Thursday, February 11, 2010

Class Meeting 6: Wed Feb 10, 2010

Today’s class started with Professor Petrosino passing out a handout that listed student portfolio info session dates for portfolios, while he and Ms. Ekberg briefly discussed what portfolios are and when the students should start building them. Then, Professor Petrosino discussed the course readings, reminding students to follow the syllabus as a guide for what readings to do, and not rely solely on the Discussion Board assignments on BlackBoard as an impetus to start reading.

Professor Petrosino then gave a lecture based upon his article with Richard Lehrer and Leona Schauble (2003) on teaching data analysis concepts of variability spread to 4th-grade students. He explained how students wrestled with the variance in trying to measure the height of a flag-pole, thereby leading to a construction of spread and variability, as well as a deeper understanding of measures of central tendency. The presentation also included video news footage covering this project in Madison, Wisconsin, with the news anchors continually situating themselves as unable to comprehend the “deep” mathematical concepts the 4th-grade students were learning. Professor Petrosino then talked about how this finished product might seem perfect within the article and the video news footage, but in fact, he encountered many struggles when actually doing this in a real classroom, such as the fact that the project took 3-weeks to implement, or that the class reverted to traditional teaching when researchers were not present.

Students in the class then broke into discussion groups to talk about whether this sort of project would actually be something they feel they could implement in a real classroom. After this small group discussion, Professor Petrsoino opened up a whole-group discussion about the students fears in pulling off a project like this, such as issues of classroom management and student respect. Professor Petrosino brought up the fact that about young teachers generally have tendencies to feel the need to control all aspects of the classroom, and only learn to give more autonomy to students over time. He then ended the class by warning students to be careful about making up excuse and letting their own inhibitions or lack of confidence stop them from developing challenging pedagogy.

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