teaching has little effect on teacher outcomes; however, the quality of student teaching has significant and positive effects. Moreover, the magnitude of the effects of student teaching quality are greater when student teaching is shorter and in schools with more historically underserved racial groups. The authors discuss policy implications and directions for further research.
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To solve two enduring problems in education—unacceptably large variation in learning opportunities for students across classrooms and little continuing improvement in the quality of instruction—the authors propose a system that centers on the creation of shared instructional products that guide classroom teaching. By examining systems outside and inside education that build useful knowledge products for improving the performance of their members, the authors induce three features that support a work culture for creating such products: All members of the system share the same problems for which the products offer solutions; improvements to existing products are usually small and are assessed with just enough data; and the products are jointly constructed and continuously improved with contributions from everyone in the system.
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In this article, the authors examine two distinct but closely related fields, research on teaching and research on teacher education. Despite its roots in research on teaching, research in teacher education has developed in isolation both from mainstream research on teaching and from research on higher education and professional education. A stronger connection to research on teaching could inform the content of teacher education, while a stronger relationship to research on organizations and policy implementation could focus attention on the organizational contexts in which the work takes shape. The authors argue that for research in teacher education to move forward, it must reconnect with these fields to address the complexity of both teaching as a practice and the preparation of teachers.