Teaching with Tasks for Effective Mathematics Learning

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1 Teaching with Tasks for Effective Mathematics Learning

2 MATHEMATICS TEACHER EDUCATION VOLUME 9 SERIES EDITOR Andrea Peter-Koop, University of Oldenburg, Germany Patricia Wilson, University of Georgia, United States EDITORIAL BOARD Andy Begg, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand Chris Breen, University of Cape Town, South Africa Francis Lopez-Real, University of Hong Kong, China Jarmila Novotna, Charles University, Czechoslovakia Jeppe Skott, Danish University of Education, Copenhagen, Denmark Peter Sullivan, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia Dina Tirosh, Tel Aviv University, Israel SCOPE The Mathematics Teacher Education book series presents relevant research and innovative international developments with respect to the preparation and professional development of mathematics teachers. A better understanding of teachers cognitions as well as knowledge about effective models for preservice and inservice teacher education is fundamental for mathematics education at the primary, secondary and tertiary level in the various contexts and cultures across the world. Therefore, considerable research is needed to understand what facilitates and impedes mathematics teachers professional learning. The series aims to provide a signi fi cant resource for teachers, teacher educators and graduate students by introducing and critically re fl ecting new ideas, concepts and fi ndings of research in teacher education. For further volumes:

3 Peter Sullivan Doug Clarke Barbara Clarke Teaching with Tasks for Effective Mathematics Learning

4 Peter Sullivan Faculty of Education Monash University Clayton, VIC, Australia Barbara Clarke Faculty of Education Monash University Frankston, VIC, Australia Doug Clarke Mathematics Teaching and Learning Research Centre Australian Catholic University Fitzroy, VIC, Australia ISBN ISBN (ebook) DOI / Springer New York Heidelberg Dordrecht London Library of Congress Control Number: Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are reserved by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, speci fi cally the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on micro fi lms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. Exempted from this legal reservation are brief excerpts in connection with reviews or scholarly analysis or material supplied speci fi cally for the purpose of being entered and executed on a computer system, for exclusive use by the purchaser of the work. Duplication of this publication or parts thereof is permitted only under the provisions of the Copyright Law of the Publisher s location, in its current version, and permission for use must always be obtained from Springer. Permissions for use may be obtained through RightsLink at the Copyright Clearance Center. Violations are liable to prosecution under the respective Copyright Law. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a speci fi c statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. While the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication, neither the authors nor the editors nor the publisher can accept any legal responsibility for any errors or omissions that may be made. The publisher makes no warranty, express or implied, with respect to the material contained herein. Printed on acid-free paper Springer is part of Springer Science+Business Media (

5 Acknowledgements This project was funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant, and we are grateful for the support of the ARC. We also acknowledge the contribution of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD, Victoria, Australia) and the Catholic Education Of fi ce Melbourne (CEOM, Australia) who assisted with funding, provided links with schools, and offered helpful guidance throughout the project. In particular, we thank Nadia Walker and Helen Gist (DEECD) and Gerard Lewis and Janeane Anderson (CEOM) for their roles in this. We thank the three clusters of schools and their cluster leaders, Merging Minds Cluster (Jan McCluskey): Armadale Primary School, Hawthorn Secondary College, Lloyd Street Primary School, Malvern Central School, and Toorak Primary School; Berwick South Cluster (Peter Sanders): Berwick Fields Primary School, Brentwood Park Primary School, Hallam Valley Primary School, Hillsmeade Primary School, Kambrya College, and Timbarra Primary School; and Geelong Cluster (Peter Caddy): Our Lady Star of the Sea Ocean Grove, St Aloysius Queenscliff, St Anthony s Lara, St Ignatius Secondary College, St Margaret s East Geelong, St Therese Torquay, and St Thomas Drysdale. There was a group of teachers within the clusters who volunteered to develop and teach extended units of work as the research team studied their teaching. We are particularly grateful to these teachers. They were Shaye Bradbury, Elizabeth Campbell, Anthony Cavagna, Robyn Frigo, John Hassett, Alison Jordan, and Chris Powers. We also thank Helen O Shea who was a Senior Research Fellow on the project for the last two years and who made a major contribution to the data on students which are reported in this book. We acknowledge too the work of Anne Roche in data collection, professional development leadership, and research assistance. We also thank Orit Zaslavasky, Ron Tzur, and Irit Peled who contributed to the project when visiting Monash University. Meredith Begg and Leicha Bragg assisted with v

6 vi Acknowledgements the documentation of lessons and the development of the website, while Alison Jansz-Senn and Nike Prince undertook important administrative and research work in the earlier years of the project. Wendy May assisted us greatly in bringing this book to fruition with her management and editorial skills in the later stages, while Sheryl Sullivan assisted with re fi ning the tasks included in the fi nal chapter. Sarah Ferguson and Richard O Donovan completed PhDs which focused on aspects of the project involving low attaining students and the challenges teachers experience with using tasks effectively, respectively.

7 About the Authors Barbara Clarke is an Associate Professor in Mathematics Education at Monash University (Peninsula Campus) where she teaches primary pre-service teachers. Barbara has considerable experience in conducting and supporting research and directing or supervising major research projects and contracts. The major focus of her writing and research has been concerned with mathematics teachers, their practice, and their professional development. Doug Clarke is a Professor of Mathematics Education at the Australian Catholic University (Melbourne), where he directs the Mathematics Teaching and Learning Research Centre. In recent years, Doug has worked on four Australian Research Council grants, focusing on integrating mathematics and science, the role of tasks in mathematics learning, encouraging student persistence while working on challenging tasks, and providing appropriate support for teachers implementing national curricula, respectively. Doug s professional interests include young children s mathematical learning, using mathematics to explore current events and students interests, the role of task-based assessment interviews with students, problem solving and investigations, manageable and meaningful assessment, and the professional growth of mathematics teachers. Peter Sullivan is a Professor of Science, Mathematics, and Technology at Monash University. His main professional achievements are in the fi eld of research. His recent research includes four Australian Research Council grants funded projects. He is an author of the popular teacher resource Open-ended maths activities: Using good questions to enhance learning that is published in the US as Good questions for math teaching. Until recently he was chief editor of the Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, was immediate past president of the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers, was the author of the Shape paper that outlines the principles for the development of the Australian Curriculum in Mathematics, and was the author of the 2011 Australian Education Review on research informed strategies for teaching mathematics. vii

8

9 Contents 1 Researching Tasks in Mathematics Classrooms... 1 The Tasks Type and Mathematics Learning Project... 1 Using This Book Perspectives on Mathematics, Learning, and Teaching... 7 The Mathematics It Is Intended that Students Learn... 7 Fostering a Breadth of Mathematical Actions... 8 Considering Students Perspectives on Mathematical Tasks... 9 Approaches to Teaching Mathematics Summary Tasks and Mathematics Learning Introduction The Connection Between Tasks and Learning Types of Tasks for Mathematics Teaching The Role of Teacher Knowledge in Effective Task Use Teacher Beliefs, Attitudes, and Self-Goals Constraints Teacher Intentions Summary Using Purposeful Representational Tasks A Rationale for Purposeful Representational Tasks Defining Purposeful Representational Tasks in the TTML Project An Example of a Purposeful Representational Task: Colour in Fractions Colour in Fractions Some Additional Examples Sourcing and Creating Purposeful Representational Tasks ix

10 x Contents Some Reactions from Project Teachers to Purposeful Representational Tasks The Teachers Definitions of the Tasks Some Examples of the Tasks that Teachers Valued The Advantages of Purposeful Representational Tasks as Seen by the Teachers The Constraints on the Use of Purposeful Representational Tasks as Seen by the Teachers The Challenges of Teaching Purposeful Representational Tasks: Learning to Use a Ratio Table Making Cordial: Taking Opportunities Bottles Task: Accepting Different Strategies Medals at the Shrine: Operationalising the Tool Summary Using Mathematical Tasks Arising from Contexts A Rationale for Tasks Built Around Practical Contexts The Contextualised Tasks That Were the Focus of Our Project A Specific Example of a Contextualised Task Setting the Scene Enabling Prompts Students Strategies Building upon Students Insights Pulling the Lesson Together Students as Problem Posers Some Examples of Contextualised Tasks Which Teachers Valued Some Reactions from Teachers to Contextualised Tasks Teachers Views on Advantages and Difficulties in Using Contextualised Tasks Teacher Actions and Their Impact on Task Potential and Student Learning Teacher A Teacher B Teacher C Some Reflections on the Three Lessons Sourcing and Creating Contextualised Tasks Taking Prompts and Using Them to Develop Contextualised Tasks Summary And Where Was the Photograph Taken? Using Content-Specific Open-Ended Tasks The Potential Contribution from Open-Ended Tasks to Student Learning Creating a Learning Experience Around a Content-Specific Open-Ended Task... 59

11 Contents xi Insights into Related Teacher Actions Based on Observations During the Project Finding Out What the Students Are Actually Doing Is Difficult Sometimes Communicating the Precision of Mathematical Language Is Helpful It Is Important that Questions Are Purposeful There Is No Need to Talk All the Time It Is Useful to Be Aware of Reluctant Contributors Examples of Content-Specific Open-Ended Tasks Some Reactions from Project Teachers to Open-Ended Tasks The Teachers Definitions of the Tasks Some Examples of the Tasks that Teachers Valued The Advantages of Open-Ended Tasks as Seen by the Teachers The Constraints on the Use of Open-Ended Tasks as Seen by the Teachers Sourcing and Creating Content-Specific Open-Ended Tasks Method 1: Working Backwards Method 2: Adapting a Standard Question Summary Moving from the Task to the Lesson: Pedagogical Practices and Other Issues Looking for Three More: An Open-Ended Task to Challenge and Enhance Students Understanding of (Mean) Average Being Clear on the Mathematical Focus and the Goals of the Lesson for Students Considering the Background Knowledge Which Student Are Likely to Bring to the Task, How to Establish This, and Likely Responses Students Will Make to the Tasks, Including the Difficulties They Might Experience Considering Ways in Which Students Who Have Difficulty Making a Start on the Problem and Students Who Solve the Problem Quickly Might Best Be Supported Monitoring Students Responses to Tasks as They Work Individually or in Small Groups on the Tasks Selecting Students Who Will Be Invited to Share During the Discussion Time Focusing on Connections, Generalisation, and Transfer Considering What the Next Lesson Might Look Like Differences Between Task Types in Relation to the Process of Turning a Task into a Lesson Summary... 83

12 xii Contents 8 Constructing a Sequence of Lessons Introduction A Sequence of Lessons on Presenting and Interpreting Data An Investigative Project as an Overarching Theme Lesson One: Most Popular Letter Lesson Two: Introducing Graphical Representations Features of Graphical Representations Matching Graphical Representations Lesson Three: Conducting and Representing Survey Results Lesson Four: Making Decisions on Representations Finding Similar Graphs Rock, Paper, Scissors Lesson Five: Two-Way Tables Lesson Six: Average Height of Class Lesson Seven: Mean Average A Sentence with Five Words Average Height of the School Lesson Eight: Comparing and Contrasting Measures of Centre and Spread Seven People Went Fishing Clues on Cards Post-sequence Assessment and Evaluation The Lesson Observations, Including Observations of Lesson Five Summary Students Preferences for Different Types of Mathematics Tasks Seeking Students Opinions About Tasks Responses of Students to Pre-determined Prompts About Tasks and Pedagogies Students Attitudes In Summary Tasks Preferences Within a Lesson Sequence Summary Students Perceptions of Characteristics of Desired Mathematics Lessons Responses from the Overall Survey on Desired Lesson Characteristics Students Essays on Their Ideal Maths Class Some Themes in the Data Classroom Grouping Interaction Between Teacher and Students Summary

13 Contents xiii 11 Contrasting Types of Tasks: A Story of Three Lessons The Tasks and the Lessons Inside and Outside the Square Dido s Problem What the L? Results: Teacher Data Order of Teaching Teaching and Learning Challenges Teacher Preferences One Teacher s Contrast Between Types of Tasks Student Responses Student Preferences Advice on Improving Lessons Summary Comments from the Student Data Relationship Between the Student Preferences and the Teacher Preferences Summary Conclusion What We Learnt About the Different Types of Tasks Purposeful Representational Tasks Contextual Tasks Open-Ended Tasks Other Types of Tasks Planning for Task Implementation (or Turning the Task into a Lesson) Differences in Task Implementation Opportunities and Constraints in Task Use Students and Mathematics Tasks A Selection of Mathematical Tasks Purposeful Representational Tasks Chocolate Blocks Clues on Cards Decimal Maze Smartie Predictions Matching Graphical Representations Five Contextualised Tasks Music Cards Mike and His Numbers Block of Land Comparing Coins from Different Countries

14 xiv Contents Content-Specific Open-Ended Tasks Wrap the Present Painting a Room Writing a Sentence Different Ways to Represent Data Money Measurement References Index

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