February 3, 2011

Classroom Management

While watching the video, I first noticed the huge differences between classrooms in 1947 and classrooms today. All the desks were facing front, in neat rows and columns. I find in most current classrooms have desks clustered and facing in all directions, or arranged in concentric arcs like in an auditorium. When the students answered questions, they stood up and spoke without permission while modern classroom teachers require their students to raise their hands and wait to be called on. If I were the teacher, I wouldn’t have done the math myself when explaining the conversion problem. I would have focused on bigger concepts, or asked the students how to do the math.

I found it familiar that while the teacher was gone, the students talked and goofed around. This was common in many of my high school classes. One of the things I found unfamiliar was the fact that the teacher was working on the board while the silent class watched and took notes. As a high school student most of my teachers would take a more active role and engage the class.

In the first scenario, the teacher expected the students to be well behaved and silent. He expected them to know how to study and raise their grades without knowing how. In the second scenario, the teacher asked more questions and expected the students to participate. He was still expecting good behavior but was more lenient when punishing bad behavior. With this friendlier attitude, the students respected him more and were less likely to act out.

Reflecting on this video in class, we talked about the six NCTM principles.

  • Equity was the most apparent issue. The class was probably 100% white. The teacher was using examples that were sexist. Girls were supposed to be good at cooking and boys were supposed to be good at building.
  • Regarding Learning, the students were all expected to learn the way the teacher taught. There was no accountability for differences in learning styles.
  • The Teaching was not student-centered and very lecture oriented. In a modern classroom, the teaching is supposed to be more interactive.
  • In the second scenario, the teacher was more critical of the Curriculum. When demonstrating a problem, the teacher left no “wait time”, or student interaction. The focus was on the conversion from yards into feet.
  • Using the Assessment, the teacher could figure out which topics the students had most trouble with.
  • The only available Technology in 1947 was the textbooks, chalkboard, and pencil and paper (used traditionally).


February 1, 2011

Teachers' Conceptions of Equity

The motivation for the article stems from the assumption that the majority of secondary math teachers have largely unexamined, varying conceptions of what NCTM's Equity Principle means in the classroom. The research question asks what equity means and how we will recognize it when we see it.

Teachers participating in the study met monthly over a year, for about 2.5 hours each meeting. They discussed their initial conceptions about equity, findings from reading research about equity, and their final conceptions about equity after the sessions. This reminded me of my Senior Seminar class, when we would reflect on articles that focused on a particular mathematical content or process (e.g. Trig functions, Representation, etc.), and then would discuss our conclusions and reactions. One of the things we were taught to do was to assume everybody in the class has read the assigned article, so that we wouldn't waste time summarizing.

I am trying to simulate that same practice in this blog (Mathematics Education Research). Even though it would be easy to summarize the research that I find interesting for those who haven't read it, I have to remind myself that anyone interested in reading those articles can obtain the resources to do so. Else, the article's abstract provides a summary. Rather, this blog is more about my reactions and thoughts about the readings—or viewings—so that I can expand on it and provide insight for myself and others.

Anyway, the results of the first part of the study showed that the teachers' conceptions of equity fell into four major categories, and that although these categories were remarkably different from one another, the participants agreed that the responsibility of working toward equity falls on the teacher. During the second half of the study, teachers were asked to pick one student in their class, who was struggling mathematically, to get to know on a more personal level. The teachers that succeeded found that those students raised their level of engagement and achievement in the classroom.

Bartell and Meyer (2008) conclude that the first step for teachers to support and maintain equity is to explore and identify their own conceptions of equity. Further, becoming more personal with an under-proficient student can boost morale and achievement, and not to mention, help the teacher form bonds with his or her students. The authors then pose a few open-ended questions at the end, perhaps as motivation for future research.


  • Bartell, T. G., & Meyer, M. R. (). Addressing the equity principle in the mathematics classroom. Mathematics Teacher, 101(8), 604–608.