, Volume 44, Issue 5, pp 665–675 | Cite as

The mediating role of a teacher’s use of semiotic resources in pupils’ early algebraic reasoning

  • Raymond Bjuland
Original Article


This paper focuses on the semiotic resources used by an experienced sixth-grade teacher when her pupils are working on a mathematical task involving written text and the two inscriptions of figure and diagram. Socio-cultural analytical constructs such as semiotic bundle, space of joint action and togethering are applied in order to enable and frame the collective activity of the teacher and pupils. Four extracts from different situations in the classroom illustrate the important role of both teacher gestures and pupil gestures, interacting with other modalities such as speech and inscription, in the process of making sense of pupils’ appropriation of coordinating two dimensions in a diagram. It is argued that the nature of the mathematical task is an important entry point into early algebraic reasoning. The study emphasises the mediating role of the dynamics of semiotic bundles produced in teacher–pupil dialogues as a promising way to address the fundamental relationships between mathematics, pupil and teacher in a classroom context in order to provoke pupil involvement and engagement when experiencing mathematics.


Pointing gestures Semiotic bundle Early algebraic reasoning Space of joint action Didactic triangle Mediation 



The LCM research project was supported by the Research Council of Norway (Norges Forskningsråd). Special thanks are due to the teacher who made this case study possible by giving me the opportunity to analyse episodes of her classroom. I also acknowledge the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments which improved the paper.


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Copyright information

© FIZ Karlsruhe 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Education and Sports ScienceUniversity of StavangerStavangerNorway

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