Variatio delectat: Exploring ways in which teachers can orchestrate classroom discourse about variation in solution methods

Chris Kooloos

In the new Dutch mathematics curriculum for upper secondary education, mathematical thinking activities have been identified to help teachers in shifting from teaching mainly for procedural fluency towards fostering all aspects of mathematical proficiency. This requires from mathematics teachers to transcend the curriculum as provided by the textbook series and actively develop and share classroom interventions. In this study we will set up a Teacher Design Team to answer to a need for professional development of teachers and to explore ways in which teachers can support their student’s mathematical thinking. In the Teacher Design Team, teachers and researchers will collaboratively develop interventions with a focus on problems that evoke variation in solution methods and how to orchestrate effective classroom discourse about this variation to promote mathematical thinking.

The central research question is: In what ways can teachers use problems with multiple solution methods and orchestrate classroom discourse about variation in these solution methods to foster students’ mathematical thinking?

The project will entail three year long Teacher Design Teams and our focus will vary among the studies. In the first study we will collect and analyze video data of classroom discourse, and discuss the analysis with the teachers to get their perspectives on the identification of mathematical thinking in discourse. In the second study we will use an approach based upon design research to develop design principles for classroom interventions with a focus on problems with multiple solution methods and effective classroom discourse about different solution methods. In the third study we will characterize the professional development of the teachers involved, with regard to the planning and orchestrating of effective classroom discourse about different solution methods for problems with multiple solution methods.