Projects — T4D


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ThEMaT IV Decisions
The T4D project explores the complex decisions mathematics teachers need to make to manage whole class discussions in problem-based lessons and investigates collaborative learning environments for teachers to develop capacity for such decisions. Funded by the James S. McDonnell Foundation, this project seeks to understand how mathematics teachers combine general knowledge for managing classroom discussions with specific knowledge of instructional situations in geometry and algebra that help teachers frame the problems they use to teach new ideas.



Special Thanks to our Project Sponsor

James S. McDonnell Foundation logo

In a StoryCircles professional development workshop, teachers represented different ways a lesson could unfold—with each string color representing alternative lesson implementations.

The project consists of four studies. In the first, we collaborated with a group of partner teachers to design eight problem- and discussion-based lessons that they implemented with their Geometry and Algebra students. We are using records of those implementations to explore what mathematics conceptions students bring to these lessons and to create representations of those lessons that may be used by other teachers.

In the second study, we use records from those lessons to seed a series of StoryCircles. StoryCircles is a process of teacher collaboration in which colleagues learn from each other as they script, prototype, and argue about the teaching of a lesson (Herbst & Milewski, 2018). In the T4D project, StoryCircles focus on different ways of managing whole class discussions in problem-based lessons.

In the third study, we explore teachers’ decision making in problem-based lessons at scale. Through survey experiments that employ classroom scenarios in which practice is represented with cartoon characters, we explore whether and how the decisions to frame work on a problem in one or another way (e.g., as construction, as proof) affects the decisions teachers make in the context of classroom discussions.

Finally, in the fourth study, we will be using families of stories generated in the StoryCircles to create simulations for other teachers to explore the space of possible actions and decisions about how to manage classroom discussions based on possible student work on each problem. Through this work, we will explore the proposition that these simulations can accelerate learning by other teachers.

Get Involved with T4D

If you are a teacher and are interested in joining a story circle, getting free professional development, or gaining access to simulations and lesson materials, please contact us below and provide some information about yourself!

If you are a professional development provider interested in signing up a group of teachers for the simulations, the experiment, and/or StoryCircles, please contact us with the form below as well.