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Tufts STEM Education Lecture: This Square is Not a Rectangle

April 22, 2014

Tufts STEM Lecture Series

"This Square is Not a Rectangle: ​The Potential of Negotiated Defining in Classroom Mathematical Discussion​"

Catherine O'Connor and William Zahner of Boston University

Co-sponsored by the Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach and the Department of Education ​

Monday, ​April 28, 2014 from 3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. ​ ​

Location: CEEO Workshop Room, Curtis Hall - Basement, 474 Boston Avenue (Located at the bottom of ​ the outside patio stairs of the Brown and Brew Cafe)​

Free. Register here.

Abstract: As many have noted, the relationship between classroom argumentation and “real” mathematical argument aligned with disciplinary norms is problematic. Some challenges to using argumentation in school mathematics are social-interactional, others concern equitable participation, and still others concern issues of intelligibility and coherence. We propose that a discursive activity we call negotiated defining provides one suitable entry point for students to engage in the types of argumentation valued in the discipline of mathematics, and addresses other challenges as well. We will present examples from transcripts of middle school classes and discuss both interactional and mathematical dimensions, drawing connections to two CCSS mathematical practices in particular. Finally, we discuss possible topics in mathematics ripe for negotiated defining.​

Bios​: Cathy O’Connor is Professor of Education and Linguistics at Boston University, and is currently Associate Dean for Faculty Development in the School of Education. She has studied classroom discussion and academically productive talk by teachers and students for over 20 years. She has focused especially on the role of talk in promoting student reasoning in literacy and mathematics learning in a variety of school settings. Recent publications include Classroom Discussions in Math: a Teacher’s Guide and DVD (Chapin, O’Connor & Anderson, 2013), and a book chapter about an NSF-funded experimental study of mathematics learning and classroom talk. Her Ph.D (U.C. Berkeley) is in linguistics, and she continues to work on the documentation of endangered languages. Bill Zahner is an assistant professor in the School of Education at Boston University. Zahner’s research examines: 1) how students learn important algebraic concepts by participating in mathematical discussions with peers, and 2) the teaching and learning of critical mathematical concepts in linguistically diverse settings. Dr. Zahner earned his doctorate in Education from UC Santa Cruz in 2011, where he was a fellow with the NSF-funded Center for the Mathematics Education of Latinos/as. Prior to life as a mathematics education researcher, Zahner taught high school mathematics for six years. For three of those years he taught in Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia.



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