Sharing Innovation in Mathematics Teaching and Learning November 2013
UC Davis School of Education Associate Professor Rebecca Ambrose
will collaborate with three of her doctoral students to make
presentations at the Annual Meeting of the North American Chapter
of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics
Education (PME) held November 14-17, 2013.
Ambrose’s research focuses on innovative strategies for helping
K-8 instructors teach mathematics more effectively. For instance,
Ambrose shares what she has learned about the informal strategies
children employ to help teachers differentiate and improve
instruction in math. Another take-away from Ambrose’s research is
that encouraging students to talk about math is critical to
helping them gain a robust understanding of mathematical
concepts. Fostering discourse among English Language Learners has
become an emphasis with the advent of the Common Core Standards.
A former middle school math teacher, Ambrose has spent the last
six years working within a small elementary school district
serving an economically disadvantaged community with a high
concentration of English Language Learners, providing
professional development in mathematics to over 60 teachers.
Using videotaped examples of children solving story problems, she
helps teachers understand how they can build on the strategies
that children are already using.
In her PME presentation “Math Talk: What Features Are Most
Common?” Ambrose and fellow presenters, School of Education PhD
alumna Heather Martin and PhD students Rachel Restani and Leslie Banes, will explain
the elements of mathematical discussion they observed in third
and fourth grade mathematics lessons. The team’s research shows
that most teachers tended to encourage all children to engage in
discussion of multiple solution strategies. Fewer teachers were
able to elicit conceptual explanations and facilitate students’
making connections between the strategies being shared. In
“Classroom Discussion Observation Instrument,” the team of
researchers will share information on the tool they developed to
provide consistent data from observations in over 20 classrooms.
In addition to researching students’ learning, Ambrose has
assisted UC Davis Math Project director and doctoral student
Julie Orosco, to explore how teachers can collaborate and observe
their own and their colleagues’ practice to better serve the
needs of their students. In “Using Self-Selected Video in
Professional Development to Encourage Productive Design,” Orosco
and Ambrose will share results of the efforts of 25 teachers who
met monthly to collaboratively plan lessons with new content and
then captured their implementation on video. In small groups,
later, they viewed and discussed selected excerpts.
After teaching middle school math for ten years, I decided to
pursue a PhD to get a fresh perspective on the issues I
observed every day in my classroom and thought that maybe I
could help develop remedies that would help other teachers, as