STaR Teaching Interest Group: What’s on Your Playlist?
Crystal Kalinec-Craig and I (Jaime Diamond) met in the summer of 2014 in Park City, Utah. We arrived in Park City as part of the fifth cohort of AMTE’s Service, Teaching, and Research (STaR) Program, an induction program for early career mathematics teacher educators who work in institutions of higher education. Our cohort included 30 STaR fellows (i.e., junior faculty in their first or second year of a tenure-track position in mathematics education) and five supernovas (i.e., senior faculty in mathematics education). The summer institute included many different activities including those associated with our Teaching Interest Groups (TIGs) and Research Interest Groups (RIGs).
During our first TIG meeting, Crystal, Jeff Shih (one of the supernovas), and I were drawn together because we all leveraged frameworks emanating from the professional development and research project Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI; Carpenter, Fennema, Franke, Levi, & Empson, 1999) to support the development of the preservice elementary teachers (PSTs) enrolled in our mathematics methods courses. Intrigued by the fact that we worked in different parts of the country (San Antonio, TX, Las Vegas, NV, and Athens, GA) and had vastly different research interests, we wondered what we might see if we began to examine the impact of our teaching practice. So, that summer, we developed a plan to do just that.
We designed and subsequently implemented a study examining PSTs’ noticing skills before and after their engagement in our respective mathematics methods courses. More specifically, we examined our use of CGI as a means of supporting the development of PSTs’ professional noticing of children’s mathematical thinking (Jacobs, Lamb, & Philipp, 2010). We presented our initial findings at AMTE’s annual conference in Irvine, CA in January 2016. For instance, after engaging in our methods courses, PSTs’ inferences about student thinking became more detailed and included corresponding evidence-based justification. Discussions with those who attended our session moved us to continue with and delve more deeply into our analysis. Those findings led to our presentation at AMTE’s 2017 conference in Orlando, FL where we additionally shared how our collaboration created the opportunity for reflection on our practices as mathematics teacher educators (e.g., we use video clips to support the development of PSTs’ noticing of: problem types, teacher questioning, students’ problem-solving strategies, linguistic strategies, and mathematical understanding). Again, the discussion with those who attended our presentation proved vital in helping us to solidify our ideas and findings into a published manuscript (i.e., Diamond, Kalinec-Craig, & Shih, 2018).
While writing this manuscript we became increasingly interested in learning about exactly what we were doing in our courses. For example, we all used video clips to support our PSTs’ noticing, but which videos? And how were we using them? In other words, what could account for the findings that were emerging during our analysis of the data we had collected? So, we again, designed a study. But this time we turned our examination inward. Growing up during a time when creating a cassette tape for a friend that included a small but special compilation of songs was seen as a genuine gesture of thought and consideration, we decided to leverage the metaphor of a “playlist” to engage in a collaborative self-study. As before, we presented our initial findings at AMTE’s 2019 conference in Orlando, FL.
For instance, we found that each of our teaching philosophies manifested in the clips that we chose to include as part of our respective playlists. Not only that, our philosophies manifested in how we described using those clips. For example, Crystal selected video clips with the intension of supporting PSTs’ abilities to notice and distinguish among the various CGI strategies types; furthermore, the video clips she selected allowed for the simultaneous highlighting of children exercising their rights as learners (see Kalinec-Craig (2017) for more on the rights of the learner). In addition, my use of Goodwin’s (1994) ideas about how to structure the perceptual field manifested in how I supported PSTs’ watching of and engagement with video clips (e.g., in the production and use of scaffolding documents, which were used to support PSTs’ noticing of big mathematical ideas like commutativity). This approach supported Crystal and Jeff in considering how they might use physical scaffolds in their classes. Finally, Jeff’s attention to the scope and sequence of video clips meant a layering of ideas that became increasingly abstract as the PSTs watched the videos in a particular order. And again, the discussion with our peers propelled us forward (as we have another manuscript currently under review).
Moreover, the ensuing discussion made us interested in what others would find if they too engaged in a “playlist”-like self-study. What could we learn from each other and how could we create a space in which we could quickly share how we were choosing and using video clips? By purposefully limiting the number of video clips comprising our playlists to six, we found that we were supported in identifying videos that lie at the heart and intersection of our goals for PSTs. We were forced to think deeply about the intent, purpose, and contexts surrounding our individual methods courses. This in turn helped us to communicate our goals more specifically and concisely to our colleagues. We were also able to learn about videos that we had never seen before and about how our colleagues used the same videos for different and new purposes. We began to implement one another’s ideas in our own courses and integrate them in ways that were manageable. By professionally pushing each other about our selection and use of videos, we were able to use the playlist context to engage in deep conversations about teaching. Our experience motivated us to create a website (www.mathedplaylist.com) where we can post our playlists along with corresponding rationale for the clips comprising those lists and descriptions of how the videos are used. The intent of the site is not to house the videos, but to document the conversations we have about how we make choices when selecting videos and how we use the videos to support the development of PSTs. We hope this site supports an ongoing conversation and examination of our practice as mathematics teacher educators.
- Carpenter, T. P., Fennema, E., Franke, M. L., Levi, L., & Empson, S. B. (1999). Children's mathematics: Cognitively guided instruction. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
- Diamond, J. M., Kalinec-Craig, C. A., & Shih, J. C. (2018). The Problem of Sunny’s Pennies: A Multi-institutional Study About the Development of Elementary Preservice Teachers’ Professional Noticing. Mathematics Teacher Education and Development, 20(2), 114–132.
- Goodwin, C. (1994). Professional vision. American Anthropologist, 96, 606–633.
- Jacobs, V. R., Lamb, L. L., Philipp, R. A., & Schappelle, B. P. (2010). Deciding how to respond on the basis of children’s understandings. In M. G. Sherin, V. R. Jacobs, & R. A. Philipp (Eds.), Mathematics teacher noticing: Seeing through teachers' eyes (pp. 97–116). New York: Routledge.
- Kalinec-Craig, C. A. (2017). The rights of the learner: A framework for promoting equity through formative assessment in mathematics education. Democracy & Education, 25(2), 1–11.
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