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Overview of Session 9

• Welcome
• Working on a mathematical task
• Examining student thinking
• Examining your students’ thinking
• Analyzing facilitation moves and

Goals of the Session
• Making connections among different strategies
• Developing the knowledge and skills for
analyzing student thinking
• Confronting students’ misconceptions and/or
shallow understandings
• Identifying difficulties that students might have
when working on ratio comparison problems
• Developing skills for facilitating professional
development around examining student work

Pizza Problem
! Consider this drawing of pizzas and people. Assume that
each person within each group gets the same amount of
• Who gets more pizza, the people in Group 1 or the
people in Group 2?
• Explain your answer.

Group 1 Group 2

Source: Vermont Mathematics Partnership, The Vermont Institutes
Analyzing the Task

• What are the mathematical goals?

• How is the mathematics in this task
connected to the GLCEs?
• How is this problem similar to or
different from previous tasks?

Examining Student Thinking

• What do students seem to (or not)

understand or know? What is the
• What are the implications for

Examining Your Students’ Work

• What do students seem to (or not)

understand or know? What is the
• What are the implications for

Facilitating Professional Development
Around Examining Student Work

• Working on the mathematical task

• Examining student work
• Discussing implications of this
analysis for instruction

Facilitating Professional Development
Around Examining Student Work

! Working on the mathematical task

• Solving the problem
• Discussing different solutions
• Making connections among multiple solutions
and representations
• Providing justifications
• Identifying mathematical goals of the task
• Anticipating possible student solutions and
student struggles

Facilitating Professional Development
Around Examining Student Work

Examining student work

• Identifying different student strategies or
ways of thinking
• Considering the reasonableness of each
• Identifying what students understand and
the evidence to support your claim
• Identifying student misconceptions and the
evidence to support your claim

Facilitating Professional Development
Around Examining Student Work

! Discussing implications of this

analysis for instruction
• Deciding what kind of scaffolding might be
• Identifying concepts and procedures to be
revisited if needed
• Deciding what to pursue publicly

• What stood out for you today?
• For the next session:
– Read “Thinking through a lesson:
Successfully Implementing High-
Level Tasks” by Smith, Bill, & Hughes
– Respond to question(s) posed on

MMSTLC OGAP Problem December 12, 2008, SVSU







Source: Vermont Mathematics Partnership
The Vermont Institutes










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Analysis of Task and Student Thinking Protocol February 2008

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Analysis of Task and Student Thinking Protocol February 2008

Thinking through a Lesson:
Successfully Implementing High-Level Tasks
Margaret S. Smith, Victoria Bill, and Elizabeth K. Hughes
Mathematical tasks that give students
Margaret S. Smith,, is an associate professor of mathematics educa- the opportunity to use reasoning skills
tion at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. Over the past decade, she has been while thinking are the most difficult for
developing research-based materials for use in the professional development of math-
teachers to implement well. Research
ematics teachers and studying what teachers learn from their professional development.

by Stein and colleagues (Henningsen
Victoria Bill,, is a fellow at the Institute for Learning at the University of
Pittsburgh. She provides professional development to coaches and other instructional
and Stein 1997; Stein and Lane 1996;
leaders who are supporting mathematics education reform in urban school districts. Stein, Grover, and Henningsen 1996)
Elizabeth K. Hughes,, is an assistant professor at the Univer- makes the case resoundingly that cog-
sity of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. Her areas of interest include preservice secondary nitively challenging tasks that promote
mathematics teacher education and the use of practice-based materials in developing thinking, reasoning, and problem
teachers’ understanding of what it means to teach and learn mathematics. solving often decline during implemen-
Copyright © 2008 The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Inc. All rights reserved.
This material may not be copied or distributed electronically or in any other format without written permission from NCTM.
tation as a result of various classroom Fig. 1 The Bag of Marbles task
factors. When this occurs, students
must apply previously learned rules Ms. Rhee’s mathematics class was studying statistics. She brought in three bags
and procedures with no connection to containing red and blue marbles. The three bags were labeled as shown below:
meaning or understanding, and the op-
portunities for thinking and reasoning
are lost. Why are such tasks so difficult
to implement in ways that maintain
75 red 40 red 100 red
the rigor of the activity? Stein and Kim 25 blue 20 blue 25 blue
(2006, p. 11) contend that lessons based
on high-level (i.e., cognitively chal- Bag X Bag Y Bag Z
lenging) tasks “are less intellectually Total = 100 marbles Total = 60 marbles Total = 125 marbles
‘controllable’ from the teacher’s point of
view.” They argue that since procedures Ms. Rhee shook each bag. She asked the class, “If you close your eyes,
for solving high-level tasks are often reach into a bag, and remove 1 marble, which bag would give you the best
not specified in advance, students must chance of picking a blue marble?”
draw on their relevant knowledge and
experiences to find a solution path. Which bag would you choose?
Take, for example, the Bag of Marbles
Explain why this bag gives you the best chance of picking a blue marble. You
task shown in figure 1. Using their
may use the diagram above in your explanation.
knowledge of fractions, ratios, and
percents, students can solve the task in
a number of different ways:
marbles in each bag and select the EXPLORING THE LESSON
v Determine the fraction of each bag bag that has the smallest difference PLANNING PROTOCOL
that is blue marbles, decide which between red and blue (not correct) The TTLP, shown in figure 2,
of the three fractions is largest, provides a framework for developing
then select the bag with the largest The lack of a specific solution path lessons that use students’ mathemati-
fraction of blue marbles is an important component of what cal thinking as the critical ingredient
v Determine the fraction of each bag makes this task worthwhile. It also in developing their understanding
that is blue marbles, change each challenges teachers to understand the of key disciplinary ideas. As such, it
fraction to a percent, then select wide range of methods that a student is intended to promote the type of
the bag with the largest percent of might use to solve a task and think careful and detailed planning that is
blue marbles about how the different methods are characteristic of Japanese lesson study
v Determine the unit rate of red related, as well as how to connect (Stigler and Hiebert 1999) by helping
to blue marbles for each bag and students’ diverse ways of thinking to teachers anticipate what students will
decide which bag has the fewest important disciplinary ideas. do and generate questions teachers
red marbles for every 1 blue marble One way to both control teaching can ask that will promote student
v Scale up the ratios representing with high-level tasks and promote suc- learning prior to a lesson being taught.
each bag so that the number of cess is through detailed planning prior The TTLP is divided into three
blue marbles in each bag is the to the lesson. The remainder of this sections: Part 1: Selecting and Set-
same, then select the bag that has article focuses on TTLP: the Thinking ting Up a Mathematical Task, Part
the fewest red marbles for the fixed Through a Lesson Protocol. TTLP is 2: Supporting Students’ Exploration
number of blue marbles a process that is intended to further of the Task, and Part 3: Sharing and
v Compare bags that have the same the use of cognitively challenging tasks Discussing the Task. Part 1 lays the
number of blue marbles, eliminate (Smith and Stein 1998). We begin groundwork for subsequent planning
the bag that has more red marbles, by discussing the key features of the by asking the teacher to identify the
and compare the remaining two TTLP, suggest ways in which it can be mathematical goals for the lesson
bags using one of the other methods used with collaborative lesson plan- and set expectations regarding how
v Determine the difference be- ning, and conclude with a discussion students will work. The mathemati-
tween the number of red and blue of the potential benefits of using it. cal ideas to be learned through work
on a specific task provide direction mathematical horizon” (Ball 1993) as they explore the task (individu-
for all decision making during the and never lose sight of what they are ally or in small groups). Students are
lesson. The intent of the TTLP is trying to accomplish mathematically. asked questions based on the solution
to help teachers keep “an eye on the Part 2 focuses on monitoring students method used to assess what they
Fig. 2 Thinking Through a Lesson Protocol (TTLP)
PART 1: SELECTING AND SETTING UP v assess students’ understanding of key mathematical
A MATHEMATICAL TASK ideas, problem-solving strategies, or the representations?
What are your mathematical goals for the lesson (i.e., what v advance students’ understanding of the mathematical
do you want students to know and understand about math- ideas?
ematics as a result of this lesson)? v encourage all students to share their thinking with others
or to assess their understanding of their peers’ ideas?
In what ways does the task build on students’ previous knowl-
edge, life experiences, and culture? What definitions, concepts, How will you ensure that students remain engaged in the task?
or ideas do students need to know to begin to work on the
task? What questions will you ask to help students access their v What assistance will you give or what questions will you ask
prior knowledge and relevant life and cultural experiences? a student (or group) who becomes quickly frustrated and
requests more direction and guidance in solving the task?
What are all the ways the task can be solved? v What will you do if a student (or group) finishes the task
almost immediately? How will you extend the task so as
v Which of these methods do you think your students will use? to provide additional challenge?
v What misconceptions might students have? v What will you do if a student (or group) focuses on non-
v What errors might students make? mathematical aspects of the activity (e.g., spends most of
his or her (or their) time making a poster of their work)?
What particular challenges might the task present to strug-
gling students or students who are English Language Learners PART 3: SHARING AND DISCUSSING THE TASK
(ELL)? How will you address these challenges? How will you orchestrate the class discussion so that you
accomplish your mathematical goals?
What are your expectations for students as they work on and
complete this task? v Which solution paths do you want to have shared during
the class discussion? In what order will the solutions be
v What resources or tools will students have to use in presented? Why?
their work that will give them entry into, and help them v In what ways will the order in which solutions are
reason through, the task? presented help develop students’ understanding of the
v How will the students work—independently, in small mathematical ideas that are the focus of your lesson?
groups, or in pairs—to explore this task? How long will v What specific questions will you ask so that students will—
they work individually or in small groups or pairs? Will stu-
dents be partnered in a specific way? If so, in what way? 1. make sense of the mathematical ideas that you want
v How will students record and report their work? them to learn?
2. expand on, debate, and question the solutions being
How will you introduce students to the activity so as to provide shared?
access to all students while maintaining the cognitive demands 3. make connections among the different strategies that
of the task? How will you ensure that students understand the are presented?
context of the problem? What will you hear that lets you know 4. look for patterns?
students understand what the task is asking them to do? 5. begin to form generalizations?
PART 2: SUPPORTING STUDENTS’ How will you ensure that, over time, each student has the oppor-
EXPLORATION OF THE TASK tunity to share his or her thinking and reasoning with their peers?
As students work independently or in small groups, what
questions will you ask to— What will you see or hear that lets you know that all students
in the class understand the mathematical ideas that you
v help a group get started or make progress on the task? intended for them to learn?
v focus students’ thinking on the key mathematical ideas
in the task? What will you do tomorrow that will build on this lesson?