You are on page 1of 4

Cardenas 1

Aritz Cardenas
MIAA 320: Molly Johnson
Fall 2013

Specific techniques for facilitating discourse, questioning, managing students,
and encouraging engagement: A reflection on my experience in MIAA 320
I will discuss the specific techniques for facilitating discourse in the mathematic
classroom. Also, I will dwell into my newly acquired knowledge of managing students in a
mathematics classroom. Lastly, I will demonstrate my growth in encouraging student
engagement when learning about mathematics. All these things have allowed me to
enhance mathematical discourse in the classroom.
One of the major understandings that I came out of this course class that improved
facilitating mathematic discourse was the article titled, 5 Practices for orchestrating
mathematic discussions by M.S. Smith and M.K. Stein. According to the article, one of the
purposes of the five practices is to, help teachers to use students responses to advance the
mathematical understanding of the class (Smith & Stein, 2011) I learned how to improve
my instruction from each of the five practices that are discussed in the article. The first
practice is anticipating likely student responses during the lesson. Anticipating is a practice
I almost never practice (include) in my own lesson planning, but it gave me an awareness
to include it in future lesson designing. The second practice is monitoring student
responses while working on mathematical tasks. Although I have always walked and
assisted students while they worked, I learned from this article how to probe and asked
clarifying questions while monitoring students working on their tasks. Selecting is the third
practice, which the teacher asks particular students to share their work. One thing I learned
Cardenas 2
from selecting students is that I can let students know ahead of time that I will be calling
them to share their response to the class; this way, students are not caught off guard when
I call on them to share with their peers. The fourth practice is sequencing, which ties into
the selecting process of sharing student responses. I learned that sequencing student
responses can be strategic, and that depending on the lesson/task, you can decide how you
want the responses to be displayed and shared to the class. Lastly, there is connecting,
which helps students make comparisons between their responses and those that other
students have. What I learned about each of these practices is that together it allows for
more student-driven instruction. It allows for the teacher to be more of the facilitator and
not the only expert in the classroom.
Another emphasis of this course was the importance of implementing essential
questions in learning units. Essential questions serve as guidance and a core for a unit.
They encourage a variety of factors throughout a unit of study, which include analysis,
critical thinking, promoting additional questions, personal understanding, and engagement.
In Essential Questions: Opening Doors to Student Understanding, Jay McTighe and Grant
Wiggins demonstrate various examples on how you can utilize essential questions in
different units of study and how to approach them in a unit of study. Ive been able to
utilize this source throughout my year of study in my courses.
There are many approaches on how to manage students mathematical discourse in
the diverse classroom; one of the major resources that I use from this course was the
article on Response Strategies. Although most of the strategies are not new to me, I do not
practice most of them in my classroom. I wanted to practice a few of these strategies to the
mathematics class that I co-teach with a teacher in my school site. One of the strategies that
Cardenas 3
I wanted to practice was random calling. I am a teacher who has always carries a clipboard
with each of my students names on it. I am able to check which students participate (or
dont participate) in class discussion. However, I hardly ever randomly call on students. So I
tried randomly calling (with equity sticks). There are pros and cons to this. Based on my
experience, random calling keeps students ready to be called on at any moment. Something
against random calling (or maybe something I will need to learn to improve on) is that it
doesnt take account the diversity or skill level of a student that is being called on.
Nevertheless, it was an interesting experience, which I think I will use on occasion in my
classroom. Another response strategy that I wanted to continue to work on were probes for
thinking and support. This strategy allows for the teacher ask follow-up questions to get
students to think deeper and justify their answers. When I decided to practice this in my
class, I found out when students were struggling to answer these follow up questions. As a
result, I had students talk to their partners to come up with a response (think-pair-share).
When I brought students back to full class, student responses were more analytical and
displayed more expansive thinking. I plan on continuing to practice these and more
response practices to promote mathematical discourse in the classroom.
I feel like I was able to learn about encouraging engagement in the mathematics
classroom. I tried doing this by researching an article that addressed applying mathematics
in diverse settings. The article that helped me guide my research was Cultural and
Mathematics in School: Boundaries between Cultural and Domain Knowledge in the
Mathematics classroom and beyond by Nailah Suad Nasir, Victoria Hand, and Edd V. Taylor.
This article stressed the importance of having relevant mathematic lessons that will engage
diverse populations. The authors use the example of illustrating the importance of this by
Cardenas 4
discussing a study of a group of African-American students who are interested in basketball
and developing mathematic problems that relate to their interest. The authors studies
found that students who received the math questions that related to their interests did
better than those who didnt. This is something that I found to be incredibly important for
me going forward as a math teacher. My student population is incredibly diverse. By
tapping into my students interests, I can develop and create questions that not only tap
into their culture, but to get them invested in learning the concept in hand. Although I have
not practiced this in mathematics yet, I plan on immediately doing this once I begin writing
math problems.
I feel like I learned a great deal in just the few weeks of instruction that we had. I feel
like I improved on understanding the specific techniques for facilitating discourse,
managing students responses, and encouraging engagement in the diverse mathematics
classroom. Although I cannot consider myself a master in mathematical discourse, I can
demonstrate my growth as an emerging educator in a diverse mathematics classroom.