A comprehensive and intensive approach to PD. In the year long work of teachers, what were some of the biggest insights they gained? What old “habits” of teachers seem the most difficult to change in order to promote effective use of students’ prior knowledge?

Debra Bernstein

Facilitator

May 11, 2015 | 12:05 p.m.

Can you say a little more about the ‘animations’ that you used as part of the PD program? Were these animations that the teachers made, or from the research team?

The research team created the animations based upon an analysis of how geometry students solved the problems that we created for the animations.

Debra Bernstein

Facilitator

May 14, 2015 | 08:09 p.m.

Thanks.

Meixia Ding

Associate Professor

May 11, 2015 | 03:32 p.m.

Identifying relevant prior knowledge is critical but sometimes challenging for teachers. In your project, do teachers demonstrate such difficulties? How is a prior knowledge concept deemed as relevant or non-relevant in your study?

This is an excellent question. I am particularly interested in how teachers probe for prior knowledge to get below the surface of what students are saying—and whether different elements of the PD model stimulate different ways of “digging out” or revealing relevant student experiences and knowledge.

Thanks for your questions. Our project takes into account three sources of prior knowledge that are relevant during problem-based lessons: (1) prior knowledge of mathematical content that students use to solve a problem, (2) prior knowledge of the context of the problem, and (3) prior knowledge of out of school mathematical practices that are related to the problem. In the study group, the teachers design problems that would enable students to make use of these three sources of prior knowledge in meaningful ways. This is challenging because it requires teachers to know their students and to consider the mathematical content of the lesson. We show examples of how to take into account these three sources of prior knowledge in the vignettes. We expect that the discussions of the vignettes enable teachers to get ideas about how to use students’ prior knowledge in their lessons. Even though the prior knowledge of school mathematics is the most obvious for math teachers, teachers say that the other sources of prior knowledge increase students’ opportunities to have entry points to the problem. In addition, teachers say that problems that are situated in contexts that are relevant to their students increase students’ engagement and motivation.

Thank you. Appreciate the detail about sources of prior knowledge. It gives teachers more opportunities to make the relevant connections. I am also thinking that many teachers experience “aha” moments in the discussions when they hear the perspectives of other teachers who capitalize on prior knowledge that hadn’t ever occurred to them because of the different “prior knowledge” and cultural diversity of the teachers themselves. Is that the case?

Very impressive art in this video – the drawing was quite seamless. I would have had to erase and make corrections so many times!! Definitely curious about the content of the animations and how the videos are used as a PD tool – if you could speak more about those items, that would be great.

Thank you! The art was created by Annie Lin, our graphic artist. She also makes the animations. We use the animations to show different alternatives when using students’ prior knowledge in a lesson. For example, one vignette can show a teacher highlighting connections with students’ prior knowledge of the context of a problem and in another vignette the teacher discusses students’ prior knowledge of specific mathematical content relevant to solve the problem. The videos are from the actual lessons that teachers taught and they show examples of how students used their prior knowledge in the problem-based lesson that the teachers created.

Annie did a great job with the art. As an animator for our project I’d be interested in talking with her at one point about her approach. Is there a place where we can go to view the animations?

Brian Drayton

Co-Principal Investigator

May 12, 2015 | 10:14 a.m.

I really like the integration of several methods of shared study — Have the teachers among themselves (that is, beyond ideas that you’ve presented for their use) developed new ways to observe and analyze student work or videos of practice? Thought of other data to look at to deepen their understanding of their students’ thinking?

These are important questions that we are investigating in the study. First of all, it can be hard for a teacher to pay attention to student thinking in the middle of the lesson because they may be walking from group to group and they may not have a full picture of how students are solving a problem. So, as in other research on video clubs, we are finding that giving teachers an opportunity to examine one video clip of students working on a problem for an extended period of time promotes a lot of discussion. We encourage teachers to use evidence from the video to make sense of how students are solving the problem. The discussions at the end of the year included more attention to student thinking than at the beginning of the year. Also, the teachers tend to initiate these discussions. The teachers are used their insights for revising the lesson in ways in which they can support students’ mathematical understanding. It seems that the analysis of the videos has enabled them to better anticipate students’ ideas.

I believe that you are working in very intensive ways with the teachers. Have most of them stayed with you for the entire year and what characteristics of the teachers do you think helps them sustain their interest and stick with it over time. Conversely, have some teachers opted out of the program, and if so, what were the reasons?

I would have liked to see these videos in my student group work when I was teaching. I spent most of my time in a management mindset during group work and did not have time to analyze how students were solving the problems. Could you tell us about any insights that teachers have picked up from watching the group work?

CAREER: Noticing and Using Students' Prior Knowledge in Problem-based Instruction

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

CAREER: Noticing and Using Students’ Prior Knowledge in Problem-Based Instruction

NSF Award #: 1253081

Our project investigates the components of a professional development intervention that enhance teachers’ attention to students’ prior knowledge in high-need schools. The project examines how to combine animations and videos of classroom instruction to help teachers learn to notice students’ prior knowledge and also to perform teaching actions to use that prior knowledge in problem-based instruction. The ultimate goal of the project is to create a professional development framework. The framework will specify the resources and activities that increase teachers’ capabilities to teach in ways that improve students’ learning opportunities through attention to student thinking. The activities include a modified version of Lesson Study and a video club for engaging geometry teachers in a teacher learning community over two years. The teachers collaborate in planning, implementing, and analyzing geometry lessons aligned with the Common Core Standards. The professional development intervention supports teachers’ effective implementation of problem-based instruction in their own classrooms.

## Vivian Guilfoy

A comprehensive and intensive approach to PD. In the year long work of teachers, what were some of the biggest insights they gained? What old “habits” of teachers seem the most difficult to change in order to promote effective use of students’ prior knowledge?

## Debra Bernstein

Can you say a little more about the ‘animations’ that you used as part of the PD program? Were these animations that the teachers made, or from the research team?

## Gloriana Gonzalez Rivera

PresenterThe research team created the animations based upon an analysis of how geometry students solved the problems that we created for the animations.

## Debra Bernstein

Thanks.

## Meixia Ding

Identifying relevant prior knowledge is critical but sometimes challenging for teachers. In your project, do teachers demonstrate such difficulties? How is a prior knowledge concept deemed as relevant or non-relevant in your study?

## Vivian Guilfoy

This is an excellent question. I am particularly interested in how teachers probe for prior knowledge to get below the surface of what students are saying—and whether different elements of the PD model stimulate different ways of “digging out” or revealing relevant student experiences and knowledge.

## Gloriana Gonzalez Rivera

PresenterThanks for your questions. Our project takes into account three sources of prior knowledge that are relevant during problem-based lessons: (1) prior knowledge of mathematical content that students use to solve a problem, (2) prior knowledge of the context of the problem, and (3) prior knowledge of out of school mathematical practices that are related to the problem. In the study group, the teachers design problems that would enable students to make use of these three sources of prior knowledge in meaningful ways. This is challenging because it requires teachers to know their students and to consider the mathematical content of the lesson. We show examples of how to take into account these three sources of prior knowledge in the vignettes. We expect that the discussions of the vignettes enable teachers to get ideas about how to use students’ prior knowledge in their lessons. Even though the prior knowledge of school mathematics is the most obvious for math teachers, teachers say that the other sources of prior knowledge increase students’ opportunities to have entry points to the problem. In addition, teachers say that problems that are situated in contexts that are relevant to their students increase students’ engagement and motivation.

## Vivian Guilfoy

Thank you. Appreciate the detail about sources of prior knowledge. It gives teachers more opportunities to make the relevant connections. I am also thinking that many teachers experience “aha” moments in the discussions when they hear the perspectives of other teachers who capitalize on prior knowledge that hadn’t ever occurred to them because of the different “prior knowledge” and cultural diversity of the teachers themselves. Is that the case?

## Nevin Katz

Very impressive art in this video – the drawing was quite seamless. I would have had to erase and make corrections so many times!! Definitely curious about the content of the animations and how the videos are used as a PD tool – if you could speak more about those items, that would be great.

## Gloriana Gonzalez Rivera

PresenterThank you! The art was created by Annie Lin, our graphic artist. She also makes the animations. We use the animations to show different alternatives when using students’ prior knowledge in a lesson. For example, one vignette can show a teacher highlighting connections with students’ prior knowledge of the context of a problem and in another vignette the teacher discusses students’ prior knowledge of specific mathematical content relevant to solve the problem. The videos are from the actual lessons that teachers taught and they show examples of how students used their prior knowledge in the problem-based lesson that the teachers created.

## Nevin Katz

Annie did a great job with the art. As an animator for our project I’d be interested in talking with her at one point about her approach. Is there a place where we can go to view the animations?

## Brian Drayton

I really like the integration of several methods of shared study — Have the teachers among themselves (that is, beyond ideas that you’ve presented for their use) developed new ways to observe and analyze student work or videos of practice? Thought of other data to look at to deepen their understanding of their students’ thinking?

## Gloriana Gonzalez Rivera

PresenterThese are important questions that we are investigating in the study. First of all, it can be hard for a teacher to pay attention to student thinking in the middle of the lesson because they may be walking from group to group and they may not have a full picture of how students are solving a problem. So, as in other research on video clubs, we are finding that giving teachers an opportunity to examine one video clip of students working on a problem for an extended period of time promotes a lot of discussion. We encourage teachers to use evidence from the video to make sense of how students are solving the problem. The discussions at the end of the year included more attention to student thinking than at the beginning of the year. Also, the teachers tend to initiate these discussions. The teachers are used their insights for revising the lesson in ways in which they can support students’ mathematical understanding. It seems that the analysis of the videos has enabled them to better anticipate students’ ideas.

## Vivian Guilfoy

I believe that you are working in very intensive ways with the teachers. Have most of them stayed with you for the entire year and what characteristics of the teachers do you think helps them sustain their interest and stick with it over time. Conversely, have some teachers opted out of the program, and if so, what were the reasons?

## Nevin Katz

I would have liked to see these videos in my student group work when I was teaching. I spent most of my time in a management mindset during group work and did not have time to analyze how students were solving the problems. Could you tell us about any insights that teachers have picked up from watching the group work?

## Vivian Guilfoy

Thanks to all for a rich exchange of ideas. I learned a lot.

Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.