Dr. Amanda Brown and Dr. Patricio Herbst will lead three interconnected studies that leverage and further two ongoing and related research agendas in order to examine the potential of online, international exchange (with South Africa, India, Canada, Philippines) centered on representations of lessons to disrupt cultural scripts in U.S. mathematics teaching.
The first research agenda relates to the continued design and development of an innovative form of professional development for secondary mathematics teachers called StoryCircles. StoryCircles is a practice-based form of professional education that gathers teachers to collectively represent a lesson through iterative phases of scripting, visualizing, and arguing about alternatives—with teachers’ visualization of lesson details supported through the production of storyboards. Argumentation is one of the key structures of the StoryCircles process, with teachers finding sources of challenge to their thinking in what their colleagues say. This structure relies crucially on the group’s ability to produce a diverse set of ideas about the variety of ways to handle instructional decisions. The team will develop better structures to support a StoryCircles process in the event that the group is unable to produce such diversity.
To address this challenge, the research team will draw from a second research agenda—fundamental research on high school mathematics teaching that they have been developing under the name of practical rationality. Practical rationality seeks to account for the role of resources, both personal and social, in shaping the practice of mathematics teaching. The team will leverage and expand on the theory of practical rationality by examining the potential of international, lesson-centered exchange as a means to intervene on: (1) the professional development interactions among StoryCircles participants; (2) the set of lesson artifacts constructed within StoryCircles; and (3) the professional noticing of teachers otherwise uninvolved in a lesson’s production. The project rests on the assumption, grounded in existing evidence from prior work, that engagement in StoryCircles can help develop capacity for improving instruction, by way of expanding the range of justifiable decisions available to teachers in instructional situations.