Using Mathematically Rich Tasks to Deepen the Pedagogical Content Knowledge of Primary Teachers
Professional development experiences for elementary educators in the United States are often of insufficient depth, duration or relevance to have an impact on teaching (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999). To counter this prevailing norm, mathematics and education faculty involved in the Vermont Mathematics Partnership (VMP) design courses and series of workshops for inservice and preservice elementary teachers to help them more deeply understand mathematics and the critical role of the primary curriculum in building young students' foundation for learning complex mathematics.
This chapter describes primary grade teacher professional development sessions which focused on mathematically rich tasks that featured:
adult exploration of significant mathematical content
engaging activities designed and carefully sequenced to build conceptual understanding of mathematics that most educators have previously learned as simple rote procedures
open-ended design so that challenging tasks were accessible to all participants – regardless of their prior learning, and
mathematical content that, although not directly transferable to the primary classroom, was clearly linked to the fundamental roots that develop in the early grades.
The tasks included in these sessions were one feature of the Vermont Mathematics Partnership, a comprehensive initiative to improve mathematics teaching and learning in schools across the state of Vermont.
KeywordsPedagogical Content Knowledge Primary Teacher Preservice Elementary Teacher Primary Grade Early Grade
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Bransford, J., Brown, A., & Cocking, R. (Eds.). (1999). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
- Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences. (2001). The Mathematical education of teachers. Washington DC: American Mathematical Society and Mathematical Association of America.Google Scholar
- Darling-Hammond, L., & Sykes, G. (Eds.). (1999). Teaching as the learning profession: Handbook of policy and practice. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
- Fendel, D., & Resek D. (with Alper, L., & Fraser, S.). (1999). Interactive mathematics program year 2 (p. 226). Emeryville, CA: Key Curriculum Press.Google Scholar
- Kilpatrick, J., Swafford, J., & Findell B. (Eds.). (2001). Adding it up: Helping children learn mathematics. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
- LeRoy, M. (Producer), & Fleming, V. (Director). (1939). The Wizard of Oz [Film], [Videocassette]. MGM (distributor).Google Scholar
- Ma, L. (1999). Knowing and teaching elementary mathematics. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Marsden, E. (1999). The Pythagorean Theorem: A proof based on geometry. Activity created for Vermont Mathematics Initiative.Google Scholar
- National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). (2000). Principles and standards of school mathematics. Reston, VA: NCTM.Google Scholar
- University of Chicago School Mathematics Project (UCSMP). (2004). Everyday mathematics program (EDM). Chicago, IL: Wright Group/McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
- University of South Australia (UNISA). (1996) History of mathematics. Retreived from UNISA Web site homepage: http://www.roma.unisa.edu.au/07305/pythag.htm (Retrieved August 25,2008).
- Weiss, I. R., Pasley, J. D., Smith, P. S., & Heck, D. J. (2003). Looking inside the classroom: A study of K—12 mathematics and science education in the United States. Chapel Hill, NC: Horizon Research, Inc.Google Scholar
- Weisstein, E. (2004). MathWorld: The web's most extensive mathematical resource. Retreived from Wolfram Research, Inc. Web site: http://mathworld.wolfram.com/PythagoreanTheorem.html (Retrieved August 25, 2008).